Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, the old custom is to clean the house thoroughly, make sure all borrowed items are returned, ensure no dust remains "on rock or wheel," conceal all unfinished work from sight, and begin no task that cannot be finished by nightfall.

As everyone knows, the animals at midnight, the oxen in the stables and the deer in the forest, fall to their knees in silent praise. The humble beasts, first witnesses of the miracle of the Incarnation, are able at this time to speak. The bees awake from their winter sleep and hum a symphony of praise to the Divine Child, audible only to children and to those dear to the Lord.

"If I could see the emperor," St. Francis of Assisi reportedly said, "I would implore him to issue a general decree that all people who are able to do so, shall throw grain and corn upon the streets, so that on this great feast day the birds might have enough to eat."

In Lithuania, the water in wells and fountains becomes sweet, bells peal from the depths of deserted mines, and lights shine in the recesses of caves. In Ireland, the dying on this night enter directly the gates of heaven, while children born on this blessed eve are able to see spirits and live fortunate lives. In Asia, the trees and plants, especially those on the banks of the Jordan, bow in reverence to the Savior.

A blessed and merry Christmas to all on whom God's favor rests.

For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy Almighty Word leapt down from heaven from Thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction. (Wisdom 18:14-15)

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