Category Archives: Religion

Today is the feast of Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy)

Santa Lucia (St. Lucy)
Santa Lucia (St. Lucy)

Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind and eye disorders and her feast day used to coincide with the Winter Solstice which is the day often celebrated as a festival of light in many places. Many stories and legends have become associated with her but research has failed to substantiate many of them. It is known she lived in Sicily early in the fourth century and was persecuted and executed for her faith. One story that is likely true is that she was denounced as a Christian by a suitor after she turned him down because of her faith. She faced torture and death for her beliefs. Because it is believed she was blinded during Roman torture, she is the patron saint of the blind.

Her feast day is celebrated in Scandinavian countries as a festival of light during the long winter night. A young girl in a white dress and red sash carries palms and wears a wreath of candles on head. Special rolls or cookies are made for the day and often handed out to the elderly. It is also celebrated in parts of Italy particularly in Sicily and in many places of the world today. There are many churches dedicated to her and the island of Santa Lucia in the Caribbean is named for her.

St. Valentine’s Day

Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland Photo: Blackfish (Wikimedia Commons)
Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland
Photo: Blackfish (Wikimedia Commons)

Valentine’s Day is used by many to show their affection or love for someone they care about. It has spawned an industry for greeting card makers, candies, and of course flowers. However there is a real religious component as many Christian denominations celebrate it as feast day, commemoration, or optional for the local diocese (such as the Catholic Church). Valentine was the name of many Christian martyrs in the early Church resulting in them all being remembered for their acts of sacrifice for the faith. Some denominations, such as Eastern Orthodox Church, celebrate a particular St. Valentine on two different days.

The association with romantic love could be linked to an ancient Roman festival has been made but there is no evidence of any link. Most seem to believe the link began with Chaucer’s Parlemont of Foules where he indicates birds choose their mates on St. Valentine’s Day although 14 Feb might not be the day Chaucer was referring to. Other poems made the association of love and St. Valentine’s Day in the medieval period and English Renaissance. For those who needed love verses but lacked the ability to compose them, publishers starting offering them. Then putting them on paper and sending them became possible. Paper valentines became very popular in 19th century England resulting in their industrial production. They became popular in the United States as well. With such cards being popular, you needed other things to accompany a card. Roses and chocolates became popular, likely due to skillful marketing to associate them with the day. And so Valentine’s Day became a very major day for greeting card companies, chocolate makers, and sellers of flowers (roses being the most popular flower for the day).

Of course we ought to remember that it is based upon Valentine, who became a saint after he was martyred in Rome in 269 and buried on Flaminian Way. He is the patron saint of Love, Young People, Happy Marriages.

Today is All Souls Day

Photo: public domain
Photo: public domain

All Souls Day is to commemorate the faithful dead and is celebrated by special mass by Catholics and other Christian denominations. Some Christian churches celebrate it on a different day. It is not to be confused with Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which does remember friends and family who have died but is not a Catholic or Christian religious event(though it takes place from 31 Oct through 2 Nov which coincides with Halloween, All Saints and All Souls Day).

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics

Joel Osteen Compares Titanic & Noah’s Ark

Photo courtesy George Behe
Photo courtesy George Behe

Joel Osteen,televangelist and preacher, posted a comment to Facebook back in April comparing Titanic and Noah’s Ark. The comment has garnered criticism here and there around the Internet. He wrote:

The experts can be wrong. Experts built the Titanic and it sunk. Amateurs built the Ark and it floated. Don’t let the experts talk you out of what God has put in your heart.

Like many who use Titanic for spiritual matters, his perspective is his faith in God. His point is that experts can be wrong while God points in a better direction. He cites Noah’s Ark as an example of a ship built by an amateur that survived. Now many will point out there is no proof of a worldwide great flood and so far nothing has been found to prove such an ark ever existed (occasional tantalizing clues aside). Just like no one has found Atlantis although now it is believed Plato drew upon the ancient Minoans (who were a major bronze age civilization that went into serious decline after the Thera eruption and likely suffered catastrophic damage from the tsunami that followed).

Now he is not saying, as some might suggest, that God punished for building Titanic. It was men who steered the liner right into the place where the iceberg hit Titanic. And men who did not put enough lifeboats for everyone. Just like on the General Slocum, it was men who decided not to have proper safety equipment, no fire drills for the crew, or had lifeboats tied up making them unusable.

His comment is not a cliché but a moral lesson and nothing more.

Source: Joel Osteen Ministries (Facebook, 11 april 2013)