I know it’s after December 25th, but it’s still Christmas. Even though many treat Christmas like it’s one day, it’s actually a season that lasts much longer. (Good thing because that’s a lot of preparation for just one day!)
The Christmas season begins on December 24th with Christmas Eve (Vigil) Mass. During the Christmas season, we rejoice in the incredible mystery of the birth of Christ.
And the angel said to them [shepherds], “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).
Many feasts occur during this season, including:
- The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph – Sunday after Christmas
- The Epiphany of the Lord – Sunday after January 1st
- The Baptism of the Lord – Sunday after the Epiphany
The season ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This liturgical year, the feast takes place on January 13, 2019.
Mary, the Mother of God
On January 1st, the Catholic Church observes the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. (A solemnity is the highest ranking feast in the Church calendar.)
On this day, and throughout the year, we recognize the pivotal role of Mary in salvation history. Because Mary said “yes” to God, Jesus was born, lived a human life and ultimately saved mankind from sin and death.
“The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary.” ~ St. Louis de Montfort
Mary was no ordinary woman. God gave her a special grace that no other person has ever received. She was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception through her entire life. (This is known as the Immaculate Conception and is a Holy Day observed annually on December 8th.)
Because she has always been free from sin, her entire being has always been united with God. Mary is the perfect disciple of Christ; and she must be our model. No one can be immaculate like Mary, but we can strive to imitate the way she lived. From her, we learn countless lessons of: faith, hope, love, humility, purity, courage, patience, obedience, perseverance, and total surrender to God’s will.
Who better to show us how to live than the one the Father chose to care for His only Son?
Mary, our Mother
Mary is not only the Mother of God. She is our Mother. We are her spiritual children. She loves each of us as her own!
“Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?” ~ Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, to Juan Diego
Whether we realize it or not, Mary prays and intercedes for us continuously before the Lord. Her greatest desire is for each of us to love Jesus and grow closer to Him each day. She wants to help us grow in holiness so that we may one day join her in heaven.
Below is The Angelus, a prayer honoring the mystery of the Incarnation and Mary’s role in salvation history. It has been a Catholic devotion for centuries. While traditionally prayed throughout the year at 6 AM, noon and 6 PM, it’s especially fitting to pray The Angelus during the Christmas season.
The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done unto me according to thy word.
And the Word was made flesh.
And dwelt among us.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech Thee O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
(To learn more about this devotion, please click here.)
A Holy Day
The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God is a Holy Day of Obligation. (As explained in a previous post, this means that Catholics attend Mass just as we do on Sundays.) Masses take place on December 31st (Vigil) and January 1st.
While many celebrate New Year’s Eve on December 31st and spend January 1st recovering, the Church celebrates Mary. There’s nothing wrong with commemorating the new year in a virtuous way… just don’t forget about our Mother’s special day!
There’s no better way to celebrate Christmas and begin a new year than with the Mother of God by our side and in our hearts.
Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas season!