MONDAY

December 29, 1997   vol 8, no.62

SECTION ONE



The Twelve Days of Christmas continue...

     Actually, the Twelve Days of Christmas were a secret "catechism" sung by Roman Catholics after the Reformation in countries such as England where they were not allowed to practice their faith. Thus, to communicate with fellow Catholics and truly celebrate the Birth of Christ as the Savior in the Catholic tradition without fear of reprisal, they formed this "carol" which represented "religious reality" in symbols. This was also used often during the French Revolution.

     The "True Love" is God the Father. The Partridge in a pear tree is the Holy Trinity - in particular the Holy Spirit (the Dove) and Jesus Christ Who is known as the "Second Adam". We all know that the fall of man derived around an apple tree. A pear tree ties into this analogy and elevates the redemption.

      In the last two issues we have detailed one through five visually and in text, today we bring you Day Five and continue up until January 6th, which was the traditional feast of the Epiphany, with the final six describing each day of Christmas and the hidden Catholic meaning to the song. Many do not realize that the Twelve Days of Christmas are after Christmas - not before.

Monday, December 29

"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 which reminded fellow Catholics of the roots and, after the devotion became more widespread and known, the Five Decades of the Rosary.

Hardening of the Arteries

      Because Catholics during those times of persecution were so determined to perpetuate and practice their faith, there is very likely the chance of "spiritual cholesterol" did not set in...a far cry from today when, because of all the distractions and spoilings from a material world our hearts have been hardened. Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. points this out in his weekly column on praying with the heart with his fourteen installment entitled: "spiritual cholesterol" that blocks us from truly praying from and with the heart. Click on Hearts to Heart Talk

Part Fourteen: "spiritual cholesterol" that blocks us from truly praying from and with the heart.

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

      We have an idea of what a cholesterol problem could do to the flow of blood into the heart and into the brain. Our day brings this out in living color. We could make a parallel with what can be called, "spiritual cholesterol." It is comprised of all the various blockages which prevent the flow of the gifts of the Holy Spirit into the mind and into the heart. There are a goodly number of these. Pride is the greatest. It is a very massive blockage because it puts one on a pedestal equal to or even greater than God. A proud person pivots his life around himself, leaving God out of the picture. It is self-worship, it is a looking at all things, all people, God Himself, through his/her own eyes, making oneself obsessively more important than any thing or anyone else. As a person is filled with himself, there is no room for the Holy Spirit to function. With a ckaked-up possession of oneself, one crowds out the Spirit and prevents His free access to, and movement within, the soul. Pride cannot be the foundation on which is built any prayer life let alone prayer with the heart!

      Excessive Fear is yet another blockage. Fear can be so great within a person that it prevents one from exercising even the ordinary things of everyday life like sleeping, eathing, and working. A person crippled by fear, nonetheless, can still plead in desperation for help from the Spirit. When that plea comes from the depth of a person, it will be acted on.

      Some other blockages to grace, preventing the flow of divine life within a soul are: low self-esteem, self consciousness, an undisciplined mind, excessive activity, undue attachment to the world - to pleasures - to a life of ease - to a craving for power, a lust for material goods. The sanctifying activity of the Holy Spirit is stifled. A soul effected by any one or more of these blockages makes it impossible for the Spirit to have a part in its life. God does not force Himself on anyone. It follows that, since it is the Holy Spirit Who makes prayer with the heart possible, one meshed in self, in the world, in pleasure, cannot receive grace enough to enter into any valid form of prayer.

      In my next installment I will treat the final part of this thought process on measures by dealing with how to clear these blockages to "spiritual cholestoral."


To review Father Valenta's previous columns in this series, go to Archives beginning with the August 18, 1997 issue of A CALL TO PEACE: volume 8, no. 16.

Aquinas Acquifer Abundant for All

      This week in our year-end issue for reviewing outstanding Catholic sites we focus on a resource site that provides a plethora of teachings and Catholic practices and devotions that will satisfy any Catholic seeking knowledge. The Saint Thomas Aquinas Supersite provides the links to this knowledge. Click on SIGNIFICANT SITE OF THE AWARD

SIGNIFICANT SITE OF THE WEEK:

A source of inspiration for the mind that enhances the soul: St. Thomas Aquinas Supersite

      As we seque from the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Year One leading toward Jubilee 2000 to the Year of the Holy Spirit, the site we are reviewing this week is a perfect accompaniment to this theme since it provides all that Christ taught but taken to a level of knowledge that makes our faith come alive that much more. The site, Saint Thomas Aquinas at www.4paragon.net/~/mvorac/aquinas/index.htm" is a compendium of knowledge that every Catholic can use. Last week we focused on a site known for Apologetics with "Catholic Answers". This week we highlight Teachings and Practice which this site provides in succinct order. This site touts itself as the "Catholic Catechetical Supersite" which indeed it is. It provides full texts of the Baltimore Catechism, the Roman Catechism, or Catechism of the Council of Trent, the "Penny catechism:" Catechism of Saint Pius X as well as the Catechesis of the Cure d'Ars and Catechetical Instructions by St. Thomas Aquinas. In fact, the only catechism not here is the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. Many have said the new catechism is too wordy, too nebulous, too confusing for the common lay person. The succinctness of the catechisms listed at this site contain everything that is in the new catechism but much easier to understand. Truths and Doctrines do not change.

