Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Eighth Day of Christmas

In the song, the Eighth Day of Christmas is the gift of the eight maids a-milking, and this allegedly symbolizes the eight beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.


In Catholic tradition (as well as what is the Jewish tradition) on the eighth day was the Circumcision of our Lord. In modern times this feast has been changed to the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Personally, I still recognize this day as traditionally commemorating, the Circumcision of our Lord (and in the extraordinary rite, this is still the feast/solemnity recognized).


IT'S STILL CHRISTMAS!

Do not forget!  It is still the Christmas Season!  This season lasts AT LEAST until the eve of Epiphany (January 6th), or in the older tradition it lasts all the way to Candlemas (February 2nd).




As The Father Sent Me

First off, Happy New Year - 2020!

I open this new year off with an apologetics posting - which I have not done much of lately. Below is a message I posted to a forum on "Ex Catholics For Christ" (apologetics forum). Your thoughts and comments are appreciated (pro or con).

I would agree with the statement that most Catholics do not know their Faith. I disagree with the statement that knowing the Faith leads one OUT of the Catholic Church!

Jesus Christ formed One, True Church - FACT (History itself proves there was One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church for over 1000 years when in 1054 the first major schism took place).
Jesus Christ selected 12 Apostles (1 defected, leaving 11) to lead His Church after He ascended into Heaven - FACT (Matthew 28:15-20).
Jesus Christ commanded those leaders do as He had done - FACT (John 20:21).
Jesus Christ gave His Authority to the Apostles - FACT (Matthew 28:18).
Jesus Christ gave His Authority to forgive sins to those Apostles, and sins THEY do not forgive, are NOT forgiven - FACT (John 20:23).

Considering these few facts alone should convince Catholics to stay Catholic and those who are not Catholic should flee the false teachings they have been taught and come home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which Jesus Christ founded. If your "fellowship" does not have direct apostolic succession, it has no authority to even exist. Without true and valid apostolic succession, there can be no forgiveness of sins - regardless of what you have been taught or come to believe.

FACT - One of the first things the Early Church did was to replace the "bishoprick" or "office" of Judas (Acts 1:20-26).
The first one in apostolic succession, to fill the seat once given to Judas, was Matthias.

FACT- The apostolic office was not limited to "The Twelve" as clearly Sts. Paul and Barnabus are referred to as "apostles" too! (Acts 14:14).
FACT - The Early Church leaders (apostles/bishops) were commanded to do as Jesus did (John 20:21) and part of what Jesus did was select leaders for His Church, thus these new leaders HAD to go out and select more leaders, especially as the Church was growing.

Certainly there have been problems "in" the Church - by men "in" the Church - but the actions of these men, not unlike Judas' betrayal, does not make the Church wrong or bad, it makes those men wrong and bad. Those who cling to those errors and leave the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church because of them are merely looking for excuses to leave. One could speculate that they leave because they do not want to yield to the authority Jesus Christ breathed upon His Church and do not want to face one who has been empowered to forgive sins. One could make all sorts of speculations as to why they leave, but there are no valid reasons to leave THE Church which Jesus Christ Himself founded.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Fifth Day of Christmas

The five gold rings... as the song goes...

This year found us at the ordinary rite of the Mass, and this Sunday after Christmas is celebrated as Holy Family Sunday.

First Reading

Sirach 3:2-7, 12-14

2For the Lord honored the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. 3Whoever honors his father atones for sins, 4and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure. 5Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard. 6Whoever glorifies his father will have long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother; 7he will serve his parents as his masters. 12O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; 13even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him. 14For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you; 

Second Reading

Colossians 3:12-21

12Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, 13forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Gospel

Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." 14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." 19But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20"Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." 21And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

Extraordinary Rite

In the extraordinary rite, this is the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas and the readings for today are:

EPISTLE  

Gal. 4:1-7
Brethren: As long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all, but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father. So we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: that he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: "Abba, Father". Therefore, now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God.

GOSPEL 


Luke 2:33-40
At that time, And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: "Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed."
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was far advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years: who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord: and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel.
And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in him.

 Last Night of Hanukkah

Tonight is also the last night of Hanukkah!  The eighth candle is lit and Hanukkah ends with sunset tomorrow (Monday, December 22 this year).


Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Fourth Day of Christmas - The Holy Innocents

December 28th is the commemoration of the Holy Innocents, the story of whom is told in Matthew 2 (the whole chapter, but specifically Matt 2:13-18). King Herod wanted to destroy the Christchild for he feared the Messiah as the new King of Israel would take the kingdom by force. Thus, after the Magi had informed him of the arrival of this new king, Herod ordered the massacre of all male children age 2 and under in Bethlehem. St. Joseph had a vision of the impending massacre and was told to take the Blessed Mother and Jesus to Egypt and to stay there until Herod died.

The Coventry Carol

Often just played instrumentally, has words which also tell the story of the Holy Innocents:

Lullay thou little tiny child,
By, by lully lullay.
O sisters, too how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor youngling for whom we sing,
By by lully lullay.
Herod the king, in his raging
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might in his own sight
All children young to slay.
Then woe is me, poor child for thee
And ever mourn and day;
For thy parting, no say nor sing
By by lully lullay

Reminder: Christmastide lasts until February 2nd!  Continue to remember the season!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Twelve Days of Christmas - Day 3

On the Third Day of Christmas, so the song goes, the gift is three French hens. The three are allegedly symbolic of the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.


December 27th is also the Feast of St. John the Apostle.

St. John was the only Apostle NOT to die a martyr. Traditionally it is said he passed away about the year 100 AD in Ephesus.

OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS

The eight days of Christmas, from Christmas Day through January 1st are days within the Octave of Christmas. The Christmas Octave is not at the same level as the Easter Octave. In the Octave of Easter EACH DAY is considered a solemnity - but the same is not true of the Octave of Christmas (correcting what was stated earlier in this posting). There are two solemnities within the Octave of Christmas, those being Christmas Day itself and January 1st, the Feast of Mary the Mother of God in the Ordinary Rite, in the Extraordinary Rite and traditionally, January 1st is the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord (both days are holy days of obligation).


Closing this posting with another reminder, Christmas lasts until (Candlemas) February 2nd!  Continue to celebrate the Christmastide!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

No Hanukkah Equals No Christmas!

That's right! If the Brothers Maccabees had not won the battle with the Syrian Greeks who vastly outnumbered the Jews there would be no Jews. The Greeks sought to annihilate the Jews from the face of the Earth - so, had the Greeks won this battle the Jewish nation would have ceased to exist and thus, the prophecies of the Messiah coming from the City of David (Bethlehem) would have become null - think about it, if their were no more Jews - to whom would the Messiah have come? Certainly we could make all sorts of speculation over how God would have found a way - but the fact remains THE WAY which God DID FIND was through the Maccabees revolt from 167 BC to 165 BC.

So why is it called the Festival of Lights? Why eight candles? Well, when Antiochus III invaded Judea, he also captured the Temple and desecrated it - offering sacrifices of swine and building an altar to Zeus. After the Maccabees defeated the Greek/Syrian armies and took back the Temple, the Temple had to be purified and rededicated. The purification process would take eight days, yet there was only enough oil to keep the lamp in the Temple going for one day - and it would also take eight days for the kosher process to make more oil for the Temple lamp. The miracle then was that the lamp burned the entire eight days, even though it should have only lasted one day! From that time forward the Jews have celebrated the Festival of Lights, lighting one candle per day for eight days.

Again, had the Maccabees failed, there would be no Jewish nation and the Festival of Lights would not have started - thus no Hanukkah would have resulted in no Christmas!

By the way - Hanukkah started on December 22nd this year and ends on December 30th. It is different every year on our Gregorian calendar because it is based on the Hebrew lunar calendar and begins on the 25th of Kislev every year on their calendar. As of this posting we are on the 5th Day of Hanukkah - so - HAPPY HANUKKAH!
One more final bit of trivia - if there are eight days celebrated, why nine candles? The answer is the candle in the middle is called the shamash - and it is used to light the other candles. It is usually set higher than the other eight candles and it is not counted as another day in the Festival of Lights.

