A Meditation on the Bloody Octave of Christmas

Many are shocked to walk into daily Mass on December 26 and instead of hearing more of the “Baby Jesus” we are confronted with Martyrdom, “The Feast of Stephen” is ancient on the Church’s calendar. More ancient than the Christmas cycle and hence it was not removed to another time.

Bu the martyrdom does not stop there. We are in the midst of the Christmas Octave, an Octave filled with blood as we shall see.

What is an Octave? But first, there may be some of you who wonder what is meant by and “Octave.” An Octave is a period of eight days wherein a feast of the Church is celebrated for that whole period as though it were all the same day. In the modern liturgical calendar we only observe two octaves explicitly: Christmas and Easter.

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Pope prays Christmas softens hardened hearts to bring peace and justice

From the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on a brilliantly sunny and warm Dec. 25, the pope prayed that Emmanuel, God with us, would bring light “to all the suffering members of our human family.”

“May he soften our often stony and self-centered hearts and make them channels of his love,” the pope said before giving his Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

According to the Vatican police, there were about 55,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the blessing.

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Merry Christmas!

And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.

And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.

And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

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