four feasts or holy days occur after Christmas during the Christmas
The Feast of the Holy Family, honoring Jesus, Mary and Joseph as
a family. It is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas or on December
30 when Christmas falls on Sunday on Dec. 31.
The Feast of Mary the Mother of God, celebrated Jan. 1, commemorates
Marys role as mother of God and her unique position in Gods
redemptive plan. World Day of Peace is also celebrated on this day.
The Epiphany, the oldest of the Christmas feasts, is also known
as Three Kings Day for the three magi who found the Christ Child
after following a star to Bethlehem. It is celebrated on Jan. 6
and is the major holiday of the Christmas period in the Eastern
The Baptism of Our Lord brings the Christmas season to a close.
It is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Epiphany.
did the title "Mother of God" originate?
The precise title Mother of God goes back at least to
the third or fourth century. In the Greek form Theotokos (God-bearer),
it became the touchstone of the Churchs teaching about the
Incarnation. The Council of Ephesus in 431 insisted that the holy
Fathers were right in calling the holy virgin Theotokos. At the
end of this particular session, crowds of people marched through
the street shouting: Praised be the Theotokos! The tradition
reaches to our own day. In its chapter on Marys role in the
Church, Vatican IIs Dogmatic Constitution on the Church calls
Mary Mother of God 12 times.
of the Day
are the 12 days of Christmas?
The 12 days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day (December 25) and
end on January 5, eve of the traditional date of the Epiphany.
is "Little Christmas"?
In the Spanish-speaking world, Christmas Day is strictly religious.
Gifts are exchanged on the feast of the Epiphany, also known as
Little Christmas, when the wise men (or Magi) brought gifts of gold,
frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus.
are the names of the three kings?
Tradition names them Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. The custom
of blessing homes on Epiphany developed because the feast commemorates
the time that the three kings visited the home of Jesus, Mary and
Joseph. Traditionally after the blessing, the initials of their
names were written in chalk on the back of the door. They were enclosed
by the year and connected by a cross in this way: 20+G+M+B+02.
are some ways to celebrate the post-Christmas feasts?
Don't stop on December 25 as the secular season fizzles out. Plan
some of your Christmas-season socializing with family and friends
after Christmas Day. More important, find appropriate celebrations
for the liturgical feasts of the season. For example:
Get all of the immediate family together for dinner on the Feast
of the Holy Family. (In many families this will turn the day into
a major event, especially if there are teenagers and young adults.)
On New Year's Day, when we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary and World
Day of Peace, reflect on Mary's role in the Incarnation as you pray
the joyful mysteries of the rosary for peace.
Take time on the Feast of the Epiphany, a gift-giving day in many
Catholic cultures, to go through your wardrobes and toy chests and
decide what you can now give away after all the new things you received
at Christmas. You can also use the Epiphany to make decisions about
how to donate your time and money in the new year.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord reminds us of our own Baptism.
Take this day to reflect on how you have lived out your baptismal
Day vs. Holiday: Making Christmas Less Commercial
Friar Jack's Inbox
respond to Friar Jack's reflections on "Remembering
Christ's Final Coming With Hope!"
Dear Friar Jack: I read and enjoyed the article in the ST
Anthony Messenger about Fr Mychal. I think people should leave judging
others up to Godonly Our Father in Heaven can know what a
person's intent is in their lives. The current scandal in the Church
is a sad thing and againI think it is up to God to judge.
I am an old woman and have seen too many lives destroyed by people
assuming too much.Nancy
Dear Friar Jack: Just a note on your response to the questions
of Father Judge's sexuality. I also believe that one can be a good
Catholic, and in Father Judge's case a good Franciscan, regardless
of sexual orientation. I am a gay man who struggles with the hostility
I sometimes feel from the Church, even though I live according to
its teachings. I made no choice in the matter of my sexuality; I
am who God made me, and I am thankful to Him for that.Rob
Friar Jack responds: Thanks for your honest and thoughtful
comments as you look at your own identity before God. May you continue
to be thankful to the loving God who made you as you are and continue
to serve him in a spirit of honesty, generosity and prayerfulness.
"Dear Friar Jack: I enjoyed your wonderful article on
Advent.You very appropriately reminded us that Jesus is the ultimate
standard for how we should live our lives. However, your comments
on how we will be judged and what we must do to prepare for that
day, also gave the impression that salvation is obtained through
our own efforts...Holy Scriptures clearly tell us that Salvation
is by God's grace through faith and not of works least any man should
boast. ...It is because we are sinful human beings and are not able
to meet God's standard in and of ourselves, that Christ came to
the world to be our redeemer. It is because of what he did on the
cross that we have the hope of heaven. Paul
Friar Jack responds: I did not mean to imply that
our own works will save us. Yet I do believe, as Jesus teaches so
dramatically in Matthew 25: 31-46, that our compassion and concern
for our neighbors in need are very important signs that we are acting
in the spirit of Christ's teaching. I certainly agree with you when
you say with Holy Scripture that salvation comes about by God's
grace and is not caused by our human works. Our good behavior or
charitable deeds are not the cause of our salvation. Our salvation
comes from God's free gift of saving love, as you indicate so well.
Our efforts to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters are rather
the consequence (not the cause) of God's saving love for us. Our
efforts are important in showing our grateful and faith-filled response
to God's free gift. I hope these comments, though brief, suggest
that we see things similarly.
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