December 23, 1997
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Synod for America Entrusted to Mary
A Marian Puzzle
Prayer of November 16, 1997
When Pope John Paul II opened the Synod for America on November 16, 1997, he prayed:
To you, Mary, mother of hope, beloved and venerated in many shrines throughout the whole American continent, we entrust this synodal assembly. Help the Christians of America to be vigilant witnesses of the Gospel in order to be awake and ready on that great and mysterious day when Christ comes as glorious Lord of the nations, to judge the living and the dead. Amen!The Holy Father had begun his homily to the bishops and representatives of the synod by paraphrasing the Gospel acclamation of the liturgy of the day: "So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming" (Mt. 24:42-44) The Holy Father stated, "This exhortation, which we have just heard in the Gospel acclamation, refers to the spiritual climate in which we are living as the liturgical year comes to an end. ... The shadow of the world passes away, but the word of God will not pass away. ... God does not pass away and what comes from him does not pass away. ... Truly, dear brothers and sisters, these times invite us to stay awake. We must stay awake and pray, recalling that one day we will appear before the Son of Man as pastors of the church on the American continent."
The homily was given at the end of the Church year. As we draw close to the end of the civil year, we too ask Our Lady, "Help the Christians of America to be vigilant witnesses of the Gospel in order to be awake and ready on that great and mysterious day when Christ comes as glorious Lord of the nations..."
Prayer of December 6, 1997:
On the first Saturday of December, Pope John Paul II led the Rosary in the Paul VI Auditorium in Rome. The Pontifical North American College schola accompanied the prayer. The Holy Father prayed:
In spiritual union with the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for American, we ask Mary Immaculate, patroness of the College and of your nation, to intercede for all the peoples of the American continent, that there may be a renewed enthusiasm for the spread of the Gospel, a thirst for authentic holiness, and a spirit of fraternal solidarity in building a world of justice and peace.
Are you looking for something to do during the holidays? The Catholic Digest for December 1997 has a Marian puzzle entitled, "They Saw Mary, But There's More," by Bill Dodds. The puzzle leads you through various apparitions of Our Lady: Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, Knock, and Paris (the Miraculous Medal). We hope you will enjoy the puzzle as much as Mary Page editors did.
There are dozens of little legends written about the events surrounding the Christmas story. The imagination of generations have related many aspects of earth, fire, wind, and water to the Holy Child and to his mother, Mary.
The sources for the following legends are unknown, and if there be a grain of truth to them, it lies only in the desire of the storyteller to convey the wonderful harmony of heaven and earth when it is connected to the Maker of the imagination, who thought of nothing more wonderful than the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and son of Mary.
The Holy Mother delighted to sing her Baby to sleep. She sang of the angels as the Christ Child cuddled to her breast. But one evening he seemed restless and her song failed to lull him to sleep. A little bird, which had nested on the roof and listened to the Virgin's song, fluttered in and perched on her shoulder and began to sing as though his little throat must burst, and the child fell asleep. Then the bird stopped singing and gently pressed his little beak against the ear of the Virgin Mother as though he wanted to kiss her. She petted the bird lovingly and whispered: "Little bird, from now on you shall carry in you and know all my songs, you have the sweetest song of all the birds. Fly away now and sing." To this day, it is said, when it is time to rock the little ones to sleep, the nightingale's voice is heard. Meanwhile the streams flow softer and the leaves of the trees stop their fluttering and all the birds and animals are silent to listen to the song that lulled the Christ Child to sleep.
Why the Robin's Breast Is Red
As the Christ Child lay in the manger one day, the scant fire that had been built to keep him warm was slowly dying out. A little robin seeing this, hopped up to the fire and began flapping its wings to fan it back to burning. Patiently and untiringly he fluttered his little wings and the fire became brighter and brighter so that even the feathers of the little breast of the bird radiated the glow thereof and became red, remaining so ever after.
The Leprous Child
While on their journey, the Holy Family, one night, saw a lantern hanging on a tree beside a cabin which was surrounded by ditches. The cabin was the abode of thieves and the lantern had been hung up to attract travelers. When the Holy Family reached the lantern, several of the thieves met them, intending to rob them. A ray of light emanating from the Christ Child struck the heart of the leader and he ordered the others to do no harm to the travelers. He then led the Holy Family into his cabin in which were his wife and two shy children.
When the saintly travelers had finished eating the simple meal, which the family had given them, Mary asked for some water to bathe her child. This she did with tender love and also washed his swaddling clothes and hung them before the fire to dry.
The thief was deeply touched. He told his wife to ask the mother for permission to use the water for their sick little child. Before the woman could speak, Mary told her to take the water and use it for her own little son.
No sooner had the child been dipped into the water than his leprosy seemed to peel away. The child was cured. The robber band were greatly astonished and showed great respect for the Holy Family who stayed there that night.. Early in the morning, the thief accompanied the Holy Family some distance, until he was able to lead them to a safe road. At their parting, the thief asked, "Please remember us in whatever place you go."
And it came to pass, that at the scene of the crucifixion the good thief who said, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom," was none other than the infant cured of leprosy.
The Kind Husbandman
A pretty legend is told of the Holy Family pursued by Herod's soldiers while on their flight to Egypt. Passing a field where a man was sowing corn, the Virgin said to the sower, "If anyone asks you whether we have passed this way, you shall answer: "Such persons passed this way when I was sowing this grain." The Holy Virgin was too wise and too good to save her son by instructing the man to tell a falsehood, and by the power of the Infant Saviour in the space of a single night the seed sprung up and was fit for the sickle. The next morning the officers of Herod came up and inquired of the husbandman saying, "Have you seen an old man with a woman and a child traveling this way?" The man who was reaping his grain replied, "Yes, when I was sowing this seed." Then the officers of Herod turned back and left off pursuing the Holy Family.
The Egg Dent
The Christ Child was hungry and his mother had nothing to give him but a single egg which was offered to her by a poor woman. The holy mother began preparing the egg for her hungry baby, but first with a little spoon she dipped out a bit of the white part and gave it to him to taste. This tasted so good to the child that the mother never failed after that to dip out a small portion of the white of the egg and lovingly offer it to him. Since then, one finds in every egg a little dent, which is the portion the holy mother gave to the Christ Child who relished it so much.
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