Liturgical Year
Part 4 Christmas

Chapter y43 Feasts of the Christmas Season

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Dec 21 Thomas

Dec 26 Stephen

Dec 27 John

Dec 28 Holy Innocents

Dec 29 Thomas Becket

Dec 31 Sylvester I

Sunday After Christmas- Holy Family

Jan 01 Solemnity of Mary

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Jan 06 Epiphany

Feb 02 Presentation of the Lord

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

What special significance do these celebrations take on by their relation to the Solemnity of Christmas that they would not have if they were celebrated at another time of the year?

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Bibliography

Vatican II. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy. Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars. The Liturgy Documentary Series Number 6. Washington DC: Office of Publishing and Promotion Services, USCC, 1984. USCC publication number 928. $6.95 paper.

Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy. Lectionary for Mass. The Liturgy Documentary Series Number 1. Washington DC: Office of Publishing and Promotion Services, United States Catholic Conference, 1982. USCC publication number 839. $6.95 paper.

A. G. Martimort (Editor). The Liturgy and Time, Volume IV of The Church at Prayer. New Edition. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1986. ISBN 0-8146-1366-7.

Adrian Nocent. The Liturgical Year. (4 vols. paper). 1977. The Liturgical Press. $35.00. ISBN: 0-8146-0963-5.

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Dec. 21 Saint Thomas

[Before the reform of the Second Vatican Council, the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle was celebrated on December 21.]   "The Feast of Thomas is transferred to July 3, the day of the transfer of his relics, in order that the greater weekdays of Advent will not be interrupted." (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, page 145)

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Dec. 26 Saint Stephen

1. First martyr (Feast)

2. "The Syriac breviary of the fourth century and the martyrology of Jerome (d. 420) list this feast on December 26.  For a long time the Eastern rites have observed it on the following day."  (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, page 113)

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Dec. 27 Saint John

1. Apostle and evangelist (Feast)

2. "The Syriac breviary and martyrology of Jerome list December 27 as the feast of John the Evangelist.  The Armenian liturgy celebrates it on December 29, the Coptic on December 30, the Syriac on May 7, and the Byzantine on September 26." (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, page 113)

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Dec. 28 The Holy Innocents

1. martyrs (Feast)

2. "The Martyrology of Jerome records this feast on December 28, while the Syrian, Byzantine, and Coptic rites observe it on the following day." (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, page 113)

3. "Since at least the sixth century the Church has honored during the days (Octave) of the Nativity of the Lord those children who are called in the East "the Children killed by Herod, " and in the West, "the Holy Innocents." In doing this, she reminds us that they were put to death "for Christ" in place of the One whom the liturgy calls the "innocent Lamb." The Children of Bethlehem were the first to be ransomed (Communion Antiphon).  Although theirs was "a wordless profession of faith in your Son, " they were nevertheless "crowned with life at his birth" (Prayer after Communion).  In them, the cross was planted beside the crib; their death was a prophecy of the redemption.  The fact of our honoring theses children as martyrs throws light to the nature of martyrdom, which is, like baptism, primary a free gift of God." (Magnificat, Christmas 2000, Special Issue Number 4 pg. 93) 

4. First Reading- Here, then, is the message we have heard from Jesus Christ and announce to you: that God is light; in him there is no darkness.  If we say, "We have fellowship with him, " while continuing to walk in darkness, we are liars and do not act in truth.  But if we walk in light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and say, "We are free of the guilt of sin," we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us.  But if we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong.  If we say, "We have never sinned, " we make him a liar and his word finds no place in us.  My little ones, I am writing this to keep you from sin.  But if anyone should sin, we have in the presence of the Father, Jesus Christ, and intercessor who is just.  He is an offering for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for those of the whole word.  The word of the Lord.

5. Gospel- Matthew 2:13-18 
When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him." Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son."   When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

"A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more."

