January 22 is National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day!
Dedicated to cats and cat lovers worldwide, today is the day to tell your cat where you hid the catnip, how to open the door, and why she cannot catch the laser beam.
from Psalm 104:24
“How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.”
Since 1986, January 21 (the midpoint between Christmas and Valentine’s Day) has been known as National Hugging Day. The holiday began in the U.S., was copyrighted by Kevin Zaborney, but has spread to many countries including Canada, England,
Germany, Russia, and Australia. Zaborney wished to encourage people to show affection.
Even if you aren’t much of a “hugger,” you can still find ways to show affection today – spend time with your loved ones, smile at those you pass in office or grocery store, or even stop by a nursing home and hold a resident’s hand for a few minutes while you talk. A nursing home resident is often starved for human touch.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
In the Roman Catholic church, January 20 is the day to celebrate Pope Fabian, who was martyred in 250 A.D., and Saint Sebastian, who was martyred about 40 years later.
St. Sebastian, patron of saint of archers - you can see why.
Here’s your trivia for the day: St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes, archers, and . . . protection from the bubonic plague!
Verse for the day:
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
People gather to celebrate Timket in Gondor, Ethiopia. Photo by Jialiang Gao
Eastern, Oriental, and Ethiopian Orthodox churches celebrate Theophany, Epiphany, or Timkat on January 19. In this tradition, Theophany (the appearance of God) marks the baptism of Jesus.
In the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, this festival is known as Timkat, which means baptism. During Timkat, a model of the Ark of the Covenant, called a Tabot, is wrapped in cloth and taken to river or pool. The service is celebrated by the river in the early morning, and the day is spent in celebrating with songs, dancing, and feasting.
An Ethiopian Orthodox priest holds a Tabot during a Timket ceremony. Photo by Jialiang Gao
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
This January 19 celebration should not be confused with the Epiphany (when the Magi found the child Jesus) celebrated on January 6 by Catholics, Anglicans, and many Protestant traditions.
A. A. Milne's stories were prompted by these, the original Winnie the Pooh and friends.
Alan Alexander Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh stories, among others, was born on January 18, 1882, so now we can all celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day every January 18. So what should you do? Here are some options:
- Read your favorite Winnie the Pooh story.
- Watch your favorite Winnie the Pooh movie.
- Draw or color some pictures of Pooh and his friends.
- Have your own party with milk, toast, and plenty of honey.
- Cuddle with your favorite stuffed animal or teddy bear.
- Explore the nearest Hundred Acre Wood with some friends.
- Make up your own story about your dolls and stuffed animals.
- And most importantly, enjoy it!
Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
January 18 kicks of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This great week is just what its name implies — a time of designated prayer “for the unity of the Church as Christ wills it, and in accordance with the means he wills” according to Abbé Paul Couturier of Lyons, France. Many groups participate including most
In the northern hemisphere it is celebrated from January 18, the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter, to January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. In the southern hemisphere, many churches celebrate this week during Pentecost.
The theme for 2012 is “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” from 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
Please take a moment to pray for the unity of the believers, remembering Jesus’ words in John 17:20-23:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
The Catholic, Coptic, and some Orthodox churches, celebrate January 17 as the feast day of Anthony the Great, aka St. Anthony of the Desert.
In the late third century, Anthony became one of the first Christian ascetics to seek solitude in the desert, where he wrestled with a great many temptations. Many years later, other men joined him in the Sahara Desert, forming a monastery of sorts, where the men kept spent their time praying and doing manual labor.
Although Jesus spent much of his life crowded by “tax collectors and sinners,” in Mark 1:35 we see Jesus seeking a time of solitude to pray. Perhaps we need to do the same, and find time both to spend with people, ministering to them, and time to be alone with our Maker.
O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
Throughout the U.S., the third Monday of January is celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in honor of the great civil rights activist. In his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” of 1963, MLK said:
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This quote references Isaiah 40 (which is also quoted in Luke 3 in reference to John the Baptist)
Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
March on Washington 1963
A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Many centuries ago, on January 15, 588 B.C. (as nearly as the historians can figure out) the Babylonian army under King Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem. 2 Kings 25 describes the siege, the famine, and the final defeat two years later. In 586 BC, the Babylonians broke through the walls, plundered the temple, and led the people into captivity.
This is the same Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego dealt with.
This Babylonian captivity is the theme of much of the Old Testament. Jeremiah records a beautiful promise, that we see carried out in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
The Lord is faithful.
- A scaled model of Solomon’s temple, before it was destroyed in the Babylonian captivity.
Grandson St. Basil the Great
Grandson St. Gregory of Nyssa
Around 300 A.D. when Diocletian was persecuting the Christians, Saint Macrina the Elder fled with her husband and children to the Black Sea. There she raised her children – including the boy later known as Saint Basil the Elder.
Eventually her son married a woman later to be known as St. Emmelia. Their famous children include Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Peter of Sebaste, and Saint Macrina the Younger.
I believe that is known as raising a faithful family.
Granddaughter St. Macrina the Younger
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers… I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Timothy 1:5
St. Macrina the Younger’s feast day is celebrated on January 14.