Una de las celebraciones más importantes y memorables de mi niñez en México fue el 6 de enero, la Epifanía del Señor. Claro que en ese tiempo yo ni siquiera sabía cómo se le llamaba. Todo lo que yo sabía era que, en la noche del 5 de enero, yo corría por todo el pueblo de casa en casa de mis abuelitos, padrinos, tíos y tías, y claro, en la casa de mis padres, y dejaba un zapato para que los Santos Reyes vinieran y se acordaran de dejarme un regalo. Era el Día de los Reyes, el día más feliz para cualquier niño que solo recibía juguetes una vez al año. Aún hoy en día, puedo cerrar mis ojos y verme a mí mismo, a mis hermanos, a mis hermanas, y a cada niño de mi pueblo corriendo para arriba y para abajo de la calle con nuestros juguetes nuevos.
One of the most important and memorable celebrations of my childhood in Mexico was January 6, the Epiphany of the Lord. Of course, back then, I did not know that’s what it was called. All I knew was that on the evening of January 5, I would run around town and go to the houses of my grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, and of course, my parents, and leave a shoe so that the wise men would come and remember to leave me a gift. It was Día de los Reyes, the happiest day for a young boy who only got toys once a year. Even now, I can still close my eyes and see myself, my brothers, my sisters, and every single kid in town running up and down the street with our new toys.
Since I began seeking to live liturgically—that is, to observe the Church’s calendar and traditions in daily life—I have found that even small acts have introduced a new richness and joy into the rhythm of my days. There is a simple pleasure in anticipating upcoming feast days and other liturgical occasions and observing them in ways either light-hearted or prayerful. In recent years, I have celebrated the Feast of the Archangels (September 29) by preparing angel hair pasta to share with a dear friend, and I baked a honey pound cake for my co-workers on the Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist (August 29), the patron of my parish, who subsisted on locusts and wild honey in the desert (see Matthew 3:4). Marian feasts are always an occasion to dress in blue and wear a Miraculous Medal. The pleasure of brightening an otherwise monotonous week with such celebrations is accompanied, moreover, with the joy that comes from developing a deeper appreciation for the richness of Catholic tradition and entering more fully into the universality of the Church. Becoming more attuned to the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year has helped me to feel more united with Catholics across the globe and throughout the centuries.
Editorial Note: This excerpt is taken from an essay by the same name originally published at Church Life Journal on December 28, 2016.
At Christmas, [the] love and the gravitational pull of my heart toward little ones seasonally intensifies. And every year, the fact that our Lord came to earth not as an adult but as a helpless, innocent, dependent little one who needed the arms of his mother Mary and his foster-father Joseph repeatedly stuns me.
But the Feast of the Holy Innocents is not warm and fuzzy.
The weather fit the day. Banks of low, grey, rippled clouds that foretold the rain and chill to come. Bare branches, their bark exposed, and the dry, brittle leaves that had once shown bright now crunching underfoot. Late November in New England and the feast of Christ the King, 2020.