We are half way through the last week of Advent in the Liturgical Calendar of the Catholic Church. This week mark our last efforts to prepare the way in our hearts for the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ as the Son of God on Christmas day.
Houston Catholics like those around the world will find celebrating Christmas comprises many different avenues. Some of us will share our gifts with those less fortunate in a monetary way. Some will vistit those not able to attend Mass or partake in external celebrations. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston via their website suggest we spend this particular day in prayer, specifically praying the Magnificat ( Latin for maginifies) also called the Canticle (or song) of Mary.
The text of the Magnificat is taken directly from Saint Luke's Gospel, 1:47-55. It is Mary's prayerful response to the greeting of her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with the future John the Baptist as he moves within her womb at Mary's visit.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says; 2617 "In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God's, because he is wholly ours.
2618 The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana,89 the mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast - that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross,90 that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true "Mother of all the living."
2619 That is why the Canticle of Mary,91 the Magnificat (Latin) or Megalynei (Byzantine) is the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God; the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation and the song of the "poor" whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made to our ancestors, "to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."
The Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston will have the traditional Midnight Mass on December 24th, the Vigil of Christmas. Christmas day Masses will be at 9 am and 11 am. (for more info for the Co-Cathedral go here)
"Christmas is a privileged opportunity to meditate on the meaning and value of our existence...Therefore let us prepare ourselves for Christmas with humility and simplicity, making ourselves ready to receive as a gift the light, joy and peace that shine from this mystery." Excerpt from Pope Benedict, General Audience, December 17, 2008