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The Octave of Christmas: December 25 -- January 1 [Ecumenical]
SaintMaryCathedral.org ^ | 2004 | Father Brian Doerr

Posted on 12/26/2010 12:58:57 PM PST by Salvation

The Octave of Christmas

By Father Brian Doerr

 

For More Information

* First Day * Second Day * Third Day * Fourth Day * Fifth Day * Sixth Day * Seventh Day * Eighth Day *

From the Latin word, Octava, comes the ancient practice of celebrating Christmas for eight wonderful days.  We would like to invite you to join our parish in allowing Christmas its proper observance – by continuing the celebration for eight days. We are celebrating the Word made Flesh!  Can we properly celebrate this unfathomable mystery in just one morning?  By observing the Octave, we hope to “re-order” our Christmas observance, quite frankly, away from the modern American practice of celebrating Christmas during December (when the Church observes Advent) while disregarding the Christmas Season. By December 26, the candles are snuffed, the weight has been gained, and we cast a forlorn look toward spring as so many are burned-out on reindeer, elves and candy canes. 

We would like to assist your family in their return to the ancient practices of this worthwhile observance and root them more firmly in the Christian tradition.  Respect is due to the practices you and your family have developed at home.  The traditions you have developed are not, in some way, incorrect.  Yet, adopting some of these practices suggested below will unite your family to the traditions and customs observed for centuries by our Catholic ancestors.

Why celebrate for eight days?  The practice actually is as ancient as the Old Testament.  The Hebrew people observed many of their feasts for a period of eight days.  The “Feast of Tabernacles” and the “Dedication of the Temple” are two of the more notable.  Later, the Roman Emperor Constantine continued the tradition by celebrating the dedication of basilicas in the Christian World for the same period of eight days.  Prior to the Second Vatican Council, which closed in 1965, the Church granted certain feasts the dignity of an octave.  In addition to the more prominent liturgical observations of Easter, Pentecost, Epiphany, the feasts of Sts. Peter and St. Paul, St. Lawrence, and St. Agnes were observed.  Today we celebrate two feasts with Octaves:  Easter (being the more prominent) and Christmas.

Again, so why celebrate for eight days?  Life in the ancient world was so hectic and filled with pressure and families had grown apart and were being swept up in the older pagan traditions, the Church granted a period of eight days in order to contemplate the mysteries experienced in the Church’s liturgy.  Comparatively speaking, we obviously need the Octave even more than the Christians of the ancient world!  The ancient world did not have television, shopping malls, computers, telephones, fast food, automobiles, magazines and newspapers… if the Ancients were busily distracted, what has become of us!? We need to enjoy this time!  If you need, take off work, visit family, feast, attend Mass, praise God, visit the poor, celebrate charity, and most of all be humbled before the Mystery:  The Word of God has become man!

 

December 25; the First Day of the Christmas Octave, the Nativity of the Lord

Opening Prayer from the Liturgy:  “Father, we are filled with the new light by the coming of your Word among us. May the light of faith shine in our words and actions. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In your Bible:  Luke 2:1-14; the Story of the Nativity

Catechesis: Recently, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged his flock to overcome the “commercial contamination” of Christmas by rediscovering the Child Jesus, the Son of God made man out of love. There is nothing like a bit of guilt for Christmas morning!  Yet, everyone mumbles to him or herself that “next year, we are going to cut back.”  And every year, the commercial aspect of Christmas reigns out of control. The Holy Father wants us to experience the fullness of the Church’s celebration: “The authentic spirit of Christmas is, “he said recently, “characterized by recollection, sobriety, a joy that is not exterior but profound.”

Activity: To regain the true meaning of our observance, the Holy Father suggested we focus on the tradition of placing a Nativity crib in our homes as a way of teaching the Christian faith, especially to children. Pope Benedict XVI encourages us to continue the custom of placing the crib in the home, as it “can be a simple but effective way of presenting the faith and transmitting it to one's children. The manger helps us to contemplate the mystery of God's love who revealed himself in the poverty and simplicity of the Bethlehem cave.” If you do not have a crib, take some time today to make one or use a Christmas greeting card.  Otherwise, sometime today, gather around the crib to sing, to pray and to adore the Christ child.



