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Jan
6
Epiphany: The Revelation of Jesus as King
Posted by Ian on 06 January 2017 04:28 AM
“On January 6 we celebrate Jesus’ coming as Savior of the world”

 

“The light that shone in the night at Christmas illuminating the Bethlehem Grotto, where Mary, Joseph and the shepherds remained in silent adoration, shines out today and is manifested to all. The Epiphany is a mystery of light, symbolically suggested by the star that guided the Magi on their journey. The true source of light, however, the “sun that rises from on high”, is Christ.

In the mystery of Christmas, Christ’s light shines on the earth, spreading, as it were, in concentric circles. First of all, it shines on the Holy Family of Nazareth:  the Virgin Mary and Joseph are illuminated by the divine presence of the Infant Jesus. The light of the Redeemer is then manifested to the shepherds of Bethlehem, who, informed by an Angel, hasten immediately to the grotto and find there the “sign” that had been foretold to them: the Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

The shepherds, together with Mary and Joseph, represent that “remnant of Israel,” the poor, the anawim, to whom the Good News was proclaimed.

Finally, Christ’s brightness shines out, reaching the Magi who are the first-fruits of the pagan peoples.

. . . The Magi worshiped a simple Child in the arms of his Mother Mary, because in him they recognized the source of the twofold light that had guided them: the light of the star and the light of the Scriptures. In him they recognized the King of the Jews, the glory of Israel, but also the King of all the peoples.”
Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at the Vatican Basilica, January 6th 2006

 

The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation.

The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).


Let Us Pray

 

 

An Epiphany Morning Prayer

Father,
You revealed your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star.
Lead us to your glory in heaven by the light of faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
Amen.


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Jan
3
The Tenth Day of Christmas – The Holy Name of Jesus
Posted by Ian on 03 January 2017 07:00 AM

Adoration of the Holy Name of Jesus

In the New Testament, St. Paul writes that God the Father “bestowed on him (Christ Jesus) the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phillipians, 2:9)

We give honor to the Holy Name of Jesus, not because we believe in some intrinsic power hidden in the letters composing it, but because the Name of Jesus reminds us of the many blessings we receive through Our Savior, Christ the Lord. To give thanks for these blessings we revere His Holy Name, just as we honor His Passion by honoring His Holy Cross. At the Holy Name of Jesus, we uncover our heads, we bend our knees, and we offer our prayers in His Name.

As our ancestors in faith, the people of the Old Covenant, honored and kept most holy the name of the Lord God, so we, the people of the New Covenant, venerate the Name of Our Redeemer, the second person of the Holy Trinity, who is Jesus Christ Our Lord.

The veneration of the Holy Name of Jesus first became popular in the 12th century due to the efforts of the Cistercians, most importantly those of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He was a special lover of the Holy Name and speaks of it in many of his sermons. Franciscans in the 15th century, especially St. Bernadino of Siena and St. John Capistrano, became the greatest promoters of the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. These two saints carried with them, on their missions throughout Italy, a copy of the monogram “IHS” of the Holy Name of Jesus, surrounded by rays, with which they blessed the sick and worked many miracles. At the close of their fiery sermons, the saints exhibited the monogram of the Holy Name to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Name of the Redeemer of mankind. Celebrations in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus occurred on a local level throughout Europe until the feast was extended to the whole Roman Catholic Church in 1721 during the pontificate of Innocent XIII.

What should we recall, what should we think about on this special feast day? Of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, let us remember that it brings help to us in our bodily needs, according to the words of Our Lord: “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink and deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” (Gospel of St. Matthew 16:17-18). Let us remember that in the Name of Jesus, the Apostles gave strength to the lame and even life to the dead. The Holy Name gives us consolation in times of trial and protects us against Satan and his evil designs, for the Devil fears the Name of Jesus, who triumphed over him on the Holy Cross. Finally, in the Name of Jesus we obtain every blessing and grace for eternity, for Our Lord said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (Gospel of St. John 16:23-24)

Sources


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Dec
29
The Fifth Day of Christmas – Feast of St. Thomas Becket
Posted by Ian on 29 December 2016 09:00 AM
Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket
On the Fifth Day of Christmas, the Catholic Church remembers St. Thomas Becket, the other Thomas who was martyred for the Catholic Faith in England by a king named Henry over matters of Church governance.Thomas was born in London on the 21st of December in either 1117 or 1118 to Gilbert Becket and Matilda Roheise. His parents were buried in Old St. Paul’s Cathedral. When Thomas was 10 he learned to read at the Merton Priory in England and then traveled to the Mainland for further studies of canon and civil law in Paris, Bologna, and Auxerre.

