Opening Prayer from the Liturgy: Lord, help and sustain your people by the prayers of Pope Sylvester. Guide us always in this present life and bring us to the joy that never ends. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In your Bible: Matthew 16:13-19; The Keys of the Kingdom
Catechesis: On this, the seventh day in the octave of Christmas, Holy Mother Church remembers St. Sylvester I, pope and confessor. Pope Sylvester reigned as Pontiff for 21 years, was a friend of the Emperor Constantine and endorsed the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325. Some refer to Sylvester as the peace Pope as he became pope shortly after the end of centuries of bloody persecution. Like many of our early saints, legends have arisen around his memory: he is said to have freed Emperor Constantine from leprosy by baptism and killed a ferocious dragon that was contaminating the air with his poisonous breath.
Activity: Have you ever stopped to think about where we would be without our Church? What if we lacked the opportunity for reconciliation, Confirmation or Holy Communion. What if we lacked the gift of our faith - the faith that has been passed down to us from the time of the Apostles? What if we lacked a Supreme Pontiff and the world was ruled by the tyranny of evil, selfishness and hatred? Today, pray fervently for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and for his collaborator, William Leo, our Bishop, and pray especially today for the person - parent, grandparent, priest, religious brother or sister, catechist or friend - who first taught you your faith.
Opening Prayer from the Liturgy: God our Father, may we always profit by the prayers of the Virgin Mother Mary, for you bring us life and salvation through Jesus Christ her Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Sprit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In your Bible: Luke 2:16-21; Mary Kept All Things in Her Heart
Catechesis: Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork 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. In this sense the Church's Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary. Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the Seat of Wisdom (Catechism of the Catholic Church 721). Todays feast, Mary the Mother of God, was first celebrated on January 1st in the seventh century. But in 1967, Rome also inaugurated this day as a world day of prayer for peace. After all, we have celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace for the past eight days, it is proper to reserve this day for intense prayer for peace, education towards peace and those values inextricably linked with it, such as liberty, fraternal solidarity, the dignity of the human person, respect for nature, the right to work, the sacredness of human life, and the denunciation of injustices which trouble the conscience of man and threaten peace.
Activity: Due to our fast-paced lives and how accustomed we have become to the electronic age, praying the rosary can be bothersome, even painful to some. Surprising is the number of Catholics who do not even know how to pray the rosary. Today, gather to pray the family rosary that, through Our Lady, Queen of Peace, we may have peace in our hearts, our homes and our community, nation and world. For further encouragement, consider this list of benefits for praying the rosary:
1. It gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ.
2. It purifies our souls, washing away sin.
3. It gives us victory over all our enemies.
4. It makes it easy for us to practice virtue.
5. It sets us on fire with love of Our Lord.
6. It enriches us with graces and merits.
7. It supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow men;
and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces for us from Almighty God.