Dec 312011

December 31 is the seventh day of Christmastide and the octave of Christmas

Feast of Saint Sylvester I

In 313, the Edict of Milan officially ended the persecution of the Christians. Sylvester I was pope and though we know few facts about him, we do know that God blessed him with Wisdom to guide the Church as it transitioned from a literal underground movement.He called for the Council of Nicaea in 325 (which gave us the Nicene Creed) and he set in motion the construction of the great basilicas of Saint John Lateran and Saint Peter’s.

He died on December 31, 335.

Peace and Plenty in Our Families

The day we celebrate the first pope to enjoy civic peace and prosperity is appropriately marked by family customs traditions seeking peace for the coming year. Many traditions include having a fire–including the yule log–to burn away the old and welcome the new.

  • In France, the father to bless all members of the family, and for the children to thank their parents for all of their love and care.
  • In Italy, there is the wearing of red underwear and the ancient tradition of throwing personal items out the window as a symbol of making room for the new.
  • In Spain, it was considered good luck to eat twelve grapes at the twelve strokes of midnight.
  • In Austria, it is considered good luck to eat krapfen, apricot-jam doughnuts, when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve.
  • In Poland, a strong rum mixture called Poncz Sylwestrowy (“Sylvester’s Punch”) is drunk on this night.

King David wrote that “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods while singing lips my mouth will praise you.” in Psalm 63. May we enjoy the richest of the food and drink this season while gathering with those God has blessed us with as we in turn bless Him with our praise.

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

Seven-Swans-A-SwimmingToday’s gifts are Seven Swans-a-Swimming representing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:

  • Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Counsel (Right Judgment)
  • Fortitude (Courage)
  • Knowledge
  • Piety (Reverence)
  • Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe)

Swans are a symbol of grace in myth and legend. They are also a representation of love because of their monogamous relationships and when the male and female touch their heads, the image represents a heart. To the British, Mute Swans represent royalty as that breed is the property of the Crown.

Today’s Readings

The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas (Lectionary: 204)

“It should be our principal business to conquer ourselves and, from day to day, to go on increasing in strength and perfection. Above all, however, it is necessary for us to strive to conquer our little temptations, such as fits of anger, suspicions, jealousies, envy, deceitfulness, vanity, attachments, and evil thoughts. For in this way, we shall acquire strength to subdue greater ones.” — St. Francis De Sales