Sunday, January 2, 2011

Star of Wonder: Who is "counter-cultural"? When IS Epiphany?

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

"Star of Wonder, Star of Night
Star with Royal Beauty Bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light"

My neighbor lives in a studio apartment on the top floor of a building that is a few doors west of me and her window (where she has a small indoor garden of succulents) faces south. It looks directly into a window where someone has hung a star.

The star, we once speculated, was hung in honor of the Epiphany, which is the twelfth day of Christmas, January the sixth, and often celebrated with the familiar hymn, We Three Kings (its chorus lyrics are posted at the top of this entry). However, today, January the second, this traditional Epiphany hymn will be sung in New York City Catholic churches, where masses will be offered and celebrated for the Feast of the Epiphany, because the bishops have decided to move this feast day up to the second Sunday after Christmas. In spite of this, the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, insists it is the secular world that is the one rushing Christmas, when for me, it appears the church is rushing it too — by moving up holidays.

Dolan writes,"A blessed Christmas everybody! I realize some might think me tardy in this heartfelt greeting, but hear me out. I am not late at all! Holy Mother Church starts her celebration of our Savior on Christmas Eve, and keeps it until Epiphany which is the Sunday after the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (January 1). The feast of the Epiphany — when the magi adored Jesus, giving us the 'Twelve Days of Christmas.' The tree stays up, presents can still be exchanged, carols are still bellowed out, the crib sets remain in place, and we still express Christmas good wishes and make our visits . . . as we should. One of the saddest sights is to see Christmas already in the trash bin on December 26th!" 
The Archbishop continues with his lament with,"but not for us Catholics! We love stretching out our celebration! In some countries, the crib and the tree even stay up until 40 days after Christmas, February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, (Candlemas Day not Ground Hog Day). Christmas festivities do end sooner or later don't they? . . . . How can we make the joy, light, and love of Christmas last all year?"
Then Dolan gets to his 'pitch' of his article, in one of his ideas on how we might extend Christmas;"Charity!," he writes with an exclamation point, as if that were the Epiphany itself. With this proclamation, Dolan writes,"Our food pantries, soup kitchens, and clothing depots report that in, the days right before and after Christmas, they're brimming over with supplies." Dolan continues, "Msgr. Kevin Sullivan tells me people are generous in sending gifts to Catholic Charities every December. Thanks we need it! But then , as the trees come down and the carols halt, the pantries are strapped, soup kitchens adding more water to the stew, clothes depots down to a few pairs of gloves, and money for rent and medication  begin to get scarce. Christmas sparks love, sharing, and giving. You want to keep Christmas all year? Keep on loving, sharing and giving. So keep on wishing everybody a Merry Christmas until the Epiphany! Sing those carols, let the tree and decorations shine these ancient Twelve Days of Christmas."Archbishop Dolan is right of course:"giving and goodwill should not stop at Christmas"; however, his observation that secular folks are being "counter-cultural" in rushing the celebration is ironic: the church itself is shortening the feast days of Christmas by moving the celebration of Epiphany up by four days in terms of offering a high mass, which indicates to me that "seculars" are not the only ones who "cut Christmas short".
The star in the window across the street from my dear friend's window will be our reminder of the Feast of Epiphany. As for the archbishops' other observation about seculars "cutting Christmas short" with his words, ". . . but not for us Catholics! We love stretching out our celebration! In some countries, the crib and the tree even stay up until 40 days after Christmas, February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, (Candlemas Day not Groundhog Day)," We find the Feast of the Presentation to be the day to take down cards we have received for the season. In fact, the Feast of the Presentation was the inspiration for one of my "special edition" cards that can be seen below:

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

This card received recognition in a radio interview (W.B.A.I.) which can be heard on my web-sitewhich most of my regular blog-readers know, and I have blogged about circumstances related to this card which can be found in three different posts by clicking here and here and here.

And one more thought we have on Archbishop  Dolan's statement,"We love stretching out our celebration! In some countries, the crib and the tree even stay up until 40 days after Christmas, February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, (Candlemas Day not Ground Hog Day)" is this: we do not find the February Second's celebrations or rituals of  Candlemas Day and Ground Hog Day to be mutually exclusive, whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.