Tag Archives: Christmas

Hannukah, the eight days and the Light of the World

It is coming to the end of the eight days of Hanukkah.  As Christians we should remember what happened as the Jews who had survived the astonishing evil perpetrated by Antiochus Epiphanes against God and His people. The story is told in full in the two books of Maccabees, with the eight day light in 1 Mac 4 especially.

The Temple always had a Menorah since the days when it was in a tent or tabernacle. It had seven branches that stood up from a golden tree like structure that had lamps of oil in the shape of almond blossoms. The menorah seems to represent the seven days of creation, the Tree of Life and the burning bush through which Moses first encountered God, and received His Name “I AM WHO AM” or “I Am The Being One” YHWH.

The Menorah for Hanukkah has nine branches. eight lamps for each day of the miracle and the ninth lamp is called the Servant from which all the other lamps are lit. While some modern versions of this menorah have the servant light to one side, the traditional place was at the centre.

The miracle of the menorah that is celebrated at Hanukkah is interesting from the Christian point of view. There was just enough holy oil to keep the menorah lit for one day and it would take eight days to produce more oil. In an act of great faith the people who had returned to clean and reconsecrate the Temple lit the oil and set to work to make the new

These lights were continued through to the Church and we still have the Bog Six candles on the high altar or back of the Sanctuary with the Tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament in the middle as the Light of the World, just as Jesus identified Himself.

At Hanukkah which is considered a festival set up by man rather than God, the people show their deep gratitude for the freedom God gave them from the darkness of Antiochus who had persecuted the Jews so viciously. The story of the mother who was forced to watch while her seven sons where tortured to death and how she encouraged them and supported them with her courage and strength, from her great faith in God, is told in Maccabees. From this persecution a remnant returned to Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple. God Himself provided the light for those eight days.

There are two acolyte candles with large brass holders that are carried by altar servers and stand either side of the altar through most of the Mass. They are carried and held either side of the lecturn for the Gospel reading and are carried before the gifts for the presentation of the gifts of bread and wine.

In Scripture Hanukkah is called the Feast of Dedication and takes places about two months after the festival of tabernacles (booths or tents). Jesus celebrated the feast and entered the Temple (John 10:22+) where He faced those who accused Him of working with the devil. Yet again the Temple was defiled by those who refused to see or hear the Truth and Christ entered as a Light who would bring the world out of darkness.

The Hanukkah menorah has nine branches – eight for the eight days God gave light and one as the Servant to light all the others. Christ came as a servant-king washing the feet of the apostles and pouring Himself out for His bride the Church.

There are six days of creation at the end of which Adam fell. The Seventh Day was made the Sabbath for man (“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Mar 2:27). Jesus died on the eve of the Sabbath that in that year fell on Passover (by one calendar). He was laid in the tomb on the Seventh day and rested. He rose on the First Day which is the Eighth day- for He is the first and the last (ΑΩ). The first day/eighth day then became the Lord’s Day and so Christians gathered for the breaking of Bread, the Mass on the Lord’s Day and have done ever since.

So we are now living in the Eighth day.

Now this bit is pure speculation on my part and as I can find no Church teaching on this you can take it or leave it: but as Novenas seem to have been rooted in the prayers for the dead I was wondering if there might be a Ninth Day in the future linked with the Second Coming. Would this link with the ninth lamp on the Hanukkah menorah? Or is it more likely that the symbolism we are to see is that the Servant King stands outside of time- beyond both the Seven Days and the Eighth Day? I don’t know. But I wonder.

Christmas traditions and book basket

We have some family traditions for Advent and Christmas. There are traditional stories to read and the traditional things to cook.

Food wise we make marmalade, cranberry sauce, Christmas mincemeat and Iona makes chilli jam. I make rich “boiled” Christmas cake. It isn’t really boiled but that seems to be the name for it. Then Iona makes a chocolate log.

This year I am starting a new tradition of making mulled apple juice. (Last year I made mulled berry juice but we didn’t get the fruit in time this year).

Then there’s the great pre-Christmas clear out. It’s astonishing how many bin bags we can fill in this time.

The children all do a clear out of their toys and make sure there is a big bag of things to give to Santa. This is because Saint Nicholas likes to make sure he has enough toys for poorer families and it’s good for the children to give Santa a hand in his work.

An at first glance rather strange family tradition is having the tree in a play pen. We started this tradition when Ronan was little and had tried to pull the tree down on top of himself. Having it in the pen means it can’t be climbed or pulled over and the pressies are safer under it.

One of the other traditions for the older three is to help Father put the Christmas tree up in Church and build the crib scene.

Story time over Christmas for the children there’s a few favourites:

The Legend of Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola 

Some of the stories from Classic Christmas Stories

Tomie dePaola’s Legend of Old Befana

Also I am still reading them The Phoenix and the Carpet by E Nesbit and The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus from Yesterday’s Classics (Kindle edition)

My reading: I am still reading The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers (but can’t remember where I got it).

Also courtesy if Ignatius Press I am reading Theophilis by Michael O’Brien

And None Other Gods by R H Benson

I have also just received Matron Knows Best by Joan Woodcock the true story of a 1960s NHS nurse.

Christmas blessings to one and all.

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas, especially for those who have faced such difficult times recently.

Here’s an essential Tomie de Paola moment:

God bless

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Let’s face it, 2009 is looking set to be a pretty difficult year for a lot of us. In our family I think we are better off than a lot of people. We have the advantage of all still living under one roof so it’s easier to take care of each other. Alistair is in the rather enviable position of having stable employment and the two oldest boys both have jobs at least for now.

