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Sunday, December 29, 2019


First Sunday after Christmas
HOLY FAMILY-ST. THOMAS BECKET-PEPPER POT DAY


Matthew, Chapter 2, Verse 21-22
21 He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.

To Joseph the gift of dreams and visions was given but to some is giving the gift of tongues. To which many years ago (40 to be exact February 1975) at the birth of my first-born daughter I had gone to the Gunpowder Inn, in Bermuda, to celebrate her birth, with a couple of Native American friends. At the time I was in the Navy Seabees and we worked together.

When I had got there, all of the sudden, I got an overwhelming feeling that I needed to speak in tongues to P. Graves and I did. I felt stupid and fearful, but I spoke to him in languages I knew not and used sign, too.  He told me I used 800-year-old languages that only a handful of people knew. The simple message from Christ was that he (P. Graves) who was the last living war chief of the Blackfoot tribe was not to assume his chieftainship and to let his son become chief or otherwise there would be much blood.

I never heard from P. Graves again after 1974 but as far as I know; no Blackfoot, has participated in any Wounded Knee violence.

Wounded Knee: Trouble Continues at Pine Ridge

“The troubles at Wounded Knee were not over after the siege. A virtual civil war broke out between the opposing Indian factions on the Pine Ridge reservation, and a series of beatings, shootings and murders left more than 100 Indians dead. When two FBI agents were killed in a 1975 gunfight, the agency raided the reservation and arrested AIM leader Leonard Peltier for the crime. The FBI crackdown coupled with AIM’s own excesses ended its influence at Pine Ridge. In 1977, Peltier was convicted of killing the two FBI agents and sentenced to life in prison. To this day, Peltier’s supporters continue to maintain his innocence and seek a presidential pardon for him.”[1]

Feast of the Holy Family[2]

According to the Mosaic Law, a Hebrew boy was not part of the family until he was circumcised eight days after his birth; only then was he given his name, i.e., his identity as an individual and as a son of Abraham. But there is a deeper reason as well. Paradoxically, it is only after we have contemplated the various revelations of the Light to both Jew and Gentile that we can appreciate the period of Jesus' life that is shrouded in obscurity. It is because we now know who the boy Jesus truly is that we can understand the importance of His family and the excellence of His so-called hidden life. Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, we now recognize Him as the Messiah for whom the Jews yearned; like the Magi, whose gifts bespoke their convictions, we now recognize Him as a King worthy of gold, as God worthy of frankincense, and as the Suffering Servant to be one day buried with myrrh. And like the Blessed Virgin, who -- as we learn from the Gospel on this feast-- kept all these things in her heart, we are now in a position to appreciate the unique role of His Holy Family in the economy of our salvation. The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph holds up the domestic life of Jesus, his mother, and foster father as the perfect model for all Catholic households. As Pope Leo XIII explains, there is a lesson in this family for everyone: for fathers, for mothers, for children; for nobility (the Holy Family was from the royal house of David), for the poor (they gave up their possessions in fleeing to Egypt), and so on. There are no prescribed or uniform customs for the feast, but that does not mean no observances were made. The following is an account from Father Weiser of Holy Family Sundays at our own parish, Holy Trinity German Church, in the 1940s.
The annual Holy Childhood procession, on the feast of the Holy Family, is one of the most attractive ceremonies. In former years this procession was called the "Shepherds' Procession" as the children marched through the church dressed as shepherds and shepherdesses -- a lovely relic of popular medieval piety (Holy Trinity Parish, 1844-1944, p. 37).
This feast is also an ideal time to pray any of the devotions to the Holy Family that are given in the Raccolta, the Church's old official list of indulgences. The fact that many of these prayers are no longer indulgenced does not make them any less meaningful or worthy of use. Let us reflect that the Holy family was holy because of how they interacted with each other and the world. 

A good practice during the twelve nights of Christmas would be to turn off the TV and to rest and have joyful prayer with the family.  It is good to remember that Christ’s primary teachers in the faith were Joseph and Mary.  We also should remember to not rely on schools to bring up our children in devotion to the Lord and that we are the primary teachers of Faith, Hope and Love in our families.


Things to Do[3]

·         Let us imitate the Holy Family in our Christian families, and our family will be a stronghold and a prefiguration of the heavenly family. Say a prayer dedicating your family to the Holy Family. Also pray for all families and for our country to uphold the sanctity of the marriage bond which is under attack.

·         Read more about Pope Leo XIII who instituted the Feast of the Holy Family and read his encyclical On Christian Marriage. You can also check out the Vatican's page of Papal documents on the Family.
·         Read the explanation of Jesus' knowledge in the activities section. Read Pope Pius X's Syllabus of Errors which condemns the modernist assertion that Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic dignity.

·         Have the whole family participate in cooking dinner. You might try a Lebanese meal. Some suggestions: stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage rolls, lentils and rice, spinach and meat pies, chicken and dumplings, hummus, Lebanese bread, tabbouleh — a Lebanese salad and kibbi, a traditional Lebanese dish of specially ground meat mixed with spices and cracked wheat. This is the same kind of food that Mary served Jesus and St. Joseph. It's healthy and delicious.

Christmas Calendar[4]

Read: Today, we honor the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Take time to read Pope Francis's homily on the Feast of the Holy Family in 2014. The ideas and messages he presented are still relevant today.

Reflect: "Christmas celebrates the fruit of Mary and Joseph's trust in God. The long-awaited Messiah, sent to save us from our sins and win back the eternal blessedness lost by Adam's sin, is born. The Son of God is like us in all things but sin. We learn from the Incarnation that our success is in God's hands. Without the Father's love, we would be lost for all eternity. Mary and Joseph sacrificed greatly to make the arduous journey to Bethlehem, to obey God's directive to flee into Egypt, and to go to Nazareth to raise Jesus. Ambiguity, uncertainty, and brokenness touched the Holy Family. Their lives teach us that we cannot understand God's designs. This wonderful lesson urges parents to put their families in God's hands and trust that their efforts will bear fruit. Faithful parents are examples for us, single or married. We, too, are to put ourselves in God's hands. In so doing, God's grace helps us realize better the depths of who we are and what we are called to become."


Act: "A few minutes can be found each day to come together before the living God, to tell him our worries, to ask for the needs of our family, to pray for someone experiencing difficulty, to ask for help in showing love, to give thanks for life and for its blessings, and to ask Our Lady to protect us beneath her maternal mantle." —Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 318

At the start of this New Year, make a commitment to pray together as a family every day.


St. Thomas Becket

St. Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, suffered martyrdom by the king's men in 1170 on this day.  There is an excellent movie about his life “Becket” if you have time to watch tonight which stars Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. Becket was a man of strength.

Things to Do[5]


·         Read more about this historical event. For some web sources see The Murder of Thomas Becket, 1170, and more information on Henry II. Watch this You Tube video of Canterbury Cathedral.
·         Some wonderful literature is based on this saint. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1342 - 1400) follows a group of 30 pilgrims traveling to the Canterbury Cathedral, the pilgrimage spot of St. Thomas Becket. T. S. Eliot wrote a play called Murder in the Cathedral based on St. Thomas' murder.
·         Today would be a good time to gather with family and friends enjoy some Christmas goodies and spend an evening singing Christmas carols.

o    The saints who are assigned immediately following Christmas are honored because of their special connection with Christ. December 29, the Feast of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was martyred in his cathedral by the soldiers of Henry II in 1170, is the true anniversary date of his death. Because of the great shock and sensation that this martyrdom caused at a time when all of Europe was Catholic, the Roman authorities, in the thirteenth century, deemed it appropriate to assign the celebration of his feast within the privileged days of Christmas week, thus adding him to the group of "Christ's nobility."
o    In the Middle Ages, Christmas week also assumed the note of a hallowed time within the homes of the faithful. Many observances of a religious character were introduced locally and spread over large sections of the Christian population of Europe. For the farmers and their animals, it was a time of rest and relaxation from laborious work; only the necessary chores were done in stable and barn. Thus, the whole week became a series of holidays. More time than usual was spent on prayer and religious exercises. It is still the custom in many sections of Europe to light the candles of the Christmas tree every night while the whole family says the rosary or performs some other devotion, followed by the singing of carols.
o    Carol singing from house to house is an ancient tradition in central Europe on the twelve nights between Christmas and Epiphany. The Poles call these nights the "Holy Evenings" (Stoiete Wieczory). Another widespread practice is the performance of religious plays portraying events of the Christmas story (such as the Nativity, the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, and the massacre of Bethlehem). In southern Germany and Austria many such plays are still performed in rural communities. Among the northern Slavs (Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks) a puppet theater (szopka) is in vogue; its religious scenes alternate with secular dramatic exhibits. In the cities of Poland children put on Christmas dramas (jaselka). A similar performance (Bethlehemes jatek) is done by children in Hungary; a representation of the manger is carried from house to house, little dramatic plays are enacted, and carols sung.

Christmas Calendar[6]

Read about St. Thomas Becket, once a royal chancellor of England. He was slain in his own cathedral for defending the Church from interference by King Henry II.

Reflect: Christ's kingdom is already present, but it is not yet fulfilled. The destruction of the last enemy, death, is still to come, and then, says St. Paul, God will "be all in all." This is why we pray "Thy kingdom come." When we pray "Thy kingdom come," we are praying for a kingdom of truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love, and peace. Yet, let us also remember that for the sake of this kingdom many of our sisters and brothers are suffering persecution.

Pray: Becket gave up his life for the sake of justice. Pray today for the many Christians who still face persecution and death because of their faith. 

Act: Take time to pray the Rosary for justice and peace today.

Pepper Pot Day[7]



Pepper Pot, a thick and spicy soup that is an American staple dish, especially in the southern regions of the United States. What is Pepper Pot? Well, it’s a soup that contains twelve different ingredients. Now that we know the ingredients for the Pepper Pot, let us look into the history of the day named for it, Pepper Pot Day, shall we? In the modern world of today, Pepper Pot Soup has many, many variations to it. But the soups true origins began on December 29th of 1777 during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army had been experiencing an exceptionally harsh winter during the battle of Valley Forge. The soldiers were low on food because the farmers in the area had gone and sold all their supplies to the British Army for cash rather than the weak currency that the Continental soldiers could offer them for their crops. Christopher Ludwick, a baker general of the Continental Army, gathered whatever food he could scrounge together to feed the cold and frail soldiers. The chef was able to find scraps of tripe, meat, and some peppercorn. He then mixed the ingredients together with some other seasonings and created the hot, thick, and spicy soup we now know as pepper pot soup. It quickly became known as “the soup that won the war.” The soup gave the soldiers the warmth and strength that they needed to push the enemies back through the harsh winter weather.


How to celebrate Pepper Pot Day

In order to celebrate this holiday, all we have to do is gather the necessary ingredients to make our own Pepper Pot Soup and share it amongst our friends and family. Pepper Pot soup is a great way to warm up on a cold and dark winter’s night, huddled around the fireplace and listening to stories narrated by family members who always have interesting stories to be told to everyone they can tell them to. Want to make your own? The ingredients are four cups of water, four tablespoons of chicken bouillon powder, two medium grated potatoes, two medium sized carrots which are also grated, two finely chopped celery stalks, one finely chopped onion, one and a half cups of finely chopped green, red, or yellow peppers, one half cup of all-purpose flour, two teaspoons of salt, one teaspoon of pepper, one more cup of water, and finally, six cups of milk.


Five Golden Rings

Today is the 5th day of Christmas the Five Golden Rings represent the five books of the "Pentateuch" [Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy].

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after SUNSET ON SATURDAY till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.





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