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In the ancient world, the spring equinox marked the beginning of a new year. Spring serving as this turning point makes natural sense, as it marks the renewal of the cycle of the seasons as new life springs forth from the formerly barren soil. Why start the new year in the dead of winter? Julius Caesar changed Rome’s calendar from a lunar to a solar year, and moved the start of the year from March to January (a new month dedicated to the god of entryways). The marking of the New Year brought pagan observances and excessive celebrations, so much so that early Christians observed expiatory fasts in reparation (which some Catholics have now renewed).

In the Middle Ages, there was great variance on the celebration of the New Year: March 1, March 25 (Annunciation), September 1, and even Christmas Day. It was the adoption of the Gregorian calendar that eventually brought uniformity to the date of January 1. That day makes perfect sense for Catholics, even if we are fighting a resurgence of pagan excess surrounding the date. That New Year coincides with the Octave of Christmas is no coincidence. If we count our years from the birth of Christ, Christmas should be the time to mark the beginning of the new year.

Celebrating the new year specifically as the anniversary of the birth of Christ transforms its character. Not only does it point to God’s coming into the world as the central point of history, it also emphasizes that history has a goal...

In his essay “The Christian View of History,” Christopher Dawson argues that the Incarnation brings about “a new creation—the introduction of a new spiritual principle which gradually leavens and transforms human nature into something new. The history of the human race hinges on this unique divine event which gives spiritual unity to the whole historical process.” History makes sense in the Incarnation, as all things before prepare for it, and all things that follow are seen in light of its unfolding (even the challenges to that unfolding).

The modern world has arisen largely in opposition to this understanding of history. The Enlightenment saw God as a threat to human freedom, and the fulfillment of ultimate goals in the eschaton as a cheapening of history’s significance. Modern thinkers and revolutionaries have replaced Christian hope in eternal life with an immanent religion of progress. It is important, however, to recognize that this is no reversion to a pre-Christian paganism, but rather the creation of a Christian heresy, which accepts history’s progressive nature. This heresy deforms Christian faith in God’s providence into faith in the power of technology to create a more perfect life here and now. And as we are seeing, with no clear goal to guide technological development, change for its sake exerts a destructive power.

No one has diagnosed the heresy of modern progress better than Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Spe Salvi. Speaking of the revolution of thought beginning with Bacon, Benedict laid out the program for modern progress as seeking redemption and paradise without God:

[A] disturbing step has been taken: up to that time, the recovery of what man had lost through the expulsion from Paradise was expected from faith in Jesus Christ: herein lay “redemption.” Now, this “redemption”, the restoration of the lost “Paradise” is no longer expected from faith, but from the newly discovered link between science and praxis. It is not that faith is simply denied; rather it is displaced onto another level—that of purely private and other-worldly affairs—and at the same time it becomes somehow irrelevant for the world. This programmatic vision has determined the trajectory of modern times and it also shapes the present-day crisis of faith which is essentially a crisis of Christian hope. Thus hope too, in Bacon, acquires a new form. Now it is called: faith in progress.

In Benedict’s view, our understanding of time relates directly to our concept of hope. Christmas is a time of hope, because God has come to us and has inaugurated the Kingdom of God. If the new year simply reflects a chronological addition, history flattens in its significance, and we are left without any true joy or reason to celebrate. Celebration becomes distraction.

If New Year’s focuses on the Kingdom of God, does this concede to the modern revolutionary? Does Christmas sap the marrow out of the world by placing our hope beyond it? Gaudium et Spes responds to this common assertion by teaching that no tension should exist between earthly progress and the Christian focus on eternity:

Christians, on pilgrimage toward the heavenly city, should seek and think of these things which are above. This duty in no way decreases, rather it increases, the importance of their obligation to work with all men in the building of a more human world. Indeed, the mystery of the Christian faith furnishes them with an excellent stimulant and aid to fulfill this duty more courageously and especially to uncover the full meaning of this activity, one which gives to human culture its eminent place in the integral vocation of man (57).

The Christian vocation, following on the principle of the Incarnation, seeks precisely to bring God to the world, to embody faith within it in order to transform it. It is the vocation of the laity, in particular, to permeate all of human activity with the life of the Church, not to stifle it, but to bring it to a greater perfection in Christ.

How then does this relate to the Catholic celebration of New Year’s Day? The answer is that dates do matter and that the marking of these dates defines how we understand our place within history and God’s plan. New Year’s should reinforce our sense of vocation for the coming year.

As we mark the helps to think back to Pope St. John Paul II’s celebration of the new millennium. John Paul recognized that the marking of 2,000 years from the birth of Christ represented a significant milestone in the life of the Church, a time for Christians to rediscover their vocation in the world. The document, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, in particular, provides a powerful reflection on the Incarnation, a Christian understanding of time, and the way we mark it in our own lives.

