Make a resolution in 2021 to celebrate the saints!
We are blessed to have a Catholic calendar that is vibrant with feast days. Some of these days have famous traditions; many are not as well known. But whether in January or June, and whether celebrating a famous saint or one whose patronages are lesser known, every month of our calendar provides wonderful opportunities to honor the saints. In this month of new beginnings, let’s resolve to celebrate the saints each month in new and beautiful ways! Here are 5 for January:
1Make the best kind of New Year's resolution
Today, the first day of the month, is a Holy day ofObligation honoring the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Start the New Year right by displaying a portrait or sculpture of Mary holding Baby Jesus and invoking her in prayer, asking her for needed graces and for maternal protection for your family. Attend Mass. Pray a Family Rosary or a group Rosary. Set a “New Year’s Resolution” that honors Mary. Some ideas: Make 2021 the year you enroll in the Brown Scapular; decide to pray the Rosary every day as Our Lady of Fatima requested; begin a Marian Consecration.
2Teach the children well
January 4 is the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a great and famous educator of children in the Faith — and this year is the 200th anniversary of her death. In her honor, read to your children from the Children’s Bible, Baltimore Catechism, or Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and then look at a map or a globe to see where the United States (where St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was born and raised) is in relation to Italy, where she began her conversion to the Catholic faith. In honor of St. Elizabeth Ann’s conversion, why not throw an Italian-themed dinner and play classic Italian music? After all, it was the faith-filled beauty she witnessed in Italy that tugged at this saint’s heart.
Another way to honor her? Think about the children in your family and send them gifts of religious significance, such as Rosary beads or a Miraculous Medal. Another great option: take this day to pray for all the children you know, in your family and among your friends and invoke St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, asking her intercession for their lives, that they may grow in faith, hope, and love. Also ask her intercession for those people you hope will experience a conversion or “reversion.”
January 6 is the feast of the Epiphany, which is also sometimes celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. There are so many fun and meaningful ways to celebrate the Epiphany with your family! Start by chalking the door: have a priest or the father of the house bless the house and then, using chalk, write above the main door20+C+M+B+21, for the 2021 blessing. The letters C, M, B stand for the Latin blessing, “Christus Mansionem Benedicat (May Christ Bless this House) as well as the initials of Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the names tradition gives to the Magi. Here is more info.
After you’ve chalked the door, come inside to get warm and have a Three Kings Party complete with a King Cake (here’s a delicious recipe), and paper crowns, which the children can craft and decorate. Read Matthew 2 and serve star-shaped cookies while discussing reactions to the magnificent appearance of the recent “Great Conjunction” of the Bethlehem Star.
4Be zealous for the Lord
January 25 is dedicated to The Conversion of St. Paul. How can you have a spirit of St. Paul in your life? In his honor, become more zealous for the faith. St. Paul had the scales removed from his eyes as he saw the error of his former ways and converted from persecuting Christians to following Christ and leading many to him. Try examining your conscience with more honesty; ask God to show you the ways you need to strive more in your spiritual life and ask for the graces you need to do so. Require yourself to give more to God. If you know someone who is searching in their faith, help show them the way. Send money to missionaries doing holy work; drop supplies off to your church pantry; forgive a grudge; bear wrongs patiently. Spread the Gospel, whether with words or by example.
5Raise your religious IQ
At the end of January, on the 28th, the Church honors St. Thomas Aquinas, the famous Dominican priest and one of the most highly regarded Doctors of the Church. In the Dominican spirit, do some intellectually-satisfying spiritual reading on his feast day. You might enjoy reading some of Aquinas’s great Summa Theologica. Or feed your mind and soul by reading another classic you’ve been meaning to start like The Imitation of Christ, The Interior Castle, or Story of a Soul. Challenge yourself to memorize some of the Baltimore Catechism or some of your favorite saints’ quotes. It will surely begin your new year in a very meaningful way!