By Charles Albert
The Sooner Catholic
As some families take down Christmas decorations on New Year’s Day, Holy Family Catholic Church in Lawton will be beginning to celebrate some of the most important dates on the Church calendar.
Following Christmas Day is The Feast of the Holy Family, The Solemnity of Mary, The Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord.
“Oplaek, the Christmas wafer, reminds us that the Lord comes to be our food for eternal life. As Christians, we share in this gift of God who became one of us,” said Father Phil Seeton, who has been pastor since 2010.
“The breaking of the Oplatek is a sign that our faith does not belong only in the church building, but in our hearts and homes. The wafer is blessed at Christmas Mass and then taken home.”
This custom comes from Poland and other Eastern European countries. The bread resembles the bread (host) used in Mass. The word “oplatek” comes from the Polish word, “offering.” The bread is an offering from God that reminds parishioners of the Holy Eucharist; it is an offering to God as a sign of love for each other. The bread is offered by the head of the family to others at the Christmas family dinner.
For the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, he said he blesses water and invites parish members to bring containers for Holy Water. Each family or individual is invited to take the water home along with chalk and a sheet of prayers for blessing the home. The chalk is used for marking above the main door the following inscription, “CMB.”
"CMB” stands for “Christus, Mansionem Benedicat," which in Latin means, “May Christ bless this house.”
Lusica Hankins, chairman of the parish’s spiritual life committee said, “The Feast of the Holy Family/Epiphany Pot Luck is celebrated at Holy Family parish in Lawton and is a multi-faceted celebration. Not only is this a joint celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family and of the Epiphany, but it also brings both the Hispanic and Anglo communities together in a beautiful bi-lingual event. The three kings are an anticipated presence for the children who receive candy from one of the kings. Each family is asked to bring canned goods to stock the Saint Vincent de Paul Pantry.
“This is a reminder of the gifts that the original three kings presented to our Lord and how our Lord gave us firm instructions on helping those most in need. This pot-luck is a grand celebration for the end of the Christmas season."
Vicki Gable, director of religious education, summed up the feelings of many of the parishioners at Holy Family, saying, “Knowing that our parish is named Holy Family in light of Jesus, Mary and Joseph fills my heart with joy. Then, to be a part of the community of believers during the Holy Season – to come together to celebrate the solemnities and feasts days that surround the Holy Birth is a reminder that God sent his Son to us to be the light that we follow.”
More than 100 people attended last year’s celebration. The next one is Jan. 6.
Charles Albert is a freelance writer for the Sooner Catholic.