After his studies were concluded he returned to England around 1141 where he gained the attention of Theobold, Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him on several missions to Rome and ordained him a deacon in 1154. Soon after this, he was named Archdeacon of Canterbury. About this same time King Stephen died, leaving Henry the II as the new king. At Archbishop Theobold’s urging, King Henry named Thomas the Lord High Chancellor of England. Thomas and King Henry were close friends and both spent a good deal of time “living it up.”

Thomas was so zealous in carrying out his duties as chancellor that many of the English clergy distrusted him. His loyalty to Henry, a Norman, was also seen by some as treachery since Thomas was a Saxon and should have been protecting the Saxons from the reaching of the Norman king.

When Archbishop Theobold died in 1161, King Henry thought that naming Thomas the new Archbishop of Canterbury would solidify his position as sole head of England; something that had long been opposed by Archbishop Theobold.

Thomas warned the King that if he were to become the Archbishop, he would fulfill his duty as zealously for the Church as he had as chancellor for England. The King insisted, even obtaining a dispensation from the Pope for Thomas to hold both positions. In 1162 Thomas was named Archbishop of Canterbury and immediately the conflicts that he had warned King Henry about began.

Read about the rest of his life here.


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Dec
13
The Feast of Saint Lucy
Posted by Ian on 13 December 2016 05:00 AM

According to tradition, Saint Lucy was born near the end of the 3rd century in Syracuse, Sicily, to a Roman father (who would die while she was quite young) and a Greek mother, Eutychia. The traditional stories describe the family as wealthy and connected to nobility, but from an early age the pious Lucy hoped to devote all her time and worldly goods to doing God’s work and helping the poor.

However, Eutychia had Lucy unwilling betrothed to a pagan man. Lucy begged her mother to let her remain an unwed virgin and instead give the money of her dowry to the poor. Tradition holds that after Eutychia was miraculously cured of an ongoing hemorrhage when she visited the relics of St. Agatha (who had been martyred 50 years before) with Lucy, she granted her daughter’s request.

The pagan bridegroom however, did not take kindly to the betrothal being ended, and was angered when he learned the money and jewels of Lucy’s dowry were being distributed. It is said that, incensed by these events, the man denounced Lucy as a Christian to the governor during the time of the especially fierce Diocletian persecutions. Lucy was ordered to burn a sacrifice in honor of the Emperor. When she refused, she was sentenced to be put in a brothel to be defiled.

Hearing her sentence, Lucy is said to have remained unafraid and merely replied, “No one’s body is polluted so as to endanger the soul if it has not pleased the mind. If you were to lift my hand to your idol and so make me offer against my will, I would still be guiltless in the sight of the true God, who judges according to the will and knows all things. If now, against my will, you cause me to be polluted, a twofold purity will be gloriously imputed to me. You cannot bend my will to your purpose; whatever you do to my body, that cannot happen to me.”

When the soldiers came to transport Lucy, the young woman was so filled with Holy Spirit that she had become quite immovable, heavy and stiff as a mountain. They were unable to drag her from her spot even when they tied her to a team of oxen. Since the soldiers could not move Lucy, they resolved to kill her on the spot. She suffered her eyes being cut out and she was covered with oil and burned before her persecutors were able to kill her by sword.

Browse Saint Lucy Gifts

Often in the case of early martyrs, oral tradition about a saint’s life may be expanded on after their death, leaving the hard facts unclear. The location of Lucy’s relics and the fact that records indicate her veneration in the early Church, not long after her death, attest to her existence. The saint was included in the Acts of the Martyrs (a document believed to have been compiled in the 5th century) but the first full, written account of her life was penned in the year 709.

The time and place of Lucy’s death are known, but the details of her life and how she was killed cannot be known for sure. To be denounced and turned over to the governor by a “jilted” pagan bridegroom is certainly not improbable, but it is generally believed that details, such as the legend that her eyesight was restored just before her death, were later additions to the oral tradition of her story.

Saint Lucy Day (St. Lucia Day)

The Feast of St. Lucy is a rather celebrated event in Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland) and some American states and cities with significant Scandinavian heritage. Because she is the patron saint of the city of Syracuse in Italy, Lucy’s feast day is also a festive occasion there. In the Scandinavian countries she is known as Santa Lucia. The day is popularly called “Santa Lucia Day” or “St. Lucy Day,” rather than the Feast of Saint Lucy.

The traditional celebration typically taking place at churches, involves a procession of girls and young women. They are dressed in white robes as a symbol of purity and carry candles to symbolize the fire that was not able to take Santa Lucia’s life. One girl is elected to be St. Lucia and she leads the procession wearing a crown of candles (usually electric candles in modern day).

Saint Lucy Procession

Because her feast day falls so near to Christmas, some Lucia Day traditions, which developed in the 1700s and beyond, are somewhat blended with Christmas traditions. For example, the girl who is elected to be St. Lucy will hand out candy canes or sweets and pastries. Additionally, boys are often included in processions, dressed in robes and called “star boys,” or dressed as elf-like creatures called “tomtenissar” (Santa’s little helpers) or gingerbread men.

A Prayer to St. Lucy

O Saint Lucy,
whose name means light, full of confidence we present ourselves before you, to ask of you a holy light, which may render us cautious in avoiding the ways of sin and escaping the darkness of error.

We beg also, through your intercession, for the preservation of the light of our eyes, together with abundant grace to use it always in accordance with the will of God and without injury to our souls. Grant, O blessed Lucy, that, after venerating and thanking you for your powerful patronage on earth, we may come at last to rejoice with you in the paradise of the eternal light of the divine Lamb, your sweet spouse Jesus.

 Amen.
Saint Lucy Quote

This article was adapted from Treasury of Women Saints, The Catholic Encyclopedia, and Wikipedia.


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Nov
30
An Irreverent History of Christmas Cards
Posted by Ian on 30 November 2016 02:10 PM

Humor Alert! If you don’t have a sense of humor or can’t take a good natured ribbing about the British or your grandmother’s fruitcake, we recommend skipping this article entirely and reading our article about the history of Christmas Cards from which all humorous elements have been excised.

You have been warned.

Christmas Cards, official items printed with a Christmas message and sent to wish others a “A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”, were first printed in England in 1843 making them as old as the opera Don Pasquale, the United Free Church of Scotland, the British colony of Natal, a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and your grandmother’s fruit cake.

Sir Henry Cole commissioned John Callcott Horsley to create the first Christmas card. Sir Cole must have had a lot of friends and a lot of free time since he had 1000 printed. Unfortunately, he didn’t give thought to the sensibilities of the times setting off what could be one of the earliest politically correct protests when temperance groups objected to the image on the card depicting a child drinking wine with his family. In our family we believe that children shouldn’t have liquor until they are at least three so the temperance protest is understandable.

The first Christmas card

It should also be noted that the first card didn’t actually include an image of anything religious proving that the English are a bunch godless heathens only interested in selling tea and the worst food on the planet.

Actually, if you look carefully at the card you will see some unhappy figures on the edges. Sir Cole was very concerned about the poor in England and wanted to remind his friends to do something charitable during the Christmas season so he had these cards sent instead of handwriting individual letters. (This is true). (So was most everything else I said so far).

Americans, always quick to copy the British in everything except military tactics, started mailing cards in 1845/6 but had to import them from Europe for thirty years until someone figured out that yes, Christmas cards can be printed outside of the British Isles. Louis Prang, a German immigrant, started selling multi-colored Christmas cards in Europe in 1865 and started selling them in the United States in 1875. Within six years he was producing over five-million cards a year. That’s equivalent to 10% of the US population at the time.

The first home-photograph card was introduced by Kodak in 1902 which has made it possible for everyone to see how great your family and dog look in matching sweaters.

The first White House Christmas card was sent in 1953 when Dwight Eisenhower was president. Just another reason why everyone liked Ike. The cards were sent to 2000 of his most personal friends. White House Christmas cards now get sent to about 1.6 million people which kind of takes away the thrill of getting one.

If you send Christmas cards, you aren’t alone. The average US household receives an estimated 20 cards a year, down from 27 in the 80’s and 1.9 billion, yes that’s with a “b”, Christmas cards are sent in the US each year.

We recommend visiting the Christmas card gallery to see some examples of antique cards.

This history was culled from Wikipedia, Christmas in St. Charles, Emotion Greeting Cards and our seven-week-old daughter, Maria who thinks Christmas cards taste great.

If you want to help the US get to 2 billion cards sent each year, we recommend browsing our Christmas card section with a giving heart.


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