Twelve Days of Christmas - Feast of Stephen

Today is the Second Day of Christmas! (December 26)

The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days, starting with the Christ Mass on December 25th, through February 5th. February 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany. February 6th is traditionally celebrated as Three Kings Day - or the day the Three Wisemen visited the Holy Family in Bethlehem. Does this end Christmastide?  Not quite!  Read below!

Martyrdom of Saint Stephen by Giovanni Andrea De Ferrari (1598-1669), undated

Today is also the Feast of St. Stephen, the First Christian Martyr. Stephen's death is recorded in Acts 7:54-60. He died with his last words asking God not to hold his persecutors responsible (one of whom was Saul, who would become St. Paul).

"The Massacre of the Innocents" (1482) by di Giovanni di Bartolo Matteo
As we remember St. Stephen, he being the first one killed for his faith in Jesus Christ, we must not forget the Holy Innocents, who were actually the first martyrs for Christ - though they had no idea who Jesus Christ was. The scriptural accounting of the Holy Innocents is Matthew 2:16–18 when King Herod was attempting to have the Christchild killed. St. Joseph was given a vision of the intentions of King Herod and fled to Egypt with the Blessed Mother and Jesus. The feast day for the Holy Innocents is December 28th - and is also known as Childermas.

Presentation of Our Lord at the Temple - The Last Day of Christmas
Remember!  Christmastide actually lasts well into the Season of Epiphany! Christmastide officially ends with Candlemas on February 2nd - which is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. In the traditional (extraordinary) lectionary, this is the last time in the liturgical year that the Nativity is mentioned - and thus ends the Christmas Season.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Christmas Tree - A Christian Tradition

Is the Christmas Tree a Christian tradition?

Well, yes - and no!

First the "No"

The use of greens, especially evergreens, to celebrate the Winter solstice, dates back to the ancient Egyptians. At the solstice, the days would again start to become longer - and since they worshipped the Sun god, Ra, they would decorate their homes with green palm branches as a symbol of life being victorious over death - as the Sun was growing "weaker and weaker" culminating on the shortest day of daylight (December 21st or 22nd), after the solstice the days were getting longer again and soon would come Spring and Summer when nature came back to life again.

The Romans also celebrated the solstice for similar reasons as the Egyptians before them. They knew that soon would come the Spring and farms and orchards would come back to life again. The Romans would decorate their homes and temples with evergreen boughs to celebrate the lengthening of days.

Similarly, the ancient Druids/Celts decorated their temples with evergreen boughs, again symbolizing not just new life, but everlasting life. The Vikings also believed evergreens were a special gift of the Sun god, Balder.

And now the "Yes"

Christmas Trees, as we have come to know them now, started in Germany in the 16th century. Most credit Martin Luther with being the first to tie candles to the branches with wire and lighting the tree. It is said that Luther was on a walk one Winter evening and was inspired by the stars shining  among the evergreens. He used an evergreen tree in his home to show his family what he experienced on his walk.The evergreen being a symbol of everlasting life, the eternal life in heaven; the candles represent Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. He also put red decorations on the tree to represent the blood of Christ - keeping in mind that while they were celebrating Christmas, Jesus came to earth to be sacrificed on the Cross.

Christmas Trees in the United States were basically unheard of until the 19th century when German settlers to America brought with them the tradition of the Christmas Tree.

Did Christians Celebrate Christmas Based Upon the Solstice?

The answer here is NO! Many modernists believe Christians "wanted a holiday" to coincide with the pagan's celebrating the Winter Solstice - but this is simply not true. The date of Christmas actually has its roots with the death of Jesus! In the early days of the Church it was thought that one's death day was the same date as the day they were conceived. The death of Jesus Christ, based upon the Jewish lunar calendar and Passover, which was on the 14th of Nisan - and in 33 AD that equates to March 25th on the Gregorian calendar. So, believing Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost on March 25th, nine months later is December 25th. No pagan ritual involved, just coincidence.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

In 2019 the Second Sunday of Advent (December 8th) is also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (IC). The celebration of the IC supersedes the Second Sunday of Advent in the Mass for this day. It still IS the Second Sunday in Advent and the week following is still the second week of the Advent Season (again, this is NOT the Christmas Season... yet).
 
Theotokos with her parents, Sts. Joachim and Anna.

