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Saturday, December 28, 2013

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2013


WHAT ARE THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS - A HIDDEN MEANING


THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS are 12 days from December 25 till January 5 that are spent celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of mankind.
There are several feast days that are traditionally celebrated on the 12 days including:
Dec. 26 - St. Stephen, 1st Martyr of the Church
27 - St. John the Evangelist, Apostle
28 - Holy Innocents, Martyred children by Herod in search of Jesus
29 - St. Thomas Becket, Martyred Bishop of England under Henry II
29- The feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph
31 - St. Sylvester I, Pope 314-335 AD
Jan. 1 - Feast of Holy Mary Mother of God
3 - Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus - commemorating the Circumcision 8 days after Christ's birth
3 - St. Genevieve - Patroness of Paris
4 - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton of USA established Catholic schools
5 - St. John Neumann - Bishop and also established the Catholic school system in the US


The playwright Shakespeare wrote his play "Twelfth Night, or what you will" circa 1601 in honor of these days. 
The lyrics of the song "The 12 Days of Christmas", written circa 1645, hold a special meaning. This was written during the persecution of Catholics in England. They serve as a hidden catechesis 
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love sent to me…
A Partridge in a Pear Tree  
The partridge is representative of Jesus Christ and the pear tree is the cross. Jesus is symbolically rendered as a mother bird protecting her young. This recalls Christ's words: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . .” (Luke 13:34) 
Two Turtle Doves 
The 2 doves symbolize the two natures in Jesus: human and divine or the Old and New Testaments.
Three French Hens
The 3 hens are the Three Persons in One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; but can also refer to the three Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity.
Four Calling Birds
The birds represent the 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They tell of the Good News throughout the world.
Five Gold Rings
The 5 rings represent the five books of the Old Testament also known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:  1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy.
Six Geese A-laying
The geese symbolize the six days of Creation;  or the 6 Precepts of the Church:
  • to keep the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile work;
  • to keep the days of fasting and abstinence appointed by the Church;
  • to go to confession at least once a year;
  • to receive the Blessed Sacrament at least once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts;
  • to contribute to the support of our pastors;
  • not to marry within a certain degree of kindred nor to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times.

Seven Swans A-swimming
These are the 7 Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.
Eight Maids A-milking
Represent the 8 Beatitudes 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)
Nine Ladies Dancing
The 9 choirs of angels;  or the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
Ten Lords A-Leaping
The 10 Commandments: 1) I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me; 2) You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; 3) Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day; 4) Honour your father and mother; 5) You shall not kill; 6) You shall not commit adultery; 7) You shall not steal; 8) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour; 9) You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife; 10) You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods. 
Eleven Pipers Piping

The 11 Apostles: 1) Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James the Greater, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8 ) Thomas, 9) James the Less, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Jude Thaddaeus. This does not include Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.
Twelve Drummers Drumming
These are the 12 main beliefs of the Catholic Church as dictated in the Apostles Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; 2) And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; 3) Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, 4) Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. 5) He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; 6) He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; 7) From thence He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. 8 ) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 9) the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

POPE FRANCIS AND POPE BENEDICT MEET FOR LUNCH

(Vatican Radio) Benedict XVI, the Pope Emeritus, joined Pope Francis for lunch on Friday at the papal residence at Casa Santa Marta. 

Earlier this week, Pope Francis had paid a visit to his predecessor (pictured) to offer his Christmas greetings. It was during that visit that Pope Francis invited Benedict to Casa Santa Marta for a holiday meal. 

The Pope and his predecessor were joined by their respective secretaries. Also present at the festive event were Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Secretary for Relations with States, and Monsignor Peter Brian Wells, Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.


SHARED from Vatican Radio 


ONE CHILD POLICY OF CHINA IS EASED AND ENDS RE-EDUCATION LABOR CAMPS

ASIA NEWS REPORT: 
One-child policy eased as laojiao centres close
by Bernardo Cervellera
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress announces the decision today. Easing the one-child policy should only result in "a slight increase in births," as the state will retain power over population controls. Re-education through labour centres will also be abolished, but all standing legal laojiao penalties remain in place and no one released will be able to suit his or her jailers. Bishops and priests imprisoned for years should be able to return to their dioceses. The abolition of laojiao could however just be a cosmetic operation.


