Adult Faith Formation Items
Last modified on 2018-03-06 20:25:12 GMT.
History of St. Joseph’s Day
St. Joseph’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Joseph, is the feast day for St. Joseph – which falls on March 19th each year. Saint Joseph is believed by Christians to have been the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the step-father of Jesus Christ. In Poland and Canada, it is a Patronal Feast Day and is Father’s Day in some Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain. In Switzerland, it is a public holiday.
St. Joseph is pictured hold a Lily to signify his purity and marriage to Mary, along with caring for the holy family.
St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated all over the world. In Sicily, participants usually wear red and build what is known as “St. Joseph’s Table.” This table is often decorated with flowers and candles, and people place wine and foods on it that are considered lucky. Some of these lucky foods include fava beans, lemons, and foods that contain sawdust. All of these foods have symbolic meanings. Fava beans were the only things that survived a drought during the Middle Ages in Italy – which is why it is considered lucky. Breadcrumbs are worked into the recipes of the dishes because St. Joseph was a carpenter and the breadcrumbs represent sawdust. Some people place fish and seafood on the altar as well. However, what is not placed on St. Joseph’s Table is any dish which contains meat. That’s because this holiday occurs during Lent.
The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. But did you know that he wasn’t even Irish? Here are some fun facts about St. Patrick.
Patrick’s birth name was Maewyn. He was born in Roman Britain. He was kidnapped into slavery and brought to Ireland.
He escapted to a monastery in Gaul (France) and converted to Christianity. He went back to Ireland in 432 as a missionary. While Christianity had already taken hold in the country, tradition has it that Patrick confronted the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites, making Christianity more widespread.
Patrick became a bishop and after his death was named Ireland’s patron saint. Celebrations in Ireland were understated though. When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created the bigger celebrations and parades known today.
Eighteenth century Irish soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick Day parades. The celebrations became a way for the Irish to connect with their roots after they moved to America.
The shamrock: According to legend St. Patrick used the three leaf clover (or shamrock) to explain the Trinity.
Dyeing the river green: The practice of dyeing the river green started in Chicago in 1962, when city officials decided to dye a portion of the Chicago River green.
Corn beef and cabbage: This is an Irish American dish. Irish Americans were so poor they could not afford certain meals. On St. Patrick’s Day, the best meal they could afford was beef and cabbage. It became a staple for the holiday.
Edited by: Evan Macklin
Last modified on 2018-03-06 20:16:21 GMT.
Fast & Abstinence
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.
Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer.
Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.
Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.
Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a sign of penance.
Priests administer ashes during Mass and all are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. Even non-Christians and the excommunicated are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s Palm Sunday Mass.
It is important to remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of penitential prayer and fasting. Some faithful take the rest of the day off work and remain home. It is generally inappropriate to dine out, to shop, or to go about in public after receiving the ashes. Feasting is highly inappropriate. Small children, the elderly and sick are exempt from this observance.
It is not required that a person wear the ashes for the rest of the day, and they may be washed off after Mass. However, many people keep the ashes as a reminder until the evening.
Recently, movements have developed that involve pastors distributing ashes to passersby in public places. This isn’t considered taboo, but Catholics should know this practice is distinctly Protestant. Catholics should still receive ashes within the context of Mass.
In some cases, ashes may be delivered by a priest or a family member to those who are sick or shut-in.
Edited By: Evan Macklin
Last modified on 2018-01-31 20:30:57 GMT.
Ordinary Time: February 2nd
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Almighty ever-living God, we humbly implore your majesty that, just as your Only Begotten Son was presented on this day in the Temple in the substance of our flesh, so, by your grace, we may be presented to you with minds made pure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today’s liturgy.
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is referred to as the “Purification of Mary.” This is known as a “Christmas feast” since it points back to the Solemnity of Christmas. Many Catholics practice the tradition of keeping out the Nativity creche or other Christmas decorations until this feast.
