Creeks, rivers, and other forms of moving water, including ice, manifest the flow of life itself. A gurgling stream or rushing river, even in midwinter's rest, is the sign that new life is coming forth, even when it is not yet perceptible in a snow-covered landscape. Our life in Christ begins through the saving water of Baptism; since this is so, we have an obligation to protect and save the water. Water pollution is widespread, denying safe drinking water to millions of people.
Overview of January
The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, which is celebrated on January 3. The first twelve days of January fall during the liturgical season known as Christmas which is represented by the liturgical color white — the color of light, a symbol of joy, purity and innocence (absolute or restored). The remaining days of January are the beginning of Ordinary Time, which is represented by the liturgical color green. This symbol of hope is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection. It is used in the offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.
In the first part of January we continue to rejoice and celebrate Christ's coming at Bethlehem and in our hearts. We have the wonderful feasts of Mary, Mother of God, where we honor Mary's highest title, and then we follow the Magi to the crib as they bring their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh on Epiphany. Finally, we reach the culmination of this season with the Baptism of Our Lord by St. John the Baptist. With a touch of sadness, we take down our decorations and enter into the liturgical period known as Ordinary Time where we will devote ourselves to the mystery of Christ in its entirety.
The opening days of January may be cold and nature bleak, but the domestic church still glows warm with the peace and joy of Christmas. We dedicate the New Year to Mary on the January 1st Solemnity honoring her as Mother of God; and on January 7, the Solemnity of Epiphany, we rejoice with her, as her Son is adored by the three Wise Men.
Herald John, who ushered in the Advent season, is present once again to close Christmastide on the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (The First Luminous Mystery), and to open the Season of Ordinary Time. He points to Jesus, the Lamb of God who unites time and eternity in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and even January’s diminishing darkness seems to echo St. John’s prayer: “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
In this liturgical season the Church eagerly follows Our Lord as he gathers his apostles and announces his mission. At Cana’s wedding feast (The Second Luminous Mystery) he performs his first public miracle at the request of his Mother, and his disciples saw his glory and believed in him.
We, his present-day disciples pray for a like faith as we contemplate the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb and the unique role of the Blessed Mother in the plan of salvation. May we wholeheartedly obey her words of counsel: “Do whatever he tells you.”
FEAST OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD/NEW YEARS DAY
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12, Verse 5-7
5 When one is afraid of heights, and perils in the street; When the almond tree blooms, and the locust grows sluggish and the caper berry is without effect, Because mortals go to their lasting home, and mourners go about the streets; 6 Before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, And the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the pulley is broken at the well, 7 And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.
This chapter of Ecclesiastes is a tribute to life and is a poem on old age and death. The poem’s mysterious imagery has often been interpreted symbolically. Above all it seeks to evoke an atmosphere as well as an attitude toward death and old age. The poet references to the human body—“guardians”: the arms; “strong men”: the legs; “women who grind”: the teeth; “those who look”: the eyes; “the doors”: the lips; “daughters of song”: the voice; “the almond tree blooms”: resembling the white hair of old age; “the locust…sluggish”: the stiffness in movement of the aged; “the caper berry”: a stimulant for appetite. The golden bowl suspended by the silver cord is a symbol of life; the snapping of the cord and the breaking of the bowl, a symbol of death. The pitcher…the pulley: another pair of metaphors for life and its ending. Death is portrayed in terms of the description of creation in the body corrupts in the grave, and the life breath (“spirit”), or gift of life, returns to God who had breathed upon what he had formed.
How to Finish Well
By God’s grace we all hope to finish well. The poet gives us his plan on how to finish well.
1. Don’t lose sight of the big picture (entire situation), especially when you are young.
2. Do what is right before it is too late to correct yourself.
3. Use your words like tools to shepherd and add value to others.
4. Don’t try to master everything in life, just what is important.
5. Trust and obey God, because He is the ultimate judge.
“We are an Easter people, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!”
