Liturgical Calendar December Overview

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The month of December is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, which is ordinarily celebrated on December 8 but since it falls on a Sunday, the feast has been transferred to December 9. The first 24 days of December fall during the liturgical season known as 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 2019
The Future of the Very Young: That every country take the measures necessary to prioritize the future of the very young, especially those who are suffering. (See also http://popesprayerusa.net/)

Feasts for December
The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of December are:

01. First Sunday of Advent, Sunday
03. Francis Xavier, Memorial
06. Nicholas, Opt. Mem.
07. Ambrose, Memorial
08. Second Sunday of Advent, Sunday
09. Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patronal Feastday of the United States of America , Solemnity
11. Damasus I, Opt. Mem.
12. Our Lady of Guadalupe (USA), Feast
13. Lucy, Memorial
14. John of the Cross, Memorial
15. Third Sunday of Advent, Sunday
21. Peter Canisius, Opt. Mem.
22. Fourth Sunday of Advent, Sunday
23. John of Kanty, Opt. Mem.
25. Christmas, Solemnity
26. Stephen, Feast
27. John, Feast
28. Holy Innocents, Feast
29. Holy Family, Feast
31. Sylvester I, Opt. Mem.

Focus of the Liturgy
The Gospels for the Sundays in December are taken from St. Matthew and are from Year A, Cycle 2 of the readings.

December 1st – 1st Sunday in Advent
Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.

December 8th -2nd Sunday in Advent
The Gospel is about John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness.

December 15th – 3rd Sunday in Advent
The crowds question St. John the Baptist asking him who he is.

December 22nd – 4th Sunday in Advent
The Gospel is about the revelation to St. Joseph of Mary’s virginal conception.

December 29th – Holy Family
This Gospel recounts the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt.

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 main Feasts of Advent are St. Francis Xavier (December 3), St. John Damascene, (December 4), St. Nicholas (December 6), St. Ambrose (December 7), Immaculate Conception (December 9), St. Juan Diego (December 9), St. Damascus (December 11), Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12), St. Lucy (December 13), St. John of the Cross (December 14) and 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. Christmas and Easter are the only solemnities with octaves attached in the revised calendar. The Christmas octave differs from Easter in that it includes some major feasts: St. Stephen (December 26), St. John the Evangelist (December 27), the Holy Innocents (December 28) and St. Sylvester I (December 31). The octave closes on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

The feast of St. Thomas Becket (December 29) is superseded by the Sunday liturgy. The feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) has been transferred to December 9 because of 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.

Extract from catholicculture.org