silent night, holy night
By Dr. Jenny O'Brien
If I were to ask a group of people to name their favourite Christmas carol, chances are that more than one would nominate Silent Night.
This beautiful carol, written in 1816 and set to music two years later, has touched the hearts of many for more than 200 years. Each verse begins with the words, ‘Silent night, holy night’ and yet, if we think about it, it was probably anything but a ‘silent’ night when Jesus was born. Bethlehem would have been abuzz, because a census had been called and everyone descended from the house of David was trying to find a place to stay.
Even the stable where Jesus was born was probably not silent but filled with the noise of the animals kept there. And childbirth itself is not exactly a silent activity! So why did Joseph Mohr choose these two words to begin his carol?
Unfolding the Mystery of Christ
Author: Jenny O'Brien
The purpose of any calendar is to help people within a given society to order their lives. Most modern countries use the Gregorian calendar, but in actual fact there are about forty different calendars in use around the world today, particularly for determining religious dates. The Church’s Liturgical Calendar is one of these and is not so much concerned with “counting days” but in setting out guidelines for the celebration of the mystery of Christ over the period of a year.
The Liturgical Year is based on the fact that Sunday is the primary day when Christians gather to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, with Easter as the most important Sunday of the year. And while Christmas does not necessarily fall on a Sunday, the birth of Christ is the other major feast around which the Church’s year is structured.
Christ comes in History
Author: Jenny O'Brien
In 4th century Rome, the Church year began on Christmas day, the day of Christ’s birth. By the 7th century, however, the Church year began with the First Sunday of Advent, four weeks prior to Christmas.
What is ‘Advent’ all about? Despite popular opinion, it is much more than getting ready to commemorate Christ’s birth and being busy with preparations for present-giving and Christmas dinner!