Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
The Season of Christmas
"The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been
born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!"
A very Blessed and Merry Christmas to you as this holy season continues!
Yes, as it begins and continue. [Look below to see what it all entails] The TWELVE DAYS of Christmas begin on Christmas Day, not leading up to it. [The explanations and real meaning of these twelve days are explained further below.] Christmas Day begins the Octave of Christmas, that is, the 8-day expansion of Dec. 25th, where we are to live as it is Christmas Day until the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Jan. 1st. As I like to say, no one knows how to party like the Church. :o)
Finally, FIND BELOW, please enjoy other material gathered for your reading enjoyment and spiritual benefit.
-"The 12 Days of Christmas"
-FOUR WAYS TO HAVE A MORE JOYFUL CHRISTMAS
-POPE BENEDICT SPEAKS ON NATIVITY SCENE AND TREE, SYMBOLS OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY
-excerpts from the Diary of St. Faustina on the Infant Jesus
Blessings for a Christmas Tree and Manger Scene
A bit of humor…
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God . The readings can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/010117.cfm
Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God - usccb.org
Brothers and sisters: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might ...
Mass of Midnight
Octave of Christmas ( from Latin, feminine of octavus "eighth")
- an 8-day period of observances expanding Christmas Day(Dec. 25th) into an 8-day celebration; the octave begins on Christmas Day and ends on the Solemnity of the Mary, the Mother of God
Sunday, December 25. Solemnity of Nativity of Our Lord
December 26. Feast of Saint Stephen
December 27. Feast of Saint John
December 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents
December 29. Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
December 30. Feast of the Holy Family
December 31. Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
Sunday, January 1. OCTAVE DAY Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Holyday of Obligation)
January 2. Memorials of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen
January 3. Opt. Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
January 4. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
January 5. Memorial of St. John Neumann
January 6. Optional Memorial of St. Andre Bessette
January 7. Optional Memorial of St. Raymond of Penafort
Sunday, January 8. Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
January 9. Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord
[Christmas ends and Ordinary Time begins on Tuesday, January 10th.]
> > > Here
~ Origins and Religious Meaning ~
C atholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song.
"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.
T he song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"
The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.
The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them.
The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.
The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.
The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).
The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.
The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.
The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments
The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
The 'twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles' Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.
S o the next time you hear "the Twelve Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in keeping alive the teaching of the Catholic faith.
1. STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN:
If you discover yourself becoming dulled to the joys of the season, STOP! Slow the pace down and become still, taking time to LOOK and LISTEN. Take a winter walk, curl up in a favorite chair or before the fireplace. Helen Keller once observed, "The seeing see little." So feel the comfort of the glow of a candle, or the red of the poinsettias. Listen with new ears to laughter and bells, and to the expression of love found in the story of the first Christmas. LOOK UPON THE MANGER, the second home of Love after the womb of His Virgin Mother.
2. BE WILLING TO BE SURPRISED:
Remember that God can come in the least likely ways - a Holy Child born in a village stable, a brightly shining star, an angel song in the night sky. Watch for Him to come in equally surprising ways to you, too. When we live as if God is going to "surprise" us at any moment, in any way, in any place, then He usually does!
3. FREE YOUR CHILDLIKE SPIRIT:
Jesus held up child-likeness as a quality to be cultivated (Mark 10:15 ). Children are experts at dreaming up simple things as delights that adults don't, or have forgotten how to do. Can't you picture a little boy singing "Jingle Bells" to a plastic Jesus in a store? Christmas often comes in precious moments like this, when we spontaneously show our adoration for the Baby in the manger.
4. SHARE THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS WITH SOMEONE ELSE:
Nothing multiplies the sense of wonder in your life like giving it away. The more you share (not just things, but yourself) the brighter Christmas grows.
I hope that these simple steps will help you, or someone you can share these with, keep the wonder and excitement of Christmas alive during this blessed season.
"Jesus is the reason for the season."
"As He was physically formed in her, so He wills to be spiritually formed in you. If you knew He was seeing through your eyes, you would see in every fellowman a child of God. If you knew that He worked through your hands, they would bless all the day through. If you knew He spoke through your lips, then your speech, like Peter's, would betray that you had been with the Galilean. If you knew that He wants to use your mind, your will, your fingers, and your heart, how different you would be. If half the world did this there would be no war!"
(Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)
VATICAN CITY, (VIS) - "This ancient fir," said the Pope Emeritus, "cut down without harming the life of the forest, ... will remain standing by the nativity scene until the end of the Christmas festivities. ... It is an important symbol of Christ's Nativity because with its evergreen leaves it recalls the life that does not die. The fir is also a symbol of the popular religiosity in your valleys, which finds particular expression in processions."