Many still think the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus' conception (which is actually celebrated on March 25th) but this is the day we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Mary, according to the dogmatic definition (no faithful Catholic can deny this) was, from the very moment of her conception, preserved from the stain of Original Sin. The wording from Ineffabilis Deus:
We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. 
https://www.americancatholictruthsociety.com/docs/pix_ineffabilis_deus.htm

There is a stern warning to any Catholic who would deny this teaching:
Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he thinks in his heart. (ibid)

Again, this still IS the Second Sunday in Advent - so don't forget to light that second violet candle!

Blessed Advent, my friends!

Please share!

 

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Blessed Advent - not Merry Christmas...yet

I like to remind people that this is NOT the Christmas Season... right now it is the Advent Season. Christmastide starts with Christmas Day and, depending on the tradition lasts 12 Days - till Epiphany (January 6th) - or all the way to Candlemas, which is on February 2nd. Some like to observe all the way till the start of Lent. Regardless, THIS season is Advent, O Come, O Come, Emanuel... and... Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

When someone wishes you a Merry Christmas during Advent, you could respond "And a blessed Advent to you!"  Just a thought, and maybe an ice-breaker to start a discussion on your faith. 

(The image above, if you click on it to make it full-size, the right-click and save image as to your computer, makes a nice Facebook cover image!) 

Please share!

Friday, December 06, 2019

Happy St Nicholas Day!

Celebrate St. Nicholas Day!  

 

Give a gift to your children and/or grandchildren

And tell them the story of St. Nicholas of Myra!

December 6th

The Feast of St. Nicholas!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Santa or St Nick

Often, as we begin the Advent Season today (it's NOT the Christmas Season - yet!) the subject of Santa Claus v. Saint Nicholas comes up. Is Santa a representation of St. Nicholas? Let's take a closer look.
Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus?

St. Nicholas of Myra was born on March 15, 270 AD and died on December 6, 343 AD. It is on December 6th each year that we honor St. Nicholas with a feast day in memory of him. St. Nicholas was in attendance at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, where the council fathers sought to end the heresy of Arianism defining "homoousios" (Greek for "of one substance") teaching that Jesus Christ was fully divine and fully human.

So where does "Santa" come from? It is actually from a Dutch tradition of "SinterKlaas" and the Dutch are actually referring to St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra! Little is known of the actual life of St. Nicholas, but traditions and legends say he loved children. In the Dutch tradition, SinterKlaas rides through town on a white steed, giving presents to the "good" children and switches to the "bad" children. There are also stories of SinterKlaas going from rooftop to rooftop and dropping presents down the chimney for the children (no word on how he got there though).

The story of Santa's reindeer was unheard of until 1823 when the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" was penned. Authorship of the poem is a bit disputed, some say it was Clement Clarke Moore, others say it was Henry Livingston, Jr. Regardless, before this poem it is unclear if completely unknown about Santa's reindeer.

The story I told my children, when they were old enough to start questioning Santa Claus, is that Santa was indeed a real person and the legend has it that he gave presents to the good children and switches (or lumps of coal) to the bad children. Santa Claus was originally known as Saint Nicholas, who was indeed the Bishop of Myra (in today's Turkey). The spirit of giving at Christmas is keeping the tradition of St. Nicholas alive and well. So you CAN believe in Santa Claus, but he wasn't (or isn't) the commercialized (largely by the Coca Cola Company in the early 20th century), but he did exist and many stories and legends have come about due to Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. We also celebrated St. Nicholas Day on December 6th by giving them a little present that day too - though the day of the ultimate gift to mankind, celebrated on December 25th, the Christ Mass (Christmas) overshadows St. Nicholas - as it should.

Links supporting Santa Claus:

https://www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.com/the-story/

https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/12/131219-santa-claus-origin-history-christmas-facts-st-nicholas/

And his reindeer:

https://www.ibtimes.com/history-santa-claus-reindeers-rudolph-may-be-most-popular-what-about-dancer-prancer-comet-vixen

https://homesteading.com/santas-reindeer-everything-need-know-history-christmas-reindeer/

https://www.cnn.com/2012/12/22/opinion/galloway-reindeer/index.html

Link not favoring St. Nick to Santa Claus:

http://suewidemark.com/santaandsue.htm