Friday, January 1, 2021

A Godly Start to the New Year

It wasn't until someone commented on a thread (can't remember where) that I realized the Catholic tradition of attendance at New Year's Day mass wasn't understood by the majority of Christians. So, I'm giving a quick summary of the month's highlights, in terms of holy days and feasts.

  1. New Year's Day is what non-Catholics call today. January 1 is labeled The Solemnity of Mary, and, in the United States, is a Holy Day of Obligation (one of the non-Sundays on which attendance at mass is not optional). 
    1. It's also the Octave of Christmas (it falls on the 8th day after Christ's birth). It's also the day that Christ was circumcised.
    2. This day has been celebrated since the early days of the Church; beans or lentils are a traditional dish for the meal.
  2. Epiphany is on January 3rd on the calendar; Epiphany is traditionally associated with the arrival of the Magi (3 Kings). It may, instead, be celebrated on January 6, the usual Three Kings Day. But, we live in America, so we tend to time-shift many holy days to the nearest or earliest Sunday. BTW, Holy Day is the origin of our word Holiday.
  3. January 10th is the Baptism of the Lord. No, it wasn't something that occurred in his infancy - Jesus was an adult when John the Baptist immersed him in the waters of the Jordan, and performed the ceremony that marked the official beginning of his public ministry.
After the Baptism, the church labeled Sundays as Ordinary Time, which means any time period not included in the official seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter.

The Holy Days of Obligation are: Solemnity of Mary, Ascension, Assumption, All Saint's, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas. Surprisingly, Ash Wednesday is NOT one of them, although many people would not think of starting Lent without attending Church and getting the ashes traced on their forehead.

Here's a graphic that shows how the Catholic year is carved up.

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