Catholics worldwide observe many important Feasts during the Twelve Days of Christmas. There is the Feast of Saint Stephen, Saint John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents and Holy Family. While each feast is important, none is greater than the one today.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary. Early in the Church, Christmas was not celebrated on December 25. Both the birth of our Lord and the Feast of the Epiphany were celebrated together, on January 6. This is also known as Three Kings Day, the start of the Carnival Season leading up to Mardi Gras.
When the Church fixed Christmas to December 25 as its own day, the Octave or Eighth Day of Christmas took on a new meaning. It is so important that the Church has deemed the Solemnity of Mary as a Holy Day of Obligation. It is a day to honor Mary as the Mother of God, the Mother of Salvation, our Heavenly Mother. It recognizes the importance of motherhood. For without Mary’s accepting her role of mother, there would be no Christ, no redemption, no Christmas. She made this possible.
It is fitting that on this Secular First Day of the New Year, we turn our attention to honor motherhood. Today is also the first shedding of Christ’s blood in the act of circumcision. It was a prelude of what was to come, and of the agony Mary would endure as His Holy Mother.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets;
In these last days, He has spoken to us through the Son.
This was made possible by Mary. She answered God’s call to become the mother to all. There is no higher honor than to say yes to God’s call, whatever that call may be. None are created for the same purpose, each has a role. Be open to the Lord, and know that He has great plans for you.
On this day, the Gospel reading is Luke 2:16-21. We are told that the Shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem an found Mary and Joseph, and the infant child lying in the manger. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen.
It seems only fitting that our Feast be simple, humble as was the motherhood of Mary an act of humility. May God’s blessings fill you with joy!
Shepherd’s Pie Vegetable Soup
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Half and Half
1 medium-large Russet Potato (about 8 oz)
2 medium Red Potatoes (about 8 oz)
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 large Yellow Onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb Ground Beef
2 tablespoons Butter, divided
1/8 cup Flour
2 cups Beef Stock
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1/8 teaspoon Ground Sage
3/4 cup frozen Mixed Vegetables
Black Pepper, to taste
Let sour cream and half and half come to room temperature
Peel russet potato, cut into cubes. Place in a stock pot, cover with water. Bring potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender. Drain, mash potatoes with 1 tablespoon sour cream; set aside.
Scrub red potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces. Place in a stock pot covered with water. Bring red potatoes to a boil, cook just until fork tender. Drain under cold water to stop cooking process and set aside.
While the potatoes cook, peel and mince garlic, set aside. Peel and dice onion, set aside
In a large stock pot, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling meat as it cooks. Remove cooked meat from the pot, draining off grease
Place empty stock pot over medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons; add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Whisk in flour, use a spatula to stir as the flour cooks for 1 full minute to remove the raw flour taste.
Add the beef stock in splashes, stirring continuously. Use a spatula to loosen any beef remnants from the bottom of the pot, this will add flavor. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, mustard powder, and sage. Slowly add the half and half. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the sour cream mashed potatoes until well-combined into the stock.
Add the ground beef, frozen vegetables and red potatoes. Heat through, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.