This week we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord by recalling our kids’ baptisms (and maybe by making a sweet treat); we’ve also got a saint who was saved by a spider, the kickoff of 9 Days for Life, and the pope on motherhood and the importance of circus performers.
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COMING UP THIS WEEK
Sunday, January 4
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
“. . . God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
Tuesday, January 13
Optional Memorial of Hilary of Poitiers
300-368. Bishop of Poitiers and a Doctor of the Church, sometimes referred to as the “Hammer of the Arians.” Hilary is the pre-eminent Latin writer of the 4th century (before Ambrose). Augustine of Hippo called him “the illustrious doctor of the churches”, and his works continued to be highly influential in later centuries.
Wednesday, January 14
Saint Felix of Nola
d. 250. A Christian presbyter at Nola near Naples in Italy. He sold off his possessions in order to give to the poor, but was arrested and tortured for his Christian faith during the persecution of the Roman emperor Decius. According to legend, Felix hid his bishop from Roman soldiers in a vacant building. When the two were safely inside, a spider quickly spun a web over the door, fooling the imperial forces into thinking it was long abandoned, and they left without finding the Christians.
Saturday, January 17
Memorial of Saint Anthony of Egypt
251-356. Sometimes called Anthony the Great or the Father of All Monks, the biography of Anthony’s life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of monasticism. He is often erroneously considered the first monk; Anthony was, however, the first known ascetic going into the wilderness (about AD 270–271),
SEVEN WAYS FOR YOUR FAMILY TO LIVE IN CHRIST THIS WEEK
1. Read and reflect on this Sunday’s Scripture readings
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which you can read more about at Fish Eaters. Questions for family discussion:
- What is the common theme of the three main readings this Sunday? (Baptism and anointing.)
- Point out the connection between the first lines of the reading from Isaiah and the words spoken by the Father when Jesus is baptized in the Gospel of Mark; Jesus’ baptism fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah.
- What does Isaiah say God’s anointed one will do? (Bring justice to the earth.) What does the reading from Acts say that Jesus did after his baptism? (He went about doing good and freeing those oppressed by the devil.)
- What does this week’s readings reveal about the meaning of your own baptism?
- Why, if Jesus is free from sin, does he need to be baptized? (See Catechism #536 for the answer.)
2. Celebrate your child’s baptism
“Did you know you were baptized, too, just like Jesus?” This Sunday would be an excellent time to tell the story of your child’s baptism. What was the most memorable moment? Why did you ask to have your child baptized? What promises did you have to make? (Hint: You promised to raise your child in the faith.) Pull out anything related to your kids’ baptism: a baptismal gown, candle, pictures, or video.
Bonus points: Using fabric markers, make a tablecloth celebrating baptism containing the baptismal dates of everyone in the family; bring it out for meals on the anniversary of each person’s baptism.
Even more bonus points: Celebrate the feast by making Christ’s Diapers, a sweet dessert, the recipe for which you will find at Catholic Cuisine, and no, we’re not making that up.
3. Sign up for 9 Days for Life
The U.S. Catholic bishops are once again sponsoring nine days of prayer for life. From the web page: On January 22 our nation will mark the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the U.S. Since that tragic decision, more than 56 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and many suffer that loss — often in silence. Join thousands of Catholics across the country coming together in prayer for a “culture of life” from Saturday, January 17 – Sunday, January 25!” You can join by mobile app, e-mail, text, or online by visiting the 9 Days for Life web page.
4. Take down your Christmas decorations
The liturgical season of Christmas ends with the Baptism of the Lord, and Ordinary Time begins the following day. (Yes, we’ll come back around to the Christmas season on February 2 for the Presentation, but it’s mostly over.) What traditions does your family have around putting away Christmas decorations? What traditions could you start? If you have ideas, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll share them online.
5. Read the story of St. Felix
There are several interesting feast days this week, including the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt, but it is the feast of Saint Felix who might be most interesting to your kids, especially the story of how he escaped the Roman persecution with the help of an angel and, on two occasions, a spider. You can find his story in Ethel Pochocki’s Once Upon a Time Saints, or at Wikipedia via the link above.
6. Try praying the Magnificat
Here at Peanut Butter and Grace, we’re all about the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise, and this week we feature an essay about why it’s worth learning: Why Not the Magnificat? Mary’s Song of Humble Joy Ought to be Our Song, Too. Here is the traditional text of the Magnificat as it is prayed during Evening Prayer:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.
7. Incorporate the intentions of Pope Francis into your prayers this month
Pope Francis’s universal prayer intention for January seems especially appropriate in the wake of the Paris terrorism attack: “That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.” You can incorporate this prayer intention into your meal prayer or your family prayer.
WHAT THE CHURCH IS SAYING NOW
For all our symbolic glorification of mothers, their important contribution to the life of society, their daily sacrifices and their aspirations are not always properly appreciated. Mothers are an antidote to the spread of a certain self-centredness, a decline in openness, generosity and concern for others. In this sense, motherhood is more than childbearing; it is a life choice, entailing sacrifice, respect for life, and commitment to passing on those human and religious values which are essential for a healthy society. Archbishop Oscar Romero spoke in this regard of a “martyrdom of mothers”, whose sensitivity to all that threatens human life and welfare is a source of enrichment for society and the Church. Today I ask you to join me in thanking mothers everywhere for what they are, and for all that they give to the Church and to our world.
The people who perform in the circus create beauty – they are creators of beauty. And this is good for the soul. How we are in need of beauty!
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