Category Archives: Religion

Merry Christmas

Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas season.

 

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst 1590–1656)
Image: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

….And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

 

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Photo:Public Domain

What Is Advent?

Advent on the Christian calendar is a season of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is a season of joy leading up to Christmas Day and a time of preparation similar to Lent. Prayer, fasting, and penance are part of the Advent season. The rules are not as strict as Lent but a time of self-preparation. The purple color used on candles and vestments are associated with penance. Each Advent Sunday is meant to ready oneself for rejoicing at the birth of Jesus that is to come. The Third Sunday of Advent is the anticipatory celebration, and the color rose is used to represent joy.

The Advent wreath

Many homes and churches will have an Advent wreath to symbolize the season, and to mark each Sunday as it happens. The practice began by German Lutherans in the 18th century as a means of teaching Advent to children. The practice began to spread to Catholics and other Christian denominations as well.

Advent wreaths are circular to show that God’s love is infinite and is made with evergreen leaves. It used to be a family event to gather the leaves and make the wreath. The practice has resurfaced in recent years as many families now do this again. Advent wreaths made of artificial evergreens are available in a wide series of designs. Handmade ones can be made to last many years.

Advent: Dates, Traditions, and History(Infoplease.com)
The Catholic Encyclopedia

Today is the Feast of Santa Lucia (St. 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.

 

Information:

 

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent

What Is Advent?

Advent on the Christian calendar is a season of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is a season of joy leading up to Christmas Day and a time of preparation similar to Lent. Prayer, fasting, and penance are part of the Advent season. The rules are not as strict as Lent but a time of self-preparation. The purple color used on candles and vestments are associated with penance. Each Advent Sunday is meant to ready oneself for rejoicing at the birth of Jesus that is to come. The Third Sunday of Advent is the anticipatory celebration, and the color rose is used to represent joy.

The Advent wreath

Many homes and churches will have an Advent wreath to symbolize the season, and to mark each Sunday as it happens. The practice began by German Lutherans in the 18th century as a means of teaching Advent to children. The practice began to spread to Catholics and other Christian denominations as well.

Advent wreaths are circular to show that God’s love is infinite and is made with evergreen leaves. It used to be a family event to gather the leaves and make the wreath. The practice has resurfaced in recent years as many families now do this again. Advent wreaths made of artificial evergreens are available in a wide series of designs. Handmade ones can be made to last many years.

Advent: Dates, Traditions, and History(Infoplease.com)
The Catholic Encyclopedia

Today is Second Sunday of Advent

2nd Advent Sunday
Photo: Clemens PFEIFFER, Vienna (Wikimedia Commons)

 

What Is Advent?

Advent on the Christian calendar is a season of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is a season of joy leading up to Christmas Day and a time of preparation similar to Lent. Prayer, fasting, and penance are part of the Advent season. The rules are not as strict as Lent but a time of self-preparation. The purple color used on candles and vestments are associated with penance. Each Advent Sunday is meant to ready oneself for rejoicing at the birth of Jesus that is to come. The Third Sunday of Advent is the anticipatory celebration, and the color rose is used to represent joy.

The Advent wreath

Many homes and churches will have an Advent wreath to symbolize the season, and to mark each Sunday as it happens. The practice began by German Lutherans in the 18th century as a means of teaching Advent to children. The practice began to spread to Catholics and other Christian denominations as well.

Advent wreaths are circular to show that God’s love is infinite and is made with evergreen leaves. It used to be a family event to gather the leaves and make the wreath. The practice has resurfaced in recent years as many families now do this again. Advent wreaths made of artificial evergreens are available in a wide series of designs. Handmade ones can be made to last many years.

Advent: Dates, Traditions, and History(Infoplease.com)
The Catholic Encyclopedia

All Souls Day

Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905) Public Domain
Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
Public Domain

All Souls’ Day is to commemorate the faithful dead and is celebrated by special mass by Catholics and some Christian denominations (most Protestant churches do not observe it). Catholics believe there are three places souls will go: heaven, purgatory, or hell. Purgatory is the place many souls end up as they have lesser sins and are not in a state of grace. Purgatory is an essential stage where souls are cleansed in preparation to go to heaven. Unlike hell, where the fire is for punishment, purgatory is a place for purification and repose. We pray that the souls of our loved ones, friends, and others will be allowed to leave and enter heaven on this day. We especially pray for those who have no one to pray for them.

All Souls Day is not to be confused 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).

Suggested Reading

Rutler, George William. 2014. Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ & What They Mean for You. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press.

Van Den Aardweg, Gerard JM. 2009. Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory. Charlotte NC: Tan Books.

Thigpen, Paul. 2019. Saints and Hell, and Other Catholic Witnesses to the Fate of the Damned. Charlotte NC: Tan Books.

All Saints Day

The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (about 1423-24)
Public Domain

All Saints’ Day (Solemnity of All Saints, All Hallows, Hallowmas or All Saints’)is celebrated on 1 November by most Western Christians and is to honor all saints known and unknown. In some Catholic countries, it is a holiday. It is a holy day of obligation for most Catholics except when it falls on a Saturday or Monday. In that case it is celebrated on Sunday. Eastern Orthodox is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost and is called All Saints’ Sunday.

Pope Boniface IV formally started All Saints’ Day on May 13, 609 AD. He also established All Souls’ Day to follow All Saints Day. Pope Gregory III (731-741 AD) moved it to 1 November as that was the day the foundation of a new chapel (St. Peter’s Basilica) was being laid. He wanted to dedicate the new chapel to All Saints. Halloween then became part of a three-day period called ‘Days of the Dead” which it is the first day of (the vigil), then followed by All Saints and then by All Souls (those in purgatory). During the reign of Pope Gregory IV (82y-844 AD), he decided to make the feast of All Saints (just celebrated in Rome at that point) universal meaning all dioceses had to observe it.

