Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, and Joy

The Introit (Wisdom 18:14-15) Dum medium silentium … While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, your almighty word, Lord, came from heaven, from your royal house. Ps. 92:1: The Lord has reigned, he is clothed with beauty : the Lord is clothed with strength, and has girded himself. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. While all things … Amen.

The Collect     Almighty, everlasting God, direct our actions according to thy good pleasure, that in the name of your beloved Son we may deserve to abound in good works. …

The Epistle     (Galatians 4:1-7) Brethren, As long as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father: so we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: that he might redeem them who were under the law; that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son; and if a son, an heir also through God.

The Gradual and Alleluia    (Psalm 43:3, 2) You are beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in your lips. My heart has uttered a good word, I speak my works to the king: my tongue is the pen of a scribe that writes swiftly. Alleluia, alleluia, The Lord has reigned, he is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and has girded himself with power. Alleluia.

The Gospel (Luke 2:33-40) At that time, Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: “Behold, this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted: and your own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed”. And there was one Anna, a Prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher: she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until four-score and four years; who departed not from the temple, by fasting and prayers serving night and day. Now she at the same hour coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom : and the grace of God was in him. 

Offertory        God hath established the world, which shall not be moved. Your throne, O God, is prepared from of old. You are from everlasting. The Lord has reigned, he has clothed himself with beauty; he has clothed himself with strength, and has girded himself with virtue. Wonderful is the Lord on High: your testimonies are become exceedingly credible: holiness becomes your house, O Lord, unto length of days.

The Secret      Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that the offering made in the sight of your majesty may obtain for us the grace of pious devotion and the reward of a blessed eternity. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ …

Communion  Take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead that sought the life of the child.

Post-Communion By the operation of this mystery, O Lord, may our sins be purged away, and our righteous desires be fulfilled. Through our Lord …



Joy is the virtue of innerly recognising the good, and taking an unselfish delight it. Joy can find us whenever we feel when we possess, contemplate, or see someone in possession of something truly good. It flows from the virtue of charity, and is one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost referred to by St Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. Sometimes people say that it is not a virtue, but I disagree: think of a miserable person coming home to a waiting family, who have done nothing to deserve his bad temper, and you will soon see that it is a virtue in and of itself.

A virtue is an internal habit which disposes us to act in a corresponding way. Joy is internal, it does not depend on external actions like mere “happiness.” In fact, a person who dislikes another can be made happy by seeing that person suffer pain or misfortune. This can never be true of joy. Joy presupposes the presence of the good.

Joy is a habit – or at least it can be – because being based upon a delight in the presence of the good, we can always find a cause for joy in God. This is a serious point, and our lives would be better if we took it more seriously. Much of our attitudes and our moods are based upon what we look at. If we focus on bad things, our attitudes and moods are likely to be darker. But if, while we are paying attention to them, we have not forgotten God, and we are considering these things like analysts: what is the issue here? Why are things so bad? What can I do to help it? Then I can emerge from the encounter with evil unharmed. Too often, when we have to do with anything evil, we get tainted and affected by it. But that is not necessary, if we remember God and all the relevant truths of the faith.

Joy is also different from lesser emotions like happiness because it brings to me a sense of peaceful possession of my own soul. Happiness can make a person go giddy. Joy does not do this, it implies, rather, a certain serenity of spirit which is no part of happiness, glee, being thrilled and other such emotions. Hence in Romans 14:17, St Paul teaches us that: “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but justice and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” We can even speak of a spiritual joy, which is a delight in God.

I personally think that joy can exist in us even while we are grieving. Someone we love has died. That is sad. Yet there is space in us for more than grief. That grief is tempered by a joy in the knowledge that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life and that all those who believe in Him are saved. This is one more reason why to grieve too long and too intensely is disordered and is contrary to religion and the faith, and not only against common sense (which it is, after all, there are others who live, and they deserve recognition.) I believe it is for this reason that the Psalmist says, in Psalm 116:15 that “the Lord considers the death of those who are devoted to him to be precious in His eyes.” It is not only because they will be united with Him, but because they have overcome the world, and proved the faith.

It is also a virtue, I suggest, to respect the joy of others, especially of children.And it is something we should give thought to when with others. More, it is a matter that we should feel.

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