Rome (AsiaNews) - The Standing Committee of the National People's Assembly today adopted a resolution loosening the country's one-child policy. It also formally abolished Re-education through labour camps, also known as laojiao centres.
Since 1979, China has implemented, often with violence, a policy of one child per family in order to boost the nation's economic development. Ethnic groups and farmers were later allowed to have two children if the first was a baby girl, but the law was often enforced with violence. Violators often received huge fines, or had to submit to forced sterilisation and late pregnancy abortions.
With family planning officials and managers receiving rewards for implementing the law and meeting quotas, corruption and abuse of power followed.
Although in recent years, ordinary Chinese have used the Internet to voice their criticism against the violence perpetrated on parents and their offspring, changes to the one-child policy appear tied to demographic trends and the policy's psychological impact.
On the one hand, the overall population is expected to drop by 3.45 million per year, leaving many factories without needed workers. An aging of the population will mean that by 2050 more than a quarter of China's population will be over 65 years old, driving up social and health care costs.
On the other, due to a preference for boys and the resulting widespread practice of sex-selective abortions, China's sex ratio rose to 115 boys for every 100 girls. Over the next few years, China will thus have 24 million "leftover men" who, because of China's gender imbalance, will not be able to find a wife.
Various scientists have been calling for some time for the one-child policy to be scrapped. Concerned about a declining labour force, the authorities in Guangdong and Shanghai have also called for two children per family
The new more liberal policy will now allow couples where one partner is already an only child to have two children. At least ten million couples will be affected by it with "only a slight increase in births" according to Xinhua.
Reining in state power in matters of population control does not mean taking it away. "Easing the one-child policy does not mean an end to family planning," said NPC Standing Committee member Chi Wanchun.
Similarly, "We cannot risk the population growing out of control," said Jiang Fan, an NPC deputy and member of the NPC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
The guidelines should be phased in gradually by provincial authorities according to local demographic conditions.
With laojiao's abolition, one of the harshest and most arbitrary systems of violation of human rights would disappear. Used against political leaders, pro-democracy dissidents, Catholic bishops and priests, Protestants, members of the Falun Gong movement, the system had even come in for criticism by the United Nations, which had repeatedly called for its abolition.
The Re-education through labour system was set up in 1957 as a speedy way to handle petty offenders. But it was soon used to crack down on the Communist Party's political enemies and on people who strayed from its path, giving police the power to hold anyone under "administrative detention" for up to four years without trial and without notification to their families.
In laojiao centres, in addition to forced labour, prisoners had to attend political sessions to be "re-educated" in accordance with the values of a socialist society "with Chinese characteristics".
A 2009 UN Human Rights Council report estimated that some 190,000 people were held in 320 labour centres across the country. At the start of this year, 260 labour camps held 160,000 inmates.
Announced earlier this year, laojiao's abolition only began today, following the meeting of the Third Plenum of the Communist Party last November.
In Hebei province, Catholics hope that Bishops James Su Zhimin of Baoding and Cosma Shi Enxiang of Yixian, as well as Fr Joseph Lu, vicar general of Baoding, will be released with the end of laojiao camps. The clergymen have been in police custody for 15, 12, and 9 years respectively.
At least ten more clergymen from the underground Church are in laojiao centres for celebrating Mass in unregistered locations, or teaching catechism or holding retreats for young people. Some of the imprisoned priests have suffered serious physical and psychological harm as a result of torture.
Under the Standing Committee's resolution, all legal laojiao penalties imposed before the abolition of the system remain valid. People who are released will thus not be able to suit their jailers.
According to Yang Huanning, vice minister of public security, amendments to the Criminal Law and new laws on public security and drugs have gradually rendered the laojiao redundant.
Still, various human rights organisations are concerned that laojiao's abolition is only cosmetic, and that it would be replaced by other forms of control and isolation.
The dismantling of the laojiao system does not in fact change China's policy of "administrative detention," which grants the police the power to detain people without trial.

In recent weeks - and this is just one example - new "black jails" were discovered in Beijing where people who had come to the capital to deliver petitions demanding justice were held for months.
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

TAIZE MEETING OF 25000 YOUTH RECEIVES MESSAGE FROM POPE FRANCIS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a message through his Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, to the 25,000 young adults participating at the 36th annual European encounter of the TaizĂ© community. The meeting begins on Saturday and this year is being held in Strasbourg, France. 

In the message, Archbishop Parolin spoke of the closeness the Pope feels to the young adults gathered for the meeting. He spoke of the region as “a land lacerated by wars, which had innumerable victims, but a land that also brings great hope, that of the building of the European family”.

“Europe, which has lived and continues to live difficult moments, needs your commitment, your faith, your courage,” he wrote.

Addressing the theme of the gathering—“Seek the visible communion of all those who love Christ”—he recognized that the young adults “are aware that the division among Christians constitutes an huge obstacle for the realization of the mission that was entrusted to the Church” and that the credibility of the Christian message would be much greater if Christians could overcome their divisions. 

“The Pope shares with you the conviction that we can learn many things from each other, for the realities that unite us are numerous,” he continued. “The Pope is counting on you so that through your faith and witness, the Gospel spirit of peace and reconciliation shines among your peers.” 