"The tree and the nativity scene are elements of that typical Christmas atmosphere which is part of the spiritual heritage of our communities; an atmosphere suffused with religiosity and family intimacy which we must conserve even in our modern societies where the race to consumerism and the search for material goods sometimes seem to prevail.
"Christmas is a Christian feast," added Benedict XVI in conclusion, "and its symbols, especially the nativity scene and the tree hung with gifts, are important references to the great mystery of the Incarnation and the Birth of Jesus, which are constantly evoked by the liturgy of Advent and Christmas."
AC/CHRISTMAS TREE/... VIS 071214 (240)
This is a series of excerpts from the Diary of St. Faustina on the Infant Jesus and the Holy Eucharist:
After Holy Communion: "I suddenly saw the Infant Jesus standing by my kneeler and holding on to it with His two little hands. Although He was but a little Child, my soul was filled with awe and fear, for I see in Him my Judge, my Lord, and my Creator, before whose holiness the Angels tremble. At the same time, my soul was flooded with such unspeakable love that I thought I would die under its influence" (Divine Mercy in My Soul, 566).
During Mass, "I saw the Infant Jesus near my kneeler. He appeared to be about one year old, and He asked me to take Him in my arms. When I did take Him in my arms, He cuddled up close to my bosom and said, 'It is good for Me to be close to your heart . . . . Because I want to teach you spiritual childhood. I want you to be very little, because when you are little, I carry you close to My Heart, just as you are holding Me close to your heart right now" (1481).
"I saw the Infant Jesus who, with hands outstretched toward us, was sitting in the chalice being used at Holy Mass. After gazing at me penetratingly, He spoke these words: 'As you see Me in this chalice, so I dwell in your heart" (1346).
"When Mass began, a strange silence and joy filled my heart. Just then, I saw Our Lady with the Infant Jesus . . . . The most holy Mother said to me, 'Take my Dearest Treasure,' and she handed me the Infant Jesus. When I took the Infant Jesus in my arms, the Mother of God and Saint Joseph disappeared. I was left alone with the Infant Jesus" (608).
"When I arrived at Midnight Mass, from the very beginning I steeped myself in deep recollection, during which time I saw the stable of Bethlehem filled with great radiance. The Blessed Virgin, all lost in the deepest of love, was wrapping Jesus in swaddling clothes, but Saint Joseph was still asleep. Only after the Mother of God put Jesus in the manger did the light of God awaken Joseph, who also prayed. But after awhile I was left alone with the Infant Jesus who stretched out His little hands to me, and I understood that I was to take Him in my arms. Jesus pressed His head against my heart and gave me to know, by His profound gaze, how good He found it to be next to my heart" (1442).
The origin of the Christmas tree goes back to the medieval German mystery plays. One of the most popular 'mysteries' was the Paradise play, representing the creation of man, the sin of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Paradise. It usually closed with the consoling promise of the coming Savior and with a reference to His incarnation. This made the Paradise play a favorite pageant for Advent, and its closing scenes used to lead directly into the story of Bethlehem.
These plays were performed either in the open, or the large squares in front of churches, or inside the house of God. The garden of Eden was indicated by a fir tree hung with apples; it represented both the 'Tree of Life' and the 'Tree of discernment of good and evil' which stood in the center of Paradise.
After the suppression of the mystery plays in churches, the Paradise tree, the only symbolic object of the play, found its way into the homes of the faithful, especially since many plays had interpreted it as a symbol of the coming Savior. Following this symbolism, in the fifteenth century the custom developed of decorating the Paradise tree, already bearing apples, with small white wafers representing the Holy Eucharist; thus, in legendary usage, the tree which had borne the fruit of sin for Adam and Eve, now bore the saving fruit of the Sacrament, symbolized by the wafers. These wafers were later replaced by little pieces of pastry cut in the shape of stars, angels, hearts, flowers, and bells.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Now and for ever.
The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the blessing:
This tree is a blessing to our home. It reminds us of all that is beautiful, all that is filled with the gentleness and the promise of God. It stands in our midst as a tree of light that we might promise such beauty to one another and to our world. It stands like that tree of paradise that God made into the tree of life, the cross of Jesus.
FIRST READING :
The mother of the family reads:
God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants and all kinds of fruit trees that bear fruit containing their seed. And so it was. The earth brought forth vegetation, every kind of seed-bearing plant and all kinds of trees that bear fruit containing their seed. The Lord God made to grow out of the ground all kinds of trees pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10-13)
The reader concludes:
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
(The family's Bible may be used for an alternate reading such as Psalm 96:11-13.)