Today’s first reading gives us an important insight to understand profoundly the mystery of the Lord’s Presentation in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, in accordance with the canons of Mosaic Law. The text, taken from the Prophet Malachi says, ‘I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord who you seek’ (Mal 3:1). From all the Gospels, we know that it is the Precursor, St John the Baptist who was born 6 months before Jesus, that God sent to prepare His way. Putting these evangelical facts together, we can comprehend the words of the Prophet Malachi. The Lord God promised that He would send a Precursor to prepare His way. Since there is only 6 months between the birth of St John the Baptist and Jesus it is clear that the prophecy meant that suddenly after the Precursor, the Lord Himself will come. So, soon after the Baptist’s birth, God entered His temple. Jesus’ presentation signifies God’s entrance to His temple. God made man entered His temple, presenting Himself to those who were really searching for Him.
“In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another ‘epiphany’ celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or ‘Candlemas,’ was of great importance.
“The specific liturgy of this Candlemas feast, the blessing of candles, is not as widely celebrated as it should be, except of course whenever February 2 falls on a Sunday and thus takes precedence. There are two ways of celebrating the ceremony, either the Procession, which begins at a ‘gathering place’ outside the church, or the Solemn Entrance, celebrated within the church.”
Until 1969, the ancient feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, which is of Oriental origin, was known in the West as the feast of the Purification of Our Lady, and closed the Christmas Cycle, forty days after the Lord’s birth.
Gospel LK 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
Edited by: Evan Macklin
Last modified on 2018-01-31 20:19:11 GMT.
January 2018 – Overview for the Month
Thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.
The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, which is celebrated on January 3. The first eight days of January fall during the liturgical season known as Christmas which is represented by the liturgical color white. The remaining days of January are the beginning of Ordinary Time. The liturgical color changes to green — a symbol of the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection.
January 1: Mary, Mother of God
Remember on Christmas morning how we found our way to the stable? It may have been the stable on the mantle or under the Christmas tree or in our parish church. We gazed at the baby in the manger just like the shepherds had done so long ago. Jesus was there with Mary and Joseph. Today we begin our new year at the Eucharistic Celebration. We thank God for Mary, Jesus’ mother, who brought the Savior into the world. Because she is the mother of Jesus, God’s Son, she truly is the Mother of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived Jesus. Joseph was Jesus’ loving foster-father.
God chose Mary to be the mother of his Son. She was a teenager and her parents were Joachim and Anne. Mary loved God and her Jewish religion. She was probably considered ordinary by her neighbors. It would be God’s work in her that would make her so special, so blessed. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to Mary’s town of Nazareth. The angel asked her to accept a wonderful plan-wonderful for her and for all of us. Mary wanted to please God and she accepted the plan. She became Jesus’ mother. Mary and her husband, Joseph, tried to raise Jesus the best way they could and with great love. Jesus spent many happy, quiet years with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth.
When Jesus was about thirty years old, he began his preaching and healing ministry. This is usually called his public life. It seems that sometime before that Joseph had died. Jesus could not now stay just in the little home and carpenter shop at Nazareth. Mary frequently went with her friends to be near her Son. Mary attended a marriage celebration in Cana. Jesus and his disciples came too. When the wine was gone, Mary asked Jesus to do something. She wanted him to save the couple from being embarrassed in front of their guests. He worked the miracle of turning plain water into delicious wine. Mary loved Jesus and believed in him. She was there when he was nailed to the cross. In fact, she stayed right beneath the cross and received his dead body into her arms. After the resurrection, Mary waited with Jesus’ apostles for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The apostles loved her. They knew they needed more courage to be real followers of Jesus. Mary prayed for them and encouraged them. She taught them how to be disciples of her Son. Mary’s feast days are special events that happen throughout the year. Today’s feast honors her as God’s Mother. She wants to be our mother, too.
January 25: Conversion of St. Paul
Paul lived at the time of Jesus but as far as we know they never met. Paul was first called Saul. As a young man, he was a very bright student of the Hebrew religion. When he grew older, he persecuted the followers of Jesus.
