December 9th - Feast of Saint Juan Diego
Juan Diego was a poor Mexican raised in the pagan Aztec religion. As an adult he converted to Catholicism. He was committed to his new life and would walk great distances to receive religious instruction from the Franciscan missionaries. On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was in a hurry to make it to Mass and celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which we celebrated yesterday. On his way he was stopped by the beautiful sight of a radiant woman who introduced herself, in his native tongue, as the "ever-perfect holy Mary, who has the honour to be the mother of the true God." Mary told Juan Diego to ask the local bishop to build a chapel in her honour there on Tepeyac Hill. Click here to find out what happened!
Monday’s feast day is directly connected to today’s. So to celebrate the feast of Juan Diego and in anticipation of the feast of Our Lady Guadalupe why not make something traditional such as Mexican Wedding Cookies (one of my faves!)
December 8th - Feast of the Immaculate Conception
1. False. This feast day celebrates the conception of Mary. We celebrate the conception of Jesus on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation.
2. True. The Immaculate Conception refers to the fact that the Blessed Virgin May was free from original sin from the very moment of conception.
3. False, sort of. Despite the fact that this feast day celebrates an important event in salvation history, it is no longer a Holy Day of Obligation in Canada. It is however in the United States, in part because this is the patronal feast of the US.
4. True. Saint Anne is Mary’s mom. The Feast dates back to the seventh century. It was not celebrated in the Western Church until the 11th century.
5. True. On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of our faith, that is to say, a doctrine that the Church teaches was revealed by God Himself.
December 6th - Feast of Saint Nicholas
Santa Claus is a staple of Christmas in North America, but did you know that he is loosely based on a real person who lived centuries ago! (Santa Claus is an American invention, an anglicization of Sinterklaas, the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas.) Nicholas was a fourth century Greek bishop of Myra. (Today, Myra is known as the town of Demre and is located on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.) Nicholas was the only child of Christian parents. Sadly, both of his parents died during an epidemic when he was a young man and he was raised by his uncle - the Bishop of Patara. Nicholas’ parents left him financially well off and he became determined to devote his inheritance to works of charity. It is believed he died on this day in the year 343.
Today, many European countries still celebrate the arrival of Saint Nicholas as seen in these photos taken last year in the town square in Prague, Czech Republic.
Visit to the St. Nicholas Center to learn everything you ever wanted to know and more about this saint!
Watch this short video bio of St. Nicholas. Or watch Nicholas: the Boy who Became Santa with your children or grandchildren.
December 4th - 2nd Sunday of Advent
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)
John the Baptist was born the “miracle” son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, who was thought to be too old to have children. They were told the joyous news by the Angel Gabriel who visited them and who told them his name was to be John.. Zachariah being a bit of a skeptic did not believe and his power to speak was taken away until the time his son was born and named John, in fulfillment of God's will. It was John who announced the coming of Christ to the people.
Extra: John the Baptist (video)
Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness by Geertgen tot St. Jans and hangs in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.