Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

For the last few days, Fr. Christian Mathis has been writing a post-a-day on the Twelve Days of Christmas. He admits that there's no evidence that the song started as a catechetical tool, but, to our good fortune, goes on to say "I see no reason why Catholics wouldn’t use the song as such." We're not getting exegesis, then, but some very fine eisegesis - applying a meaning back onto the text.

1. A Partridge in a Pear Tree

2. Two Turtledoves
"But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean." (Lev 12:8)

3. Three French Hens
Father writes "The first gift is gold which signifies that Christ is the true king.... The second gift is frankincense which signifies that Christ is the true God.... The third and last gift is myrrh which signifies that Christ is marked for death."

4. Four Calling Birds
Father writes about the traditional symbolism of the four Gospel writers: "The symbol of Matthew’s Gospel is a man, which reminds us of his emphasis on Christ’s humanity.... The symbol of Mark’s Gospel is a lion, which can be seen as a symbol of Christ as king.... The symbol of Luke’s Gospel is a bull, which recalls the sacrifices made by the priests of the old covenant.... The symbol of John’s Gospel is the eagle... and in many ways has been seen to soar high above the earth in the theology presented."

5. Five Golden Rings
Father is playing my song here: "There is much to learn about Christ in these first five books of the Bible through a process Christians called typology." He reminds us that "...the Scriptures used by the Apostles to share the Gospel were what we refer to as the Old Testament.... Through the lens of Christ, the Old Testament takes on a much deeper meaning."
Father goes on to briefly consider the typology in the stories of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Joshua - definitely worth reading.

6. Six Geese a-Laying
Father writes that "(t)he six geese represent for Christians the six days of creation, when God gave birth (in a figurative sense) to the universe."
He reminds us that: "Just as we spend time each year preparing for Christmas, buying and wrapping gifts for loved ones, cleaning our homes and cooking dinner, and setting aside gifts for those in need; God spent his time in the beginning preparing the gift of this world for us."

7. Seven Swans a-Swimming
"The gifts of the Holy Spirit are received at Baptism and strengthened with the sacrament of Confirmation. The frequent reception of the Eucharist also fortifies these gifts." These gifts are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Read Father's article for a brief description of these gifts, if you're not familiar with them - these are your gifts, waiting to be opened and used!

8. Eight Maids a-Milking
"The milk Jesus provided for sustenance is found in the eight Beatitudes." Read them in Matthew 5:3-12.

9. Nine Ladies Dancing
"(W)hat does the presence of the Holy Spirit look like in our lives? Let’s take a look at what St. Paul has to say in his letter to the Galatians: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5: 22-23)" Father again briefly describes each of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit - excellent reading and memorizing.

10. Ten Lords a-Leaping
"When we examine our hearts, it is not difficult to discover the many ways that each of us break these (ten) commandments daily. By reflecting upon them often we can see both the ideal of Christian life and where we are falling short of this ideal."

11. Eleven Pipers Piping
"Jesus chose twelve men who would become his apostles. Eleven of those were faithful." We all know Peter and at least something about Matthew and John. Father provides a short bio of each of the apostles, including some you may not know anything about yet.

12. Twelve Drummers Drumming
"On the twelfth day of Christmas we are reminded of the necessity of professing our faith. The twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed."
For more information, the Catholic Encyclopedia presents a history and 12-point breakdown of the Apostles Creed.

1 comment:

Christian Mathis said...

Glad you are enjoying the posts.

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