SJA Table Talk is a website with fun content to help you prepare for Mass as a family and to encourage faith-based conversations at the dinner table. The goal is to get our families into a rhythm of 2 quality meals per week and 10 minutes of preparation for Mass.
We are now enjoying the '12 Days of Christmas' (actually 15 this year), leading up to the Epiphany on Sunday January 8th. The posts below include articles, traditions, videos, movies and music to help you and your family have a very spiritual and meaningful 12 Days of Christmas.
Overview of this Week's Table Talk (see details below)
#1 Conversation Starters
- Father Gabriel's Corner - read Father's message about Feast of the Holy Family and the importance of family at this time of year - this is a great week to commit to Table Talk discussions with your family --> Download Father Gabriel's Corner - Jan 1
- The 12 Days of Christmas - celebrate a Season of Feasts between Christmas Day and the Epiphany
- The Epiphany - the Church celebrates the manifestation of our Lord to the whole world
- Movie - Martin Scorsese's film Silence - Bishop Barron's commentary about mid-17th century Japan, where a fierce persecution of the Catholic faith is underway
- Pop Culture - Princess Leia is Not Dead - We should be able to appreciate actors for the entertainment they provide, without confusing that entertainment with heroic virtue
#2 Commit to 2 Family Meals
- Epiphany Feast
- Lamb Recipes
- The Kings Cake
- Lambs Wool
#3 Prepare for Sunday (Gospel and Reflections)
- Readings for Sunday. The Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
- Readings for the Epiphany (1/1)
- Pope Francis' Homily on the Epiphany (Sunday, 1/8)
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS - A Season of Feasts
Now that Christmas Day has passed, the presents have been opened, and the feast has been prepared (and eaten!), it's time to take down the Christmas tree, pack up the decorations, and start dreaming about next Christmas, right?
No! Christmas has only just begun. And while most of us may find it hard to sustain our celebration of Christmas all the way through until the traditional end of the season on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (also known as Candlemas), we can easily celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas, which end with the Solemnity of the Epiphany, on January 8.
The Twelve Days of Christmas is probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th).
The Real Twelve Days of Christmas
Celebrate the real Twelve Days of Christmas—the period between Christmas Day and Epiphany (which is 15 days this year), in which we celebrate some of the most important, interesting, and spiritually symbolic feasts of the entire liturgical year.
- The First Day of Christmas - THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY. The First Day of Christmas is, of course, Christmas Day—the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (It is not December 13 or 14, as so many "12 Days of Christmas" countdowns incorrectly assume.)
- The Second Day of Christmas - SAINT STEPHEN. On the Second Day of Christmas, we celebrate the feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr—the first Christian to die for his faith in Christ. For that reason, he is often called protomartyr—that is, the "first martyr."
- The Third Day of Christmas - SAINT JOHN, APOSTLE & EVANGELIST. On the Third Day of Christmas, we celebrate the life of Saint John the Evangelist, "the disciple whom Christ loved," and the only one of the Apostles not to die a martyr's death. Still, he is honored as a martyr for the incidents that he suffered while proclaiming the Faith of Christ.
--> READ THE REST OF THE FEAST DAYS> (click on the numbered bulbs on the Christmas Tree)
MUSIC: The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Catholic Catechism or an Urban Legend?
On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree.
In 1995, Fr. Hal Stockert, a Byzantine Catholic priest from Granville, New York, published a short piece on the website of the Catholic Information Network entitled The Twelve Days of Christmas: An Underground Catechism. Father Stockert claimed that the "delightful nonsense rhyme set to music . . . had a quite serious purpose when it was written." Referring to the years 1558-1829, when the practice of Catholicism was officially outlawed in England, Father Stockert claimed to have uncovered evidence that "'The Twelve Days of Christmas' was written in England as one of the 'catechism songs' to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith." Each of the gifts, Father Stockert declared, represented one of the truths of the Catholic Faith:
1 patridge in a pear tree = Jesus Christ, the Son of God
2 turtledoves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French hens = the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity
4 calling birds [sic] = the four gospels and/or the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
5 golden rings = the first five books of the Old Testament
etc., etc., etc.,
However, this was proven to be an Urban Legend. And as Father Stockert later wrote "It has come to our attention that this tale is made up of both fact and fiction. Hopefully it will be accepted in the spirit it was written." Despite Father Stockert's own acknowledgment of his mistake, years later Catholics in the United States (in particular) continue to spread this urban legend every Christmas season, and well-intentioned priests and parish secretaries dutifully reprint it in their parish bulletins.
