fifth day christmas

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five golden rings

The number five is meant to remember the Pentateuch, the first five books of Jewish Scripture and the Christian Bible

Does it still “feel” like Christmas at your house? Do you still have the Nativity set out and Christmas music playing during dinner? It can be hard to keep the Christmas spirit when your neighbors have all tossed their Christmas trees to the curb the day after Christmas and the stores have shelved Valentine’s Day candy and trinkets.

Yet we Catholic keep right on celebrating! No, it’s not that saccharine “let’s keep Christmas in our hearts all year!” type of celebration. It is a time to meditate and reflect upon the fact that God became one of us. God could have chosen any way He wished to save us from our sins – He chose to become an infant, in a family, in a specific time and place. What a wonder!

It is the tradition that, on Christmas Day, the pope gives his Urbi et Orbi (City and World) message. Here is part of St. John Paul II’s message in 2002:

Together with you, O Virgin Mother, may we stop and reflect
at the manger where the Child lies,
to share your own amazement
at the immense “condescension” of God.
Grant us your own eyes, O Mary,
that we may understand the mystery
hidden within the frail limbs of your Son.
Teach us to recognize his face
in the children of every race and culture.
Help us to be credible witnesses
of his message of peace and love,
so that the men and women of our own time,
still torn by conflicts and unspeakable violence,
may also recognize in the Child
cradled in your arms
the one Saviour of the world,
the endless source of that true peace
for which every heart profoundly yearns.

Imagine: gazing on the face of God! Let the eyes of Mary, full of grace, teach us to see Christ hear and now. Our world needs a Savior, and our continued celebration of His birth will strengthen us to bring Him to our family, friends and neighbors. Merry Christmas indeed!

[From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts, and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him…including the fact that he was born to die for us.” There are, however, the traditional “12 Days of Christmas,” captured in the song of the same title. Some claim the song was meant as catechism of a sort, written and sung for nearly 300 years of British persecution of Catholics. We will be using both the song and the Church’s liturgical calendar to celebrate the Christmas season. We hope you enjoy.]


Called To Rejoice In A Sorrowful World

Easter is a joyful time of year for Christians; it is the culmination of the entire liturgical year. After the serious and often grim days of Lent, the Church bursts forth into song; our parishes are filled with flowers and “Alleluias” resound. However, we all know that our lives are not always celebratory. We mourn. Sickness often consumes our lives. And it’s not just us personally; the entire world grieved during Holy Week as terrorists attacked in Brussels. We live in a sorrowful world.

Pope Francis knows this. On Easter, he gave the papal address, Urbi et Orbi (City and World). He acknowledged that our lives must be rooted in faith:

Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, before the chasms that open up in hearts and provoke hatred and death, only an infinite mercy can bring us salvation.  Only God can fill those chasms with his love, prevent us from falling into them and help us to continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life.

While our lives here on Earth can often seem overwhelmed by evil, the Holy Father reminds all of us that Christ’s Resurrection “offers us the comforting assurance that the abyss of death has been bridged and, with it, all mourning, lamentation and pain.”

The message of Easter is not one for Christians alone. It is meant for all humanity. We must see to it that those without hope come to know hope in Christ. It is only in Christ that all things can be made new, as it says in the book of Revelation. In a world torn by war, hatred, terrorism and personal strife, Pope Francis spoke clearly to our hearts:

With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death.  His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all …  May efforts be made everywhere to promote the culture of counter, justice and reciprocal respect, which alone can guarantee the spiritual and material welfare of all people.

The joy of Easter can sometimes be very hard to sustain. Yet, as Christians, we must always carry the hope of Christ and His triumph over death in our minds and in our hearts. In a hurting world, we must exemplify faith, hope and love to those who have lost faith, abandoned hope and do not know love. On our lips should ever be the joyful refrain of the Psalmist: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”