SECOND READING :
One of the children reads:
From the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke:
At that time it came to pass that while Mary and Joseph were at Bethlehem, the days for her to be delivered were fulfilled. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds in the same district living in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of God shone about them and they feared exceedingly. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you news of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there has been born to you today in the town of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
Glory to God on high, * and on earth peace to men whom God has chosen. * We praise you. * We bless you. * We adore you. * We glorify you. * We worship you for your great glory. * Lord God, heavenly king, * God the Father all-powerful! * Lord Jesus Christ, only-begotten Son! * Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father! * You that take away the sins of the world, * have mercy on us. * You that take away the sins of the world, * receive our prayer. * You that sit at the right hand of the Father, * have mercy on us. * For you alone are the Holy One, * you alone are the Lord. * You alone are the Most High, O Jesus Christ, * with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. * Amen.
After a time of silence, all join in prayers of intercession and in the Lord's Prayer (the Our Father).
Then the father or leader invites:
Let us now pray for God's blessing upon this tree and all who gather around this tree.
After a short silence, the father or leader prays:
Lord our God, we praise you for the light of creation: the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night. We praise you for the light of Israel: the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son: he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love.
God of all creation, we praise you for this tree which brings beauty and memories and the promise of life to our home. May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts. May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
Father, bless this noble tree which we have adorned in honor of the new birth of Your only-begotten Son, and also adorn our souls with the manifold beauties of Your graces that being internally enlightened by the splendor radiating from this tree, we like the Magi may come to adore Him who is eternal Light and Beauty, the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.
The lights of the tree are then illuminated. And then the tree is blessed with Holy Water.
The leader says:
Let us bless the Lord.
All respond, making the sign of the cross:
Thanks be to God.
Another child concludes:
After the fall of our first parents the earth was bare and desolate; the world stood in the darkness of sin. But when the Savior was born our earth shone with a new brightness; the glory of the Almighty had renewed the world, making it more beautiful than before. This tree once stood dark and empty in a cold world. But now resplendent with lights and bright adornments in its new glory, this Christmas tree reflects the new beauty that God brought to earth when "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." By a tree the whole world has been redeemed, and therefore, with great joy we celebrate the glory of this tree.
"O come, O Come, Emmanuel":
O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
OR MANGER SCENE
All make the sign of the cross. The leader begins:
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Who made heaven and earth.
The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the blessing.
We are at the beginning of the days of Christmas. All through the season we will look on these images of sheep and cattle, of shepherds, of Mary and of Joseph and Jesus.
Then the Scripture is read by a reader:
Listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Luke:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea , to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.—Luke 2:1-7
The reader concludes:
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
The figures may be placed in the manger. After a time of silence, all join in prayers of intercession and in the Lord's Prayer (the Our Father).
Then the leader invites:
Pray now for God's blessing as we look on these figures.
After a short silence, the leader prays the blessing:
O God of every nation and people,
from the very beginning of creation
you have made manifest your love:
when our need for a Savior was great
you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary.
To our lives he brings joy and peace,
justice, mercy, and love.
Bless this manger and all who look upon it.
Through all the days of Christmas
may these figures tell the story
of how humans, angels, and animals
found the Christ in this poor place.
Fill our house with hospitality, joy,
gentleness, and thanksgiving
and guide our steps in the way of peace.
May this manger remind us
of the humble birth of Jesus,
and raise our thoughts to him,
who is God-with-us and Savior of all,
and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
(Then sprinkle Holy Water on the Crèche or Manger.)
The leader says:
Let us bless the Lord.
All respond, making the sign of the cross:
And give Him thanks.
Then Christmas songs and carols are sung such as:
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
"Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven's all gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.
And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born
Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "
Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!
Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.” ~Victor Borge
Once again, we come to the Christmas Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes,
in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice. -Anonymous
Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. ~Larry Wilde
Nothing's as mean as giving a little child something useful for Christmas. ~Kin Hubbard
The office Christmas party is a great opportunity to catch up with people you haven’t seen for 20 minutes.
Office Holiday Memo
To: All Employees
Subject: Office conduct during the Christmas season
Effective immediately, employees should keep in mind the following guidelines in compliance with FROLIC (the Federal Revelry Office and Leisure Industry Council).
1. Running aluminum foil through the paper shredder to make tinsel is discouraged.
2. Playing Jingle Bells on the push-button phone is forbidden (it runs up an incredible long distance bill)
3. Work requests are not to be filed under "Bah humbug."
4. Company cars are not to be used to go over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house.
5. All fruitcake is to be eaten BEFORE July 25.
6. Egg nog will NOT be dispensed in vending machines.
In spite of all this, the staff is encouraged to have a Happy Holiday.
Some mice enter heaven on Christmas. St. Peter asks them what they would like for Christmas. They say some roller skates, so he equips them with some.
Next, a cat comes to heaven. St. Peter asks what the cat would like for Christmas. The cat looking around seeing the mice enjoying their gifts says, "Meals on wheels."
It is all about Communication
- As a little girl climbed onto Santa's lap, Santa asked the usual, "And what would you like for Christmas?"
The child stared at him open mouthed and horrified for a minute, then gasped: "Didn't you get my E-mail?"