Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Enjoying Your Octave?


Just got back from a trip to Canada to celebrate my very new grandson's christening, and was thrilled to find a Christmas gift of three new followers, bringing that number to a nice tidy 70.  Thank you, Amy, "Liturgical Time", and Mac Anthony. I hope you enjoy visiting here, and please feel free to ask questions whenever you have them.

Also a hearty welcome to any new visitors who learned of this blog from reading my recent article in Our Sunday Visitor  or after following a link from Blessed Among Men

I hope you all have been enjoying a week that is not only among the most joyous of the year, but also one of the most interesting liturgically. There are two liturgical octaves (8 days of celebration)  each year, this one, and Easter week. Each day in the octave is considered pretty much a repeat of the high feast--Christmas or Easter. So each morning you will be praying the psalter of Sunday, week I. Even this Friday is considered to be a Sunday. This means, by the way, that if you practice  the tradition of abstaining from meat or doing some other penance every Friday of the year, this is one time you may consider yourself well excused from it. My children are always ready to remind me of that during both Octaves.

Now what makes the Octave of Christmas even more interesting, is that there are several obligatory saint's feasts that are fully integrated into the celebration of Christmas: St. Stephen, St. John the Apostle, and the Holy Innocents. On each of these days, the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, and Daytime prayer is specific to the feast in its readings and antiphons, but then reverts back to the liturgy of Christmas Day for Evening Prayer. If you've been keeping up with your Divine Office the last few days, you will have seen how appropriate each of these feasts is to the Christmas octave.

Since the Church is telling us that each day in its octave is a liturgical repeat of Christmas Day, we should do our best to observe them in that spirit. Keep the Christmas carols playing. Don't take the tree or decorations down yet. Continue to do things that are festive ( "God rest ye Merry") and things that are holy. Even if you are back at work this week, there are small ways to accomplish this. Maybe surprise your spouse or children with some small gifts (heaven knows everything is  on sale this week). Go out to a movie one night.  Pray the joyful mysteries of the rosary each day of this week. Go Christmas caroling.  Do a work of charity.

And of course, pray the Hours during this unique week in the liturgical year.