Tag Archives: Christianity

Today is Epiphany Sunday

Wise Men Adoration(Bartolomé Esteban Murillo)
Photo: Public Domain (This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923.)

We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage. (Matthew 2:2)

 

Epiphany Sunday in most Christian liturgical calendars is celebrated on the nearest Sunday after January 6, the traditional observed day of the Epiphany. The Catholic Church will celebrate if it falls on a Sunday or on a Sunday between January 2 and January 8. Since Eastern Orthodox uses the Julian calendar, it will occur 13 days later. Epiphany or Three Kings Day is to celebrate the arrival of The Magi (Three Kings or Wise Men). During the Middle Ages, this was a major feast day (a solemnity) requiring attendance at church on that day. However as many people had to work it became more difficult to attend, the Catholic Church decided to make it easier for people to attend on Sunday, when most do attend church. Some Protestant churches celebrate the Epiphany season from January 6 till Ash Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Christmas Day (Eastern Orthodox)

The Eastern Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar for its liturgical calendar. So all their major observances (Christmas & Easter) occur 13 days later. Which is why today is Christmas Day in many countries where Orthodox Christians reside. Many of my friends are gathering today to celebrate this special day. So that is why I am reposting Merry Christmas today to wish happiness and joy to my friends in Eastern Orthodox.

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Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!

 

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 Epiphany Day, the Twelfth day of Christmas

Adoración de los Reyes Magos
El Greco (1541–1614)
Public Domain

Epiphany or Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6 by most Western Christian denominations. It is the day set aside to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem and the presentation of their gifts to Jesus. The Catholic Church decided to move its observance to the Sunday after Christmas so people would not have to take off work to attend mass.

Epiphany Day is the twelfth day after Christmas Day and usually concludes the Christmas season. Twelfth Day observances vary by country and some celebrate it on the evening before. Usually there are special celebrations involving foods and special cakes. If a Christmas log was lit for the season, it is now extinguished. King cake (a traditional part of the feast) is almost always present. Children often get gifts of candy or other things from the Wise Men. In Italy, the Christmas Witch La Belfana delivers gifts on Epiphany Eve to stockings children put up before bed. They awake to the delight of treats in the stockings. In Spain, it is celebrated as Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day) where families gather to celebrate the day.

One good way to celebrate it with the family is to gather before the nativity to remember what the holiday is all about. Christmas music should be played, and a nice midday meal served. Then taking down the Christmas tree can be done together. The nativity scene can remain up until the Baptism of the Lord which ends the Christmas season on the liturgical calendar.

Remembering the Children Killed by King Herod

Massacre of the Innocents
Matteo di Giovanni (1435–1495)
Public Domain

The Feast of the Holy Innocents or Innocent’s Day (December 28) is to remember the slaughter of male children 2 years and younger in Bethlehem and in its vicinity by Herod the Great. The story as related in the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18). Herod was angered when the Wise Men did not return to him after locating the Messiah. No one can say with certainty how many were killed. Some have doubted it happened at all, but it would be consistent with Herod the Great’s personality. He had no problems executing even members of his family if he thought they were betraying him. And since Bethlehem was a small area, the slaughter may not have been widely noticed.

Nearly all the Christian churches observe the feast day though not on the same day. The Catholic Church and most western churches observe it on December 28 but Eastern Orthodox celebrates on December 29. The slain children are treated as martyrs of the church. It is not certain when it was first observed. While the exact date of the deaths is unknown, it is kept in the octave of Christmas as it followed the birth of Jesus. However, it is believed it took place sometime after Jesus’s birth. Matthew says the Wise Men saw the child with his mother indicating he was no longer a baby. And Herod had learned from the Wise Men the approximate date of the birth.

Sources:

Today is the Feast of St.Stephen (Boxing Day U.K.)

Saint Stephen by Carlo Crivelli (1476)
Source: National Gallery, London via Wikimedia Commons.
Public Domain in UK and US; may be restricted in other countries.

If you remember the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas , you heard the name. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian church who was accused of blasphemy and put on trial by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. After a trial in which he denounced them, Stephen was stoned to death. One of the witnesses to the event was Saul of Tarsus, who later converted and is known today as the apostle Paul. Stephen is considered the first martyr for the faith, the reason his feast day immediately follows the celebration of Jesus birth. All the major Christian congregations–Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox–all venerate him as a Saint and celebrate the feast day (Western churches on 26 December, 27 Dec Orthodox, and 8 Jan Oriental Orthodox). In some countries (mainly Western Europe) it is a public holiday.

In the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand it is celebrated as Boxing Day, a secular holiday that falls on the same day as Feast of Stephen. Traditionally it is the day in which servants and tradespeople receive the “Christmas box” from their employers. While that tradition may still hold true, it is either a second Christmas day for some or an extra shopping day (though in some countries it apparently is a day when a lot of returns to retailers takes place). It is also a major sports day as well.