In the Bible’s Acts of the Apostles, we read about Saul’s amazing conversion (chapters 9, 22, 26). What happened? One day, Paul was on his way to the city of Damascus to hunt down more Christians. Suddenly, a great light shone all around him. As he fell to the ground blind, he heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul answered, “Who are you, Sir?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.” Saul was shocked and confused. After a few seconds, he asked, “What do you want me to do?” Jesus told him to continue on to Damascus and there he would be told what to do.
At that moment, through the power of God, Saul received the gift to believe in Jesus. Weak and trembling, he reached out for help. His companions led him into Damascus. The light had blinded him temporarily. Now that he was blind he could really “see” the truth. And Jesus had come personally to meet him, to invite him to conversion. Saul became a great lover of Jesus. After his baptism, he thought only of helping everyone know and love Jesus, the Savior.
We know Saul by his Roman name of Paul. He is called “the apostle.” He traveled all over the world, preaching the Good News. He led countless people to Jesus. He worked and suffered. His enemies tried to kill him several times. Yet nothing could stop him. When he was old and tired, he was once again put in prison and sentenced to die. Still St. Paul was happy to suffer and even die for Christ.
This great apostle wrote marvelous letters to the Christians. They are in the Bible. These letters, called epistles, are read frequently during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.
January 26: St. Timothy and St. Titus
Besides being saints and bishops in the early Church, these two men have something else in common. Both received the gift of faith through the preaching of St. Paul.
Timothy was born in Lycaonia in Asia Minor. His mother was a Jew and his father was a Gentile. When Paul came to preach in Lycaonia, Timothy, his mother and his grandmother all became Christians. Several years later, Paul went back and found Timothy grown up. He felt that Timothy had a call from God to be a missionary. Paul invited him to join him in preaching the Gospel. So it was that Timothy left his home and parents to follow Paul. He was soon to share in Paul’s sufferings as well. They would have the joy of bringing the Word of God to many people. Timothy was the great apostle’s beloved disciple, like a son to him. He went everywhere with Paul until he became bishop of Ephesus. Then Timothy stayed there to shepherd his people. As St. Paul, Timothy, too, died a martyr.
Titus was a Gentile nonbeliever. He, too, became Paul’s disciple. Titus was generous and hard-working. He joyfully preached the Good News with Paul on their missionary travels. Because Titus was so trustworthy, Paul freely sent him on many “missions” to the Christian communities. Titus helped people strengthen their faith in Jesus. He was able to restore peace when there were arguments among the Christians. Titus had a special gift for being a peacemaker. Paul appreciated this gift in Titus and recognized it as the Holy Spirit’s work. Paul would send Titus to iron out difficulties. When Titus would arrive among a group of Christians, the guilty ones would feel sorry. They would ask forgiveness and would make up for what they had done. When peace was restored, Titus would go back and tell Paul about the good results. This brought Paul and the first Christians much happiness.
St. Paul made Titus bishop of the island of Crete, where he stayed until his death.
Reflection: “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.” (2 Tm 4:2)
Edited by: Evan Macklin
Last modified on 2018-01-31 20:11:01 GMT.
Why Catholics Believe in the Immaculate Conception
It was Mary’s closeness to Christ that made her receive God’s “fullness of grace” to be sinless. Without God’s grace, it would have been impossible for Mary to be sinless, and she too would be like the rest of humanity. However, because of her decision to say, “yes” in giving birth to Christ, she was given a special privilege by having no sin touch her. Catholics believe that God wanted a perfectly pure woman to carry His Son, the God of the universe, for nothing else short of perfection would do.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary continues to be a major disagreement point by other Christian denominations towards the Catholic faith. Many people say that the Immaculate Conception somehow takes away from Christ’s glory and message. Some will say that this belief in Mary is not found in the Bible, or that it blatantly contradicts the Bible’s words. There are also thousands of people who mistakenly believe what the Catholic Church teaches about the Immaculate Conception, which unfortunately has lead to many misguided opinions. What evidence do Catholics have to defend their belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception?