These words are attributed to St. John Paul II during an address at a black parish in Harlem in 1979, and again before leading the congregation in the Angelus at a Mass in Adelaide, Australia, in 1986. However, the Pope was paraphrasing a quote from St. Augustine of Hippo, some 1,500 years before: “We are a resurrection people, and our song is ‘Alleluia’.” If you don’t hear or read these words again this Easter, you probably will next year. If nothing else separates the post-Vatican II Catholic from the traditionalist, it’s the trope of “the resurrection people”. I’m not trying to import what’s been called the “hermeneutic of rupture”, the belief that the Second Vatican Council changed the DNA of the Catholic Church or the substance of Catholic dogma. However, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Council created, or at least promoted, a different style — a different perspective from which to view our doctrine and expound it. And the “resurrection people” trope is a key to that difference. Error usually begins with the emphasis of one doctrine, or a collection of related doctrines, over the rest. For instance, had Martin Luther truly understood what St. Paul meant by works, he might have ended his days still an Augustinian priest in communion with the Church. Far be it from me to suggest that either Ss. John Paul or Augustine were in error by saying “we are a resurrection people”; for both men were well-versed in the evangelium. However, the saying can be easily misunderstood. For it would be just as true, if not more, to say we are the “people of the crucifixion”.
For our goal is to follow him where he leads us for Christ is stronger than life or death!
Solemnity of Mary
For Catholics, today is a holy day of obligation to honor Mary the Mother of God the second Eve: who is the first example of courage. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. (Luke 1:30-31)
On my 2006 visit to Israel my wife and I visited and had Mass on the Mount of the Beatitudes. I remember our Priests were a little miffed with the little sister who worked there. She was upset with us because it was a warm day and some in our group had taken off their sweaters and their arms were exposed. She was focused on the rules, as Christ pointed out to the Pharisees who were focused on the outside of the cup being clean rather than the inside being clean. Similarly, the beatitudes of our Lord seek to not do away with the rules (10 commandments) but points at our inner dispositions. I think Church of the Beatitudes which an octagon is (eight sided) best represents how we should seek to best conform our hearts and our dispositions to be more like that of Christ. On the floor of the Church of the Beatitudes are eight mosaics with words in Latin. They reflect the dispositions of our Lord which we are to emulate.
· Temperantia (Temperance is a spirit of moderation and personal restraint; to keep ourselves in balance physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally).
· Lavs Tibi Christi (Praise God in all that we do).
· Charitas (a heart that burns with love of God and benevolence toward others).
· Ivstitia (Justice. Christ compels us to not ignore others, to understand others, not to rationalize and/or justify our questionable acts, do right even at risk of ourselves, and to pray for others).
· Prvdentia (forethought or prudence. Those who are Prudent are far from indecisive, for their bold decisions bear no streaks of doubt. Prudence disposes us to have a true care and concern for the health and wellbeing of others).
· Fides (Faith in God; to trust Him; to give yourself as He gave Himself).
· Spes (Hope. We must hope in the good news of Christ and trust ourselves in the church as we would a ship upon the waters).
· Fortitvdo (fortitude and courage. We must have the courage to allow Christ to increase in us).
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - Day Eight of Christmas
Although New Year's Day is not celebrated by the Church, this day has been observed as a holy day of obligation since early times due to the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Each family and country have different traditional foods to eat on New Year's Day, with lentils being the main superstition: ill luck befalling those who do not eat lentils at the beginning of the year.
New Year's is a day of traditional hospitality, visiting and good cheer, mostly with a secular view, but there is no reason that this day, too, could not be sanctified in Christ.
· Day Eight activity (New Year's Day Party)
· Day Eight recipe (New Year's Pretzel)
Read-We close out the Christmas octave—the eight days following the birth of Christ—with a day honoring Mary as the Mother of God. Take time to read about the Mother of God today.
Reflect-"With his Mother's flesh God clothed himself, / Since from Virginity he was made man." — Prudentius, Hymn of the Divinity of Christ, 435-436
Pray-January 1 is also the World Day of Peace. There are a number of prayers for peace to choose from—pray one today.
Act-Visit the US Catholic bishops' Action Center. . . today to find out ways you can advocate for peace around the world.
8th day of Christmas The Eight Maids a milking is a sign for the eight beatitudes. Today would be a good day to reflect on them.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
- Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the clean of heart: they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
- Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
New Year’s Day, the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord.
WHY do we call this New Year’s Day?
Because the civil year begins on this day, as the ecclesiastical does on the first Sunday in Advent.