THE EPIPHANY - the Church celebrates the manifestation of our Lord to the whole world
In many parts of Europe, the celebration of Epiphany is at least as important as the celebration of Christmas. While in England and her historical colonies, the custom has long been to give gifts on Christmas Day itself, in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, Christians exchange gifts on Epiphany—the day on which the Wise Men brought their gifts to the Christ Child. In Northern Europe, the two traditions have often been combined, with gift-giving on both Christmas and Epiphany (often with smaller gifts on each of the twelve days of Christmas in between).
- Divine Manifestation - the Lord our Savier on this day made manifest to the world. It units three events in the life of Christ when His divinity shines through:
Adoration of the Magi
The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan River
First Miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana
- Royal Kingship to the whole world
- Christ is not just for the chosen few, but for all nations.
- Your Light Has Come (candles)
- During Advent, the world was in darkness, and we prayed and waited. At Christmas the Light shone forth, but dimly, seen only a few around the crib. But at Epiphany the Light bursts forth to all nations and the prophecy is fulfilled.
- "The Gentiles shall walk in Thy light and kings in the brightness of Thy rising"
- Divine Marriage of Christ with Humanity
- This them comes full circle with the adoration of the Magi, as three gifts are viewed as royal wedding gifts for the mystical marriage feast of heaven and earth.
3 GIFTS OF THE MAGI
The cathedral in Cologne, Germany contains the relics of the Magi, discovered in Persia and brought to Constantinople by St. Helena, transferred to Milan in the fifth century, and then to Cologne in 1163. Their trip to Cologne -- said to have taken place on three separate ships -- is the genesis of the carol "I Saw Three Ships" (click to hear and this one from Sting), the lyrics of which were later amended to speak of the Holy Family rather than the Magi, and of their sailing to Bethlehem (a physical impossibility in real life) rather than to Cologne.
Father Barron's Homily on the Epiphany
The the great Solemnity of the Epiphany is the feast day that celebrates the revelation of God become man in the person of Jesus Christ, and manifested to the world. Listen to Fr. Barron's homily here: Homily>
MOVIE - The Fourth Wise Man (1985, with Martin Sheen)
Adaptation of Henry Van Dyke's vintage short story "The Other Wise Man," tells of a fourth Magi (Martin Sheen) who is delayed in following the star to Bethlehem, then finally catches up with it in Jerusalem some 33 years later in an encounter which fulfills his life's search for truth. Produced by Paulist Father Ellwood Keiser and directed by Michael Rhodes, the 72-minute dramatization effectively amplifies the religious dimension of the original while adding some light humor from Alan Arkin as the Magi's servant. Family entertainment with the universal theme of bettering oneself by helping others.
Dramatization of the New Testament birth narratives from the Annunciation to the birth of Jesus, focusing on the relationship between Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and Joseph (Oscar Isaac) and their arduous trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, with subplots tracking the journey of the three Magi and the efforts of King Herod (Ciaran Hinds) to prevent the prophecy of a messiah from coming to pass. A composite of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, embroidered with apocryphal traditions and the imagination of the filmmaker, the Bible story gets the prestige treatment in director Catherine Hardwicke's artful, reverent and affecting retelling, with soulful performances from an excellent international cast -- including Shohreh Aghdashloo as Elizabeth -- and impressive production design. Mike Rich's screenplay manages to flesh out Mary and Joseph while remaining faithful to Scripture, poignantly suggesting the humanity beneath the halos.
