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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year ! 恭祝聖誕，並賀新禧！刊登日期: 2011.12.18
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父
As you prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus by making a good and sincere Confession and attending Mass on Christmas, I would like to extend your thoughts further, into the week after Christmas.
Like our Chinese custom of celebrating our new year over a number of days, the Church celebrates Christmas the same way. Unlike our 10 days of Chinese New Year celebration, the Church celebrates octaves, eight days. During the Christmas week we have several other feast days that are worth noting:
St. Stephen（聖斯德望） December 26
St. Stephen was the first martyr of the Church. He was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60). At his stoning was a young man called Saul (Acts 7:58) who later became St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.
Another interesting side note on this feast of St. Stephen is the song about Good King Wenceslaus （文策老） . He was the king of Bohemia （波希米亞） who was killed by his own brother because he wanted to be a good king. The Church honors him by declaring him a martyr saint（聖文策老， feast day - September 28）. The song tells of the good king going out to feed the poor on a cold snowy day on the feast of St. Stephen. That is why you might hear it during this time of the year. Do you know the song?
St. John the Evangelist（聖若望宗徒） December 27
St. John and his brother, St. James, were fishermen, and along with another set of brothers, Sts. Andrew and Peter, were the first disciples of Jesus (Mt 3:18). St. John was the only one at the foot of the Cross and the only one of the Eleven not martyred.
Jesus gave John the responsibility of taking care of Mary (John 19:25-27). This is important to us as Catholics because some non-Catholics claim that Jesus had other brothers and sisters (Mt 13:55; Mark 3:31-34; Luke 8:19-20; John 2:12; 7:3, 5; 7:10; Acts 1:14). Jesus, as the first born, had the duty to make sure His mother, a widow, would have someone to care for her. If Jesus did have other blood brothers, He would not have had to give the duty to John.
Holy Innocents（諸聖嬰孩） December 28
These were the children massacred by King Herod（黑落德王）after the birth of Jesus (Mt 2:16-18). He did that because he did not want anyone to threaten his throne. Whenever we hear that story, we feel the cruelty and obsession of such a wicked king. But we do the same things in our day. For whatever reason, we think that children might get in the way of the life we want to have. In most parts of the world abortion is now legal. In China, because of the one child policy, we even abandon children to die on the streets. Like Herod, we think we have to protect ourselves from innocent children.
On this feast, pray for the mothers expecting babies. Place them in the hands of the Holy Innocents.
Holy Family（聖家節） December 30
Usually this feast is celebrated on the first Sunday after Christmas. This year, however, because both Christmas and New year fall on Sunday, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God（天主之母節）on January 1st . The feast of the Holy Family will be celebrated on the regular feast day of December 30, on Friday. Pray that every family be like the Holy Family, with Jesus in its heart.
May you keep these feasts in your thoughts and prayers.
May God bless you and your families during this Christmas Season.
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