I think I am going to try and concentrate on the gifts God has given -which of course should be offered back to Him.

3kings3boxmGOLD: Symbol of royalty/kingship. Gold is my family. We will have to work together this year to make ends meet. I am hoping to grow some veg and share that with other home ed families who I hope will join me in the veg growing thing.

We have started cutting back on the food we buy. I wont be ordering so many treaty stuff, which the children can do less of really without noticing. I will have to make more bread and we will eat more simply. I don’t think it will do us much harm :) I enjoy cooking (usually) and between us Iona and I will plan cheaper meals. I’ll try and post some cheapo recipes for feeding large families.

Lots of homeschooling ahead; but I must not loose sight of what I am doing as a parent, rather than as a teacher. I also need to remember my role as wife.

I am happy as a housewife and believe that despite the lack of status it holds that it is worthwhile. We are great Foyles War fans here and there is rumours they will make a series called Foyle’s Peace for after the war. I was interested (and a bit irritated) to see that Huneysuckle Weeks who plays Sam in the drama has asked the writers to keep Sam single so she can continue to work. In those days (1940’s) a woman became a housewife once she married.  What would be so awful about playing the part of a stay at home wife?

FRANKINCENSE: This is prayer. I’ve been listening to the amazing speech Mother Teresa gave at the National Prayer Breakfast in1994. In it she says those famous words “A family that prays together, stays together.”

She talks about how those who have so little shared with those who have less.

For 2009 I want to increase the family prayer time. We tend to let it slip in the holidays-but maybe we could do more at the dinner table.

Sharing will be an important part of this year. We have been given so much. I have children’s clothes piled everywhere. The younger three are set up for quite some time! I have started bagging up the excess and what they have grown out of to pass on to other mums and to charity shops. With so many families facing a jobless future around here I think the charity shops will do well.

After Mass just before Christmas one of the ladies of the Church gave me an envelope with a Christmas card and a very generous donation of cash! I was stunned by her kindness. She said she was the mother of 8 and new how difficult it can be to make ends meet. What kindness!

Part of prayer is TRUST. As we face some difficulties ahead we need to Trust God will care for us.

Josh has had to put his dream of doing a degree at FUS on thick ice. The economy shift means he has no chance of earning the kind of money he would need to get over there. He is setting out to go to Uni here. It’s been a tough time for him.

MYRRH: This is the resin from the Commiphora Myrrha tree and has been long associated with healing and cleansing antiseptic qualities. It is part of the holy oils for anointing and has been since Moses’ day (Ex 30). It is also associated with death and would have been used to anoint Our Lord if He hadn’t Risen before the ladies had a chance.

Myrrh seems to be deeply symbolic of both healing and suffering; of sweetness and loss.

I am hoping that as 2009 goes on I will be increasingly healed. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor twice a week for some time and he is dropping it down to once a week. My pain levels have dropped so much that I am really seeing a change in how well I can lead my life.

Avila is also doing better. We are hoping this year she may finally be rid of her illness all together. She is growing and putting on weight and just looks so much better.

2009 does look tough in many ways. But I like a challenge.

10 Years Service; Silver medal of Guild of St Stephen.

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I wish you all a HAPPY and HOLY CHRISTMAS.

It’s the feast of St Stephen today (the Second Day of Christmas) so off we went to Mass this morning.

The boys received their silver medals for 10 years service in the Guild of St Stephen today. I was very proud of them both.

O Sapientia!

O WISDOM!

First day of the O Antiphons today.

Catholic Culture has some good resourses including an O Antiphon House like an advent calender.  And then there’s the chance to practice “O Come o come Emmanuel” or Veni Veni Emmanual.

Go HERE to click on the youtube vid and hear the beautiful chant for today.

Getting Ready for Christmas

Yes I know, fancy writing a post like this in OCTOBER! Isn’t it dreadful? But sometimes you just have to plan ahead.

I’ve started my first big batch of mincemeat with some of the apples Bob gave us. The rest of them are dripping though a jelly bag at the moment ready to be made into Apple, Ginger and Cinnamon Jelly. I’ll post those recipes soon.

First couple of batches of chutney are done and quietly maturing.

I’ll be soaking the fruit for Christmas cakes in the next few days. I like to have the cakes made before the end of October and let them mature for Christmas.

As a lot of the pressies we give are home made; pickled, boiled and baked; it takes a while to get it all done.

I start ordering cards and gifts so that I can spread the cost. I do a bit at a time and then we hide everything on the top of the wardrobe. This year a lot of our friends and our own children will get quite a bit of Usborne books and puzzles. Hehehe.

I get cards from Aid To the Church In Need. They are one of the few charities actively helping persecuted Christians in Iraq, Pakistan and China-and they do this without compromising their Christian beliefs in order to get Govt funding or to appear with-the-times.

I used to try and make sure all the bought things were from charities and Fair Trade-but as I’ve come to realise many so called charities are pretty awful, claiming to be Christian while supporting “reproductive rights” even for children-I’ve decided I prefer to support local and small business instead. So I’ll buy from places not associated with dodgy labour practices and who employ people in this country, as well a the little-man business people.

So while the Deli where my son works and Woolworths up the road will get my money, Cafod, Unicef, Chrisitan Aid (I’ve had words with them!!) and many other so called Christian charities wont.

Meanwhile the blogs are alive with ‘Live Simply’-and of course most of the blogs I’ve read think this is patronising blergh! Scrooge  I’m not giving a link to this umiditagated twaddle. I’m sure a lot of you will have seen it anyway and are equally appalled.

Let’s just say, living simply in our house has nothing to do with how much water we put in the kettle.  Tree Christmas Angel