It’s almost time.
In a few days, one of the most beautiful and beloved times of the year will come to a close. And for me, that’s always a little hard.
The combined Advent and Christmas seasons invite us to enter into the miraculous story of Salvation History. We carve out special time for prayer and reflection. We light candles and wait in joyful hope. We prepare our hearts and homes for the birth of the Babe who changes everything.
And then we celebrate! Not only for a day, but for eight … and then twelve … and then through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.
Yes, there is a warmth and glow to the Advent and Christmas seasons that I love! And when it’s time to pack it away for another year, I feel an emptiness in my heart and home.
Grateful for the Seasonal Life
Thankfully, we live within the rhythm of a seasonal life. The natural and liturgical seasons, coupled together, don’t allow me to hold onto one season or another too tightly. Rather, they propel me forward and beckon me to fully enter the present moment.
So I unplug the twinkle lights and box up the ornaments. I welcome a new season: Winter’s Ordinary Time.
Liturgical Living Between Christmas and Lent
This block of Ordinary Time does not last very long. It begins just after Christmas and ends when Lent begins.
Here are a few ways to live liturgically during winter’s Ordinary Time.
January: the Holy Name of Jesus
January can be filled with expectation. We hope to accomplish specific New Year’s resolutions. We also dare to hope for what the new year could bring: health, hope, love, financial security, and so on. This can cause our hearts to grow restless because we want to control the outcome of our hopes, dreams, and goals.
It is fitting, then, that the month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. Because while we do have some control over our resolutions and goals, this dedication reminds us that Someone far greater has all the control, and we can entrust our new year to Him.
To practically dedicate January to the Holy Name of Jesus, consider praying with your favorite Name for Jesus. It could be Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, Lord of Lords, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, or something else. Whichever one resonates with you, write it out and place it wherever you pray. Invite Jesus, under this particular title, to reign in your heart and take care of you, as you begin the new year.
Solidify Prayer Practices
Speaking of prayer, Winter’s Ordinary Time encourages us to recall our encounter with Christ this Christmas and decide how we want to practically live it out in the ordinariness of life.
Hold onto your prayer practices of Advent and Christmas, and solidify them into a daily prayer routine. One way to do this is by praying with the daily Psalm or Gospel reading, which can be found online or in a printed format, such as the Magnificat. Journal about how God is speaking to you personally through His Word. Add a Rosary, or even just a decade, to your day. Discern whether the Holy Spirit is prompting you to begin a weekly Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament.
Order Our Days in Peace
As you begin adding birthdays and other special dates to your new calendar, decide how to make this year more spiritual. Pencil in what time you will pray each day. Schedule time to attend an extra Mass each week and Confession each month. Decide what feast days you want to celebrate and devotions you want to add. Select the spiritual books you want to read.
The key is to not add all the spiritual things at once. Rather, be mindful of what is already present in your life and build (slowly) from there.
February: the Holy Family
The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. For those who prayed with All the Generations Advent + Christmas devotional, this is a perfect time to continue asking God to reveal your unique place in His family.
It is also be a lovely time to pray intently for your own family’s needs, asking the Holy Family to intercede in a special way.
Keep Your Nativity Up
If you’re still having a hard time putting the Christmas decor away, tradition suggests that Catholics keep their nativities up through the Feast of the Presentation, since it points us toward Jesus’ birth. The Presentation is celebrated on February 2nd, 40 days after the birth of Jesus. We find this event in the Gospel of Luke 2:22-40, and we meditate on it in the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
Under the Law, Joseph and Mary presented their first-born son in the temple.
This is another ‘epiphany’ celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. —from Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year
Learn about Sacramentals
The Presentation is also called Candlemas, since this mini-epiphany expresses that Jesus is the Light of the World. Candlemas leads us to a deeper understanding of the purpose of sacramentals within our Catholic Faith.
Sacramentals, such as holy water, the Rosary, and candles are “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments” (CCC 1667). They strengthen our devotion to and love for the Lord.
On Candlemas, it is customary to have candles blessed. If there is a parish near you that observes this tradition, bring candles that you will use in your home on the Sabbath or feast days and have them blessed.
Receive an Extra Blessing
Those blessed candles are put to work right after Candlemas. For the following day is the feast of St. Blaise, who was a physician and bishop. He is attributed for saving a child who was choking on a fish bone, and this miracle led to the blessing of throats on his feast day.
Placing blessed unlit candles upon a person’s throat, the priest prays
Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
This blessing is especially comforting to people with throat-based illnesses. For example, I have thyroid issues, and I find great solace in having my throat blessed every year. But really, a blessing upon the throat can be good for all of us as we fight colds and flus this winter.
How do you plan on growing in your faith during these ordinary winter days?
This was originally published on the Blessed Is She blog.