(First Published December 2018)
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.
The Christmas season begins on December 24th with the Vigil Mass.
We rejoice in the incredible mystery of God becoming Man and dwelling among us, especially during the Octave – the first eight days.
And the angel said to them, “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 Christmas, including:
- Saint Stephen – December 26th
- Holy Innocents – December 28th
- Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – Sunday after Christmas OR December 30th if Christmas falls on Sunday
- Epiphany of the Lord – Sunday after January 1st OR January 6th depending on the diocese
- Baptism of the Lord – Sunday after Epiphany*
The season ends with the Baptism of the Lord. This liturgical year the feast takes place on January 9, 2023.
*Note: This Christmas season the Baptism of the Lord is the day after the Epiphany, not the Sunday after. When the Solemnity of the Epiphany is transferred to Sunday, if this Sunday occurs on January 7 or 8, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the following Monday (Third Roman Missal)
Mary, 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 saved mankind from sin and death.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38a)
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. 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.
When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (John 19:26-27).
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 them in heaven.
A Holy Day
The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God is a Holy Day of Obligation.
Holy Day of Obligation means that Catholics must attend Mass under penalty of mortal sin (the same as 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 honors Mary.
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the new year in a virtuous way – just don’t forget about Our Lady’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.
+ May the Lord bless you and your family through the intercession of Our Lady +