Evidence from the Scriptures:
“And the angel came in unto her, and said, hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” – Luke 1:28
It is the term “full of grace” that is emphasized by the Church when dealing with Mary’s Immaculate Conception. The title “full of grace” comes from the Greek word kecharitomene, which describes a “perfection” and “abundance” of grace. In other words, Mary was proclaimed by the angel to be with a perfection of grace, which was a very powerful statement. How can Mary be completely and perfectly with God’s grace, yet still have sin left in her? Christians eventually came to recognize that it was extremely possible for Mary to be without sin, especially if she was completely filled with God’s grace. Luke 1:28 happens to be the only place in the Bible where anyone is addressed with the important title of “full of grace.”
“the Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.” – Luke 1:35
Luke 1:35 shows Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant. According to the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was the pure and holy vessel that held the Ten Commandments (the Old Covenant). The Ark was so holy in fact, that if anyone where to touch it they could actually fall down and die! It was housed in the Holy of Holies, which was a perfectly clean place where the Jewish high priests could enter only once a year according to their law (See Lev. 16:2-4). So how are Mary and the Ark related? The same language that describes God’s “dwelling” place for the Old Ark is used again for Mary’s overshadowing by the Holy Spirit. Put another way, the Old Ark held God’s Ten Commandments and could not be touched by human hands because of its holiness. Mary, the New Ark, holds the New Covenant in her womb, which is Jesus Christ. How much holier is Christ than the Ten Commandments? It only makes sense that for Mary to hold God in her womb, she too would be completely pure and without any sin.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed (offspring) and hers; He (she) will crush your head while you strike at his (her) heel.” – Genesis 3:15
What does the book of Genesis have to do with Mary’s Immaculate Conception? Genesis 3:15 is the first passage in the Bible that refers to Jesus defeating Satan on the cross. It is also the first verse that shows us how Mary would become the New Eve. The seed of the woman, who would crush the serpent’s head, is Jesus. The woman at enmity, or hostility with the serpent, is Mary. It was God who put this hostility between Mary and Satan (the serpent), and it is believed to be in the same likeness as Christ’s hostility for the seed of the serpent. What exactly does all this mean? For Mary to be like Christ in His hostility for Satan forever, it is very possible to say that this passage implies Mary’s lack of sin. What better way is there to be in total hostility with Satan than to be in God’s constant grace? As the New Eve, Mary undid the “no” of the Old Testament Eve by saying, “yes” to carry Jesus.
Pope Pius IX officially defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in the year 1854. He did so with the understanding that this belief would help the Catholic faithful grow spiritually towards Christ. The belief that Mary was without sin was not “invented” as numerous people mistakenly think. Many are still under the false impression that the Immaculate Conception was not believed until the year 1854 when it was defined. What they fail to realize is that the belief itself has extremely strong roots in Church writings going well back into the 4th century.
“Every personal sin must be excluded from the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of the honor of God.” – St. Augustine, 390 AD.
“Mary, a virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free from every stain.” – St. Ambrose of Milan, 340-370 AD.
“You, and your Mother are alone in this. You are wholly beautiful in every respect. There is in you, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in your Mother.” – St. Ephraem, 350 AD.
In fact, there are literally dozens of cases where early Church fathers have mentioned Mary as being without sin, using such words as “All-Holy One,” “All-Sinless One,” and “Immaculate.” It proves that the idea of Mary’s sinlessness was not uncommon in the first few centuries of the Church. As time passed, the Eastern Church began to show its strong love for the Immaculate Conception with its own feast day beginning in the 8th to 9th century. By the 12th century, the Western Church was celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception all over Europe, and by the end of the 15th century, it was universally recognized and defended as true Christian doctrine.
