Regnum Christi Daily Meditation
Friday, December 25, 2009
THE THREE MASSES OF CHRISTMAS
Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.
Our feast of Christmas came from a pagan observance which was Christianized. It is a pagan festival revisited. The first mention of the celebration of the Lord’s nativity in a liturgical calendar appears in the fourth century. This was the baptism of the pagan festival of the invincible sun (sol invictus), an observance introduced in 274 by the Emperor Aurelius (270-275), and celebrated in Rome on December 25, the winter solstice. The “Sun of Justice” (Mal 3:20) came as “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12) to vanquish darkness and to triumph over sin and death.
As the Christianization of the winter solstice, observed in Egypt and in Arabia on January 6, developed into the feast of the Epiphany, it became a major feast of the East. To counteract certain pagan myths, Epiphany, which means “showing forth” or “manifestation,” placed emphasis on the baptism of Jesus and his mission, and on the revelation of his glory at Cana? Gradually the feast of Epiphany spread to the entire West in the fourth century, and the East adopted the feast of Christmas about the same time.
In the fourth century at Rome the celebration of Christmas was a rather ordinary Mass celebrated by the pope. The Mass was similar to our present Mass at Dawn, and proclaimed the prologue of John’s Gospel. To refute and oppose the Arian heresy rampant at that time, the Mass affirmed and celebrated the Word made flesh. This Christmas Mass was clearly Christological and dogmatic in character, and in 360 mentioned the adoration of the magi and the massacre of the innocent children of Bethlehem.
At Bethlehem a night Mass was celebrated for Epiphany in the grotto of the Lord’s birth. Beginning in the fifth century a night Mass was celebrated in Rome also, but it was the Mass of Christmas and not that of Epiphany. The pope celebrated the night Mass at the Church of St. Mary Major, built after the Council of Ephesus. Wood from a crèche was displayed in one of the basilica’s chapels, and the Mass celebrated there became known as the Mass ad praesepe, that is, near the crèche. Since the account of Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem was read from the Gospel of Luke, the theme of this celebration was historical.
The Greek (Byzantine) colony in Rome celebrated December 25 too. They assembled at the Church of St. Anastasia (Holy Resurrection). To respect the Byzantines the pope celebrated Mass with them in the morning before going to St. Peter’s Basilica. In that Mass the gospel reading was the announcement of the good news to the shepherds found in Luke’s Gospel.
This is how the three Masses of Christmas originated. The pope and the faithful celebrated Mass at night at St. Mary Major, at dawn at St. Anastasia, and during the day at St. Peter.
- Used with permission.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Photo by Esther G.
One of my favorite Christmas statues is the one of our Kneeling Santa. I love the way Santa kneels down so reverentially before the New Born King with his hat by his side.
Please read the story over at Les Femmes - In Defense of Santa Claus
Monday, December 21, 2009
Give thanks to God and I'll intercede for you in a powerful way."
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer,
let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in Your sight.
I offer praise to You for the grace You have bestowed
on Your humble missionary, Father Francis Xavier Seelos
May I have the same joyful vigor
that Father Seelos possessed during his earthly life
to love You deeply and live faithfully Your gospel.
Amen. (mention your intentions here)
additional prayers and information: HERE
Thank you Mary Jane.
Christmas kindness in Iraq
Religious Sisters gave out Christmas food packages to poverty-stricken people in northern Iraq – with a little bit of help from a leading Catholic charity.
The community of Chaldean Sisters set out in their van packed full of cheese, tinned meat, powdered milk, cooking oil, salt, sugar, soap and other urgent items as part of their outreach in and around Zakho, close to the Syrian/Turkish border.
This Christmas mercy mission is possible thanks to $36,800 from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which supports persecuted and other suffering Christians.
The aid package, which was sent out last week, came amid continuing reports of immense hardship and poverty in the Kurdish north of Iraq, where people are struggling despite government assistance.
In the third aid package of its kind since the initiative began last Christmas, ACN projects staff have seen for themselves the impact of the aid.
Back from a recent trip to the region, ACN Iraq projects coordinator Marie-Ange Siebrecht said, “It was clear from the people we met that the Sisters are very much appreciated for their work.”
She continued, saying, “What they are doing will give many people a real boost this Christmas and remind them that they are not alone – that their brothers and Sisters in faith elsewhere are thinking about them and trying to help.”
Thousands are expected to benefit from the food parcels, with priority given to the elderly, the disabled and others with special needs.
The aid comes as part of ACN’s ongoing commitment to a Christian community in a region where an exodus has led to the Church in Iraq plummeting from about one million in 2003 to less than 350,000 today.
In the spring, ACN gave $29,400 to Iraqi Christians in Syria desperate for help and living in very basic accommodation, mostly in and around the capital Damascus.
Again and again, Syria’s Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, who is coordinating the ACN relief work in the region, has stressed the importance of providing whatever help is possible.
ACN has also supported Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan and Turkey.
In an interview with ACN, Monsignor Francois Yakan, Patriarchal Vicar for the Assyrians and Chaldeans of Turkey, said, “We are offering the hope of Christ – and, thanks to ACN – the love of Christ in practical help.” Msgr. Yakan also heads an organization supporting Iraqi Christian refugees.
Msgr. Yakan said, “ACN’s help – through faith and solidarity – means so much to us. Prayer unites us with you every day.”
With pictures – see accompanying files and photo caption sheet
Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information contact Michael Varenne at email@example.com or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. Aid to the Church in Need