The story is set in mid-seventeenth century Japan, where a fierce persecution of the Catholic faith is underway. To this dangerous country come two young Jesuit priests (played by Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield), spiritual descendants of St. Francis Xavier, sent to find Fr. Ferreira, their mentor and seminary professor who, rumor has it, had apostatized under torture and actually gone over to the other side. Immediately upon arriving onshore, they are met by a small group of Japanese Christians who had been maintaining their faith underground for many years. Due to the extreme danger, the young priests are forced into hiding during the day, but they are able to engage in clandestine ministry at night: baptizing, catechizing, confessing, celebrating the Mass. In rather short order, however, the authorities get wind of their presence, and suspected Christians are rounded up and tortured in the hopes of luring the priests out into the open. The single most memorable scene in the film, at least for me, was the sea-side crucifixion of four of these courageous lay believers. Tied to crosses by the shore, they are, in the course of several days, buffeted by the incoming tide until they drown. Afterwards, their bodies are placed on pyres of straw and they are burned to ashes, appearing for all the world like holocausts offered to the Lord.
POP CULTURE: Princess Leia is not dead
There’s a lesson here about mortality. But there’s also a lesson about the illusion of the entertainment world.
- Sesame 'Shrimp on the Barbie' (Australia) -- See Recipe >
- Braised Buffalo Short Ribs (North America-Indian) -- See Recipe>
- 24K Carrots (Australia and tie in with 'Gold') -- See Recipe>
- Ham & Eggs Pies (Australia) -- See Recipe>
- Chicken Peanut Stew (Africa) -- See Recipe>
- Brazilian Cheese Bread (Brazil) -- See Recipe>
- Angel Hair with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Italy) -- See Recipe>
- Sweet and Sour Chicken (Chinese) -- See Recipe>
- Borscht with Meat (Russia) -- See Recipe>
- Corned Beef and Cabbage (Ireland) -- See Recipe>
- Gorditas (Mexican Pita Pockets) -- See Recipe>
- South Pole: Caviar (from your local Whole Foods)
- South Pole Beef Wellington (Antarctica) -- See Recipe>
The King Cake - an Epiphany Tradition
Just as the Magi made a careful search for the child king upon his birth, so we should acknowledge that an important component of our faith involves seeking and searching for the Lord in unlikely places. One delightful way to celebrate Epiphany in the home is to prepare and eat a Kings’ Cake with friends and family. In this symbolic search for the baby Jesus, children and adults gather to eat a delicious cake or pastry with a toy baby hidden inside. Whoever finds the small statue of a baby Jesus hidden inside their slice of the Rosca de reyes throws a party on Candlemas in February. If you can't find in the store, see these --> Recipes
Lambs Wool - an Epiphany Tradition
This is a traditional cider drink that was made and enjoyed on Twelfth Night in Elizabethan England. It is said that it gets its name from the whiteness of the roasted apples as they fluff out of their skins while they cook.
--> See Recipe
Roast Lamb - an Epiphany Tradition
--> See Video Recipe
#3 PREPARING FOR SUNDAY - READINGS
God gives a blessing for the Israelites.
All the people sing praises to God.
God sent his Son to make us children of God.
The shepherds find Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today's reading is a continuation from the Gospel proclaimed at the Christmas Mass at midnight. In it the shepherds act upon the message they receive from the angel and go to find Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. In their visit to the manger, the shepherds find things just as the angel had said. The shepherds' visit, therefore, is a moment of fulfillment, manifestation, and the beginning of the salvation we receive through Christ.
In the context of today's Solemnity, this reading also helps us focus on Mary as the Mother of God. The reading tells us at least three things about Mary as a mother. First, Mary is described as a reflective person, keeping the reports of the shepherds in her heart. Second, we are reminded of how obedient Mary was to God when she named the baby Jesus as the angel Gabriel had directed. Third, this reading shows Mary and Joseph faithfully observing their Jewish tradition by having Jesus circumcised.
Mary's faithfulness to God is evident in all three of these things. Her reflection upon the events in her life indicates that she was a person of prayer. This prayer made possible her obedience to God and God's will, even if the outcome was not clear. Finally, her faithfulness to a community of faith grounded her relationship with God and enabled her to participate in God's plan of salvation.
Because of Mary's faithfulness to God, she was able to receive the gift of God's Son and accept her role in God's plan for salvation. By doing so, she models for us the path of discipleship and is also called Mother of the Church.