He then conveyed that the Pope gives the young people, the TaizĂ© brothers, the pastors and all of the hosts of the meeting his benediction. 


SHARED from Vatican Radio 


TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : SAT. DEC. 28, 2013

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Lectionary: 698


Reading 1             1 JN 1:5—2:2

Beloved:
This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Responsorial Psalm                    PS 124:2-3, 4-5, 7CD-8

R. (7) Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Had not the LORD been with us—
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.

Gospel                   MT 2:13-18

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

2013


TODAY'S SAINT : DEC. 28 : HOLY INNOCENTS

Holy Innocents
Feast: December 28


Information:
Feast Day:December 28
Our Divine Redeemer was persecuted by the world as soon as he made his appearance in it. For he was no sooner born than it declared war against him. Herod, in persecuting Christ, was an emblem of Satan and of the world. That ambitious and jealous prince had already sacrificed to his fears and suspicions the most illustrious part of his council, his virtuous wife Mariamne, with her mother Alexandra, the two sons he had by her, and the heirs to his crown, and all his best friends. Hearing from the magians who were come from distant countries to find and adore Christ that the Messias, or spiritual king of the Jews, foretold by the prophets, was born among them, he trembled lest he was come to take his temporal kingdom from him. So far are the thoughts of carnal and worldly men from the ways of God, and so strangely do violent passions blind and alarm them. The tyrant was disturbed beyond measure and resolved to take away the life of this child, as if he could have defeated the decrees of heaven. He had recourse to his usual arts of policy and dissimulation, and hoped to receive intelligence of the child by feigning a desire himself to adore him. But God laughed at the folly of his short-sighted prudence, and admonished the magians not to return to him. St. Joseph was likewise ordered by an angel to take the child and his mother, and to fly into Egypt. Is our Blessed Redeemer, the Lord of the universe, to be banished as soon as born I What did not he suffer I What did not his pious parents suffer on his account in so tedious and long a journey, and during a long abode in Egypt, where they were entirely strangers and destitute of all succour under the hardships of extreme poverty I It is an ancient tradition of the Greeks, mentioned by Sozomen, St. Athanasius, and others, that at his entrance into Egypt all the idols of that kingdom fell to the ground, which literally verified the prediction of the prophet Isaiah. Mary and Joseph were not informed by the angel how long their exile would be continued; by which we are taught to leave all to divine providence, acquiescing with confidence and simplicity in the adorable and ever holy will of Him who disposes all things in infinite goodness, sanctity; and wisdom.

Herod, finding that he had been deluded by the magians, was transported with rage and anxious fears. To execute his scheme of killing the Messias, the desired of all nations and the expectation of Israel, he formed the bloody resolution of murdering all the male children in Bethlehem and the neighbouring territory which were not above two years of age. Soldiers were forthwith sent to execute these cruel orders, who, on a sudden, surrounded the town of Bethlehem and massacred all the male children in that and the adjacent towns and villages which had been born in the last two years. This more than brutish barbarity, which would almost have surpassed belief had not Herod been the contriver and ambition the incentive, was accompanied with such shrieks of mothers and children that St. Matthew applies to it a prophecy of Jeremiah, which may be understood in part to relate more immediately to the Babylonish captivity, but which certainly received the most eminent completion at this time: "A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning: Rachel bewailing her children,  and would not be comforted, because they are not." Rama is a village not far from this town, and the sepulchre of Rachel was in a field belonging to it. The slaughter also was probably extended into the neighbouring tribe of Benjamin, which descended from Rachel. The Ethiopians in their liturgy, and the Greeks in their calendar, count fourteen thousand children massacred on this occasion; but that number exceeds all bounds, nor is it confirmed by any authority of weight. Innocent victims became the spotless Lamb of God. And how great a happiness was such a death to these glorious martyrs! They deserved to die for Christ, though they were not yet able to know or invoke his name. They were the flowers and the first fruits of his martyrs, and triumphed over the world without having ever known it or experienced its dangers. They just received the benefit of life to make a sacrifice of it to God and to purchase by it eternal life. How few perhaps of these children, if they had lived, would have escaped the dangers of  the world which, by its maxims and example, bear everything down before it like an impetuous torrent! What snares, what sins, what miseries were they preserved from by this grace! With what songs of praise and love do they not to all eternity thank their Saviour, and this his infinite mercy to them! Their ignorant, foolish mothers did not know this, and therefore they wept without comfort. So we often lament as misfortunes many accidents which in the designs of heaven are the greatest mercies.

