Christmas Season 2022-2023: God is with us!
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!
The Christmas Season begins on the evening of December 24 and runs through Monday, January 9, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
On January 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Because January 1 falls on a Sunday, The Feast of the Holy Family which is usually celebrated on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year will be celebrated on Friday, December 30.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is usually celebrated on the Sunday after Epiphany but when Epiphany falls on January 7 or 8. Baptism of the Lord is celebrated the next day, which is Monday, January 9 this year.
This year, the Christmas season ends on January 9, 2023.
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Mary is known by many titles often evoking her role in Salvation history such as Queen of Heaven; celebrating her virtues such as Mother of Good Counsel; or referencing her apparitions such as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The oldest and most foundational title for Mary is Μητερ or Mother as found in Scripture. The oldest theological title is that of Θεοτοκος (Theotokos), Bearer of God or Mother of God.
Although the latter title is very common and perfectly accepted today it was not so from the beginning. This title likely was first used around the year 200 and became widely accepted by about the year 300, give or take some decades. At first, it seems to have been used for its poetic beauty without giving much thought to its theological implications. But as the title became more popular its theological significance was carefully studied and discussed.
Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390) famously wrote: “…if anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead.” This affirmation belies the fact that not everyone accepted the title of Theotokos.
To settle the matter Emperor Theodosius II called the Council of Ephesus in 431 at the insistence of Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria and Pope Celestine of Rome. The Council solemnly affirmed the title of Theotokos, and ever since, Mary has been known as the Mother of God.
What to do in the Domestic Church:
The oldest known prayer to Mary:
Although we are all most familiar with the Hail Mary and the Rosary, the oldest known prayer to the Blessed Mother is known by it’s Latin title as Sub tuum praesidium. The prayer is believed to have originated in Egypt in the third Century.
It would be very fitting to pray this prayer at home on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
To your protection we flee, O Theotokos,
do not despise our prayers in our need,
but deliver us from all dangers,
Glorious and blessed Virgin.
(3rd C. Egypt)
A Quick Glance at the Readings for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God for your personal reflection
From the First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you!
From the Second Reading: Galatians 4: 4-7
You are no longer a slave but a child [of God],
and if a child [of God] then also an heir, through God.
From the Gospel: Luke 2: 16-21
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
This Week at The Basilica of Saint Mary
We will have the usual schedule of Masses on the weekend of December 31 and January 1.
Sunday: 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 5:00pm
On Sunday, January 1 at 3:00pm Mirandola will sing Gregorian Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in The Basilica Choir Stalls.
On Sunday, January 8 at 3:00pm The Basilica Schola Cantorum will sing Vespers for the Solemnity of the Epiphany in The Basilica Choir Stalls.
We livestream Sunday Vespers.
The next Vespers will be on the first Sunday of Lent, February 26.
We celebrate Mass in the St. Joseph Chapel, Monday through Friday at 7:00am and at Noon. The noon Mass is livestreamed.
Please note that on Monday, January 2 we will only have a 7:00am Mass. The Basilica offices will be closed.
On Thursday we gather in the Basilica Choir Stalls at 9:15am for the celebration of Morning Prayer. This is a simple but beautiful way to begin your day.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
A priest is available in the St. Joseph Chapel for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation each Saturday between 9:00-10:00am. Please mark your calendars for
Please be sure to visit The Basilica’s principle Nativity behind the high altar as well as a selection of nativities from The Basilica collection which you can find in The Basilica as well as in the undercroft.
And please remember that Christmas is not a day but a season!
The world around us wants us to start celebrating Christmas to soon and wants us to stop celebrating too soon. The proper celebration of Christmas does not start until the Eve of December 24 and does not end till Baptism of the Lord. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I, for one will continue to enjoy my Christmas tree and many nativities at home and will listen to Christmas Carols till January 9.