Our call to discipleship also includes these three aspects. First, discipleship means prayer and reflection on the events of our lives that we might see God's presence and work in our lives. Second, discipleship means obedience to God and God's will. Third, discipleship includes fidelity to a community of faith.
PAINTING - The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. (Gospel) Detail from “Nativity at Night” by Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni, 1640
Preparing for the Epiphany (Jan 8th)
Jerusalem shall be a light to all nations.
Every nation on earth shall worship the Lord.
Gentiles are coheirs in the promise of Christ.
The Magi seek out Jesus and do him homage.
Background on the Gospel Reading
The visit of the Magi occurs directly before the story of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. Matthew's Gospel tells a version of Jesus' birth that is different than the one in Luke. Of the actual birth of Jesus, Matthew tells us little more than, “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod . . . ” The story of the census is found only in Luke's Gospel, but we hear about the visit of the Magi only in Matthew's Gospel.
We know little about the Magi. They come from the East and journey to Bethlehem, following an astrological sign, so we believe them to be astrologers. We assume that there were three Magi based upon the naming of their three gifts. The Gospel does not say how many Magi paid homage to Jesus. In Matthew's Gospel, they represent the Gentiles' search for a savior. Because the Magi represent the entire world, they also represent our search for Jesus.
We have come to consider the gifts they bring as a foreshadowing of Jesus' role in salvation. We believe the meaning of the gifts to be Christological. Gold is presented as representative of Jesus' kingship. Frankincense is a symbol of his divinity because priests burned the substance in the Temple. Myrrh, which was used to prepare the dead for burial, is offered in anticipation of Jesus' death.
The word Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth.” Historically several moments in Christ's early life and ministry have been celebrated as “epiphanies,” including his birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, his baptism by John, and his first miracle at Cana.
PAINTING - They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. (Gospel) Rubens, Adoration of the Magi. Between 1626 and 1629
Full text of Pope Francis' Homily on the Solemnity of the Epiphany: Read Full Post>
The words of the Prophet Isaiah – addressed to the Holy City of Jerusalem – are also meant for us. They call us to rise and go forth, to leave behind all that keeps us self-enclosed, to go out from ourselves and to recognize the splendour of the light which illumines our lives: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (60:1). That “light” is the glory of the Lord. The Church cannot illude herself into thinking that she shines with her own light. Saint Ambrose expresses this nicely by presenting the moon as a metaphor for the Church: “The moon is in fact the Church… [she] shines not with her own light, but with the light of Christ. She draws her brightness from the Sun of Justice, and so she can say: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’” (Hexaemeron, IV, 8, 32). Christ is the true light shining in the darkness. To the extent that the Church remains anchored in him, to the extent that she lets herself be illumined by him, she is able to bring light into the lives of individuals and peoples. For this reason the Fathers of the Church saw in her the mysterium lunae.
We need this light from on high if we are to respond in a way worthy of the vocation we have received. To proclaim the Gospel of Christ is not simply one option among many, nor is it a profession. For the Church, to be missionary does not mean to proselytize: for the Church to be missionary means to give expression to her very nature, which is to receive God’s light and then to reflect it. This is her service. There is no other way. Mission is her vocation; to shine Christ’s light is her service. How many people look to us for this missionary commitment, because they need Christ. They need to know the face of the Father.
The Magi mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew are a living witness to the fact that the seeds of truth are present everywhere, for they are the gift of the Creator, who calls all people to acknowledge him as good and faithful Father. The Magi represent the men and woman throughout the world who are welcomed into the house of God. Before Jesus, all divisions of race, language and culture disappear: in that Child, all humanity discovers its unity. The Church has the task of seeing and showing ever more clearly the desire for God which is present in the heart of every man and woman. This is the service of the Church, with the light that she reflects: to draw out the desire for God present in every heart. Like the Magi, countless people, in our own day, have a “restless heart” which continues to seek without finding sure answers – it is the restlessness of the Holy Spirit that stirs in hearts. They too are looking for a star to show them the path to Bethlehem. --> Read Full Post