The Institute for Christian Formation
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Saturday, January 9, 2016
Christmas Weekday
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While we are still in the midst of winter in the northern hemisphere, spring draws closer each day.  If you have paid attention to nature, you know that every day since the winter solstice we have experienced more minutes of daylight.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the  Light  of  the  World,  at  the  time of

Prepare a special treat for tomorrow’s celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  Purchase a seashell cookie cutter, if you do not have one.  (Most stores that sell baking supplies have these.  If not, there  are  numerous  sources  on  the  web
Christ Enthroned
with John the Baptist
Greek, 17th century
Location: Dionysiou Monastery, Mount Athos
year when days are gradually becoming longer.

The opposite is true for the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist.  One of only three births (Jesus and Mary are the other two) which we celebrate on our Liturgical Calendar, John’s birth is celebrated on June 24, close to the summer solstice when daylight starts to wane each day.  (You can learn more about the Nativity of John the Baptist and download our story about the celebration of the Birth of John the Baptist on June 24 here .)
Even Saint Augustine pointed out centuries ago how the solstices lined up with our celebration of these two births.  And the very last line in our Gospel passage for today has been used in homilies over the years to help make this connection.  Today’s Gospel, John 3:22-30, concludes  with  John  the  Baptist  saying in referring to Jesus, “He must increase; I must decrease.”  Immediately prior to this statement, John says his joy has been made complete.

Joy is a theme that abounds in today’s responsorial psalm (Psalm 149:1-2, 3-4,5-6a,9b).  Listen to some of the words in today’s Psalm: delight, sing, praise, glad, rejoice, festive dance, timbrel and harp, glory, and joy!  Like John the Baptist, the more we open our lives to Jesus and his light, the greater will be our joy.
On this next to the last day of this year’s Christmas Season, rejoice!  Fill your home with Christmas carols, dance, and walk outside at sunset to see the vivid winter colors of the sky.  In preparation for tomorrow’s celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, place mementos of your baptism on your home prayer table.  Share stories and photos of family baptisms. 
where you can purchase one.)  Bake your seashell cookies, let them cool, and then ice them with white icing.  Then using a pastry bag and tip, write the baptismal name and date of baptism for each family member on the cookies, and save them as a surprise treat for tomorrow’s feast day!

*You can also make seashell cookie dough ornaments, with the baptismal name and date of baptism for each member of your household, and/or each child in your classroom!