     Basically this "Catholic Catechetical Supersite" is a central depot for many of the treasures of the Church available at other sites, many at the New Advent site we reviewed here five weeks ago. The St. Thomas Aquinas site provides direct connection to the entire Douay-Rheims Bible and the Latin Vulgate Bible translated by St. Jerome as well as a plethora of documents from Canon Law, the Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica, Writings of the Church Fathers, Council documents, and Papal encyclicals and bulls all the way back to Pope Honorius III in 1226 when he approved the Franciscan rule. This and much more is under the Teachings category at this site. In the Catholic Practices and Devotions area, there is again a multitude of categories and sites including the full text of the Missa Romanum for the Tridentine Mass along with listing of all approved churches/chapels offering the traditional Latin Mass world-wide. They even have a special section on indulgences providing a list of many of them. Chances are, if it involves the Roman Catholic Faith, you'll find it at this site, which was formed by the St. Thomas Aquinas Guild, which is a group of clergy and laymen dedicated to preserving and promoting authentic teachings of the Church to combat modernism and the liberal agenda so prevalent in so many parishes today. The Guild's webmaster is Michael Vorac. They offer a number of teachings and documents directed against modernism by the pontiffs, specifically St. Pius X. They also provide everything you ever wanted to know about one of the great doctors of the Church to whom this site is dedicated - St. Thomas Aquinas. In fact, many consider him a scholarly Dominican who was all business, but he found time to relax as well as he states, "Amusement does have an aspect of good inasmuch as it is useful for human living. As man sometimes needs to give his body rest from labors, so also he sometimes needs to rest his soul from mental strain that ensues from his application to serious affairs. This is done by amusement."

     And so, as prepare for the New Year's Eve celebrations remember to enjoy the good, clean amusement afforded us so that we might rest the soul - but not damage it - in preparation for the Second Year leading up to the millennium. To help in this preparation, we highly recommend this Catechetical Supersite and present the Golden Chalice Award to ST. THOMAS AQUINAS SUPERSITE, conferring Three Hail Mary's on this resource site to better strengthen our knowledge of the One, True Faith.


PROVERB OF THE DAY

"Turn your ear to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding."

Proverbs 2: 2

Medjugorje Monthly Message for December 25th

    Dear children! Also today I rejoice with you and I call you to the good. I desire that each of you reflect and carry peace in your heart and say: I want God in the first place in my life. In this way, little children, each of you will become holy. Little children, tell everyone, I want the good for you and he will respond with the good and, little children, good will come to dwell in the heart of each man. Little children, tonight I bring to you the good of my Son Who gave His life to save you. That is why, little children, rejoice and extend your hands to Jesus Who is only good. Thank you for having responded to my call!
For more on Medjugorje, Click on MEDJUGORJE

LITURGY FEATURES THE FIRST SWORD OF OUR LADY OF SORROWS

"And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Luke 2: 35
Click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

MONDAY, December 29, 1997


TUESDAY, December 30, 1997



NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

HEADLINES:


PAPAL STATEMENT FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY 1998

     VATICAN (CWN) -- In his formal message for World Youth Day of 1998, Pope John Paul II stressed the working of the Holy Spirit.

      The Pope's address for World Youth Day was made public at the Vatican today. The actual celebration of World Youth Day will occur on April 5, which is also Palm Sunday. In 1998 the celebration will take place in each individual diocese; the mass gatherings such as the one which took place in Paris this year are scheduled in alternating years.

      The Pope's message calls particular attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in the cycle of preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000. "The Holy Spirit gives the Christian the docility, the freedom, and the faithfulness without which his life risks becoming subject to... exterior conformity," the Pope said. With the aid of the Spirit, he continued, young people can follow the path of Christ, "without fear of falling, confronting the dangers and overcoming the barriers that separate cultures from the proclamation of the Gospel."

      The Pope added that the Holy Spirit also provides each individual Christian with an understanding of his own calling. He asked young people "consider seriously the question of your vocation, and be ready to respond to the Lord when he calls you to take the place which has been prepared for you." Toward that end, he recommended that young people seek out the help of a competent spiritual director-- someone fully in accord with the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church-- to help them discern the promptings of the Spirit.


POLISH HIGH COURT REMOVES FINAL CHANGES TO ABORTION BAN

      WARSAW (CWN) - Poland's Constitutional Tribunal on Tuesday officially removed the last changes made to the 1993 abortion law, fully reinstating the ban on abortion, except where the mother's life is endangered, the baby is irreparably damaged, or the pregnancy results from rape or incest.

      In May, the court found a 1996 law removing most bans on abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy as violating the constitutional right to life. The law remained in effect for six months, until parliament could review the ruling. But with a new Solidarity-led alliance in control of parliament, the former ruling ex-Communist Democratic Left Alliance was unable to muster the two-thirds vote necessary to overrule the court decision.

      The high court's decision came just two days before Pope John Paul's visit to his homeland of which he said, "a nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope."


US AMBASSADOR TO IRELAND ENTERS INTERCOMMUNION FRAY

      DUBLIN (CWN) - The US ambassador to Ireland on Sunday became embroiled in a controversy over prominent Catholics in Ireland receiving communion in non-Catholic churches in an attempt to promote unity.

      Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, a member of the prominent Catholic Irish-American political family, attended Sunday services and received communion at Dublin's Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, following Irish President Mary McAleese who also received communion at the church on December 7. "Religion, after all, is about bringing people together. We all have our own way of going to God," Kennedy Smith told the Irish Times. McAleese was criticized by Ireland's Catholic bishops for her show of "sham" religion. "(Communion) is the very life of the church," Archbishop Desmond O'Connell of Dublin told The Irish Times. "Isn't it a pretense if you're not buying into what you're doing and if you do not share the faith?"

      Kennedy Smith said she would probably attend Christ Church Cathedral on Christmas and would again receive communion there. She added that she often attended Sunday services at a Presbyterian church in Manhattan before her appointment as ambassador.


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PRAYERS & DEVOTION

Prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows

For all other standard features, articles and columns, click on Archives

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December 29, 1997 volume 8, no. 62         DAILY CATHOLIC


December 1997