Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

December 2023 — Overview for the Month

by Catholic Culture Staff

Description

The month of December is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.


Highlights

December 12
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mary, who was "intimately united with the birth of the Church in America, became the radiant Star illuminating the proclamation of Christ the Saviour to the sons of these nations." —John Paul II

Recipe of the Month

Speculaus
This hard spice cookie is made for the feast of St. Nicholas in Holland. It is a delicious cookie and appropriate for Christmas as well.

Activity of the Month

Jesse Tree
The Tree of Jesse, with its symbols representing Old Testament stories and events leading up to the birth of Christ, is another approach to the meaning of Christmas.


Symbols

Immaculate Conception
Based on dogma, the singular grace of Our Lady is celebrated on December 8th.

St. John
This emblem of St. John, the "Beloved Apostle," refers to the legend of a poisoned chalice being offered to him in an attempt made on his life.

St. Stephen
These arms, evidently of French origin, are displayed at Dijon. The stones refer to the manner of his death and the palm to his spiritual victory.

St. Lucy
This wealthy Sicilian maiden was, after torture, killed by a sword thrust through her throat. The emblem refers to her continuing devotion to Christ—an early symbol of martyrdom, deriving possibly from the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.


O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Publisher & Date

Catholic Culture, July 2, 2021

The first two days of December fall during the liturgical season known as Ordinary Time and is represented by the liturgical color green. The next 22 days fall during the liturgical season of Advent and are represented by the liturgical color purple—a symbol of penance, mortification and the sorrow of a contrite heart. The remaining days of December mark the beginning of the Christmas season. The liturgical color changes to white or gold — a symbol of joy, purity and innocence.

The Holy Father's Intentions for the Month of December 2023

For persons with disabilities: We pray that people living with disabilities may be at the centre of attention in society, and that institutions may offer inclusive programs which value their active participation. (See also http://www.popesprayerusa.net/)


Feasts for December 2023

3. FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, Sunday
6. Nicholas, Opt. Mem.
7. Ambrose, Memorial
8. IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY, Solemnity
9. Juan Diego (USA) , Opt. Mem.
10. SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, Sunday
11. Damasus I, Opt. Mem.
12. Our Lady of Guadalupe (USA), Feast
13. Lucy, Memorial
14. John of the Cross, Memorial
17. THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, GAUDETE SUNDAY, Sunday
20. Ember Wednesday
21. Peter Canisius, Opt. Mem.
22. Ember Friday
23. John of Kanty; Ember Saturday, Opt. Mem.
24. FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, Sunday
25. NATIVITY OF THE LORD (Christmas), Solemnity
26. Stephen, Feast
27. John, Apostle, Feast
28. Holy Innocents, Feast
29. 5th Day in the Octave of Christmas; Thomas Becket, Opt. Mem.
31. Feast of the Holy Family, Feast


Focus of the Liturgy

The Gospels for the four Sundays in December 2023, are taken from St. Mark are from Cycle B. The Weekday readings are from Year II.

December 3rd
First Sunday
of Advent

Mark 13:33-37: Be watchful! You do not know when the lord of the house is coming

December 10th
Second Sunday
of Advent

Mark 1:1-8: Make straight the paths of the Lord.

December 17th
Third Sunday
of Advent

Jn 1:6-8, 19-28: There is one among you whom you do not recognize.

December 24th
Fourth Sunday
of Advent

Luke 1:26-38, Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.

December 31st
Feast of the
Holy Family

Luke 2:22-40: The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.


Highlights of the Month
The liturgy of Advent focuses on remembering Christ's first coming at Bethlehem which then directs our mind to Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. The readings focus on the people of the Old Testament awaiting the Messiah, John the Baptist, heralding the way for Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary and her maternal preparations.

The liturgy of Advent focuses on remembering Christ's first coming at Bethlehem which then directs our mind to Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. The readings focus on the people of the Old Testament awaiting the Messiah, John the Baptist, heralding the way for Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary and her maternal preparations.

The main feasts of Advent are:
St. John Damascene (December 4),
St. Nicholas (December 6),
St. Ambrose (December 7),
Immaculate Conception (December 8),
St. Juan Diego (December 9),
St. Damasus I (December 11),
Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12),
St. Lucy (December 13),
St. John of the Cross (December 14),
St. Peter Canisius (December 21)
and St. John of Kanty (December 23).

Christmastide begins with the First Vespers (Evening Prayer) of Christmas on December 24th and ends on the Sunday after Epiphany, which is transferred to January 7 in the United States in 2024. Christmas and Easter are the only solemnities with octaves attached in the current calendar. The Christmas octave differs from Easter in that it includes some major and minor feasts: St. Stephen, Protomartyr (December 26), St. John the Evangelist (December 27), the Holy Innocents (December 28), St. Thomas Becket (December 29) and St. Sylvester I (December 31). The octave day is on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

The optional memorials of St. Francis Xavier (December 3), and Our Lady of Loreto (December 10), are superseded by the Sunday liturgy.


The Reason for the Season
The month of December is filled with expectation and celebration. Preparation is the key word for the first 24 days of December. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas — shopping and decorating, baking and cleaning. Too often, however, we are so busy with the material preparations that we lose sight of the real reason for our activity.

Christmas is a Christian feast — and we must reclaim it as such! In the same way that a family eagerly prepares for a baby, so in Advent should we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child. We should keep Advent as a season of waiting and longing, of conversion and of hope and keep our thoughts on the incredible love and humility of our God in taking on the flesh of the Virgin Mary. Let us not forget to prepare a peaceful place in our hearts wherein our Savior may come to dwell.

The best person we can turn to for help during Advent is Mary, Christ's and our Mother. She awaited the day of His birth with more eagerness than any other human being. Her preparation was complete in every respect. Let's crown our preparation and borrow something of Mary's prayerfulness, her purity and whole-hearted submission to God's will.

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