Vigil of Christmas

[public domain]

Mary and Joseph Seeking Refuge in Bethlehem, by Simon de Vos, 1664

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25 NRS

Saint Nicholas

[public domain]

St. Nicholas, by Titian, 1563

Prayer to Saint Nicholas

O good St. Nicholas, you who are the joy
of the children, put in my heart the spirit of childhood,
which the gospel speaks, and teach me to seed happiness around me.
You, whose feast prepares us for Christmas,
open my faith to the mystery of God made man.
You, good bishop and shepherd, help me to find my place in the Church
and inspire the Church to be faithful to the gospel.
O good St. Nicholas, patron of children, sailors and the helpless,
watch over those who pray to Jesus, your Lord and theirs,
as well as over those who humble themselves before you.
Bring us all in reverence to the Holy Child of Bethlehem,
when true joy and peace are found.
Amen.

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

[public domain]

Epiphany, by Francisco Herrera, 1653

“The star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognize and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ.”

St. Leo the Great