John answered them, “I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
John 1

Creighton University Online Ministries
Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer
First Week of Christmas: Dec. 25-31, 2016

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Celebrating Christmas

The First Week of Christmas

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. There are four Christmas liturgies to reflect on and celebrate. Whether we are alone or with a community full of joy, this is a special day to get close to the manger and to renew our sense of gratitude, not only that our Savior has come, but how he has come - to be with us in such lowliness.

This week is full of rich celebrations, with lots of reason to help us stay reflective this week.

The 26th is the Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr.

The 27th is the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist.

The 28th is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, remembering the infant martyrs of Herod's jealous rage.

The 29th is Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas. We have the story of the Purification in the temple and the powerful words of Simeon about Jesus and about Mary.

The 30th is The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. When a Sunday does not occur between December 25 and January 1, this feast is celebrated on December 30. Even though it is not on a Sunday this year.

The 31st is the Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas. The Gospel is the beginning of John's Gospel.

Sunday, January 1st this year, New Year's Day, is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. In addition, it is a celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Peace.


Daily Prayer This Week:

This may be one of the most difficult weeks to be reflective throughout each day. This weekend may be quite full for many of us. Others of us may be alone. apart from the faith community we will join on Christmas, perhaps daily this week. While some of us have had guests staying with us and a house to clean this week, others of us will be reviewing memories and struggling, even a little, with being alone.

Whether this week is full or slow, it is a treasure filled opportunity for reflection. Using the same means we've been using, we can let the richness of this weeks' readings and feasts fill the background of each day. Even on Christmas day we can wake up, surrendering anxiety by letting the anxiety of these days take us to the scene of our Lord's birth. We can imagine the anxiety that filled the experience of Mary and Joseph. We can keep in our consciousness their trust in God. The Christmas music on the radio or at our church services and liturgies can bring the faith of these hymns and songs into our hearts. And, once it is there, these songs of faith will remain in the background all day long. When we are tempted to worry or complain, to be hurt or angry, to be frustrated or exhausted, the hymns will draw our hearts to rejoicing and gratitude.

Thinking about Stephen the Martyr or John, the apostle of love. or the martyrdom of the innocents, with a little desire and focus, can guide our hearts to reflect on the meaning of Christmas - the gift of self-giving love. We can ask ourselves, what generosity can come from from the gratitude I have in my heart after celebrating the gift of redemption? Who in my world needs more love? What happens in me when I think about the people in the world who need my support? Who is being martyred today? Who is witnessing our world's rejection?

All of us can imagine Jesus, Mary and Joseph going home. We can imagine their daily life. We can ask for the grace to live in God's presence, just as they must have done, and for the grace to be sensitive to each other and care for each other as they must have. We can ask that we might imitate their busy lives, trusting and dependant on God. Looking on their hidden life together, we can grow in a desire to be more humble, in a peace with greater simplicity, in a courage to let God take care of us. Whether we experience the poverty of that holy stable or the ordinary simplicity of daily routine, we can enjoy this week as a special opportunity to be drawn to a greater closeness with Jesus.

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