Saturday, November 26, 2016

'Tis the Season

The page for December from a medieval
breviary calendar, depicting preparations
for the Christmas feast.
'Tis the Season! But the season for what? Our modern secular culture tends to view the entire period between Thanksgiving and New Year as "the holiday season." But the liturgical calendar of the Church is much more specific. There is a definite flow and rhythm, marked by special feasts and celebrations along the way.

This year, don't just celebrate the generic "holiday season." Savor each special moment in the calendar, taking time to pray with the Church and appreciate the individual character of each point along the way.

Advent

We begin with the season of Advent, a season of preparation, not just for the coming Christmas feast, celebrating Christ's first coming among us, but also the second coming of Christ at the end of time. And so we make ready our minds and hearts to meet our Savior.

Nov 27: 1st Sunday of Advent 

PRAYER: Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Nov 30: St. Andrew's Day

PRAYER: We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 4: 2nd Sunday of Advent

PRAYER: Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 6: St. Nicholas' Day
PRAYER: We humbly implore your mercy, Lord: protect us in all dangers through the prayers of the Bishop Saint Nicholas, that the way of salvation may lie open before us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

PRAYER: O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 9: St. Juan Diego

PRAYER: O God, who by means of Saint Juan Diego showed the love of the most holy Virgin Mary for your people, grant, through his intercession, that, by following the counsels our Mother gave at Guadalupe, we may be ever constant in fulfilling your will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 11: 3rd Sunday of Advent - Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday

PRAYER: O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord's Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe

PRAYER: O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son's most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 17: Beginning of "O" Antiphons

December 17 marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ.
"O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!"

Dec. 18: 4th Sunday of Advent

PRAYER: Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
"O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!"

Dec. 19:

"O Root of Jesse's stem, sign of God's love for all his people: come to save us without delay!"

Dec. 20:

"O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!"

Dec. 21:

"O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!"

Dec. 22:

"O King of all the nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!"

Dec. 23:

"O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: Come to save us, O Lord our God!"

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve

PRAYER: Come quickly, we pray, Lord Jesus, and do not delay, that those who trust in your compassion may find solace and relief in your coming. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Christmas

The solemnity of our Lord's birth celebrates the mystery of the incarnation by which the Word of God humbled Himself to share our humanity, in order that He might enable us to become sharers in His divinity.

Dec. 25: Christmas Day

PRAYER: O God, who gladden us year by year as we wait in hope for our redemption grant that, just as we joyfully welcome your Only Begotten Son as our Redeemer, we may also merit to face him confidently when he comes again as our Judge. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 26: 2nd Day of Christmas - Feast of St. Stephen, first martyr

PRAYER: Grant, Lord, we pray, that we may imitate what we worship, and so learn to love even our enemies, for we celebrate the heavenly birthday of a man who know how to pray even for his persecutors. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 27: 3rd Day of Christmas - Feast of St. John, apostle & evangelist

PRAYER: O God, who through the blessed Apostle John have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our ears. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 28: 4th Day of Christmas - Feast of the Holy Innocents

PRAYER: O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, we pray, that the faith in your which we confess with our lips may also speak through our manner of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 29: 5th Day of Christmas - St. Thomas Becket, bishop & martyr

PRAYER: O God, who gave the Martyr Saint Thomas Becket the courage to give up his life for the sake of justice, grant, through his intercession, that, renouncing our life for the sake of Christ in this world, we may find it in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 30: 6th Day of Christmas - Feast of the Holy Family

PRAYER: O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Dec. 31: 7th Day of Christmas - St. Sylvester I, pope

PRAYER: Come, O Lord, to the help of your people, sustained by the intercession of Pope Saint Sylvester, so that, running the course of this present life under your guidance we may happily attain life without end. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Jan 1: Octave of Christmas - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

PRAYER: O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Jan 2: 9th Day of Christmas - Memorials of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, doctors of the Church

PRAYER: O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by the example and teaching of the Bishops Saints Basil and Gregory, grant, we pray, that in humility we may learn your truth and practice it faithfully in charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Jan 3: 10th Day of Christmas - Most Holy Name of Jesus

PRAYER: O God, who founded the salvation of the human race on the Incarnation of your Word, give your peoples the mercy they implore, so that all may know there is no other name to be invoked but the Name of your Only Begotten Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Jan 4: 11th Day of Christmas - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

PRAYER: O God, who crowned with the gift of true faith Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton's burning zeal to find you, grant by her intercession and example that we may always seek you with diligent love and find you in daily service with sincere faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Jan 5: 12th Day of Christmas - St. John Neumann

PRAYER: O God, who called the Bishop Saint John Neumann, renowned for his charity and pastoral service, to shepherd your people in America, grant by his intercession that, as we foster the Christian education of youth and are strengthened by the witness of brotherly love, we may constantly increase the family of your Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Jan 6 (traditional), Jan 8 (observed): Epiphany of our Lord

PRAYER: May the splendor of your majesty, O Lord, we pray, shed its light upon our hearts, that we may pass through the shadows of this world and reach the brightness of our eternal home. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Jan 9: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

PRAYER: Almighty ever-living God, who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, solemnly declared him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be well pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings an end to the Christmas Season and marks the beginning of Ordinary Time. The Church recognizes in Christ's baptism His second epiphany, or manifestation to the world.

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