Today is the Feast of Saint John Nepucene Neumann, Cardinal and Archbishop of Philadelphia who worked tirelessy to establish the Catholic school system in America. Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Blessed Andre Bessette, the humble lay brother who built a massive oratory for Saint Joseph in Quebec. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and profile on both, click on DAILY LITURGY
Wednesday, January 5, 2000
Wednesday January 5: Twelfth Day of Christmas Feast of Saint John Neumann, Bishop
Outside of the USA: Epiphany Weekday
First Reading: 1 John 4: 11-18 Psalms:Psalm 72: 1-2, 10, 12-13 Gospel Reading:Mark 6: 45-52
Feast of Saint John Neumann, Bishop and Religious Educator
The practice of Forty Hours Devotion in the United States can be attributed to a Czechoslovakian in the
nineteenth century who came to our shores to become a Redemptorist priest and foster Catholic schools
and education throughout the U.S.A. This man was Saint John Neumann, born on March 28, 1811 and
ordained in 1936. In 1852 he was appointed bishop of Philadelphia where he worked tirelessy to establish
the Catholic school system in America. He labored especially with European immigrants in mind. He spoke
twelve languages fluently and wrote numerous books and two catechisms as well as a Bible History for the
students. His was a life of firsts, becoming the first Redemptorist to make his profession in America and
the first bishop from America to be ordained a saint. He died on January 5, 1860 just as the Civil War was
breaking out, but he was not forgotten and his legacy has served many a college student through the years
with almost each college campus throughout the country providing a Catholic oasis for the students known
as "Neumann clubs." He was ordained in 1977 by Pope Paul VI.
First Reading:1 John 4: 19-21; 5: 1-4 Psalms: Psalm 72: 1-2, 10, 12-13 Gospel Reading:Luke 4: 14-22
Blessed Andre Bessette, Religious
Credited with countless cures, Canadian-born Blessed Andre Bessette, a Holy Cross Brother was born
in 1845 into a family of twelve. At the age of twelve he became an orphan when his parents died and helped
care for his brothers and sisters by working in mills and farms in New England before returning to Montreal
in 1870. At the age of 25 he joined the Holy Cross Order as a Lay Brother. Never educated and of poor
health, Andre did not let that deter him from fulfilling God's Will in the simplest of ways. Though he was first
rejected by the Holy Cross Fathers after his novitiate, the Bishop of Montreal intervened and suggested that
he become a lay brother with the Order. For the next 67 years he devoted himself to the menial, but
spiritually rewarding jobs of porter and gardener. Through the grace of God those who came in contact with
this holy man were cured and word quickly spread of his fame. While he was helping build a shrine to Saint
Joseph in Montreal - St. Joseph's Oratory, he contined as porter at the College of Notre Dame in that
Canadian city. For 40 years he held this responsibility until demand was so great for Brother Andre to be at
the shrine that the Holy Cross Order transferred him over there. Millions of pilgrims flooded the shrine with
countless cures physically and spiritually occurring regularly when they came in contact with this holy,
humble man of God. They flocked to him for spiritual direction. He received over 80,000 letters a year and
insisted on corresponding with the people, but could not read or write and so he dictated the letters, many
through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to a plethora of secretaries hired to handle the phenomenal
responses to Blessed Andre. Through word of mouth and devotion, this shrine has since become the most
well-known shrine to the protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus in the world. It was already the best known in North America when Brother Andre succumbed of old age at 92 in 1937. Eighteen years later the Oratory was solemnly dedicated and declared a minor basilica. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982. For more on this blessed one, we recommend 40th Top Catholic of the Century
TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS
Today is the 12th and Final Day of Christmas. For the meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas - actually a secret Catechism for persecuted Catholics - click on 12 Days of Christmas.
TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
Today is the twelfth and final Day of Christmas represented by the twelve drummers drumming which symbolize the Twelve Points or Articles of Belief in the APOSTLES' CREED It's interesting that Catholics chose drummers for their symbolism to keep reminding each other of the twelve points of the solid creed known as the Apostles' Creed for this was their profession of faith and there was a constant need to keep hammering home this point or should we say "bang the drum" so fellow Catholics would get the "beat" and get into a rhythm of their religion, encouraged by all Jesus promised and professed in the Creed. For an explanation of the all the other Days of Christmas, see below:
"On the first day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, a Partridge in a pear tree."
