May the Saints & Feast Days for the month of January inspire you to grow closer to Jesus Christ. The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.

January 1: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God 

The Blessed Virgin Mary has many titles but her greatest title is celebrated today: the Mother of God. It speaks of her role in our salvation in bringing to us our Savior, Jesus Christ. Mary became the Mother of God when she told the angel Gabriel “let it be done unto me according to your word” and the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. The early church fathers saw this moment as the supreme manifestation of the Holy Spirit as Creator. St. Didimus of Alexandria wrote “the creative power of the Most High formed the body of Christ at the moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Virgin Mary”. 

In light of this the Church offers a plenary indulgence for singing or reciting the hymn “Come Creator Spirit”. This hymn was originally composed in the 9th century by Bishop Rhabanus Maurus and has been used by the Church at ecumenical councils, priest ordinations, bishop consecrations, and Pentecost.

*** A good translation of the original Latin hymn is provided at the end of this blog.

“Mary is the beginning of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation, and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men”

(Ref CCC 721).

January 3: Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

The feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was placed on the liturgical calendar in 1727, though it has its roots in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The Name Jesus is a complete summary of our Lord’s mission. In St. Joseph’s dream the angel declared that “(Mary) will bear a Son, and you will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins”. In the Book of Acts, on Pentecost, St. Peter said to the crowd “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”. After he was arrested and placed before the council, St. Peter stated “and there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved”. Later, when the whole Church gathered to pray, they asked God for boldness in proclaiming the Gospel “while You stretch out Your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the Name of Your holy servant Jesus”.  

The great saint of the Holy Name is St. Bernardine of Siena (1380 – 1444). In his missionary preaching he carried the Name on a banner and used it continually in his sermons. Bernardine is the one who devised the symbol IHS, the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek. 

“The Holy Name shows the immense mercifulness of God, it enables a devout man to gain a victory in every conflict, whether with the devil, the flesh, or the world; it has the power of healing sickness when rightly used, and it fills with joy and exultation those who are in any adversity.”

– St. Bernardine of Siena

January 7: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany means manifestation, and the Church celebrates on this day the manifestation of our Lord to the whole world. He is revealed to the Magi, considered to be the first converts of the Gentiles, and a sign that Christ came for the salvation of all mankind not just Israel.  St. Matthew’s mention of the Magi bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh would recall for his Jewish audience the prophecy in Isaiah 60:3,6 “And nations shall walk by Your light and kings in the brightness of Your rising… and they shall bring gold, frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord”. St. Irenaeus, one of early Church fathers, teaches us that gift of the Magi signify the mystery of the Incarnation. Gold symbolizes royalty and represents the kingship of Jesus. Frankincense, used in the worship of God, points to His divinity. Myrrh is a burial ointment and signifies the humanity of Christ, especially in His passion and death. 

“After their audience with the king [the Magi] set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the Child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the Child with Mary, His mother. They prostrated themselves and did Him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

– Mat. 2:9-11

January 8: The Baptism of the Lord

The same Spirit that descended on the water of the River Jordan moved over the waters during the first creation (Gen 1:2). The Baptism in the Jordan represents that Jesus has started a new creation. He does this as the Lamb of God that takes away our sins. Just as in creation story of Genesis 1, where all three persons of the Trinity were manifested, so at the Baptism of Christ were all three persons manifested in this new creation.

“Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon His shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners.”

– Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth

“The incidents which accompanied Christ’s baptism are symbolic of what happens at our Baptism. At Christ’s baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon Him; at our Baptism the Trinity took its abode in our soul. At His baptism Christ was proclaimed the “Beloved Son” of the Father; at our Baptism we become the adopted sons and daughters of God. At Christ’s baptism the heavens were opened; at our Baptism heaven was opened to us. At His baptism Jesus prayed; after our Baptism we must pray to avoid actual sin.”

(Excerpt from Msgr. Rudolph G. Bandas, theologian and counselor to Vatican II)

January 22: Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

In all the Dioceses of the United States, January 23 is designated as a day of prayer and fasting for the full restoration of the right to life, and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion. Not only do we pray on this day for the unborn children and their mothers, but we also pray for the conversion of those who perpetuate the holocaust of abortion: medical people who perform or assist in abortions, pro-abortion activists, and politicians who support pro-abortion laws.

“A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer.” 

(Pope Saint John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae)

January 25: The Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Paul was born as a Jew and a Roman citizen in the city of Tarsus, in modern-day Turkey. At a young age, Paul began to study the Law of Moses in Jerusalem under Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin and one of the most respected Pharisees and Doctors of the Law at that time. 

Jesus was crucified when Paul was about twenty-five. Now a Pharisee himself, Paul was violently opposed to Jesus’ new teachings, believing that they were in opposition to the Law of Moses. After Jesus’ crucifixion, Saul devoted himself to persecuting those who were followers of Jesus. Even when his own teacher, Gamaliel, recommended the followers of Jesus be ignored, Paul could not hold himself back.

On his journey to Damascus, to arrest Christians, Paul encountered the risen Christ. This not only changed his life forever, but also changed the entire world through his missionary journeys.

“Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus which would empower him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, living according to the new way. As he traveled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed about him. He fell to the ground and at the same time heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are you, sir?” he asked. “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting””.

(Acts 9:1-4)

January 26: Saints Timothy and Titus

St. Timothy was a missionary companion of St. Paul and was ultimately stationed in Ephesus, as their first bishop. It is believed that the pastoral letters from St. Paul, I Timothy and II Timothy, were written while he was at Ephesus. According to tradition, St. Timothy was stoned to death in Ephesus while protesting a feast to the goddess Diana, around 97 AD. 

St. Titus was also a missionary companion of St. Paul, who was eventually assigned to Crete and ordained as their first bishop. The pastoral letter from St. Paul to St. Titus was written while he was in Crete. According to tradition, St. Titus died from natural causes at the age of 94.

“For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world. Awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds.”

(Titus 2:11-14)

Come Creator Spirit

Come, Creator Spirit,

Visit the minds of those who are yours;

And fill with heavenly grace

The hearts that You have made.

You who are named the Paraclete,

Most high gift of God,

Living fountain, fire, love

And anointing for the soul.

You are sevenfold in Your gifts,

You are the finger of God’s right hand,

You, the Father’s solemn promise

Putting words upon our lips.

Kindle a light in our senses,

Pour love into our hearts,

Infirmities of this body of ours

Overcoming with strength secure.

The enemy drive from us away,

Peace then give without delay;

With You as guide to lead the way

We avoid all cause of harm.

Grant that we may know the Father through You,

And come to know the Son as well,

And may we always cling in faith

To You, the Spirit of Them both. Amen.

  • Translation by Father Raniero Cantalemessa, from the book Come Creator Spirit

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