By Tony Rossi
Guess what? I have a secret to tell you. Maybe you already know it if you’re a regular churchgoer, but a lot of the country doesn’t. So here it is: it’s still Christmas.
Don’t let the absence of Christmas music on the radio or the sight of discarded evergreen trees on the curb fool you. As Catholic Christians, our celebration extends at least to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. And some people keep it going through the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (aka, Candlemas) in February. But either way, right now, we’re still in the middle of Christmas, even though 2018 is just around the corner.
Writer Meg Hunter-Kilmer realizes that much of the world stops celebrating Christmas on December 25th, but she encourages us to take a longer view of the holiday’s meaning and how it can change our lives well into the new year. In an article for the website Aleteia, she says:
“At Christmas, we look at the little child who will be our salvation and trust that it’s coming...The trouble is that we move on too soon. Even if we celebrate Christmas all the way to Candlemas (Feb. 2), most of us walk away from the manger and the Christ child with His clear eyes and tiny fingers and ordinary little body that is a promise of freedom. We walk right back into a world of dashed hopes and despair. What if instead we made this resolution: in [the new year], I will live Christmas. I will stay at the manger. When those I love hurt me, I will trust in Him. When the things of this world are too much to bear, I will gaze at His newborn loveliness. When I see no hope for tomorrow, I will remember the promise of Christmas and trust in the Easter to come.”
Speaking of resolutions, staying grounded in the right spiritual perspective is another key thing to keep in mind as we try to improve ourselves in 2018. Many years ago, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America placed a full-page ad in The New York Times to encourage people to pray. It read: “Start small. Bless one moment for what it brings you. Say one ancient prayer, link yourself with continuity and eternity. Fill one silence with your end of the conversation. No one can do this for you; it belongs to you.”
And here is a new year’s prayer by an unknown author that was reprinted in the inspirational newsletter Apple Seeds: “Come, Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Risen Christ, be with us today and always. Be our Light, our Guide, and our Comforter. Be our Strength, our Courage, and our Sanctifier. May this new year be a time of deep spiritual growth for us, a time of welcoming Your graces and gifts, a time for forgiving freely and unconditionally, a time for growing in virtue and goodness. Come, Holy Spirit, be with us today and always. Amen.”
Ultimately, the start of a new year is the perfect time to start living out the Christopher motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Cursing the darkness is easy to do. Lighting a candle takes much more effort. But it will be worth it in the long run because that candle represents the Light of the World, whose birth we continue to celebrate during this holy season. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
Tony Rossi is director of communications for The Christophers.
For free copies of the Christopher News Note FINDING THE COURAGE WITHIN, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: email@example.com