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; prayer
For Catholics -- Christmas lasts and lasts. Do other churches celebrate this wonderful tradition?

For the modern world, Christmas ended yesterday, and the world is left hungering. Come join us in the rich traditional practice!

1 posted on 12/26/2010 12:59:01 PM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
A Savior Has Been Born Ping!
 
If you aren’t on this ping list NOW and would like to be, 
please Freepmail me.
 
Adoration of the Shepherds, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1650-5

2 posted on 12/26/2010 1:07:28 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

The days are skewed here — so bear with it. Originally posted back in 2004.


3 posted on 12/26/2010 1:14:35 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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December 26; the Second Day of the Christmas Octave, St. Stephen, First Martyr

Opening Prayer from the Liturgy:  “Lord, today we celebrate the entrance of Saint Stephen into eternal glory. He died praying for those who killed him. Help us to imitate his goodness and to love our enemies. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In your Bible: Acts of the Apostles 6:8-10; 7:54-59; The Story of St. Stephen’s Martyrdom

Catechesis:  One wonders why the Church would celebrate the feast of a martyr on the Second Day of the Octave of Christ’s nativity.  Pope John Paul II supplied the answer:  “The Church calls the day of martyrdom a dies natalis (day of birth). Indeed, by virtue of Christ's death and Resurrection, the death of the martyr is a birth in Heaven. This is why it is so meaningful to celebrate the first martyr the day after Christmas: Jesus who was born in Bethlehem gave his life for us so that we too, reborn "from on high" through faith and Baptism, might be willing to give up our own lives for love of our brothers and sisters” (John Paul II, Angelus, Feast of St. Stephen, 2002).

Activity:  “Boxing Day” is a popular tradition in England, Germany and Holland. A practiced developed in the middle-ages whereby priests opened the parish poor box and distributed the wealth to the poor on the feast of St. Stephen.  Similarly, the laity imitated the Church’s practice and kept their own poor “boxes” throughout the year.  On the day following Christmas, the box was opened, the money tallied, and distributed to the poor. Eventually, Boxing Day became a day of giving and receiving gifts.

The poor, according to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council is defined as “anyone in need.”  Today, find those people:  the lonely, the forgotten, the shut-in, the sick, the materially poor, the spiritually poor, and give them the gift of your presence.  Do not be cynical.  Do not underestimate the value of your presence, the love you bring and the care you give.  We live in a world where many are poor, they await you on this day.


4 posted on 12/26/2010 1:16:10 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Prayer to St. Stephen

We give thee thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to thy Son Jesus Christ, who standeth at thy right hand: where he liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.


5 posted on 12/26/2010 1:57:40 PM PST by onyx (If you truly support Sarah Palin and want on her busy ping list, let me know!)
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To: onyx

Thanks for the prayer!


6 posted on 12/26/2010 2:04:59 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Embracing the Catechism: The Witness of Martyrdom
Church to celebrate feast of first martyr
HOLY INNOCENCE

From Stockings to Stoning: The Story of Saint Stephen [Catholic Caucus]
Angelus: St. Stephen
Pope Benedict remembers persecuted Christians on the Feast of St. Stephen Martyr
He Teaches Us to Love the Cross [St. Stepehen]
A patron Saint for Deacons [St. Stepehen]
Good Prince Vaclav [for St. Stephen's Day, 12/26]
A few considerations on St. Stephen's martyrdom
St. Stephen, the Martyr
Dec. 26 - Saint Stephen, First Martyr
A thoughtful sermon for St. Stephen's Day

7 posted on 12/26/2010 2:05:38 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Interesting. Thanks, Salvation.


