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Andrew Motyka is the Archdiocesan Director of Liturgical Music and Cathedral Music for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
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“Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed pope Celestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place, and us he sent to supply his place in this holy synod.”
— Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431)

Only the Dawn
published 24 December 2014 by Andrew R. Motyka

525 dawn OU’RE ALMOST DONE, right? You’ve had your last choir rehearsal, finished practicing the organ, and maybe even wrapped your presents and bought your stocking stuffers (disclosure: as of the writing of this post, none of these are true for me). You’re ready for Christmas, and even better than that, the well-deserved rest on the other side of it. I know I am.

I used to get frustrated with all the Celebrating Christmas Early nonsense that infects our culture, even our fellow Catholics. What ever happened to Advent? Why can’t we wait one more month to start celebrating? Okay, okay, it still bothers me a little, especially when the celebration starts even before Thanksgiving.

My real concern, though, isn’t the early celebration. It’s that by the time Christmas actually rolls around, we’re already all celebrated-out. The decorations come down on December 26, ready to come back next November. But this is only the beginning! Christmas begins on December 25, and continues well into January (or February for the EF’ers). It’s easy to see the last Mass on Christmas Day as the finish line, when in reality it’s the start line for the party, only the dawn of the great day.

All this Advent, we’ve been waiting through the violet skies, and got a little taste when they turned rose. There’s a reason we celebrate our first Masses of Christmas at Midnight and at Dawn, as they recall Zechariah’s words that we pray every day at Morning Prayer:

In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Beginning with Christmas, we celebrate a new era, one in which the Almighty Creator of the universe dignified humanity by taking on flesh, ultimately to sacrifice that flesh for our sake. So while all of preparations have been focused on this new beginning, the new dawn, let’s not forget to celebrate the day that we have been looking forward to.

A nap on Thursday afternoon probably wouldn’t hurt, either.