Monday, December 28, 2009

The Origin of the Twelve Days of Christmas

You're all familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" I think. To most it's a delightful nonsense rhyme set to music. But it had a quite serious purpose when it was written.
It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts. Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith - a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or shortened by a head - or hanged, drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar and ghastly punishment I'm not aware was ever practiced anywhere else. Hanging, drawing and quartering involved hanging a person by the neck until they had almost, but not quite, suffocated to death; then the party was taken down from the gallows, and disembowelled while still alive; and while the entrails were still lying on the street, where the executioners stomped all over them, the victim was tied to four large farm horses, and literally torn into five parts - one to each limb and the remaining torso.

The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

The other symbols mean the following:
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues

4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.

6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation

7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments

8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles

12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

I Would Love To Hear From You

Everyday Joe's Big Adventure Blog is getting hits from all over the world. I am so blown away by the response I have had recently. Now, I would like to hear from you. Please click on the comment section and tell me where you are from and how you heard about this blog. Also, what subjects do you want to hear about.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Prayer of the Week

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of
your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our
hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Repent For The Kingdom Of God Has Come

Can you believe it? The 3rd week of Advent has begun. Time is flying by so fast. It seems that we just began Advent. That is one of the problems of our lives. Time goes by in a flash. I remember when I was a kid and the adults told me to be happy being a kid because there would be a time when the days would go by very fast. I always thought they were crazy but I guess they were not.

Today I want to encourage you to slow down and take some time to reflect on our lives. I know in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season it may be hard, but we have to do it.

In Matthew 3 we read these words:

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.” Matthew 3:1 NLT (The phrase near is translated - the Kingdom of heaven has come.

As we begin to reflect upon this the first thing I think that we must look at is “repent of your sins.” Now you may say I am already born again. I have already done this. But are there any areas of your life that are not being controlled by the Kingdom of God? The writer of Hebrews says that we are to lay aside every weight that ensnares us. What are the things that we fight in our lives? Is it anger, unforgiveness, pornography, or some other thing that entangles you and it seems like you can’t get free of it? Take a few moments of quiet time and ask God to show you what you need to repent of.

The second thing to reflect upon is that repentance is not just asking forgiveness of something but to turn away from it. We need to make the decision to walk away from the stuff that ensnares us. How do we do this? The first thing is desire. You have to desire to change and make the decision to do it. The next thing is you may need someone to help hold you accountable. You may need to go and ask a mature Christ-follower to help you. But one of the most important things you can do is go to confession. GO TO CONFESSION! I can already hear someone screaming this and turning red faced. But yes, I did say go to confession. You see, as you go to confession and confess your sin to God in the presence of a priest, the priest is announcing what God has done in heaven is done on earth. So, maybe you need to go to confession and walk away knowing that God has forgiven you. Not because the priest said so, but because God says so and is using the priest to speak to you.

Take time today for some reflection.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Can The Kingdom Come To Juarez Mexico?

Yesterday I was surfing the news and came across an article on CNN about “On the front lines of drug war.” It was really sad. On Wednesday, December 9, 2009, seventeen people were killed - gunned down in the drug war. I then watched the video footage of what is going on in Juarez. There have been 2400 murders this year in Juarez, just across the Mexican-American border from El Paso, Texas. In fact, this reporter was on patrol with the police and you could see the lights of the border crossing and El Paso.

The following quote is chilling. "Juarez is the most violent zone in the world outside of declared war zones". That is really scary. As you read this you may be asking, what does this have to do with me? I know it is bad but how does this effect me? Let me tell you. This violence has now begun to come across the border. It is happening right here in the USA. The Los Zetas drug cartel has cells all over the United States. The DEA says that this cartel is one of the most highly technologically advanced and violent cartels. They began from a group of men from the Mexican army that had been trained by the Americans at Ft. Benning in special warfare-Airborne/Green Beret types. Once they got back to Mexico about 50 men defected from the Army and became enforcers for a drug cartel. Now they have started their own cartel and the violence has increased.

If we do nothing this violence is going to spread into our cities and towns all over America.

But what can we do? Do we need a fence or tougher laws? I believe the answer to this problem can be discovered in the message of this Advent Season.

The primary message of Advent is the coming of the Kingdom. What is needed in Juarez, all of Mexico, and the United States is for the Kingdom of God to be made real. The kingdom of darkness is ruling in this region. All you have to do is watch the videos about the Los Zetas and other cartels to know of the darkness and the demonized activity.

What would happen if the Church began a united effort to pray for a true move of God in this region? What if we began to fast and pray for an end to the killing and torture? What would happen if we began to pray for God to raise up godly priests, pastors and lay evangelists to take the message that the Kingdom of God has come to Juarez?

I can tell you what would happen. We would begin to see a change. As we confront the power of Satan and his kingdom and fight for people’s lives, peoples hearts would begin to change. The only way to stop the violence is for men and women’s hearts to be changed. As Paul said, how can they know unless someone tells them?

As we continue in this Season of Advent I call us to pray and fast for Juarez and Mexico. God raise up men and women to make a difference.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Advent- The Coming of the Lord In The Eucharist

As we move further into this season of Advent we are reminded that it is a time of preparing for the "coming of the Lord."

We remember the coming of the Lord as the babe in the manager, but there is another coming of the Lord that we can prepare for.

This is the "coming of the Lord" in the Eucharist. Every time we come to the Altar to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist we receive Jesus. Jesus said in St. John that this IS my body and blood.

So as we come to the table of the Lord to receive the sacrament, let us come with a renewed sense of meeting Jesus and receiving Him.

Prayer of the Week

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Are We Really Proclaiming The Gospel

Now I know that this is a loaded question, but it is one that we must confront and come to terms with.

For far too long I believe the church has proclaimed an incomplete Gospel.

So what do I mean by this? Are we proclaiming the same message that Jesus proclaimed during his time here on earth? What was the message that He proclaimed? Repent for the Kingdom of God is near. He not only told us the Kingdom had come but He demonstrated that the Kingdom had come by healing people and casting out demons.

For far too long the Church has only proclaimed salvation. We have told people that they must be born again or “saved” and have left it there. Yes we have told people how to live but we have only declared part of the Gospel - an incomplete Gospel.

As we celebrate this Advent season, I believe that it is time to reclaim the “full Gospel”. That God has come to save man for his sins but also to declare the Kingdom of God has come among us in healings, miracles, signs and wonders. These were common experiences in the Book of Acts and in the life of the Pre Nicene Fathers.