Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year
It is good to continue to wish one another “Merry Christmas” throughout this Christmas season. All too often, it seems people are ready to remove the tree and take down the lights as soon as December 25th ends. I think it is especially important that we continue through the octave and the celebration of the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on January 1st. Mary is the mother of Jesus. Jesus fully man and fully God. Therefore, Mary can be said to be the mother of God. Mary’s motherhood has the integral connection with the birthday of Jesus, so it makes sense that these two great feasts are celebrated a week apart from each other.
Normally, January 1st would be a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States. Technically, it still is, but we have been dispensed from that obligation by our bishop in light of health concerns surrounding COVID-19. I still encourage each person to consider attending one of the Masses scheduled for New Year’s Eve or the Area Catholic Community Mass at 9:00 a.m. at St. Joseph, Waite Park on New Year’s Day. We want to keep the Christmas spirit of joy and peace alive in our hearts throughout the season, and especially as we rejoice in Mary, Mother of God.
These days are also good opportunities to be thankful for the gifts we have received this last year. Even through difficulties and the struggles of a fallen world, we know that God is present to bring light and hope. God helps us in ways that are not always immediately evident to us. His plans for us and our world are not easy to discern. We need to spend time in prayer and reflection to assist us in recognizing God’s workings in our midst.
Once we recognize God’s grace and gifts around us, we are able to properly give thanks. And the best way to give thanks to God is through the prayer of the Mass. It is the most perfect expression of praise and thanksgiving that we can give to God. At the Mass we receive and offer what none of us could possibly give on our own. We offer the Divine presence of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. God makes himself present for us so that through that presence we can give in return something greater than we give by ourselves.
Fr. Timothy Gapinski