In Herod we see how blind and how cruel ambition is, which is ready to sacrifice everything, even Jesus Christ, to its views. The tyrant lived not many days longer to enjoy the kingdom which he feared so much to lose. About the time of our Lord's nativity he fell sick, and as his distemper sensibly increased, despair and remorse followed him and made him insupportable both to himself and others. The innumerable crimes which he had committed were the tortures of his mind, whilst a slow imposthume, inch by inch, gnawed and consumed his bowels, feeding principally upon one of the great guts, though it extended itself over all the rest and, corroding the flesh, made a breach in the lower belly and became a sordid ulcer, out of which worms issued in swarms, and lice were also  bred in his flesh. A fever violently burnt him within, though outwardly it was scarce perceptible; and he was tormented with a canine appetite which no victuals could satisfy. Such an offensive smell exhaled from his body as shocked his best friends; and uncommon "witchings and vellications upon the fibrous and membraneous parts of his body, like sharp razors, cut and wounded him within; and the pain thence arising overpowered him at length with cold sweats, tremblings, and convulsions. Antipater, in his dungeon, hearing in what a lamentable condition Herod lay, strongly solicited his jailer to set him at liberty, hoping to obtain the crown; but the officer acquainted Herod with the whole affair. The tyrant, groaning under the complication of his own distempers, upon this information vented his spleen by raving and beating his own head, and, calling one of his own guards, commanded him to go that instant and cut off Antipater's head. Not content with causing many to be put to barbarous deaths during the course of his malady, he commanded the Jews that were of the principal rank and quality to be shut up in a circus at Jericho, and gave orders to his sister Salome and her husband Alexas to have them all massacred as soon as he should have expired, saying that as the Jews heartily hated him, they would rejoice at his departure; but he would make a general mourning of the whole nation at his death. This circumstance is at least related by the Jewish historian Josephus. Herod died five days after he had put his son Antipater to death.

Parents, pastors, and tutors are bound to make it their principal care that children, in their innocent age, be by piety and charity consecrated as pure holocausts to God. This is chiefly to be done by imprinting upon their minds the strongest sentiments of devotion, and by instructing them thoroughly in their catechism. We cannot entertain too high an idea of the merit and obligation of teaching God's little ones to know him, and the great and necessary truths which he has revealed to us. Without knowing him no one can love him or acquit himself of the most indispensable duties which he owes to his Creator. Children must be instructed in prayer and the principal articles of faith as soon as they attain to the use of reason, that they may be able to give him his first fruits by faith, hope, and love, as by the law of reason and religion they are bound to do. The understanding of little children is very weak, and is able only to discover small glimpses of light. Great art, experience, and earnestness are often required to manage and gradually increase these small rays, and to place therein whatever one would have the children comprehend.
The solicitude and diligence of parents and pastors to instruct others in this sacred science ought not to lessen; neither must anyone regard the function as mean or contemptible. It is the very foundation of the Christian religion. Hence Pope Paul III, in a bull in which he recommends this employment, declares that "nothing is more fruitful or more profitable for the salvation of souls." No pastoral function is more indispensable, none more beneficial, and generally none more meritorious; we may add, or more sublime. For under a meaner exterior appearance, without pomp, ostentation, or show of learning or abilities, it joins the exercise of humility with the most zealous and most profitable function of the pastoral charge. Being painful and laborious, it is, moreover, an exercise of patience and penance. Neither can anyone think it beneath his parts or dignity. The great St. Austin, St. Chrysostom, St. Cyril, and other most learned doctors, popes, and bishops applied themselves with singular zeal and assiduity to this duty of catechizing children and all ignorant persons; this they thought a high branch of their duty, and the most useful and glorious employment of their learning and talents. What did the apostles travel over the world to do else? St. Paul said, "I am a debtor to the wise and to the unwise. We became little ones in the midst of you, as if a nurse would cherish her children; so desirous of you, that we would gladly have imparted to you not only the gospel of God, but even our own souls." Our Divine Lord himself made this the principal employment of his ministry. "The spirit of the Lord is upon me: he hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor." He declared the pleasure he found in assisting that innocent age when he said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for the kingdom of God is for such. And embracing them, and laying his hands upon them, he blessed them.

IMAGE SOURCE: FACEBOOK
Shared from: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/H/holyinnocents.asp#ixzz1hq2vADIK

POPE FRANCIS INVITES LOCALS TO DAILY MASS

(Vatican Radio) It has been confirmed by the Director of the Holy See Press Office that parishioners of Roman parishes will soon be attending Mass with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta. Responding to Italian press reports over Christmas, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, said beginning in January the Cardinal Vicar of Rome will be informing pastors how to apply to attend the Pope’s daily Mass with a group from their parish - probably about 25 people. In 2013, groups of Vatican employees usually attended the Papal Mass. Father Lombardi said the initiative will allow the people of Rome to interact with their bishop, since the Pope is not able to visit every parish in the diocese.
Shared  from Vatican Radio 

 2013

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