Fr. James Hurlbert, Pastor
While we in the US celebrate it on the second Sunday after Christmas, Epiphany is officially January 6th, the “12th day of Christmas.” Did you know that the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” was really a secret catechism for Catholics who were persecuted in England in the 18th and 19th Centuries? Here are what each of the items in the song represent: On the First, Second, Third, etc. Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree: The partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on the first day of Christmas
Two Turtledoves: These twin birds represent the Old and New Testaments.
Three French Hens: These birds represent faith, hope, and love. This gift hearkens back to 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter written by the Apostle Paul.
Four Calling Birds: These fowl represent the four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Five Gold Rings: The gift of the rings represents the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch.
Six Geese a-Laying: These lyrics can be traced back to the first story found in the Bible. Each egg is a day in creation, a time when the world was “hatched” or formed by God.
Seven Swans a-Swimming: Hidden in the code are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion.
Eight Maids-a-Milking: This is the Beatitudes. Christ called blessed the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Nine Ladies Dancing: These nine dancers were really the gifts known as the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Ten Lords a-leaping: This code for the Ten Commandments.
Eleven Pipers Piping: These represent the 12 Apostles minus Judas, who betrayed Jesus.
Twelve Drummers Drumming: The final gift is the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed.
In the wake of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s funeral this past week, I found myself reflecting on the fact that he has been a major player in the life of the Church during the entire course of my priesthood. I was always struck by the depth of his theological contributions and the humility with which he defended the faith and orthodox expressions of it. May he rest in peace.
May your week reflect the encounter with Christ
we experienced at Mass today!
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