O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
Matthew, Chapter 1, verse 19-20:
19 Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20 Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
The church recognizes that fear slowly creeps into our lives and makes changes in the liturgy to renew us and avoid sinfulness. One of the corrections that the church made in the liturgy change of 1969 was the obligation for Catholic’s to fast on Ember Days. Wednesday, today and Saturday are Ember Days according to the old calendar. Ember Days were observe in the old calendar to fast and pray for God’s guidance and grace for the new season and to pray for Priest’s. We are a priestly people and as such we should also during these days reflect and pray asking our Lord on how he wants us to use our time, talent and treasure. Ask our Lord how he wants you to spend your time during this season assisting our priests.
Associations and Symbols of the Advent Ember Days
Winter is characterized by "wet and cold," and is associated with the golden years of old age; remember them this season. Get your children to think of what changes atmospherically and astronomically during this season. Why is it so cold? How does the cold affect the earth's air and waters? Remember that lore says that the weather conditions of each of the three days of an Embertide foretell the weather of the next three months, so the weather seen on Wednesday of Advent Embertide predicts the weather of the coming January, Friday's weather foretells the weather of February, and Saturday's weather foretells the weather of March. Make a note of the weather on those three days and see if the old tales are true! What stars can be seen during the Winter months? Do your children know the traditional names for this season's full Moons? Ask your children to consider how the seasonal changes of Winter affect the plants and animals. How have the trees changed? What are the animals doing now? Which are hibernating? Which are gone, having migrated? What do the animals that aren't hibernating or gone eat now? Have any stored up food to eat during the cold months? Which have fur that has grown thicker to protect them? Do any have fur that has changed color to match the snow? Ask them to consider how the seasonal changes affect (or traditionally affected) the activities of man. What can we do now that we couldn't do at other times of the year? What can't we do? How do modern conveniences affect the answers to those questions? Ask them how they would ensure they had shelter, food, and water if they were put into the middle of the woods right now, with the season as it is. What plants and animals would be available to eat? How would they keep themselves dry and warm and protected from the winds? In the Middle Ages, the months are almost always uniformly depicted by showing the "Labors of Man" throughout the seasons. In stained glass windows, in illuminated manuscripts, one sees over and over the same human activities used to portray the months. In addition to these things, now is the time to make snow angels, build snowmen and snowforts and ice sculptures, sled, ski, skate, ice fish, sit around hearths and tell tales, make crafts indoors, watch for and feed the Winter birds, and, most of all, praise God for His artistry and providence... Get to it! -- and know that just when you tire of this season, Spring will be here!
Today also marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy in preparation of Christ.
The "Octave" Before Christmas and/or the Golden Nights
With each new Sunday heightening our sense of anticipation and with every Advent custom doing the same, it is little wonder that the eight days before Christmas became a semi-official octave of impatient expectation. This is expressed liturgically in the Divine Office's special magnificat antiphons for this period. Beginning on the evening of December 17 during Vespers, a "Greater" or "O" antiphon (so named for its opening vocative) is said which explicitly invokes the Son of God under various titles and begs Him to come. The Gregorian chant for these antiphons is exquisite, as are the antiphons themselves, which call attention to the Word's different manifestations to man in the Old Testament and to several of His divine attributes. The antiphons are also noteworthy for their "code." The titles for Christ from each antiphon form an acrostic which, when read backwards, spells, "ERO CRAS" -- "I will be [there] tomorrow!" It is as if Christ were answering our prayers through the prayers themselves. Finally, the Greater antiphons are the inspiration of the beautiful medieval hymn, Veni, Veni Emmanuel. Each stanza of this famous song is a poetic rendering of an antiphon, which is why the hymn is traditionally sung only during the eight days prior to Christmas. In many places, however, the octave of preparation was extended over nine days, making a Novena. By special permission, the "Golden Mass" of Ember Wednesday was sometimes offered in the pre-dawn hours for nine consecutive days prior to Christmas. Central Europe observed the "Golden Nights," a festive season honoring the Blessed Virgin, the expectant Mother of God; in fact, December 18 was once the Feast of the Expectancy in Spain. In the Alps, schoolchildren observed the custom of Josephstragen -- "carrying St. Joseph." Each night, a group of boys would carry a statue of St. Joseph to another boy's home. The night after the visit, the boy who had been visited would join the procession, making the number of carriers grow progressively larger. On Christmas Eve all the boys, accompanied by schoolgirls dressed in white, would process the statue through the town to the church, where it would be placed near the manger. In Latin America, on the other hand, a Novena to the Holy Child (La Novena del Niño) was held in which prayers would be said and lively carols sung in front of the church's empty manger.
Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly, Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
Authored by Mr. Richard H. Havermale Jr.This book is the continuation of my first book based on more than 365 references in the Bible to fear, dread, and that in fact our God encourages us to "BE NOT AFRAID". To do this we must be in the presence of our Lord and talk to Him. I recommend you develop the habit of spending 10-15 minutes a day with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel or if that is not available some other quiet place where you can be in the presence of our Lord. Read the daily entry and reflect on it asking our Lord and His mother to talk to your heart and reveal to you the will of the Father and then Do it. The layout of this book is to list and reflect on the books of the bible Sirach through Revelations. In the early part of September my search of the verses dealing with fear and being afraid was completed; so I asked the Lord what do I, do now. After some reflection I realize that the fruit of fear in the Lord is the Theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love which ultimately results in Peace of the Lord. As a consequence the month of September will deal with Peace, October with Love and the month of November will be reflections on Faith and Hope. After Thanksgiving for the season of Advent and Christmas this work uses a multitude of references that reflect the Christmas season. There are many theologians who state that the eighth deadly sin is fear itself. It is fear and its natural animal reaction to fight or flight that is the root cause of our failings to create a Kingdom of God on earth. Saint John Paul II in his writings and talks also tells us to BE NOT AFRAID. In fear or anger we walk away from God. Our Lord, Jesus Christ taught us how to walk back toward God in His sermon on the mount through the Beatitudes. Each of the beatitudes is the antidote for the opposite deadly sins.
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