8 posted on 12/26/2010 3:28:53 PM PST by PGalt
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To: Salvation

Anglicans are still celebrating, we just started the season yesterday.


9 posted on 12/26/2010 5:04:13 PM PST by kalee (The offences we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we engrave in marble. J Huett 1658)
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To: kalee

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas week.


10 posted on 12/26/2010 7:24:46 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: Ciexyz
 
 
A blessed Christmas to all of you!

11 posted on 12/26/2010 9:13:45 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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December 27; the Third Day of the Christmas Octave, St. John the Apostle, Evangelist

Opening Prayer from the Liturgy:  “God our Father, you have revealed the mysteries of your Word through John the apostle. By prayer and reflection may we come to understand the wisdom he taught. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In your Bible: 1 John 1:1-4; The Word of Life

Catechesis:  Today we celebrate the memory of St. John the Evangelist who wrote a Book of the Gospel, three letters and, some hold, the Book of Revelation.  St. John, of whom it can be said knew Jesus more intimately than anyone (other than his mother), gave us lofty concepts of great theological consequence.  St. John’s writings are the source of our knowledge of Christ’s pre-existence as the Word of God, his “mission” to bring light to the world, and the sacred truth that Jesus is God made man.  The theme of St. John’s Gospel focuses on Christ’s Divinity as well as the mournful response of his own  people who, “did not accept him” (John 1:11). St. John is worthily considered the “evangelist of the divinity of Christ.”

Activity: Take time today to “study the Sacred Page.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful . . . to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ,’ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures.” Then, quoting St. Jerome, the Catechism reminds us that “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (133).


12 posted on 12/26/2010 11:23:37 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. John [Catholic Caucus]
Feast of St. John (Apostle and Evangelist)
The Falling Asleep of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian September 26
Where the Beloved Disciple Finally Rested
Orthodox Feast of The Falling Asleep of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian, September 26
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
Mary's House — Walking in the Footsteps of St. John
13 posted on 12/26/2010 11:24:18 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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December 28; the Fourth Day of the Christmas Octave, The Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Opening Prayer from the Liturgy:  “Father, the Holy Innocents offered you praise by the death they suffered for Christ. May our lives bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In your Bible: Matthew 2:13-18; The Story of the Holy Innocents

Catechesis: When one considers the slaughter of the children, one cannot but think of today’s modern scourge of abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and assisted suicide.  Perhaps this may sound insensitive to our modern ears, but consider the parallels:  Herod was paranoid of loosing his throne.  He was quite familiar with the prophecy of Numbers 24, “I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel… Edom shall be dispossessed.” Herod was an Edomite; and he saw the same “sign” that the Magi saw. This left him with one choice:  to “die to self” and choose to follow Christ, or to resist – to fight for control, to have things his way, to violate the rights of others in an attempt to keep his power.  And, for the same reasons, we succumb to these temptations as Herod did.  Remember the unborn and those women and men who have been deeply wounded by the curse of abortion, especially today.

Activity: Christmas is a time for children.  Perhaps today we can focus upon them once again.  Children are a sign of life and hope, of joy and innocence, of true and “unconditional” love. Spend time with a child or a young person this day.  Read to a boy or a girl, play basketball with an adolescent, go to the movies together, or, perhaps, just listen to him or her. The day need not be extravagant.  Simply making time to be with them and giving them your attention will make their day quite meaningful.