Further Information

St. Stephen (Catholic Encyclopedia)
St. Stephen (Britannica)
Boxing Day (pauldenton.co.uk)


Merry Christmas

Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!

 

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.

Today is the Feast of Saint Lucy (13 Dec)

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 abound about Saint Lucy, but sadly most have not been to be true. We know that she lived in Syracuse in Sicily in 304. From what has been learned, she was a young girl and a Christian, putting her in harm’s way since Christianity in the fourth century was not tolerated. Her mother had hoped to marry her off to a pagan, but Lucy prayed for guidance and was told her mother’s illness would be cured by faith. She convinced her mother of this, and her mother gave the dowry money away and committed herself to God. The suitor was not happy with this outcome and denounced Lucy as a Christian. She was executed by Roman soldiers.

After her death, her martyrdom spread as an example for Christian virtue of not giving in to the world. Stories and legends would grow around her and by the sixth century was venerated as saint. Areas have been for her, and many girls were named for her. She really did exist and was executed for putting her faith over her vow of virginity to Jesus. Her feast day is celebrated in Italy and Scandinavia. 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.

 

Sources

St. Lucy
Catholic Online, Retrieved 12 Dec 2022

Saint Lucy
FranciscanMedia.org, Retrieved 12 Dec 2022

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent

 

Gaudete Sunday, sometimes called Rejoice Sunday, is the mid-point during the Advent season. Advent is, like Lent, a penitential time but shortened considerably. During Advent priests wear purple and some aspects of the liturgy are, like Lent, not performed. Likewise, the altar is kept as simple as possible. On Gaudete Sunday, the priest will wear a rose or pink color vestment, flowers are allowed in the altar, and the use of an organ is allowed as well. The purpose of the day is to remind that during a time of penance (or any period of darkness) is that God’s joy is with us. That times of darkness are temporary, and we should rejoice. The Advent wreath candle for the day is also rose or pink as well. The word gaudete means rejoice in Latin.

The hymn Veni, veni, Emmanuel (or better known in English as (O come, O come, Emmanuel ) is sung in churches on this day.

Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Veni, veni Emmanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio,
Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
nascetur per te, Israel.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice ! Rejoice ! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

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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.

Today is Second Sunday of Advent

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

Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Roman Catholics and many Christian denominations. It encompasses the four weeks (Sundays and weekdays) leading up to Christmas Day. Counting back four Sundays from Christmas Day will get you to the first Sunday of Advent. Depending on the calendar day Christmas falls on, Advent usually begins near the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle celebrated on 30 November. Eastern Orthodox, since it follows the Julian calendar, will start their Advent later as Christmas Day falls 13 days after the current Gregorian calendar.

Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning coming or coming to, is a time of preparation for the birth of Christ and a reminder that Jesus will return. During this period, Christians are reminded not to be weighed down or distracted by the cares of this world. Like Lent, Christians are called to reflect on our actions and seek penance. We also should prepare our hearts for the full joy of Christmas. We should not allow our souls to be burdened with predictions of events yet to come, but to be alert and ready. During this period, Catholic priests wear violet vestments, except on the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) where rose may be worn. Altars will be less decorated than usual during this time as well.

One of the symbols of Advent is the Advent wreath. This wreath has four candles (battery operated ones are acceptable) and are lit for each Sunday in Advent. Usually, a prayer is also spoken while lighting the prayer and often families will do it together. Most candles are purple, but one will either be white or rose for Gaudete Sunday. The popular Advent calendar is to not only marks down the days till Christmas, but also days of devotion during the season. A Christmas novena is also done. The traditional one is the St. Andrew Christmas Novena which begins on 30 November (the feast day of St. Andrew) and runs till Christmas Eve. A nine -day novena begins on December 16 and goes till Christmas Eve. Many Latin American countries celebrate this as Las Posadas, and it is popular in the Philippines as well (called Sambang Gabi).

There is specific music for the Advent season that is often played in Catholic and Christian churches during religious services. Music such as Silent Night, Adeste Fidelis, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing will not be heard until Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. Secular songs such as White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer are reserved for Christmas concerts (which are sometimes held in churches) are not sung at all during religious services. While Christmas decorations may be outside the church, you will not see Christmas trees in the main area of the church where mass is celebrated. This has nothing to do with any connotation that a Christmas tree is pagan but rather that during Advent we must be solemn in observing it. So, a lighted Christmas tree is often near the entry or just inside the entry (if they have one). This has been the tradition that Saint Pope John Paul II started when he got a Christmas tree from his native country of Poland.

Flowers and wreaths are acceptable near the altar and not on it. Advent wreaths are often placed near the altar and lighted before the service begins. A Christmas crib or nativity scene may also be displayed as well.

 

Fo further Information:

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