Monday, December 26, 2011

Devotion for today: Freedom to celebrate Christ is not always free

Here is one explanation for the popular song that dominates the airwaves this time of year:
One theory… connects the carol to the era when Catholicism was outlawed in England, from 1558 to 1829. The carol, it is said, was a catechism song for Catholics to learn "the tenets of their faith," as they could not openly practice in Anglican society [source:]. Here are the verses of the song, along with their… symbolism:
  • A Partridge in a Pear Tree - Jesus Christ
  • Two Turtle Doves - The Old and New Testaments
  • Three French Hens - The three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity
  • Four Calling/Collie Birds - Four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
  • Five Golden Rings - First five books of the Old Testament
  • Six Geese-a-Laying - Six days of creation before God's rest on the seventh day
  • Seven Swans-a-Swimming - Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Eight Maids-a-Milking - Eight Beatitudes
  • Nine Ladies Dancing - Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
  • Ten Lords-a-Leaping - Ten Commandments
  • Eleven Pipers Piping - Eleven faithful disciples
  • Twelve Drummers Drumming -Twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed
December 26 – Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr
St. Stephen, a disciple of Christ chosen after the Ascension as one of the seven deacons, and “Full of grace and fortitude was working great wonders and signs among the people.” Many rose up against him, but they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the spirit that spoke. Accused of blasphemy against Moses and against God, he was brought before the Sandedrin and condemned to be cast out of the city and stoned to death. Kneeling down before his murderers he cried out with a loud voice, saying: “Lord, do not lay this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord, 35 A.D.(Lives of the Saints, Catholic Publishing Co. 1955)
My thoughts:  This is a little variance from the usual blog that I write, but the day after Christmas is usually spent recovering from much merriment and good cheer, celebrating our Savior’s birth. It is sobering to remember, however, that our faith is not always free. Just as the Catholics in England were persecuted for their beliefs, and just as St. Stephen was martyred for working great signs and wonders among the people in Jesus’ name, so, too, today, in many nations of the world, Catholics are persecuted for their Catholic faith. Let us pray today for all the people of the world who do not have the freedom to openly celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, and let us thank God if we are the fortunate ones who do.
Our Prayer: O Lord, as we remember your birth, we also remember the distress and dangers of peoples and nations persecuted for their belief in you. Hear the pleas of the imprisoned and captives, head the sorrow of the grief-stricken, the needs of refugees, and the cries of the oppressed. Protect the missionaries who place themselves in these dangerous conditions, and bring freedom of religion to all your children. We ask this through Mary, Your mother and ours. Amen.

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