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Dec. 29 Saint Thomas Becket

1. bishop and martyr

2. "Thomas was martyred at Canterbury, England, on December 29, 1170, and was canonized three years later.  His feast was adopted at once in many Western regions." (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, page 113)

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Dec. 31 Saint Sylvester I

1. Pope

2. The Depositio Episcoporum (354 A.D.) records the burial of Sylvester in the cemetery of Priscilla on December 31, 335.  His feast has been celebrated since the fifth century." (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, page 113)

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Sunday After Christmas - The Holy Family

1. Sunday  within the Octave of Christmas (Feast)

2. From the 1965 St. Andrew Bible Missal. The Holy Family... "The importance of family life to God's Church and Christian society needs no discussion here. Today's feast exists because of it. In 18th century Canada, a wise bishop, realizing that he never would have enough priests to help him in fulfilling the manifold pastoral obligations of his diocese, began to stress the important role of the family in spreading the saving influence of the Church in society. He prepared prayers for a Mass in which he likened and dedicated the Christian family to the Holy Family of Nazareth. In 1921, Pope Benedict XV extended this celebration to the whole Church and ordered that it be observed on the first Sunday after Epiphany."

NOTE: The reading for Holy Family Sunday can be shortened to exclude the problematic verses "Wives be submissive to your husbands..." The US Bishops gave permission to read Colossians 3:12-17 instead of 12:21. The Roman editio typica of the lectionary gives an official alternative reading: Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19.

Reading 1 (A B C): Sir 3:2-6, 12-14

The LORD sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother's authority he confirms over her sons.
He who honors his father atones for sins;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
He who honors his father is gladdened by children,
and when he prays he is heard.
He who reveres his father will live a long life;
he obeys the LORD who brings comfort to his mother.
My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him;
revile him not in the fullness of your strength.
For kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
it will serve as a sin offering--it will take lasting root.

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Jan. 01 The Solemnity of Mary

Octave of Christmas, Mother of God (Solemnity)

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The Twelve Days of Christmas

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Jan. 06 The Epiphany
Solemnity

Leo the Great, in his sermon for that great festival of grace and civilization, Epiphany, drew together service, grace and kingdom: "The obedience of the star, which drew the three wise men out of their country and led them to recognize and adore the King of heaven and earth, calls us to imitate its humble service: to be ministers, as best we can, of that grace which invites all men and women to find Christ."  (Sermon, "In epipghaniae solemnitate III," Patrologia ....Latina.  Migne 54, p. 244)

"Three mysteries mark this holy day: 
today the star leads the Magi to the infant Christ;
today water is changed into wine for the wedding feast;
today Christ wills to be baptized by John in the river Jordan to bring us Salvation."
(Magnificat antiphon, second vespers, Epiphany )

See:  The Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot

And:  Murray Bodo

"Finding the outward way was easier:
the astrology, the preceding star.
And surprised as we were meeting the babe
surrounded by animal sounds, the man
and his adolescent bride, what changed us
happened inside us when, warned of Herod,
we returned to our country another
way. We had no star except behind us:
images of a haloed boy growing
West of our moving East remembering.
Could we have witnessed the birth of a god,
was the bright star the child's soul descending,
he our way there, our different way home?
The night was cold; we felt the sun rising."
[2002 Christmas Letter, Murray Bodo, O.F.M.]
 

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The Baptism of the Lord

1. Sunday after January 6 (Feast)

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Feb. 02 Presentation of the Lord

1. Feast of Our Lord. Formerly was a feast of Mary: Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  "The name of this feast (Purification of Mary) is changed to the Presentation of the Lord so that it may be more clearly understood as a feast of the Lord." (Roman Calendar, p 72) 

2.  Historical roots: 40 days after birth, presented in temple. BASIC THEME: coming to temple: Important: entry

3.  Symbol: light.  Third great light feast.  Christmas-Epiphany-Presentation.  Christ comes to meet those who have been waiting with hopeful expectations.  Simeon, Ana, --- US.  

4.  Candles: Sacramental.  Accompany an action.  if no action, focus is on the object.  The FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD.  becomes CANDLEMAS DAY

5.  Planning: Have an entrance.  carrying lighted candles.  Sing "light" songs.  Do not reduplicate Introductory rites.  First thing in Church (or entering) is singing the Glory to God.

6.  "The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple, celebrated in Jerusalem as early as the fifth century, was adopted at Rome in the seventh century under the name Hypapante (that is, the meeting between Jesus and Simeon). From the tenth century the Western liturgical books listed this as the Purification of Mary. In accordance with the traditions of the Eastern Churches, the Code of the Rubrics for 1960 declared that this feast should be celebrated as a feast of the Lord. (Roman Calendar, p 47)

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To Think About

 

 

 

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it. This site was updated on 03/11/14 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org