All Saints  Day is a public holiday in Ireland where all schools, businesses and government is closed.

Halloween

Halloween Decoration In Fall
Vera Kratochvil (publicdomainpictures.net)

October 31st is set aside as Halloween. It is not an official holiday (meaning government shuts down, banks closed, and many professional offices closed) but is celebrated nearly as one these days. There are really two separate Halloweens, one is secular and the other religious. The secular one most people easily understand. Kids dress up in silly or scary masks and go to homes asking for candy by yelling “trick or treat” to those who open their doors. Pumpkins have become associated with the day along with all kinds of scary decorations as well. Horror movies get shown during this time. Halloween has a religious meaning to that goes back to how the Catholic Church set the day up.

The original meaning of Halloween was All Hallows Eve that got contracted over time to Halloween. All Hallows Eve is the vigil of All Saints Day, a solemnity (meaning a major feast in the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar). All Saints Day honors all the saints we know by name and any saint in heaven whose name is unknown to us. Originally this feast was celebrated 0n 13 May, but Pope Gregory III (731-741 AD) moved it to 1 November as that was the day the foundation of a new chapel (St. Peter’s Basilica) was being laid. He wanted to dedicate the new chapel to All Saints. Halloween then became part of a three-day period called ‘Days of the Dead” which it is the first day of (the vigil), then followed by All Saints and then by All Souls (those in purgatory).

All Souls’ Day by Jakub Schikaneder(1855-1924)
National Gallery Prague
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

During the reign of Pope Gregory IV (82y-844 AD), he decided to make the feast of All Saints (just celebrated in Rome at that point) universal meaning all dioceses had to observe it. This meant that people with their own cultures would celebrate in their own ways. It was customary in Europe back then (and still is) to have vigils the night before a major feast day, so All Hallows Eve became the time for observant Catholics to hold the vigil for All Souls. The purpose of celebrating these holy days is to remind us about heaven and hell. We remember the saints and honor them, and we pray for the souls that are in purgatory that they may soon go to heaven. It reminds us of  that we have choices to make in this life that can lead to one of two outcomes: heaven or hell. By striving to live good lives by following God’s teachings, we want to go to heaven rather than the other place.

The roots of Halloween are not founded in any pagan celebration (such as Samhain or Druid festivals), and it is just coincidence that it occurs during the same time frame. If you study what those festivals were about, they had nothing to do with Christianity and followed a different belief system. However, some Protestants have made that case (that Halloween was a pagan festival coopted by the Catholic church for All Saints and All Souls) to deny celebrating those holy days. The Puritans of New England forbade those to be celebrated along with Christmas and Easter. When Catholics from Europe began arriving in America, Protestants denounced such customs (celebrating Halloween, Christmas, and Easter) as pagan.

The English, French and Irish all brought their customs with them. The Irish loved carved Jack-o-Lanterns in turnips (changed to pumpkins since they are easier to carve!). The English had a custom of knocking on doors on Halloween for Soul Cakes and promising to pray for the departed of those who gave them these treats. All of these traditions began to meld here in America  becoming the basis of much what is called Halloween today. It was also combined with harvest celebrations as well making it time of fun, spooky tales, bobbing for apples, and enjoying good company. Sadly, All Hallows Eve has been hijacked by those who use it for darker things such as violence, horror, and sexuality. Someone dressing up in sexually explicit garments or glorifying horror is not what Halloween was meant for (either religious or secular).

That and the over commercialization of Halloween (it is a major marketing season for candy, apparel, haunted houses, and scary movies) has caused many faithful and concerned parents to shun those events and do things differently. That is why you are seeing more family friendly Halloween events and parties where those elements are not present. And doing some prayer in preparation for the feast of All Saints as well. Watching vulgar movies that glorify evil are avoided for ones that show good over evil or just plain fun (like the original Ghostbusters, the Good Witch movies). And telling some excellent ghost stories can also be fun as well.

Suggested Reading

Rossetti, Steven J. 2021. Diary of an American Exorcist: Demons, Possession, and the Modern-Day Battle against Ancient Evil. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press.

Rutler, George William. 2014. Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ & What They Mean for You. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press.

Van Den Aardweg, Gerard JM. 2009. Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory. Charlotte NC: Tan Books.

Baker, Robert A and Nickell, Joe. Missing Pieces: How to Investigate Ghosts, UFO’s Psychics, & Other Mysteries. 1992. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books

Thigpen, Paul. 2019. Saints and Hell, and Other Catholic Witnesses to the Fate of the Damned. Charlotte NC: Tan Books.

 

Today is Good Friday

Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri(1821-1891)
Public Domain

Today is Good Friday, an important event in the Christian liturgical calendar. Some argue the word Good is a corruption and used to mean God Friday. Others argue it always meant that the day is meant to be pious or holy. For Christians, Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified on the cross. Observant Christians will mark the day by silent meditation, prayer, and church attendance. Many will fast during the day, particularly during the hours of 12 noon to 3 p.m. Hot Cross Buns are a traditional food many cultures use on this day (and through the Easter season). Most Catholics and Christians will avoid eating meat on this day and usually the main meal will be fish. Good Friday (and sometimes Easter Monday)are public holidays in many countries. Good Friday always occurs on the Friday before Easter Sunday.