Christmas 2018

December 25, 2018 – January 13, 2019

Christmas is one of the most important days of the Church year, second only to Easter itself. It is the feast of the incarnation, the feast of God becoming flesh (the Latin “in carne” means “enfleshment”). It is a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us. Because of this belief, God is not only Transcendent, but also wholly Immanent, Emmanuel (God-with-us). While remaining Transcendent (meaning we must rise above our present condition to reach Him), He is at the same time Immanent (meaning He is with us as we rise toward Him). Every Eucharist is like Christmas where the bread and wine are transformed into His flesh, His Body and Blood, and, in a sense, He is born anew on the altar. 


January 12

Saturday after Epiphany

READ

Before tomorrow, read the story of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan (Mt 3:13-17 or Mk 1:9-11).

REFLECT

In just two days, the Christmas season will be over, and the Church will return to Ordinary Time. Read and reflect on this family’s journey back to Ordinary Time today.

PRAY

Gather your family and pray a prayer for family commitment.

ACT

After reading the article, spend time thinking about how you can make Ordinary Time anything but dull.


January 11

Friday after Epiphany

READ

On this national day of awareness against human trafficking, see what the U.S. bishopsare doing to help solve the problem of modern-day slavery around the world.

REFLECT

“Our awareness must expand and extend to the very depths of this evil and its farthest reaches … from awareness to prayer … from prayer to solidarity … and from solidarity to concerted action, until slavery and trafficking are no more.” — Cardinal Peter Turkson

PRAY

On this national day of awareness against human trafficking, pray for the estimated 40.3 million victims of modern-day slavery around the world.

ACT

Sign a postcard to Congress in solidarity with the U.S. bishops today to help migrants around the world.


January 10

Thursday after Epiphany

READ

Next week marks the beginning of the 9 Days for Life novena. This “digital pilgrimage” of prayer and action is focused on cherishing the gift of every person’s life. A multi-faceted novena highlighting a different intention each day provides reflections, bonus information and suggested actions.

REFLECT

“Only with prayer – prayer that storms the heavens for justice and mercy, prayer that cleanses our hearts and souls – will the culture of death that surrounds us today be replaced with a culture of life.” — Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Catholic Bishops

PRAY

Add pro-life intentions to your time with a rosary today.

ACT

Sign up for daily reflections for 9 Days for Life today.


January 9

Wednesday After Epiphany

READ

World Youth Day is just 2 weeks away! Learn about some of the events for those staying here and traveling to Panama this month.

REFLECT

World Youth Day themes have recently been centered around the Blessed Virgin Mary. Reflect on this year’s theme today: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

PRAY

Pray for all pilgrims celebrating World Youth Day this month stateside or en route to Panama.

ACT

Listen to the World Youth Day song, “Here I Am, the Servant of the Lord.” 


January 8

Tuesday After Epiphany

READ

Amidst the trenches of American poverty, the U.S. bishops have found some stories of hope.

REFLECT

“St. Basil, in a much-quoted homily, once declared that the bread we clutch in our hands belongs to the starving, the cloak we keep locked in our closet belongs to the naked, the shoes we are not using belong to the barefooted.” — Msgr. Charles Murphy, “The Good Life from a Catholic Perspective: The Challenge of Consumption” on USCCB.org 

PRAY

Among those most vulnerable in poverty are children. Pray for children experiencing poverty today.

ACT

As Poverty Awareness Month continues, learn about how war, disease, climate and other factors impact global poverty and ways you can help the poor around the world.


January 7

Feast of St. Raymond of Penafort, Priest

READ

Take time to research the life of St. Raymond of Penafort today.

REFLECT

What journeys do you hope to take in this New Year? What will your spiritual journey look like before next January?

PRAY

Continue an observance of National Migration Week with a prayer for migrants and refugees.

ACT

On this #MigrationMonday, read stories about migrants from around the world.