14 posted on 12/27/2010 9:41:37 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Feast of the Holy Innocents (Childermas)
Coventry Carol (In Honor of the Holy Innocents, the First Martyrs for Christ)
The Holy Family vs. The Holy Innocents: A Christmas season reflection [Catholic Caucus]

Holy Innocents (also known as Childermas or Children’s Mass)
The Holy Innocents
King Herod Revisited
THE HOLY INNOCENTS Feast: December 28
Feast of the Holy Innocents - December 28 - 1928 BCP
We remember today the Holy Innocents, First Martyrs
Orthodox Feast of the Holy Innocents, December 29
December 28 - Feast of the Holy Innocents
Ending the Holocaust of the Innocents
Dec. 28 - Feast of The Holy Innocents

15 posted on 12/27/2010 9:42:24 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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December 29; the Fifth Day of the Christmas Octave, Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr

Opening Prayer from the Liturgy:  “Almighty God, you granted the martyr Thomas the grace to give his life for the cause of justice.  By his prayers make us willing to renounce for Christ our life in this world so that we may find it in heaven.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In your Bible: Matthew 16:24-27; Jesus calls “Follow Me.”

Catechesis: (Mark 8:36).  Pope John Paul II, before his death, cautioned us that “the confusion between good and evil” is the “most dangerous crisis which can afflict man.”  It is in this ‘affliction’ that the martyrs find their vocation. “By their eloquent and attractive example, of a life completely transfigured by the splendor of the moral truth, the martyrs… light up every period of history by reawakening its moral sense” (Veritatis Splendor 92). The man we celebrate today played a role, 835 years ago, in reawakening a sense of justice in his own world.  Thomas’s is an interesting story.  After becoming the chancellor to Henry II, he was chosen by the king to be Archbishop of Canterbury. As the story goes, Thomas went from being "a patron of play-actors and a follower of hounds" to his exalted vocation as a "shepherd of souls."  As Henry II continually restricted the liberty of the Church, the conflict between St. Thomas Becket and the king grew.  Eventually, the Archbishop of Canterbury was assassinated in his own cathedral by the “order” of the king who said, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”. As the assassins approached St. Thomas in his Cathedral he declared, “I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and Peace.” After his murder, Thomas became instantly famous.

Activity: Today would be a good day to bring reconciliation to those with whom we are separated for the sake of unity and peace.  Thomas longed for liberty and peace to reign in the Church.  We must take care not to be the cause of separation and division.  This undoubtedly may be difficult to do, but we can at least pray for those with whom we have become estranged. The effort we put forth in our attempts to be reconciled is far less burdensome than carrying the anger and hurt and pain of  past conflicts.  Today, make an attempt at reconciliation.


16 posted on 12/28/2010 9:25:31 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Murder of Thomas Becket, 1170-Today in History

Becket's Lesson Beckons [Catholic Caucus]
BBC: St. Thomas Becket "Worst Briton of 12th Century" (!!)
Our Anglican Roots: St. Thomas Becket
St Thomas of Canterbury(1118-1170) [St Thomas a Becket]
The Murder of Thomas Becket, 1170

18 posted on 12/28/2010 9:37:54 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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December 30; the Sixth Day of the Christmas Octave, The Holy Family

Opening Prayer from the Liturgy:  “Father, help us to live as the Holy Family, united in respect and love. Bring us to the joy and peace of your eternal home. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In your Bible: Luke 2:22-40; Jesus Became Strong, Filled with Wisdom

Catechesis:  There are two pillars of our Christian society responsible for the common good and the welfare of our people. In recent years, both of these pillars have come under demonic attack:  the family and the priesthood.  A society which allows unimaginable perversions of the family to occur, most especially in the name of “tolerance” and “fairness,” is doomed to destruction.  Jesus, through his own earthly family, demonstrates the importance of the “traditional” family to the world. Thus, families must come to see the impact their influence has on society for the good of all – and rise up to this challenge. 

Activity: Today, gather the members of your family together and consecrate your family to the protection of the Holy Family:

“O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who came to enlighten the world with Your teaching and example, willed to pass the greater part of Your life humbly and in subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously take to Yourself our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to You this day. Defend us, guard us, and establish among us Your holy fear, true peace, and harmony in Christian love; in order that by conforming ourselves to the divine pattern of Your family all of us without exception may be able to attain to eternal happiness.

“Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and our Mother, by your kindly intercession make this, our humble offering, acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings. O Saint Joseph, most holy Guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by your prayers in all our spiritual and temporal necessities; that we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and you for all eternity.”

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father) Consecration by: Father Francis L. Filas, SJ


19 posted on 12/29/2010 9:36:54 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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A Meditation On the “Bloody Octave” of Christmas [Catholic Caucus]
20 posted on 12/30/2010 5:24:11 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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December 31; the Seventh Day of the Christmas Octave, Sylvester I, Pope

Opening Prayer from the Liturgy:  “Lord, help and sustain your people by the prayers of Pope Sylvester. Guide us always in this present life and bring us to the joy that never ends.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In your Bible: Matthew 16:13-19; The Keys of the Kingdom

Catechesis: On this, the seventh day in the octave of Christmas, Holy Mother Church remembers St. Sylvester I, pope and confessor. Pope Sylvester reigned as Pontiff for 21 years, was a friend of the Emperor Constantine and endorsed the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325.  Some refer to Sylvester as the “peace Pope” as he became pope shortly after the end of  centuries of bloody persecution.  Like many of our early saints, legends have arisen around his memory:  he is said to have freed Emperor Constantine from leprosy by baptism and killed a “ferocious dragon” that was contaminating the air with his “poisonous breath.”

Activity: Have you ever stopped to think about where we would be without our Church?  What if we lacked the opportunity for reconciliation, Confirmation or Holy Communion.  What if we lacked the gift of our faith - the faith that has been passed down to us from the time of the Apostles?  What if we lacked a Supreme Pontiff and the world was ruled by the tyranny of evil, selfishness and hatred? Today, pray fervently for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and for his collaborator, William Leo, our Bishop, and pray especially today for the person - parent, grandparent, priest, religious brother or sister, catechist or friend - who first taught you your faith.


21 posted on 12/30/2010 8:24:22 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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January 1; The Eighth Day of the Christmas Octave, The Mother of God

Opening Prayer from the Liturgy:  “God our Father, may we always profit by the prayers of the Virgin Mother Mary, for you bring us life and salvation through Jesus Christ her Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Sprit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In your Bible: Luke 2:16-21; Mary Kept All Things in Her Heart

Catechesis: “Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church's Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary. Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the ‘Seat of Wisdom’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 721).  Today’s feast, Mary the Mother of God, was first celebrated on January 1st in the seventh century.  But in 1967, Rome also inaugurated this day as a world day of prayer for peace.  After all, we have celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace for the past eight days, it is proper to reserve this day for “intense prayer for peace, education towards peace and those values inextricably linked with it, such as liberty, fraternal solidarity, the dignity of the human person, respect for nature, the right to work, the sacredness of human life, and the denunciation of injustices which trouble the conscience of man and threaten peace.”

Activity: Due to our fast-paced lives and how accustomed we have become to the electronic age, praying the rosary can be bothersome, even “painful” to some.  Surprising is the number of Catholics who do not even know how to pray the rosary.  Today, gather to pray the family rosary that, through Our Lady, Queen of Peace, we may have peace in our hearts, our homes and our community, nation and world.  For further encouragement, consider this list of benefits for praying the rosary:

1. It gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ.
2. It purifies our souls, washing away sin.
3. It gives us victory over all our enemies.
4. It makes it easy for us to practice virtue.
5. It sets us on fire with love of Our Lord.
6. It enriches us with graces and merits.
7. It supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow men;
   and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces for us from Almighty God.


22 posted on 12/31/2010 10:55:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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I attended a vigil Mass tonight. A wonderful way to close out 2010.

Attending Mass tomorrow would be a wonderful way to open the New Year of 2011!

Happy New Year, everyone!


23 posted on 12/31/2010 10:56:23 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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JOY TO THE WORLD !!! 

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn’t been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn’t hate Christmas, just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through. 

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. “Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude,” said the stranger.” I see you’re busy, I’ll just go.”   

“Not without something hot in your belly.” George said. 