Feast Day in the USA – December 12th
OUR Lady of Guadalupe – Guadalupe, Mexico (1531)
Patroness of the Americas
The opening of the New World brought with it both fortune-seekers and religious preachers desiring to convert the native populations to the Christian faith. One of the converts was a poor Aztec Indian named Juan Diego. On one of his trips to the chapel, Juan was walking through the Tepayac hill country in central Mexico. Near Tepayac Hill he encountered a beautiful woman surrounded by a ball of light as bright as the sun. Speaking in his native tongue, the beautiful lady identified herself:
“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother’s Heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace. So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Bishop all that you have seen and heard.”
Juan, age 57, and who had never been to Tenochtitlan, nonetheless immediately responded to Mary’s request. He went to the palace of the Bishop-elect Fray Juan de Zumarraga and requested to meet immediately with the bishop. The bishop’s servants, who were suspicious of the rural peasant, kept him waiting for hours. The bishop-elect told Juan that he would consider the request of the Lady and told him he could visit him again if he so desired. Juan was disappointed by the bishop’s response and felt himself unworthy to persuade someone as important as a bishop. He returned to the hill where he had first met Mary and found her there waiting for him. Imploring her to send someone else, she responded:
My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen.” She then told him to return the next day to the bishop and repeat the request. On Sunday, after again waiting for hours, Juan met with the bishop who, on re-hearing his story, asked him to ask the Lady to provide a sign as a proof of who she was. Juan dutifully returned to the hill and told Mary, who was again waiting for him there, of the bishop’s request. Mary responded:
“My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear. The Bishop shall have his sign. Come back to this place tomorrow. Only peace, my little son.” Unfortunately, Juan was not able to return to the hill the next day. His uncle had become mortally ill and Juan stayed with him to care for him. After two days, with his uncle near death, Juan left his side to find a priest. Juan had to pass Tepayac Hill to get to the priest. As he was passing, he found Mary waiting for him. She spoke:
“Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Your uncle will not die at this time. There is no reason for you to engage a priest, for his health is restored at this moment. He is quite well. Go to the top of the hill and cut the flowers that are growing there. Bring them then to me.” While it was freezing on the hillside, Juan obeyed Mary’s instructions and went to the top of the hill where he found a full bloom of Castilian roses. Removing his tilma, a poncho-like cape made of cactus fiber, he cut the roses and carried them back to Mary. She rearranged the roses and told him:
“My little son, this is the sign I am sending to the Bishop. Tell him that with this sign I request his greatest efforts to complete the church I desire in this place. Show these flowers to no one else but the Bishop. You are my trusted ambassador. This time the Bishop will believe all you tell him.” At the palace, Juan once again came before the bishop and several of his advisors. He told the bishop his story and opened the tilma letting the flowers fall out. But it wasn’t the beautiful roses that caused the bishop and his advisors to fall to their knees; for there, on the tilma, was a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary precisely as Juan had described her. The next day, after showing the Tilma at the Cathedral, Juan took the bishop to the spot where he first met Mary. He then returned to his village where he met his uncle who was completely cured. His uncle told him he had met a young woman, surrounded by a soft light, who told him that she had just sent his nephew to Tenochtitlan with a picture of herself. She told his uncle:
“Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe”.
A brief history of the holiday
The first time the birth of Jesus Christ was attributed to the date December 25 was in the 4th century, according to early Roman history. Early celebrations of Christmas are thought to have derived from Roman and other European festivals that marked the end of the harvest, and the winter solstice.
Some customs from those celebrations that have endured include decorating homes with greenery, giving gifts, singing songs, and eating special foods.
The holiday developed further with the legend of St. Nicholas. Although much of his history is unconfirmed, the man who became St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century and is believed to have been a bishop in Asia Minor.
Many miracles attributed to him are dubious at best. Nevertheless, some countries named him their patron saint. He also is considered the patron saint of, among others, children (for protecting them), sailors (whom he reputedly saved at sea), and the poor (to whom he generously gave gifts).
In his honor, the Feast of St. Nicholas was marked on December 6 and gifts given the night before. The tradition was well established in many European countries by the 12th century. Eventually, because St. Nicholas’ Day and Christmas Day are so close together, their traditions generally were combined.
