The Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany is
the Twelfth Day of Christmas

(from https://fisheaters.com/epiphanyeve.html)

The Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas, and tonight is known as”Twelfth Night” (or “Twelfthnight”). It begins the celebration of Christ’s revealing His Divinity in three ways, which is formally celebrated tomorrow:

  • to the Magi who, guided by the great and mysterious Star of Bethlehem, came to visit Him when He was a Baby (Matthew 2:1-19)
  • through His Baptism by St. John, when “the Spirit of God descending as a dove” came upon Him and there was heard a voice from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1), and all Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity were manifest (Note: the Baptism of Our Lord is also commemorated on the 13th of January)
  • through His first public miracle — that of the wedding at Cana when Our Lord turned water into wine at the request of His Mother (John 2). Just as God’s first miracle before the Egyptian pharaoh, through Moses, was turning the waters of the Nile into blood, Our Lord’s first miracle was turning water into wine.

In many Catholic homes (especially Italian ones), it’s not Christmas Day that is for giving presents to children, but the Feast of Epiphany, when the gifts are given in a way related to the Magi. So today will have a “feel” of Christmas Eve, and because of the Epiphany’s association with the Magis’ gift-giving, tomorrow is often referred to colloquially as the “Little Christmas.”

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Fourth Sunday of Advent:
Saving Fire

The 4th Sunday of Advent originally did not have a Roman Station church because of the linkage between Ember Saturday and Sunday.  Eventually, to bring the Sunday into harmony with other great Sundays it gained a Station at the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles.

The 4th Sunday of Advent arrives on the heels of Ember Saturday with its preceding vigil readings and meditations in the night. Ember Saturday was in the ancient Church of Rome the day for priestly ordinations at St. Peter’s in the Vatican, the ceremonies of which lasted into Sunday morning.  They took things seriously back then.  In a sense, this Sunday is an extension of the Ember Day.

The Sunday Mass texts can be seen as a summation of our Advent preparation with the three great figures whom the Church chose to accompany us as we approach the arriving Lord. In the first chant of the Mass, the Introit, we hear the Prophet Isaiah cry out, “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness (Hebrew sedeq – righteousness, justice); let the earth open, that salvation [Hebrew yêsha – “deliverance, salvation”; Latin Vulgate salvator – “a savior” ] may sprout forth”.  The Vulgate personifies both the justice of God, justice being “the just one”, and the saving action of God, “savior”, which is what we sing in the Introit and the characteristic Advent Antiphon from Isaiah 45: Rorate caeli desuper et nubes pluant iustum.

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The Third Sunday of Advent

THE PRACTICE OF ADVENT
by Dom Gueranger, 1910

If our holy mother the Church spends the time of Advent in this solemn preparation for the threefold coming of Jesus Christ; if, after the example of the prudent virgins, she keeps her lamp lit ready for the coming of the Bridegroom; we, being her members and her children, ought to enter into her spirit, and apply to ourselves this warning of our Saviour: ‘Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands, and ye yourselves be like unto men who wait for their Lord (St. Luke xii. 35, 36. )!’ The Church and we have, in reality, the same hopes. Each one of us is, on the part of God, an object of mercy and care, as is the Church herself. If she is the temple of God, it is because she is built of living stones; if she is the bride, it is because she consists of all the souls which are invited to eternal union with God. If it is written that the Saviour hath purchased the Church with His own Blood (Acts xx. 28. ), may not each one of us say of himself those words of St. Paul, ‘Christ hath loved me, and hath delivered Himself up for me (Gal. ii. 20.)’? Our destiny being the same, then, as that of the Church, we should endeavour during Advent, to enter into the spirit of preparation, which is, as we have seen, that of the Church herself.

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception
of Our Blessed Mother

O God, who didst wondrously preserve the Mother of Thine only-begotten Son from original sin in her Conception: grant, we beseech Thee: that strengthened by her intercession we may be ready with clean hearts to take part in her festival. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

(Collect of the Vigil Mass)

O Most Holy Virgin who wast pleasing to God and didst become His Mother. Immaculate in your body, in your soul, in your faith and in your love, we beseech thee to look graciously upon the wretched who implore thy powerful protection. The wicked serpent, against whom the primal curse was hurled, continues nonetheless to wage war and to lay snares for the unhappy children of Eve. Ah, do thou, our blessed Mother, our Queen and Advocate, who from the first instant of thy conception didst crush the head of our enemy, receive the prayers that we unite single-heartedly to thine and conjure thee to offer at the throne of God, that we may never fall into the snares that are laid for us, in such wise that we may all come to the haven of salvation; and in the midst of so many dangers may holy Church and the fellowship of Christians everywhere sing once more the hymn of deliverance, victory and peace. Amen.

–Novena prayer

Source: Saint Louis Catholic (https://stlouiscatholic.wordpress.com/)

The First Warning of Advent

The Preaching of St. John the Baptist
by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – 1494)

Stir up Thy might, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and come: that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and be saved by Thy deliverance: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen

The First Warning of Advent: Christ is nigh!
Let us give up Sin, and practice Virtue

Rom. xiii. 12: The night is passed, and the day is at hand:
“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.”

Startled at the solemn warning,
Let the earth-bound soul arise;
Christ her Sun, all sloth dispelling,
Shines upon the morning skies.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!”

So when next He comes with glory,
Wrapping all the earth in fear,
May He then, as our Defender,
On the clouds of heaven appear.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!”