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. “It ain’t much, but it’s hot and tasty. Stew … Made it myself. When you’re done, there’s coffee and it’s fresh.” 

Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell. “Excuse me, be right back,” George said. There in the driveway was an old ’53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. “Mister can you help me!” said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. “My wife is with child and my car is broken.” George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. 

“You ain’t going in this thing,” George said as he turned away. 

“But Mister, please help …” The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. “Here, take my truck,” he said. “She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.” 

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. “Glad I gave ‘em the truck, their tires were shot too. That ‘old truck has brand new .” George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. “Well, at least he got something in his belly,” George thought. 

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn’t cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. “Well, shoot, I can fix this,” he said to himself. So he put a new one on. 

“Those tires ain’t gonna get ‘em through the winter either.” He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car anyway. 

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Please help me.” 

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. “Pressure to stop the bleeding,” he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. “Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin’,” he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

“Something for pain,” George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. “These ought to work.” He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. “You hang in there, I’m going to get you an ambulance.” 

The phone was dead. “Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car.” He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio. 

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. “Thanks,” said the officer. “You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area.” 

George sat down beside him, “I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain’t gonna leave you.” George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. “Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through ‘ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain.” 

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. “How do you take it?” he asked. 

“None for me,” said the officer. 

“Oh, yer gonna drink this.  Best in the city. Too bad I ain’t got no donuts.” The officer laughed and winced at the same time. 

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. “Give me all your cash! Do it now!” the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before. 

“That’s the guy that shot me!” exclaimed the officer. 

“Son, why are you doing this?” asked George, “You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt.” 

The young man was confused. “Shut up old man, or I’ll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!” 

The cop was reaching for his gun. “Put that thing away,” George said to the cop, “we got one too many in here now.” 

He turned his attention to the young man. “Son, it’s Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain’t much but it’s all I got. Now put that pea shooter away.” 

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. “I’m not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son,” he went on. “I’ve lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week.” 

George handed the gun to the cop. “Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.” 

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. “Sometimes we do stupid things.” George handed the young man a cup of coffee. “Bein’ stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin’ in here with a gun ain’t the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.” 

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. “Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I’m sorry officer.” 

“Shut up and drink your coffee ” the cop said. 

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. “Chuck! You ok?” one of the cops asked the wounded officer. 

“Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?” 

“GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?” the other cop asked as he approached the young man. 

Chuck answered him, “I don’t know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran.” 

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other. 

“That guy work here?” the wounded cop continued. 

“Yep,”  George said, “just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job.” 

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, “Why?” 

Chuck just said, “Merry Christmas boy … and you too, George, and thanks for everything.” 

“Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems.” 

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. “Here you go, something for the little woman. I don’t think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day.” 

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. “I can’t take this,” said the young man. “It means something to you.” 

“And now it means something to you,” replied George. “I got my memories. That’s all I need.” 

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. “Here’s something for that little man of yours.” 

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier. 

“And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too,” George said. “Now get home to your family.” 

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. “I’ll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.” 

“Nope. I’m closed Christmas day,” George said. “See ya the day after.” 

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. “Where’d you come from? I thought you left?” 

“I have been here. I have always been here,” said the stranger. “You say you don’t celebrate Christmas. Why?” 

“Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn’t see what all the bother was. Puttin’ up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin’ cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn’t the same by myself and besides I was gettin’ a little chubby.” 

The stranger put his hand on George’s shoulder. “But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. 

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. “That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man.” 

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. “And how do you know all this?” asked the old man. 

“Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.” 

The stranger moved toward the door. “If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.” 

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room. 

“You see, George … it’s My birthday. Merry Christmas.” 

George fell to his knees and replied, “Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus” 

Merry Christmas!!

Source: Unknown. I received this story a few hours ago from a good friend of mine. So, might as well I share this very touching Christmas story to you all. Keep the Christmas spirit alive!


24 posted on 12/31/2010 11:41:49 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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