Sunday, Dec. 27, is the feast of the Holy Family. Friday, Jan. 1, is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, a holy day of obligation. Sunday, Jan. 3, is the Solemnity of the Epiphany in the United States.
Dec. 27 Readings
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-5; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:41-52
Jan. 1 Readings
Numbers 6:22-27; Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
Jan. 3 Readings
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
Don’t forget to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Sometimes, we’re so exhausted by all the anticipatory Christmas celebrations that when the real Christmas season starts, we’ve almost had enough.
Tom’s brother, a pianist, has no objection to playing secular Christmas songs throughout the lead-up to Christmas. But he saves real Christmas songs for the Christmas season. Similarly, now that the secular noise has died down, why not focus the real Christmas season on the real Christmas?
• Day 1, Dec. 25: Even the radio will help you celebrate Christmas today. Enjoy!
• Day 2, Dec. 26: St. Stephen the First Martyr. Read Acts 7:48 at the crèche. “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands,” says Stephen. The manger shows where he did first choose to dwell. Stephen’s commitment to Christ led to his death.
• Day 3, Dec. 27: Holy Family feast. Look through photo albums of Christmases past, and then ask: What do we want our family to be like in the future? Plan to make this so.
• Day 4, Dec. 28: “The Coventry Carol” is a beautiful old hymn for this day. To find a good listing of the lyrics and melody presented by a Protestant “Bible study charts” website, which we do not recommend apart from this page, search online for: Coventry Carol midi Bible.
• Day 5, Dec. 29: The feast of St. Thomas à Becket. Read the story of St. Thomas. He was friends with the king, and the king hoped that through him he could control the Church. Instead, Thomas took his role seriously, and he did great good before he was martyred by his old friend. Can we be counted on to take our Christian lives seriously, or do we try to please the world? What New Year’s resolution can change that?
• Day 6, Dec. 30: Take one of your favorite Christmas hymns and read it as a family, explaining what each part means. Also, teach the family a new song: A good Advent hymn that explains Christmas is “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”
• Day 7, Dec. 31: Tonight at 6 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI will give his first vespers of thanksgiving for the end of the year. Take your calendar down today, and go through it as a family, looking at all you did; then say a prayer of thanks.
• Day 8, Jan. 1: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Peace (and the octave of Christmas). Make sure to pray a Rosary today for peace. You might even make a daily Rosary (or some other family practice) a New Year’s resolution.
• Day 9, Jan. 2: Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzen. These two brothers were both canonized. So were their grandmother, father, mother and a sister. This can boost your resolve in your own New Year’s resolution.
• Day 10, Jan. 3: Epiphany Sunday. Today is a feast of humility. That sounds ironic, since it’s about three kings’ lavish gifts. But realize that the Magi traveled a long way probably expecting something more than a baby; nonetheless, they “prostrated themselves and did him homage.” Likewise, the second Person of the Trinity came a long way — to be a weak and helpless infant.
• Day 11, Jan. 4: Christmas isn’t over yet. But for many, work begins again today. This is like the first Christmas, which happened amid the turmoil of the census on busy days in Bethlehem. How can you “find Christmas” on a working day?
• Day 12, Jan. 5: The final “day of Christmas,” this is the last day before the major feast of Epiphany in most of the Catholic world. (The United States moved the Epiphany to the Sunday after the Holy Family feast.) Mark it by going to church and remembering that Christ is always tiny and quiet there in the tabernacle, as if every day were Christmas.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas.