A Catholic Guide to the Traditional 40 Days of Christmas| National Catholic Register

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

COMMENTARY: May we follow Mary’s ‘sweet example’ in adoring the Child until Feb. 2.

The Christmas cycle extends to Feb. 2.
The Christmas cycle extends to Feb. 2. (photo: Unsplash)

Susanna Spencer FeaturesJanuary 10, 2023

The high festive days of Christmas have passed. We have sung Christmas carols at Mass, in the car and in our homes. We have spent joyous hours with family and friends. We have presented gifts to each other. We have eaten more cookies than we care to admit. And here in Minnesota, Gustav Holst’s adaption of Christina Rossetti’s A Christmas Carol rings true, for snow has fallen, “snow on snow, snow on snow on snow.” Our long, cold winter is one of the many reasons I have embraced the traditional celebration of what Dom Prosper Guéranger, in The Liturgical Year, calls “these Forty Days of Christmas” — the time that spans from “our Saviour’s Birth even to the day of Our Lady’s Purification.”

Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, in the Saint Andrew Daily Missal for laypeople assisting at the traditional Latin Mass, explains: “The Christmas cycle is like a magnificent drama in three acts, whose purpose is to show forth, in three distinct ways, the Incarnation of the Word and the raising of human nature into union with God.”

This begins with Advent as we anticipate the coming. Then with Christmastide, we contemplate “the mysteries of Our Lord’s childhood” and “are made to see with our eyes and handle with our hands the Word of life,” who became human so “that we may have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and that our joy may be full.” The third act, which is now termed as part of Ordinary Time, between the Baptism of Our Lord and Candlemas, “is an extension of Christmastide, in which Our Lord’s divinity continues to be affirmed.” This is done by “Christ Himself who acts and speaks as God.” 

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A Catholic Guide to the Traditional 40 Days of Christmas| National Catholic Register

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