What ought we to do on this day?
We must dedicate the New Year to the service of God, in order that, assisted by His grace, we may both begin and end it to His honor, and our own sanctification.
Why do we wish each other a happy New Year?
To renew love and harmony, and to fulfil an obligation of charity by wishes for each other’s happiness and prosperity.
What feast does the Church celebrate on this day?
The circumcision of Christ, at which He received the name of Jesus. “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law (Gal. iv. 4, 5).
O my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I thank Thee for having to-day shed Thy blood for the first time for me. Grant me, I beseech Thee, the grace of mortifying, circumcising for Thy love, my eyes, ears, lips, hands, feet, and all my sensual appetites, that I may not see, hear, speak, touch, wish, or do any evil. Amen.
O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of the blessed Mary hast given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may experience her intercession for us, through whom we have received the Author of life, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
GOSPEL. Luke ii. 21.
At that time: After eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised: His name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Why was Christ circumcised the eighth day of His birth?
1. So that by fulfilling the Jewish law, He might teach us patience and obedience to the law of God, and to His holy Church.
2. To show His infinite love to us in the very first days of His life. Who gave Him the name of Jesus? God Himself gave it to Him, Who came to save the world and sanctify us, for Jesus means Savior. It is, therefore, that holy and powerful name, whereby alone we can be saved (Acts iv. 12).
What power has this name?
A divine power; for in this name the apostles cast out devils and cured the sick (Mark xvi. 17, 18), as, for instance, the lame man who lay at the gate of the temple (Acts iii. 2-6). Through this name we receive from God whatever is helpful towards our salvation (John xiv. 13). It is well, therefore, to call on this holy name in adversities, in doubts, and in great temptations, particularly such as are hostile to purity. Even when we are so unhappy as to fall into sin, the remembrance of this holy name may bring us back to virtue, for it is as oil which en lightens, nourishes, and heals (Canticles i. 2, 3).
How must we speak this holy name, that its virtue may be felt?
With the greatest devotion and veneration, and with un bounded confidence; for, as St. Paul says, “in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. ii. 10). How sinful, therefore, is it in some to speak this name almost at every word, frivolously and disrespectfully; a habit which, in this country particularly, is so widely and fatally prevalent.
Prayer for New Year’s Day.
O Almighty God, now that we have lived to see another year, we thank Thy goodness and Thy incomprehensible mercy, that, from the moment of our birth, we have escaped so many dangers which have threatened our health and life. Would that we had never abused the precious time of our life to sin ! but, alas ! it is done, and we therefore pray Thee, through Thy Son, and through the precious blood He this day shed in His circumcision, to look, not upon the multitude of our sins, but upon Thy infinite mercy; we promise to be henceforth pious, just, and virtuous; strengthen us in our weakness ; increase in us faith, hope, and charity; keep us, by Thy powerful grace, from all sin, dangers, temptations, and adversities of soul and body; enable us, we beseech Thee, to offer up to Thee, from this day henceforth till the hour of our death, all our senses, thoughts, words, and deeds ; to subject them all to Thy holy will ; to op pose successfully every evil habit, and to practice every virtue. Grant, O Father, that we, living and dying in Thy only true faith, may enjoy in Thy kingdom, where one day is better than a thousand upon earth, an everlasting New Year of eternal happiness, and that we may praise Thee with all Thy angels and saints, forever and ever. Amen.
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896. In the General Roman Calendar, the 1 January feast, which from 1568 to 1960 was called "The Circumcision of the Lord and the Octave of the Nativity", is now named the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord.
New Year's Day
New Year's Day marks the start of a new year on the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar was first introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and began to be used in Britain and its colonies in 1751. It is a solar calendar which maintains synchrony with the tropical year. This holiday is celebrated every year on January 1st.
New Year's Day Facts
· Baby New Year is the most common symbol associated with this holiday. He is a toddler dressed in a diaper, hat, and sash bearing the numbers of the New Year. The myth states that he matures into an old man during the course of the year. On December 31st, he hands his hat and sash to the new Baby New Year.
· In early Roman calendar New Year was celebrated on March 1st. The new celebration of New Year on January 1st started in Rome in 153 BC. The New Year was moved to January because it was a month when two newly elected Roman consuls began their tenure, which reflected the beginning of civil year.
