On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .
Three French hens.
French fries. French horns. French hens. Today, we have three of them.
Remember, each verse of the song can help us recall an aspect of our faith. We have a lot of options today as the number three is pretty popular in Church-talk; the number seven is, too, but we’ve got four days until we get to seven.
Yesterday we were able to thank the God for the gift of his only Son, the Word made Flesh. Today, we are reminded of the Word of God, the written tradition of the Church. The Old and New Testaments make up our story, our history of faith. Yes, they might be old, but they are still relevant today. Just as you may have heard some family story at Christmas dinner, the OT and NT is the family story of our Church.
We have four Nativity sets in my house: not out of overindulgence but out of sheer necessity. One set is for my five year old, who likes to take a more “interactive” approach to the Nativity, including putting Disney princesses and Barbies into the Biblical narrative. Last year when I asked why the baby Jesus was in Barbie’s convertible, she responded, “Barbie is baby-sitting, Daddy… the trip to Bethlehem left Mary and Joseph very tired.”
You may have a Nativity set beneath your Christmas tree or on a table inside your house. You almost certainly have one on display somewhere around your local Church…
Lately he had been having doubts about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Was the bread and wine really transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus?
He said Mass at the Church of St. Christina. As Peter raised the Host and consecrated it blood started flowing out of it, onto his hands and the altar. God was telling him (and us) that yes, He is truly present in the host.
Two monks got in a boat and rowed to the Church. When they saw that the water was halfway up the main doors they feared the worst. They pushed open the doors to the church and saw that the main aisle and the altar were completely free of water. The rest of the Church was filled with four feet of water, but the altar remained dry. The Blessed Sacrament was just as they had left it. They also saw that some papers, books and cloths which had been placed under the altar were dry.
Hey! Did you know? Around 750 AD., at a monastery called St. Longinus, a monastic priest was having doubts about the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist. One day, he was celebrating Mass and at the words of the consecration the host turned to flesh in appearance and the wine turned to blood. He quickly called the astonished congregation up to the altar to see for themselves.
I once had a very observant teen lean over (in the middle of Mass) and ask me, “Hey Mark, what does the “IHS” stand for on the gold box up there?”
The gold box he was referring to was the tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament (Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist) is reserved. While the middle of Mass wasn’t the best time to stop and give a lesson on Greek or Church history, I have to say I was proud of him for asking.
Most of us see things like I.H.S. all over our churches and sacred vessels, but don’t really stop to ask what it means.
I.H.S. stands for Incarnation High School … it’s the high school prep academy where Jesus went, just outside of Nazareth. Their mascot is the fightin’ footwashers …
The cheers exploded! There was singing and dancing. The outdoor arena was packed with 50,000 teens and the energy was tangible in the air because of their excitement. No, we weren’t at a Lady Gaga concert. We came for the greatest “Lady”—Our Lady, the Blessed Mother. It was the 22nd annual Medjugorje Youth Festival, and I was there to experience the pilgrimage of a lifetime!
Have you ever wondered why every year millions of perfectly good trees are ceremoniously cut down, dragged to lots, sold for outrageous sums of money and carried home to be adorned in electricity and ornaments for a few weeks…only to later be stripped of their luminous glory and left outside on the curb for the garbage man?
Where did the tradition of the Christmas tree come from?
Q: “I have a few related questions: What are indulgences? What do they do for you? What is the difference between a plenary and partial indulgence?”
A: I have this friend who is convinced that indulgences were when she was able to skip classes, go to the mall, and buy a dress that she would never wear and then spend the rest of the day watching “soaps” and “Oprah.” That would be more indulgent than an indulgence. An Indulgence is the remission of punishment for sins that that have been committed or confessed.
Q: “You know the Bible contradicts itself all the time, like when it says ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ – but the whole idea Jesus preached was to forgive. How do we know which bits to believe? And how can we trust it?”
A: Well I am probably going to get into a bunch of trouble for not referring a bible question to the “Bible Geek,” but I am answering this question.
It’s almost Halloween – a day that causes Christian controversy, debate, and lots of ‘fire and brimstone’ speeches. And even though I’m way too old to go Trick or Treating this year, I did take some time to think about the ‘spookiest’ Greeting-Card holiday. If you’re Catholic, you know that Halloween night is really the vigil for All Saints’ Day, when we remember all those in Heaven. The more I thought about that; these two events that overlapped, I realized they’re both focused Read more [...]