Last week we learned of the length of the liturgical season of Christmas and how it is not a day, but 18 days during which our Church celebrates many important liturgies. Last week we reviewed the Solemnity of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, and the Feast of Holy innocents. I sincerely hope this information is helpful to you, your children, and your grandchildren. Great topics for family faith formation!
The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God is celebrated on January 1st each year and is also a Holy Day of Obligation. On this day we celebrate Mary and honor her for saying yes to God’s plan that she would give birth to his Son, Jesus. God had chosen Mary even before she was born for this important role. Mary was born without original sin, for she would become “Theotokos” – the Mother of God. We thank Mary for helping to bring Jesus to us. What a great way to celebrate the beginning of a New Year!
Epiphany is also a solemnity that commemorates the visit of the Three Kings (Magi) to the infant Jesus. The kings, each from a different country represent all the nations as they bring precious gifts to a newborn King. A long and ancient tradition that we can do today is to mark the doorposts of our home with blessed chalk that is available for us at Church. We mark it in this way to say to others that we, like the Magi recognize Jesus as our King: 20 + C M B +21. The C is for Caspar who offered incense, a gift for the divine. The M is for Melchior, who offered a gift of gold, and the B is for Balthazar who brought the gift of myrrh to the Lord. The 20 and 21, of course, mark the current year. Another understanding of the tradition is to bless our homes on this day: in such, the lettering used is that of the Latin phrase “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” which means, “Bless this House.”
Make plans to mark and bless your home on this day.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the official end to the Christmas season. It was John the Baptist, a cousin to Jesus, who baptized Him in the Jordan river. John was the one who told us the Savior was on his way and that He would baptize with the Holy Spirit. On this day, the heavens opened, and the voice of God was heard, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1.11 In these words, God identifies Jesus as his Son that the world might forever know him. Take time on this day to remember your own Baptism. Who are your sponsors?
Who was there on the day of your Baptism? Do you know the name of the priest and the parish where you were baptized? Say a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus that you are part of the family of God. You might want to contact your godparents and thank them for being there at your baptism.
So, take your time putting Christmas away. The season closes on Sunday, January 10th with Evening Prayer and on Monday we begin the first week of Ordinary Time which we will celebrate until the next change of liturgical season on Ash Wednesday, February 17th when we will begin Lent.
Have a blessed Christmas Season and a Happy New Year!
In shared faith,