This week we celebrate Epiphany with a household blessing and procession; also, how to heed the pope’s call to combat human trafficking, and a Twelfth Night feast.
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COMING UP THIS WEEK
Sunday, January 4
“Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.”
Ephesians 3:2-3A, 5-6
“. . . the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
“. . . behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.’”
Monday, January 5
SEVEN WAYS FOR YOUR FAMILY TO LIVE IN CHRIST THIS WEEK
1. Read and reflect on this Sunday’s Scripture readings
God has come for everyone, of every nation and state of life. That is the common theme of this Sunday’s readings for the Feast of the Epiphany—a message reinforced by Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Peace. Questions to ask your family:
- What is the common theme of today’s readings? How are they connected?
- How is the prophecy in the reading from the Book of Isaiah fulfilled in the reading from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and the Gospel of Matthew?
- In all three readings, the nations are gathered by God—first to Jerusalem, then to Bethlehem, and then in the Church. How does the Church “gather the nations” today? (Look to Pope Francis’s World Day of Peace message for clues.)
- How can we, in the little Church of our family, be a welcoming light to people of all nations and walks of life?
2. Read a saint story
The Church does not formally celebrate saints’ memorials and feast days on Sundays, but since Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first native-born saint of the United States and such an interesting character in herself, it might be fun to share her story with your kids this week.
You might also share the story of another American saint, John Neumann, on Monday. John Neumann arrived in America with a dollar in his pocket and ended up as Bishop of Philadelphia, and had lots of adventures in between.
The links in the calendar above will take you to these saints’ entries at Wikipedia. Both are featured in Around the Year Once Upon a Time Saints by Ethel Pochocki, whose delightful stories are a mainstay in our family.
3. Celebrate Epiphany
Young children love marching in a parade, so celebrate Epiphany with young children with a simple Procession of the Magi.
Older kids will enjoy the King Cake tradition. Don’t know about King Cake? You’ll find out more than you ever wanted to know over at Wikipedia’s article on King cakes.
Another idea for family prayer is to…
4. Bless your home
Did you know that in many cultures, it is traditional to bless the home on Epiphany? Grab the Blessing of the Home and Household on Epiphany from the USCCB website to incorporate the blessing into your family prayer.
5. Celebrate Twelfth Night
Monday is the Twelfth Night of Christmas, which is excuse enough for a party, and over at Catholic Cuisine, they have a complete and comprehensive plan for a Twelve Days of Christmas themed dinner feast. This thing has twelve courses, people, including partridge in a pear tree pie. Even if you’re not that ambitious, you might try a variation on the idea . . . at our house, I think we will have homemade pizza sliced up into twelve sections, each with a different topping. Not as wonderful as the feast over at Catholic Cuisine, but it’s how our family rolls.
You can find even more ways to celebrate, plus a fascinating history of the holiday, over at Fisheaters: The Twelfth Night of Christmas.
6. Read and discuss Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Peace
Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Peace, “No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters,” confronts the problem of human trafficking and slavery. The solution to these problems springs from a sense of fraternity, the common bond we all share as children of God.
You can read over the entire message with teens, or read and discuss the summary offered by the USCCB: World Day of Peace 2015.
7. Decide to take on human trafficking
The USCCB World Day of Peace 2015 document also contains five very concrete ways that your older kids or teens can take on human trafficking, including information on how to obtain a SHEPHERD program toolkit and a prayer you can incorporate into your family prayer time.
QUOTES FROM THE CHURCH
Mary is so closely united to Jesus because she received from Him the knowledge of the heart, the knowledge of faith, nourished by her experience as a mother and by her close relationship with her Son. The Blessed Virgin is the woman of faith who made room for God in her heart and in her plans; she is the believer capable of perceiving in the gift of her Son the coming of that ‘fullness of time’ in which God, by choosing the humble path of human existence, entered personally into the history of salvation. That is why Jesus cannot be understood without His Mother.
Millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery. . . I invite everyone, in accordance with his or her specific role and responsibilities, to practice acts of fraternity towards those kept in a state of enslavement. Let us ask ourselves, as individuals and as communities, whether we feel challenged when, in our daily lives, we meet or deal with persons who could be victims of human trafficking, or when we are tempted to select items which may well have been produced by exploiting others. Some of us, out of indifference, or financial reasons, or because we are caught up in our daily concerns, close our eyes to this. Others, however, decide to do something about it, to join civic associations or to practice small, everyday gestures – which have so much merit! – such as offering a kind word, a greeting or a smile. These cost us nothing but they can offer hope, open doors, and change the life of another person who lives clandestinely; they can also change our own lives with respect to this reality.
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