Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Nativity of Mary

English: Saint Anne with the Virgin

English: Saint Anne with the Virgin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Nativity of Mary, or Birth of the Virgin Mary, refers to the traditional birthday of Saint Mary.

The modern canon of scripture does not record Mary’s birth. The earliest known account of Mary’s birth is found in the Protoevangelium of James (5:2), an apocryphal text from the late second century, with her parents known as Saint Anne and Saint Joachim.

In the case of saints, the church commemorates their date of death, with Saint John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary as the few whose birth dates are commemorated. The reason for this is found in the singular mission each had in salvation history, but traditionally also because these alone (besides the prophet Jeremiah, Jer 1:5) were holy in their very birth (John was sanctified in Saint Elizabeth‘s womb according to the traditional interpretation of Lk 1:15).

Devotion to the innocence of Mary under this Marian title is widely celebrated in many cultures across the globe.

The Baptism of Our Lord

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jo...

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River by John. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This brings to an end the season of Christmas. The Church recalls Our Lord’s second manifestation or epiphany which occurred on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan. In the Eastern Church this feast is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan God appeared in three persons. Many of the incidents which accompanied Christ’s baptism are symbolical of what happened at our Baptism. At Christ’s baptism the the Holy Spirit descended upon Him; at our Baptism the Trinity took its abode in our soul. At His baptism Christ was proclaimed the “Beloved Son” of the Father; at our Baptism we become the adopted sons of God. At Christ’s baptism the heavens were opened; at our Baptism heaven was opened to us. At His baptism Jesus prayed; after our Baptism we must pray to avoid actual sin.

Christmas

English: Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mos...

English: Jesus Christ – detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octive. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated culturally by a large number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season.

The Holy Name

The_Circumcision,oilpainting by Luca Signorelli.

The_Circumcision,oilpainting by Luca Signorelli. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 1, we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. Since we are more squeamish than our ancestors, modern calendars often list it as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, but the other emphasis is the older. Every Jewish boy was circumcised (and formally named) on the eighth day of his life, and so, one week after Christmas, we celebrate the occasion when Our Lord first shed His blood for us. It is a fit close for a week of martyrs, and reminds us that to suffer for Christ is to suffer with Him.

James Kiefer