January 6

The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

READ

The Epiphany marks the arrival of visitors, identified in Scripture as the magi, to the place where Jesus was born. Although we know virtually nothing about them, we do know they brought three gifts:

  1. Gold — a symbol of wealth and power, identifies the recipient as a king. 
  2. Frankincense — the crystalized resinous sap of a tree used as incense and as an offering, is symbolic of prayer.
  3. Myrrh — another resinous tree sap, was used in healing liniments and as an embalming ointment. Myrrh is an odd gift for a child—so, even at the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth, this gift foreshadows his death.

REFLECT

For much of the secular world, the holiday season has died down. Reflect with this article on the joys of the holiday season and what you have left to celebrate when the decorations are put away.

PRAY

ACT

Wish someone a Merry Christmas today! An easy way to evangelize is to wish someone a Merry Christmas during the Christmas season after December 25 and explain why. The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.


January 5

Memorial of St. John Neumann

 

READ

Today, we remember St. John Neumann, who helped expand Catholic education in the United States in the 1800s.

REFLECT

In addition to promoting education, St. John Neumann was also known for his work with migrants and refugees. Can you do more to welcome migrants and refugees into your community, county, or state?

PRAY

Pray to St. John Neumann today.

ACT

National Migration Week begins tomorrow. Learn more about the work the U.S. bishops are doing to help migrants around the world.


January 4

Memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious

READ

Today we remember the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized as a saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton.

REFLECT

Only if people change will the world change; and in order to change, people need the light that comes from God, the light which so unexpectedly [on the night of Christmas] entered into our night.

—Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, December 25, 2008

PRAY

Pray one of these three prayers to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton today.

ACT

Aim to put these practices of building a domestic Church into action.


January 3

Thursday in the Second Week of Christmas

READ

“But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation; JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming humanity the Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWAH saves.” The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2666)

REFLECT

“May he—who did not shrink from taking a beginning like ours—perfect in us his gifts, and may he also make us children of God, he who for our sakes wished to become a child of man.” — St. Augustine, Sermons, 184

PRAY

Today we remember and honor the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Take time to read the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus.

ACT

Make reading the daily readings a part of your New Year’s habits this year.


January 2, 2019

Wednesday in the Second Week of Christmas

READ

Today we read about St. Basil the Great, revered as a Doctor of the Church.

REFLECT

St. Basil once wrote, “Do everything possible to make yourself worthy of the Kingdom. Do not disdain the invitation you have received” (Exhortation to Baptism, 7-8).

PRAY

As many prepare to return to work today, say a prayer for work.

ACT

January is Poverty Awareness Month. Take a few minutes to explore this interactive map to better understand what poverty looks like in your city, county and state.


January 1, 2019

The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

READ

We close out the Christmas octave—the eight days following the birth of Christ—with a day honoring Mary as the Mother of God. Take time to read about the Mother of Godtoday.

REFLECT

“With his Mother’s flesh God clothed himself, / Since from Virginity he was made man.” — Prudentius, Hymn of the Divinity of Christ, 435-436

PRAY

January 1 is also the World Day of Peace. There are a number of prayers for peace to choose from—pray one today.

ACT

Visit the US Catholic bishops’ Action Center. . .today to find out ways you can advocate for peace around the world.


December 31, 2018

The Seventh Day within the Octave of Christmas

READ

The Christmas season carries on into the New Year and ends with the Baptism of the Lord (Jan. 13th this year). Take time to read about how you can carry the joy of Christmas with you into the New Year.

REFLECT

Did you make any changes to your spiritual life during Advent that have not carried over into the Christmas season? What more can you do to grow closer to God during this joyous season?

PRAY

On this day, pray in thanksgiving for all that God has given to you in 2018, and pray for openness to what the Lord has in store for 2019.

ACT

Make a list of faith-based New Year’s resolutions for 2019!


December 30, 2018

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

READ

Spend time reading today’s Gospel, where Jesus is found by his parents after three days in the temple.

REFLECT

After reading the Gospel through again, reflect on if there was something from the Scripture that touched you, that you would simply like to keep in your heart. Did you receive a new thought or inspiration that moved you?

