When does Christmas end? Priest clarifies
The Belen, one of the most beloved Christmas symbols in the Philippines
MANILA – A priest reminded Filipinos, who are said to celebrate the longest “Christmas season” in the world, starting in September, that Christmas does not end with Christmas shopping and merrymaking on Dec. 25.
For Catholics, Christmas has only just begun and this is the time to celebrate.
“After 4 weeks of preparation in Advent for this most important event in the history of humanity, today the entire Church and Christian world are filled with joy and gratitude to the Most Holy Trinity, to Mother Mary, and to St. Joseph, as we finally commemorate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King and Savior,” said Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, as he encouraged the faithful on Christmas day through the “Catholics Striving for Holiness” Facebook page and website.
The Catholic liturgy indicates that Christmas is not just one day, but an entire season, lasting from Christmas eve, Dec. 24, after sunset, until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (usually the Sunday after Epiphany).
Taking note of the liturgy of the midnight Mass of Christmas, he said, “As we joyfully proclaim in the entrance antiphon ‘Let us all rejoice in the Lord, for our Savior has been born in the world. Today true peace has come down to us from heaven’, we ought to realize that God is with us. God is here and this truth which is the reason of our joy and hope!”
Christmas, a season, not a day
If Catholics faithfully follow the liturgy, the priest underscored, “the Christmas proclamation of the Savior’s birth should pervade every moment of our existence, convinced that God’s immense love for each one of us is ever-ready to do what is necessary to lead us to never-ending happiness and to eternal life.
Arjonillo stressed: “He is with us always and He will never abandon us!”
Contemplate the Nativity of Christ: the ‘Belen’
Following a recent exhortation of Pope Francis and some advice from St. Josemaria Escriva, the priest said: “We will be more aware of God’s immense love for us, and hence make this Christmas a new and special meeting with God, if we contemplate and enter into the true Nativity of Christ.”
“St. Josemaria used to say that Bethlehem is the school where the Child Jesus wants to teach us a lot of lessons,” he explained.
“For this, it is necessary to pause and dedicate some time before the ‘Belen’ to contemplate in our personal prayer the lessons God wants to teach us from the crib, so as to know Our Lord more and love Him better,” the priest said citing a teaching of the saint.
The “Belen” is a depiction of the Nativity scene which is considered to be one of the most significant Christmas symbols in the Philippines. CBCPNews