The Octave of Christmas

Friends in the Lord, we are these days in the Octave of Christmas.
A liturgical “octave” is an eight day period following and including the feast, in this case, Christmas, but we also have an Octave for Easter. In a way, the Church suspends time so that we can “rest” within the mystery that we have celebrated, and consider it from different angles.
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Perhaps you have gone to a museum and seen a magnificent statue. Glancing at it for a moment is not enough; you want to spend some time. You look at it first from this direction, then another. You walk around it to see it from various points of view, and examine some detail.
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In the same way, a single day per year does not suffice to gather in the different dimensions of the mystery of a great feast such as Christmas. An octave allows us to reflect on a feast in different ways.
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During Advent, we reflected a lot on the prophets who foretold the coming Savior; we are reading these days about the events of Christ’s infancy, for example Anna in the temple, who sees the long anticipated fulfillment of the prophecies.
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Pius Parsch says, that the feasts of Sts. Stephen, John the Evangelist, and the Holy Innocents which we celebrate during the Octave, permit us to approach Christ, first as martyrs, then as virgins, then as virgin-martyrs.
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Theologically speaking, an octave anticipates the eternal bliss of heaven. The old Creation is based on a cycle of 7 days, 7, being the final day of creation. But the 8th day is a sign of the New Creation, it is a sign of the resurrection and of heaven. Many of the ancient baptismal fonts from the first centuries are 8-sided, recalling the New Creation; and so, the Octave, 8, calls to mind Eternal Life.
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It is also fitting to celebrate the Holy Family within the Octave of Christmas which we did. The Holy Family teaches, points us, to the Communion of life in heaven, in God himself, the ‘family’ of the Holy Trinity, our goal.
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And so we see that the Octave is a time to contemplate the many aspects of this great Mystery of Christmas, of God made man, and all that it implies for us. 

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