With regard to its content, this Great Jubilee will be, in a certain sense, like any other. But at the same time it will be different, greater than any other. For the Church respects the measurements of time: hours, days, years, centuries. She thus goes forward with every individual, helping everyone to realize how each of these measurements of time is imbued with the presence of God and with his saving activity.

New Year’s teaches us how properly to measure time, how to mark the coming of salvation into the world in light of its progressive unfolding in our lives and in human history. John Paul, quoting St. Paul, tells us further that “from this relationship of God with time there arises the duty to sanctify time.” We mark the progression of time as an opportunity to reflect on our own lives in relation to it. Where do we stand within God’s plan for history? How can I immerse my own life into God’s coming into the world? How can I allow God to shape my own life in time, and, through me, to shape history?

Just like the Great Jubilee that John Paul observed, we have another opportunity not only to celebrate a new year, but an Extraordinary Jubilee Year. John Paul taught that “the Jubilee, ‘a year of the Lord’s favour,’ characterizes all the activity of Jesus; it is not merely the recurrence of an anniversary in time.” Anniversaries are not mere numbers, but a way of making present what we celebrate. This New Year’s Day let us celebrate God’s transformation of history by his coming into the world and then let this celebration continue to mark our observance of this Jubilee Year of Mercy. - R. Jared Staudt

1 posted on 12/31/2019 1:46:19 PM PST by CondoleezzaProtege
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

I figured they gave the kid a week to make sure he was going to make it. Then the bris. Yahoo! New Year’s Day! Mazel tov.

2 posted on 12/31/2019 1:48:19 PM PST by Vermont Lt
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

For later

3 posted on 12/31/2019 2:52:46 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

Note In the old Tridentine Catholic calendar the second Sunday of January was observed as the feast of The Holy Family.
NOTE:It may seem a stretch to blame American Catholic bishops for the increase in the loss of identification and increasing commercialization of the Christmas season. But when a major segment of the Christian religious community decides to reduce a traditional observance in this case the observance of Epiphany seemingly bowing to the cafeteria culture prevalent in certain Catholic circles that may have been the unintended result. Placing the observance of “Christmas” as a one day event rather than a series of reflections of what the faith is spanning over a longer period of time. In the US that feast day (Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas) which was formally observed on Jan 6th is now observed the first Sunday falling between Jan 2nd and Jan 8th.

The following is an explanation of how the RC’s observed Christmas prior to 1960. Prior to the Roman Catholic Reformed Liturgical rite promulgated by the Vatican Council 2 which seems to make a hodge-podge of the early life of Jesus.
The calendar of liturgical observances (mass) was a recollection which through the gospels followed the life of Christ and goes like this.

Christmas Mass (gospel; birth of Jesus).

The Sunday following Christmas the old liturgy proscribed was “The Sunday within the octave of Christmas” that gospel related the visit to relatives and a prophets warning to Mary .

Today that Sunday is the feast of the Holy Family who’s gospel recalls Jesus at age 12 and is out of chronological and liturgical sequence with Epiphany which recalls shortly after the birth of Jesus and the visits of the 3 kings .

New Years was the feast first called Circumcision (term,practice,being dumped) then later named the feast of The Presentation.{NOTE: During WWII there was a popular misconception that the way the Nazis could tell if a male person was a Jew was if that person was circumcised, Catholics (not all) were also circumcised }. This gospel was of the Holy Family following Jewish traditions and practice,then if a Sunday came between Circumcision and Epiphany it was The Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus.

On Jan 6th was The Feast of Epiphany ,( or 12th day of Christmas,or 3 Kings Day) no matter what day it fell on and was a holy day of obligation .

That observance was and still is the day for the exchanging of gifts on Xmas and when in many countries gifts are exchanged.

Excerpted from my poetry page;

4 posted on 12/31/2019 3:27:04 PM PST by mosesdapoet (mosesdapoet aka L,J,Keslin posting here for the record hoping somebody might read and pass around)
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To: CondoleezzaProtege
Yes, we mark our time, our history, by the most important event in human history: JESUS

--Jesus came to us. He taught us.

--He left us His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as sacred food and drink to fuel us on our journey through life, allowed to be consecrated "in remembrance of Him" in daily Mass through His duly ordained priests.

--He died for our sins, rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.


5 posted on 12/31/2019 4:02:55 PM PST by cloudmountain
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

And yet, the liturgical year starts with Advent. January is named for the Roman god Janus, the two faced god of doorways.

6 posted on 12/31/2019 4:08:06 PM PST by RichardMoore (Without the protection of life all other right are void, dump TV and follow a plant based diet)
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