St. Nicholas took on different personas in different countries. For example, The Netherlands have Sinter Klaas; Father Christmas gives gifts in Great Britain; Père Noël does the same in France; and in Germany St. Nicholas has had many names including Klaasbuur, Burklaas, Rauklas, Bullerklaas, and Sunnercla, although Father Christmas is becoming more popular. In the United States, the Dutch settlers’ Sinter Klaas evolved into Santa Claus.
Birth of Jesus – Bible Story
This is a summary on the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. You can read more in-depth Bible verses from the Scripture below to understand the meaning behind this world-changing event in the Bible. Almost 2,000 years ago a young woman from the town of Nazareth named Mary was visited by an angel named Gabriel. Gabriel told the Jewish woman that she would have a son named Jesus and that he would be the Son of God. At this time, Mary was engaged to her soon-to-be husband Joseph. When told Joseph he was hurt and confused because he did not believe Mary. The angel Gabriel visited Joseph and told him that Mary would be pregnant from the Lord and that she would have a son named Jesus who would save the people from their sins.
Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem because of an order from the Roman emperor that a census, or record, of all people be taken in their hometown. After traveling pregnant on a donkey for several days, Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and were told that there were no places to stay. The inns were full. Seeing that Mary was due at any moment, an owner of an inn told Joseph that they could stay in his stable.
Mary and Joseph settled down on the hay in a stable with animals sleeping. Mary went into labor and Jesus was born in the stable. The only place for the sleeping baby to rest was most likely in the animal’s trough, known as the manger.
During this time, an angel appeared to shepherds who were watching their flocks in the fields near Bethlehem. The angel told them the good news of the birth of the Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ. The shepherds immediately went to find baby Jesus, which the angels told them they would find sleeping in the manger.
After some time, three wise men, also known as magi, saw the brilliant star in that sky that rested over where Jesus was born. The three wise men traveled from a far eastern country to find the new king. During the wise mens trip, Herod the king of Judah, met with the wise men and told them to come back and let him know where the baby king was so that he could go worship him as well. The wise men continued to Bethlehem and found Jesus right where the star pointed .They knelt and worshipped the Savior and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They then traveled back home a different way knowing that King Herod was not intending to worship Jesus but that he planned to kill the baby.
Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the coming of our Savior at Christmas time.
Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
St. John, the Evangelist, who is styled in the Gospel, “the beloved disciple”, was a Galilean, son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother to St. James the Greater, both of whom were fishermen. The two were called by Jesus to be disciples as they were mending their nets by the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus showed St. John particular instances of kindness and affection above all the rest. He had the happiness to be present with Peter and James at the Transfiguration of Christ, and was permitted to witness His agony in the Garden. He was allowed to rest on Our Savior’s bosom at the Last Supper, and to him Jesus confided the care of His holy Mother as He hung dying on the Cross.
St. John was the only one of the Apostles who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion and Death.
It seems that St. John remained for a long time in Jerusalem, but that his later years were spent at Ephesus, whence he founded many churches in Asia Minor. St. John wrote his Gospel after the other Evangelists, about sixty-three years after the Ascension of Christ; also three Epistles, and the wonderful and mysterious Book of the Apocalypse or Revelation. He was brought to Rome and, according to tradition, was cast into a caldron of boiling oil by order of Emperor Domitian. Like the Three Children in the fiery furnace of Babylon, he was miraculously preserved unhurt.
He was later exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, but afterwards returned to Ephesus.
In his extreme old age he continued to visit the churches of Asia. St. Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words: “My dear children, love one another.”
St. John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan (as seems to be gathered from Eusebius’ history of the Saint); that is, the hundredth of the Christian era, or the sixty-sixth from the crucifixion of Christ, St. John then being about ninety-four years old, according to St. Epiphanus.
Sources: Encarta 96 Encyclopedia, World Book, Encyclopedia Brittanica
Excerpted from Heavenly Friends, St. Paul Editions
Edited by: Evan Macklin