· In medieval Europe celebrations of New Year on January 1st were not always observed. Sometimes it was celebrated on Dec. 25th, March 1st and March 25th (The Feast of the Annunciation).
· Gregorian calendar came into force in 1582, which replaced the Julian calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII. After adoption of Gregorian calendar, January 1st was restored as New Year’s Day.
New Year's Day Top Events and Things to Do
· Visit Times Square and watch the ball drop in New York City to celebrate the New Year.
· Sing Auld Lang Sine and kiss a loved one at the stroke of midnight.
· Make new resolutions for the upcoming year and let go of what happened in the previous one.
· Take advantage of New Year's Eve skiing at a local ski hill near you. Usually the hills are less crowded and offer discounts on this holiday.
· New Year – means new trails to hike. Go hiking on a New Year’s Day to make a good start from day one and get motivated.
Polar Bear Swim Day
Strip down to your bathing suit, take a few steps over the snow and ice covering the ground, and hurl your body into ice-cold water. Sound like fun? Well, there are plenty of people who think it does, and these people get together to this every year! Sometimes it’s for charity and sometimes it’s just for a challenge, but either way, thousands of people worldwide take to the icy winter waters every year. These swims are understandably called “Polar Bear Swims”, and they usually take place in the sea.
Polar Bear Swims have been practiced for well over a hundred years in different countries. The first recorded Polar Bear Swim took place in Boston 1904. In many Canadian communities, plunging into icy water for a swim is a New Year’s Day tradition. Vancouver’s annual Polar Bear Swim Club has been active since 1920 and usually has 1,000 to 2,000 registered participants every New Year’s Day, with a record 2,128 registrants taking part in the Polar Bear Swim in English Bay in 2000.
It would seem that he Netherlands have greatly outdone North America, as about 10,000 people have been diving into the icy cold sea water at Scheveningen, The Netherlands’ main beach resort town, every year since 1960. In fact, it is estimated that all over the Netherlands, 30,000 people take part in what they call “Nieuwjaarsduik” New Year’s dive) each and every year.
New Year’s Day is thought to be the best day for this kind of swim, because as many participants have noted, after you’ve done that, no challenge the New Year could bring could possibly phase you. However, some swimming clubs organize regular winter sessions. Plungapalooza is the largest polar bear plunge in the United States, held annually at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland.
The event, that raises funds for the Special Olympics, has managed to collect millions of dollars. The largest Plungapalooza to date took place in 2008, with an estimated 12,000 people participating.
How to Celebrate Polar Bear Swim Day
· It’s actually quite simple: take part! Find out where the nearest Polar Bear Swim Day will be organized, and sign up. You can help raise money for those who need it, meet new friends and make some incredible memories! However, you should keep in mind that human beings don’t have the fat and fur that polar bears have to protect them from the cold.
· Enter the water slowly so it’s not too much of a shock, and be sure to have a towel and dry clothes ready for as soon as you come out of the water. You should also warm your body up afterwards from the inside out with a hot drink or bowl of soup. The Polar Bear Swim is also not right for everyone, as it triggers many intense bodily reactions—you may start to hyperventilate because of the inability to take a deep breath for the first 30 seconds or so, and your heartbeat and blood pressure will probably increase drastically.
· So if you have any heart condition or have the tendency to panic, you may be better off standing on the shore in your nice warm coat, hat and scarf, taking pictures and laughing at the people running right back out of the water as quickly as they ran into it. Either way, you will be able to be part of the fun!
Over time, we as humans have developed a different attitude towards nature and we've forgotten about our inner power. This is the ability of our body to adapt to extreme temperature and survive within our natural environment. The Wim Hof Method is based on this principle.
Because we wear clothes and artificially control the temperatures at home and at work, we've greatly reduced the natural stimulation of our bodies, atrophying the age-old mechanisms related to our survival and basic function. Because these deeper physiological layers are no longer triggered, our bodies are no longer in touch with this inner power. The inner power is a powerful force that can be reawakened by stimulating these physiological processes through the Wim Hof Method.
Start learning the Wim Hof Method today and start your journey to a happier, healthier and stronger you.
John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible.