Thursday, January 5, 2023
TWELFTH NIGHT evening prior to epiphany
30 I urge you, [brothers,] by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the LOVE of the Spirit, to join me in the struggle by your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the disobedient in Judea, and that my ministry for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the holy ones, 32 so that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed together with you.
Paul was asking for the prayers of his friends in Christ and so I ask your prayers also for the success of this ministry. Our church is great in that we have a multitude of assistance from others if we only ask. Christ tells us to ask, and we shall receive. Be not afraid nor humble enough to ask if you are struggling. Did not our Lord accept the help of Simon in carrying his cross; if our Lord who had the assistance of legions of angels humbly accepted Simons help, should we act proud when we know we need help; so, I ask your help with this ministry.
The Twelfth Night
But what exactly are the Twelve Days of Christmas? They are the days between Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany that constitute an unbroken period of joy and celebration. Epiphany is considered the twelfth day of Christmas (in fact it is sometimes called "Twelfth Day") while the Eve of Epiphany is called "Twelfth Night." Shakespeare's play, "Twelfth Night," takes its name from the Vigil because during this period festivals (such as the Feast of Fools or the Feast of the Ass) used to be held in which everything was turned upside-down -- a little like the reversed identities of the characters in the play. These "preposterous" observances, incidentally, were a joyful mimicry of the inversion of almighty God becoming a lowly man, of the King appearing as a humble infant.
The twelve nights of Christmas were primarily a time of rest from unnecessary labor and joyful prayer. On each of these nights the Christmas tree lights and the Christmas candle would be lit, while the family would gather around the manger to recite prayers and sing carols and hymns. Similar services are held in some churches during these nights as well.
Twelfth day of Christmas is represented by the Twelve Drummers drumming in the song which of course represents the twelve points of the Apostles Creed. It is interesting to note that these 12 points are indeed pointing to the abode of God and that our Lord is the gate of heaven.
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
7. He will 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 the life everlasting.
Additionally, the 12th Station of the Cross Jesus dies. Today would be a good day to do the Eucharistic Stations of the Cross.
Activities for the Twelfth Day of Christmas
At the time of St. John Neumann's episcopate there was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment in Philadelphia and having had two churches burned and another barely saved, priests were advising the Bishop, not to proceed with introducing the 40 Hours of continual adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, believing it would somehow increase the hostility already directed against the Church. The Bishop had a decision to make and then something happened to make up his mind to proceed with the devotion of the 40 Hours of Adoration:
One night, he was working very late at his desk and fell asleep in his chair. The candle on the desk burnt down and charred some of the papers, but they were still readable. He awoke, surprised and thankful that a fire had not ignited. He fell on his knees to give thanks to God for protection, and heard His voice saying, "As the flames are burning here without consuming or injuring the writing, so shall I pour out my grace in the Blessed Sacrament without prejudice to My honor. Fear no profanation, therefore; hesitate no longer to carry out your design for my glory." He introduced the practice of 40 Hours Devotion at the first diocesan synod in April 1853, and the first devotions began at St. Philip Neri Parish, an appropriate place since that St. Philip had begun that very devotion in the city of Rome. The holy Bishop then introduced the program for the whole diocese, so that each parish would have Forty Hours Devotion during the course of the year. He wrote a booklet for the devotions and obtained special indulgences for the faithful attending them. The Forty Hours Devotion was so successful it spread to other dioceses. At the Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866, the Forty Hours Devotion was approved for all Dioceses of the United States. Excerpted from St. John Neumann and the 40 Hours Devotion by Joseph Mary
We suggest that today would be an excellent time to make a family holy hour (or holy half hour) at an adoration chapel or in your parish church. If you can't make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament your family can pray this litany at home. The activity can by brought to conclusion by singing Christmas carols and enjoying Christmas cookies and the Christmas bread, Vanocka.
St. John Neumann - Day Twelve
John Neumann was born in Bohemia on March 20, 1811. Since he had a great desire to dedicate himself to the American missions, he came to the United States as a cleric and was ordained in New York in 1836 by Bishop Dubois. In 1840, John Neumann entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists). He labored in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. In 1852, he was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia. There he worked hard for the establishment of parish schools and for the erection of many parishes for the numerous immigrants. Bishop Neumann died on January 5, 1860; he was beatified in 1963.
· Day Twelve activity (Visit to the Blessed Sacrament)
· Day Twelve recipe (Vanocka)
Thursday is the day of the week that our Lord gave himself up for consumption. Thursday commemorates the last supper. Some theologians believe after Sunday Thursday is the holiest day of the week. We should then try to make this day special by making a visit to the blessed sacrament chapel, Mass or even stop by the grave of a loved one. Why not plan to count the blessing of the week and thank our Lord. Plan a special meal. Be at Peace.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
II. THE VOCATION TO CHASTITY
2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.
The integrity of the person
2338 The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.
2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end."
2340 Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascetic adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God's commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. "Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity."
2341 The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason.
2342 Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life. The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.
2343 Chastity has laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin. "Man day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves, and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth."
2344 Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society." Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.
2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort. The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.