PRAY

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. Say this prayer for families in honor of the feast.

ACT

At the start of this New Year, make a commitment to pray together as a family every day. Make it a habit to share your prayers before meals or before bed so that you may grow in faith and love together.


December 29, 2018

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

READ

Read today about St. Thomas Becket, once a royal chancellor of England. He was slain in his own cathedral for defending the Church from interference by King Henry II.

REFLECT

Christ’s kingdom is already present, but it is not yet fulfilled. The destruction of the last enemy, death, is still to come, and then, says St. Paul, God will “be all in all.” This is why we pray “Thy kingdom come.” When we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we are praying for a kingdom of truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love, and peace. Yet, let us also remember that for the sake of this kingdom many of our sisters and brothers are suffering persecution.

PRAY

Becket gave up his life for the sake of justice. Pray today for the many Christians who still face persecution and death because of their faith.

ACT

Take time to pray the Rosary for justice and peace today.


December 28, 2018

Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

READ

Read today about the Holy Innocents who were put to death by King Herod.

REFLECT

“We must not resign ourselves to thinking of a Middle East without Christians, who for 2,000 years have confessed the name of Jesus, and have been fully integrated as citizens into the social, cultural and religious life of the nations to which they belong.” —Pope Francis, 21 November 2013

The Christian presence in the Holy Land traces its roots to the earliest days of Christianity. These small, diverse communities have historically contributed to the vibrant social fabric of their societies in the fields of science, medicine, and philosophy. Their fraternity with the diversity of Churches and other religious groups helps to foster greater inter-religious dialogue, unity, and peace in the Middle East.

PRAY

O God of all the nations, the One God who is and was and always will be, in your providence you willed that your Church be united to the suffering of your Son. Look with mercy on your servants who are persecuted for their faith in you. Grant them perseverance and courage to be worthy imitators of Christ. Bring your wisdom upon leaders of nations to work for peace among all peoples. May your Spirit open conversion for those who contradict your will, that we may live in harmony. Give us the grace to be united in truth and freedom, and to always seek your will in our lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

— Prayer composed by Archbishop William E. Lori, Baltimore

ACT

In the midst of the turbulence in the Middle East, the USCCB expresses solidarity with Christians and all those who suffer from the conflict and persecution in the region. The Church stands at the service of all people in the Middle East, both Christians and Muslims. Find out how you can join in the efforts.


December 27, 2018

Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

READ

John and his brother, James, were Galilean fishermen, called the “sons of thunder,” and were chosen to be among the Twelve Apostles. John and his community of followers are credited with writing the fourth Gospel. Take time to read an introduction to John’s Gospel today.

REFLECT

St. John answered the call to be an apostle of Jesus. Have you listened for Jesus’s call in your life?

PRAY

Pray today to know your own vocation.

ACT

Watch a video with a dramatic reading of the prologue of John’s Gospel (Jn 1:1-5, 14).


December 26, 2018

Feast of Saint Stephen, The First Martyr

READ

Take time today to learn about Christianity’s first martyr.

REFLECT

“Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it” (Lk 9:24).

PRAY

In today’s first reading, St. Stephen is described as filled with grace and power. Pray that you may be a true disciple of the Lord.

ACT

Pope Francis has spoken about what it means to be a “daily martyr,” and the sacrifices we might regularly make for our loved ones. Make a list of the ways you serve your family, spouse, children, parents, etc. and see if you might be able to add more things to that list in the coming days.


December 25, 2018

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

READ

There are four different sets of readings for Mass on the Solemnity of Christmas, so depending on which Mass you attend, you will hear the Gospel according to either Matthew, Luke, or John.  Here is Luke’s infancy narrative for you to read and reflect on with your family.

 REFLECT

“You alone and your mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your mother. Who. . . can compare in beauty to these?” — St. Ephrem of Syria, Nisibene Hymns, 27.8

PRAY

Take time to lift up your heart in prayer today with this prayer from Catholic Relief Services. . . .

ACT

Celebrate the birth of Christ by participating in Mass and spending time with family and friends.

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