Lo, the Lamb so long expected,
Comes with pardon down from heaven;
Let us haste with tears of sorrow,
One and all to be forgiven.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!”

Honour, glory, virtue, merit,
To the Father and the Son,
With the Everlasting Spirit,
While Eternal ages run.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!”

From: http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/

Blessed Pentecost from

Mother Miriam

Beloved, we wrote the article below 9 years ago! I still love it because it shows how Catholicism is indeed the fulfillment of Judaism. I pray you will enjoy it and wish you and your loved ones a most blessed and glorious Shavuot/Pentecost.

Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, O.S.B. and Sisters

Dear Mother Miriam, I know that Pentecost celebrates the birth of the Church, but I was taught also that the Church was born from the pierced side of Christ on Calvary. Can it be both?

Perhaps in a sense, dear Zelda. Just as with human birth, life begins at the moment of conception in the mother’s womb. Yet the fullness of its manifestation, so to speak, takes place nine months later at the birth of that child from its mother’s womb.

In his encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi (the Mystical Body of Christ), Pope Pius XII, quoting Leo XIII, writes:

“The Church which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed Herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost.”

Saint John Chrysostom, in his teaching on the power of Christ’s blood, writes:

“There flowed from His side water and blood . . . symboliz(ing) baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist.” (Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II, p. 474)

In his homily on the Solemnity of Pentecost, (Sunday, June 12, 2011), our beloved Pope emeritus Benedict XVI said:

In the liturgy of Pentecost Psalm 104[103], which we have heard, corresponds with the account in the Acts of the Apostles of the birth of the Church (cf. Acts 2:1-11, emphasis mine): a hymn of praise of the whole creation which exalts the Creator Spirit who has made all things with wisdom . . . This is what the Church wants to tell us: the Spirit Creator of all things and the Holy Spirit whom the Lord caused to come down from the Father upon the community of the disciples are one and the same. Creation and redemption belong to each other and constitute, in depth, one mystery of love and of salvation. The Holy Spirit is first and foremost a Creator Spirit, hence Pentecost is also a feast of creation. 

“If I am lifted up,”said our Lord, “I will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). God, through His Son’s death on the Cross, rescued humanity from sin and death. But it was the coming of the Spirit into human hearts and minds on the Day of Pentecost that would enable and empower the People Israel to become a new people in Christ – a new Israel – an Israel of the Spirit (Galatians 6:16) that would include Jews and Gentiles alike.

Pope Emeritus Benedict’s homily goes on to say:

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Lent through Holy Week

“The Mystery of Lent”

from Dom Gueranger’s “The Liturgical Year”

We may be sure that a season so sacred as this of Lent is rich in mysteries. The Church has made it a time of recollection and penance, in preparation for the greatest of all her feasts; she would, therefore, bring into it everything that could excite the faith of her children, and encourage them to go through the arduous work of atonement for their sins. During Septuagesima, we had the number “seventy”, which reminds us of those seventy years of captivity in Babylon, after which God’s chosen people, being purified from idolatry, was to return to Jerusalem and celebrate the Pasch. It is the number “forty” that the Church now brings before us: a number, as St. Jerome observes, which denotes punishment and affliction.

Let us remember the forty days and forty nights of the deluge sent by God in His anger, when He repented that He had made man, and destroyed the whole human race with the exception of one family. Let us consider how the Hebrew people, in punishment for their ingratitude, wandered forty years in the desert, before they were permitted to enter the promised land. Let us listen to our God commanding the Prophet Ezechiel to lie forty days on his right side, as a figure of the siege which was to bring destruction on Jerusalem.

There are two persons in the old Testament who represent the two manifestations of God: Moses, who typifies the Law; and Elias, who is the figure of the Prophets. Both of these are permitted to approach God: the first on Sinai, the second on Horeb; but both of them have to prepare for the great favour by an expiatory fast of forty days.

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“Now is the time in which the souls of all men should be stirred with greater fervor towards spiritual perfection, and inspired with greater confidence: now when the return of that day on which we were redeemed invites us once more to the fulfillment of all our sacred duties, so that purified in body and soul we may celebrate the supreme Mystery of the Passion of Our Lord…Accordingly, with great solicitude have these divine means been given us, so that these forty days of reflection may assist us to restore the purity of our souls, and so that during them we may, by good works, make satisfaction for our past sins, and by devout mortification, purge ourselves of them…Enter then with pious devotion upon these holy days of Lent; and prepare for yourselves the works of mercy, that you may merit the Divine Mercy.”
-St. Leo the Great

Forgotten Customs of Septuagesima

by Matthew Plese, February 10, 2022 –  from https://onepeterfive.com/forgotten-customs-of-septuagesima/

Brethren: Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize. So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway (1 Cor. 9:24-27 as taken from the Epistle on Septuagesima Sunday).

Septuagesima is the ancient period of time observed for two and a half weeks before the start of Lent. Celebrated on the Third Sunday before the First Sunday in Lent, Septuagesima is both the name of this third Sunday before Lent’s beginning as well as the season itself that runs from this day up until Ash Wednesday. The season of Septuagesima comprises the Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima. The Fourth Council of Orleans in 541 AD documents the existence of this season.

This time, informally called “Pre-Lent,” is a time for us to focus on the need for a Savior. It is a time to prepare a Lenten prayer schedule so that we can determine which extra devotions and Masses we will go to in Lent. It is a time to begin weaning ourselves from food so that we may more easily observe the strictest fast during Lent.

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