So many have misinterpreted the Twelve Days of Christmas with a secular meaning, but they fail to realize that, in fact, they were a "secret catechism code" sung by persecuted Roman Catholics from the Protestant Reformation through the French Revolution. It was their way of communicating their faith much in the same manner the early Christians did with symbols such as the fish. The first day is a given since Christmas Day is the first day of Christmas and the "Partridge in a pear tree" represents Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the King.
"On the second day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, two turtledoves."
The two turtledoves represent the Old and New Testaments - the Word of God which over the years has been so watered down by "interpretations and political correctness" that often it loses its true meaning and must be properly discerned through the Church's reliance on the Holy Spirit.
"On the third day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, three French hens."
The three French hens represent the Three theological Virtues of FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY which enabled Catholics to stay in the state of grace by practicing and promulgating these vital virtues when the sacraments were not readily available.
"On the fourth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, four calling birds."
The four calling birds represent the four Gospels where truly the Word of God through Jesus and His life for all of us to emulate was recorded. Since Catholics were not allowed to keep bibles or preach during those times, they reinforced others through the song to read the Gospels in private and live it.
"On the fifth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, five Golden Rings."
The five golden rings represent both the first Five Books of the Old Testament or the Pentatuch which reminded fellow Catholics of the roots and, after the devotion became more widespread and known, the Five Decades of the Rosary and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"On the sixth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, six geese a-laying."
The six geese a-laying represent the six days God took to create the earth, the universe, and all creatures. It was a way for all Catholics to remind fellow faithful and be reminded that, despite persecution, they were not second-class citizens but rather first-class children of God and rightful heirs to His mansions in the Heavenly regions if they persevered in the One, True Faith. Thus the sixth day represents the sixth day octave of Christmas and Creation.
"On the seventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, seven swans a-swimming."
The seven swans a-swimming represent the Seven Sacraments established by Jesus Christ as well as the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. With the Sacraments and Gifts Catholics could sustain themselves through the dark times and encourage others at this holy time of the year with this Christmas song, reminding each other of the wondrous glory of God and His munificence on the seventh day of the octave of Christmas.
"On the eighth day of Christmas my True
Love gave to me, eight maids a-milking."
The eight maids a-milking represent the Eight Beatitudes preached by Jesus Christ on His sermon on the mount and which Catholics, no matter how persecuted, could practice good deeds through the Beatitudes and gain great consolation and courage from these.
"On the ninth day of Christmas my True
Love gave to me, nine ladies dancing."
The nine ladies dancing is not about partying but rather the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit as described in Galatians 5: 22 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, modedesty and continency." These fruits helped Catholics to practice the virtues and remind fellow Catholics how to stay out of harm's way as far as their souls were concerned.
"On the tenth day of Christmas my True
Love gave to me, ten lords a-leaping."
The ten lords a-leaping symbolize the Law of God - the Ten Commandments. It was not a leap to obey the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai for the Protestants, who were persecuting the Catholics of those times and countries, also believed in the Ten Commandments, but the reference to "lords" was in reference to the rich and powerful for they were the ones who could change the laws that governed persecution and curtailment of the Catholic Faith. Yet it was the "lords" who were lax in obeying God's laws and Catholics wanted to remind their fellow Catholics that no matter how wealthy or spoiled the princes were, faith and perseverance was more important by reminding them of the law of ages.
"On the eleventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, eleven pipers piping."
The eleven pipers piping stood for the Eleven Faithful Apostles who stuck with Jesus when seemingly all others
had abandoned Him. They were referred to as "pipers" for
they indeed were sent out to all corners to spread the Gospel
as Our Lord had commanded and, like the "Pied Piper of
Hamlin" they attracted many to the One, True Faith. It was a
way for Catholics to remind their fellow faithful to keep this
in mind during the hard times for all but Saint John were
persecuted and martyred for the faith. If they remained
faithful to their Faith and to Jesus, they too would one day
enjoy the same rewards of Heavenly bliss.
"On the twelfth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming."
The twelve drummers drumming represented the Twelve
Points or Articles of Belief in the APOSTLES' CREED It's interesting
that Catholics chose drummers for their symbolism for to
keep reminding each other of the twelve points of the solid
creed known as the Apostles' Creed for this was their
profession of faith and there was a constant need to keep
hammering home this point or should we say "bang the drum"
so fellow Catholics would get the "beat" and get into a
rhythm of their religion, encouraged by all Jesus promised
and professed in the Creed.
Be an angel!
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