ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS-Distaff-Day 14
5 The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with FAITH and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them. 7 The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
Are you a person acceptable to the whole community, filled with faith and obedient to the church? Then perhaps you should consider being a deacon following these seven.
Among those first seven men who were called to serve was St. Stephen the Martyr, whose feast we celebrate on December 26. It’s not surprising then is it that St. Stephen is the Patron Saint of Deacons. So, what’s the significance of the Office of Permanent Diaconate in the modern church? It’s a centuries-old ministry that was abandoned by the early church around the fourth century but was revived as a result of the Second Vatican Council, which decreed that it be opened to “mature married men”, which was later clarified to mean men over the age of 35. While the early members of the diaconate (from the Greek diakonos, “servant”) were primarily concerned with ensuring the general well-being of the widowed and orphaned among them, modern day deacons can be found carrying out their ministerial responsibilities in parishes, hospitals and prisons, tending to the abused and battered, the mentally ill, the homeless and victims of discrimination. They are in large cities, small towns and rural communities, holding the hands of the sick and the dying, bringing the light of Christ into the darkest corners of our world. In a parish setting, a deacon’s general role is to assist the pastor in carrying out his pastoral responsibilities. As an ordained cleric, a deacon can preside at the sacrament of baptism; proclaim the Gospel and preach; preside at funerals, graveside services, and wake services; witness marriages, and of course, distribute Holy Eucharist. He cannot preside at mass which, of course, would include praying over the gifts of bread and wine that they may become the Body and Blood of the Lord, a privilege reserved for those ordained as priests. Nor can a deacon preside in celebrations of the sacrament of penance or anointing of the sick. With over 18,000 ordained deacons in the United States alone, these men, along with their wives and families, continue to serve the people of God.
Five consecutive Saturdays in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The practice of the First Saturday devotion was requested by Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, multiple times starting in 1917. She said to Lucia, the oldest of the three children: “I shall come to ask . . . that on the First Saturday of every month, Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world.” Years later she repeated her request to Sr. Lucia, the only one still living of the three young Fatima seers, while she was a postulant sister living in a convent in Spain: “Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at very moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me, and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
Conditions to Fulfill the First Saturday Devotion
There are five requirements to obtain this promise from the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On five consecutive first Saturdays of the month, one should:
1. Have the intention of consoling the Immaculate Heart in a spirit of reparation.
2. Go to confession (within eight days before or after the first Saturday).
3. Receive Holy Communion.
4. Say five decades of the Holy Rosary.
5. Meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary with the goal of keeping Our Lady company (for example, while in church or before an image or statue of Our Lady).
Why Five Saturdays?
Our Lord appeared to Sr. Lucia on May 29, 1930 and gave her the reason behind the five Saturdays devotion. It is because there are five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
2. Blasphemies against Our Lady’s perpetual virginity
3. Blasphemies against her divine maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize her as the Mother of men
4. Blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children, indifference or scorn or even hatred of their Immaculate Mother
5. Offenses of those who outrage Our Lady directly in her holy images
Never think that Jesus is indifferent to whether or not His mother is honored!
Reflect today on what it took to make Christ the gentle shepherd of our souls!
Well, if you have not got enough of the Christmas Season you can always celebrate with the Orthodox Catholics.
Some Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but others mark the birth of Jesus on a variety of dates including January 7th and January 19th. It depends on which calendar the particular church follows - while western Christendom has adopted the Gregorian calendar, some Orthodox churches use the older Julian calendar to calculate the dates for holy feast days. December 25th on the original Julian calendar falls on January 7th of our calendar. Most Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on this date; however, some churches, including Armenian orthodox Christians use the revised Julian calendar and their Christmas falls on January 19th of our calendar. While Christmas is a very important religious celebration for Orthodox Christians, it falls second to Easter which they consider to be the most important date in the religious calendar.
Religious Observance of Orthodox Christmas
Most believers in the Eastern Orthodox Church prepare for Christmas with 40 days of fasting, continuing right up until late on Christmas Eve Jan 6th.
· Traditionally, when the first star appears on Christmas Eve Eastern Orthodox Christians will break their fast with a celebratory meal.
· Also, on Christmas Eve, traditionally Orthodox Christians will cut a branch from a tree and bring it into their home, as a symbol that Jesus is entering their house and their hearts.
· A prayer and blessing will be said before the Christmas Eve feast begins, and the head of the family will greet each person present with the traditional Christmas greeting of 'Christ is born' to which the response is 'Glorify him!'. Then the bread will be torn by hand and shared with all present. Some families will have straw scattered around the table, as a reminder of Jesus's birth in the manger.
· On Christmas Day, Orthodox Christians will attend Divine Liturgy, which will usually be a little longer than usual due to being an exceptional religious holiday. It is traditional to light candles in honor of Jesus, as light of the world.
· Afterwards people walk in procession to a sea, lake or river. The water will be blessed as part of an outdoor ceremony, and some people will take the blessed water back to their homes.
Orthodox Christmas Top Events and Things to Do
· Attend an Orthodox Christmas service. Orthodox Christianity is popular in Greek and Slavic-language communities, including Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Macedonian communities.
· Go on a fast or diet leading up to Orthodox Christmas. Try eliminating meat and animal foods from your diet.
· Go for dinner at the Russian or Greek Restaurant. Many will serve specials to commemorate this holiday.
Distaff Day, also called Roc Day, is 7 January, the day after the traditional feast of the Epiphany. It is also known as Saint Distaff's Day, one of the many unofficial holidays in Catholic nations. The distaff, or rock, used in spinning was the medieval symbol of women's work. In many European cultural traditions, women resumed their household work after the twelve days of Christmas. Women of all classes would spend their evenings spinning on the wheel. During the day, they would carry a drop spindle with them. Spinning was the only means of turning raw wool, cotton or flax into thread, which could then be woven into cloth. Men have their own way of celebrating this occasion; this is done through Plough Monday. It is the first Monday after Epiphany where men are supposed to get back to work. Every few years, Distaff Day and Plough Monday falls on the same day. Often the men and women would play pranks on each other during this celebration, as was written by Robert Herrick in his poem "Saint Distaff’s day, or the Morrow After Twelfth Day" which appears in his Hesperides.
St. Raymond of Penafort - Day Fourteen
St. Raymond devoted much of his life to helping the poor. The famous incident which is recounted in the story of Raymond's life took place when he went with King James to Majorca. The King dismissed Raymond's request to return home. Relying on his faith and love of God, Raymond walked on the waves to his ship, spread his cloak to make a sail, made the sign of the cross then sailed to the distant harbor of Barcelona.
For St. Raymond's feast we should remember that "caroling and storytelling belong to the whole Christmas season. Hospitality and giving to others also must continue if true Christmas joy is to remain. An outing to which friends are invited or a party that includes a round of caroling become perhaps even more appropriate with the approach of Epiphany." — Excerpted from The Twelve Days of Christmas
· Day Fourteen activity (Legend of the Little Girl)
· Day Fourteen recipe (Christstollen)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
II. THE VOCATION TO CHASTITY cont.
The various forms of chastity
2348 All the baptized are called to chastity. The Christian has "put on Christ," the model for all chastity. All Christ's faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life. At the moment of his Baptism, the Christian is pledged to lead his affective life in chastity.
2349 "People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single." Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence: There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.
2350 Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.
· Plan winter fun: