Christmastide begins at sunset on 24 December. Historically, the ending of Christmastide was sunset on 6 January. Christmastide is commonly called the Twelve Days of Christmas.
In 567, the Council of Tours "proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany as a sacred and festive season, and established the duty of Advent fasting in preparation for the feast." In Western Christianity, Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child It is sometimes called Three Kings' Day, and in some traditions celebrated as Little Christmas. I have a video all about Epiphany on YouTube, just search what is Epiphany Catholic and you’ll find it. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus on January 6th.
In medieval era Christendom, Christmastide "lasted from the Nativity to the Purification." To this day, the "Christian cultures in Western Europe and Latin America extend the season to forty days, ending on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of Mary on 2 February, a feast also known as Candlemas because of the blessing of candles on this day, inspired by the Song of Simeon, which proclaims Jesus as 'a light for revelation to the nations'." Many Churches refer to the period after the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas and up to Candlemas, as Epiphanytide, also called the Epiphany season.
So, the Christmas season is not over. Catholics such as myself will be celebrating Christmas until at least January 6th (Epiphany), and some cultures will celebrate Christmas all the way until February 2nd (Candlemas). So, let the joy of Christ’s birth continue to bring you hope and happiness for a few (or many) more days.
Now, we’re going to do a mental prayer on the topic of Christmas persecution. Because I want you to know that although it is a joyous season, we also need to remember that Christ asked us to carry a cross, and that burden can appear in any number of ways. So, let’s begin.
At that time, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying, Arise, and take the Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and remain there until I tell you. For Herod will seek the Child to destroy Him. So he arose, and took the Child and His mother by night, and withdrew into Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod; that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called My Son.
So, what can we learn from these verses?
Well, let’s look at the moral virtues. There are four of them. They are prudence: always moving toward virtue and away from vice. Justice: giving others what they deserve. Fortitude: staying faithful during difficulties. And Temperance: keeping balance in all areas of life. As I said before, Christ came in glory so that we could live forever with Him and be happy. But, he promised that we would have to carry a cross if we wanted to get to our eternal reward. As you can see from historical examples, persecution wasn’t something from ancient Rome, or something that only happened 500 or 1,000 years ago. It continues to happen to this very day. So don’t be fooled, you will have to bear some crosses. Your cross is going to be different than mine. American crosses are going to be different than European and African crosses. Older people have different crosses than younger people. But you can be sure that there will be a cross, or many, if you want to get to heaven. So practice the moral virtue of fortitude. You can do that by praying more often and bearing difficulties without complaining. It takes much practice and patience, but if you have a fairly easy life right now, that is the best time to prepare for future difficulties. So pray, pray, pray and ask God for His grace as often as possible.
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