Advent really doesn’t seem like such a difficult time of penance as Lent does. Lent, which is the time of preparation before Easter, is a much more somber season, for it looks toward the death of Christ on the cross, and though it ends with the blossoming of Easter, the Crucifixion very much influences the tone of the season. Advent is very joyful, anticipating the birth of Christ. It is a very special time before Christmas when we prepare for the coming of Christ with extra little sacrifices and deprivations that help us to deny ourselves and leave our hearts ready for God, and it is simply peppered with so many different feast days.
We just celebrated St. Nicholas’ feast day on the sixth of December, followed closely by the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December eighth.
Yesterday on December twelfth we celebrated the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patron saint of the Americas as well as being the special patroness of the unborn. I’m not going to speak very much about this feast day, for Maria at Fire, Fleet, and Candlelight has done a post on her already and included a magnificent video that is simply amazing and full of details. However, I will include the spiritual adoption prayer that goes with this picture I’ve included here, for it is a beautiful prayer that any person can pray for the life of any one unborn child who is in danger of abortion.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion. The name I wish to give my baby is:________
Jesus, may your peace and your love embrace the hearts, minds and souls of the family, friends and love ones who encourage this abortion and lead them all to your sacred and Eucharistic heart.”
December thirteenth is the feast of St. Lucy.
Not very much is known about this saint, but there are some facts that are certain. Lucy was born at the end of the third century in a place called Syracuse in Sicily, of noble parents. Her father was a Roman, and because of her name Lucy’s mother Eutychia is believed to be of Grecian blood.
Her father died while she was still young and Lucy lived with her mother. From a very young age Lucy consecrated her virginity to God, but she kept this vow a secret even from her mother. Her great love of God inspired in her the desire to give her wealth to the poor. Eutychia was not so like-minded and Lucy was unable to fulfill this desire.
When Lucy was a young woman Eutychia developed a hemorrhage, which she suffered for several years. During this time Lucy bargained with her: If they went and prayed before the relics of St Agatha (a virgin who had been martyred 52 years ago during the Decian persecution) and Eutychia was healed, then Lucy would be granted full liberty to dispose of the wealth as she willed. Eutychia agreed, and they travelled thence.
By the grace of God Eutychia was cured, and Lucy was free to distribute her wealth as she saw fit. Unfortunately, there was a young pagan gentleman who fancied Lucy, and when he saw her giving her entire fortune to the poor he flew into a rage and accused her before the pagan governor Paschasius of being a Christian. At that time Diocletian was the Roman Emperor and one of the cruelest persecutors of the Christians. Because Lucy refused to relinquish her faith she was subjected to a number of torments. First she was ordered to be dragged to a brothel, where it was hoped she would lose her purity, but God made her immovable and the guards were unable to shift her. Afterward, sticks were gathered underneath her and flames were kindled about her, but God spared her the heat and torment of fire. Seeing that they availed nothing they at last killed her by thrusting a sword into her throat.
She died about the year 304.
Her name is inserted in the Canon of the Mass.
Most paintings of St. Lucy show her depicted holding a small dish with eyes laid within it. There are different variations about the meaning of this symbol. One story tell us that, during her persecution, her eyes were cruelly defaced or torn out. Another says that Lucy herself plucked them out in an effort to dissuade her pagan suitor. In each story, God rewards her by restoring her eyes to her, more beautiful than ever. Because of this she is the patron saint for those who suffer diseases of the eye. Some attribute the meaning of her name to the reason she is invoked as the patron of eye diseases, for her name is derived from the Latin word lux, which means light.
Lucy’s feast day is still associated with lengthening days and sunlight, for according to the Julian Calendar her feast day of December thirteenth did fall on the shortest day of the year, and after that date the days grew longer. With the change to the Gregorian Calendar, which is the calendar we go by today, the shortest day of the year falls on the twenty-first.
There are many traditions associated with St. Lucy’s day. The most well-known is the celebration kept in Sweden. On this day one of the daughters of the family, either oldest or youngest, is chosen as St. Lucia, and she arises in the morning before her parents do. Clothed in a white gown with a scarlet sash about her waist, and wearing a green wreath crowned with four, seven, or nine candles she bears a tray of coffee and pastries called lussekatter (Lucy Cats) to her parents.