It is 4 Days Until Christmas …

It is 4 Days Until Christmas ~ Four Green Fields … Tommy Makem wrote more than 400 songs, the anthem, Four Green Fields, of course, as well as Gentle Annie, Winds of Morning, The Winds Are Singing Freedom and so many other iconic songs, songs that are sung where ever the Irish gather around the world. I grew up with them, I fell in love with them; They are the stories of our people.

Tommy Makem

Our stories define us; the Irish culture is such a story-driven one, with an oral tradition passed on generation to generation.  We pass the stories on so our roots, our history, our very identity stays vibrant and alive – it is our connection to our past, AND our present.

makem proc

In these writings of Christmas, all my writings, my story is not the only one I am trying to tell.  Tommy wrote Four Green Fields one day while driving down to Newry, in the Co. Down.  It was 1967.  He saw a woman coming down from the fields with the cows, to cross the road.  They were both stopped at a British checkpoint.  Tommy watched her as he, and she, waited to go thru.  He could see the, Hassle, as the woman just wanted to get on across the road, to get on with her life. He wrote the first two verses then, and the final one later, when he got to Newry.

The Four Green Fields symbolically refer to the 4 Provinces of Ireland: Leinster, Munster, Ulster & Connaught, which hold the 32 counties, closest to our States, here in the U.S.  The “fine, old woman” represents Ireland herself.

What did I have? said the fine old woman
What did I have? this proud old woman did say
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel
But strangers came and tried to take them from me
I had fine strong sons, they fought to save my jewels
They fought and died, and that was my grief, said she

Long time ago, said the fine old woman
Long time ago, this proud old woman did say
There was war and death, plundering and pillage
My children starved by mountain valley and sea
And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens
My four green fields ran red with their blood, said she

What have I now? said the fine old woman
What have I now? this proud old woman did say
I have four green fields, one of them’s in bondage
In stranger’s hands, that tried to take it from me
But my sons have sons, as brave as were their fathers
And my four green fields, will bloom once again, said she
Yes my four green Field, will bloom once again, said she.

In this time of birth, and rebirth, the beginning of new eras and new days, that dream of one country is not over.  One Ireland is closer now than it has been in more than 800 years.

“Do not worry if you have built castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them”.
– Henry David Thoreau

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It is 5 Days Until Christmas …

It is 5 Days Until Christmas ~ In the 12 Days of Christmas Song* 5 is the 5 Golden Rings, which symbolically refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
Grace is a many splendored thing; falls can be too, whether we are talking about weather, or wipeouts. Walmart fist fights, for deals the day after a national holiday to say thanks for all we have, seemed sharp in its particularly social commentary. And the legend grows, each year.

We are met with little irritations each day; sometimes we are met with big ones. Every person has crosses to bear, and if we knew their story, would probably often weep with surprise and mull the strength of the subject. Grace is a strengthening, a coating, an extra layer of armor to fight those challenges each day. It is given thru prayer, or handing a difficult situation, with … grace!

Christmas season is one of love and appreciation, but it is also notorious for irritations, waning patience and urgency hypocritical to the essential Christmas message of sacrifice, of love for our fellow man, of dying for all men ~ for which one man gave the last full measure of devotion. Life is not perfect, we cannot create a perfect Christmas, but still we try.

How we handle those crosses ourselves, with a smile or a smack, can use up our supply of grace, or add to it. So it becomes easier to be mean, or easier to be kind.

9 years ago this week. we launched the Ohio Irish American News – it premiered January 1st, 2007. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the stories, the doors opened, the memories and the friendships that have come about because of the OhIAN. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the late nite sessiúns and sing-alongs, the friendships and fun I have been privileged to be a part of. I have met, I have travelled, rejoiced and shared in too many sorrows, in all seen and done over the last nine years. The list is long, the list is distinguished; in my mind, the list shall live in infamy.

Nine years is an awful long time to go by in a blink. I am grateful beyond words, grateful to be so blessed. Two words have so much meaning:
Merry Christmas; Happy New Year, Happy Anniversary; Thank You.

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It is 6 Days till Christmas …

It is 6 Days till Christmas …
by John O’Brien, Jr.

It is 6 Days until Christmas ~ 6 has many prominent places in society; the most prominent, of course, is that “On the sixth day, God created Man,” It was a good day for man! A few others that came easily to mind are a fit to yesterday’s blog, with the 7 notes of the Diatonic scale http://songsandstories.net/…/it-is-7-days-until-christmas-5/ , paired with the 6 strings of the guitar in today’s blog, and my love for music in a previous one.

We take a chance in playing that game of association: so, we have six sides of a die. We have fun on the rise and fall of the die, and the wish to die as you plunge down a rickety rackety track ~ Cedar Point roller coasters, almost everywhere we look, including the six inhabited continents.

The sixth sense tells you to run, to not get on the coaster, or you might meet Kevin Bacon, and we all know about the 6 degrees of that! You could die, and then what happens? You go 6 feet under ~ Coffins are buried six feet underground.

It has its good points and its bad points, but there is 6 points in scoring a touchdown and in the Star of David. If that doesn’t make you drink … there are 6 packs, and, strangest of all, 6 is the number for carbon, which we humans are emitting/creating at an unprecedented and dangerous level.

I love a green Christmas, and a green earth. Last, but most importantly, 666 has no chance at all, for in 6 days, that Star of David, the Light of the World, shines brightest of all.

You Are Blessed:

If you own just one Bible, you are abundantly blessed,
1/3 of the world does not have access to even one.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness,
you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment,
the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation,
you are ahead of 500 million people around the world.
If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest or torture of death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world.
If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back,
a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace,
you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.
If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare, even in the United States.
If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them, or even touch them on the shoulder,
you are blessed because you can offer God’s healing touch.
If you prayed yesterday or today, you are in the minority, because you believe in God’s willingness to hear and answer prayers.
If you believe in Jesus as the son of God, you are part of a very small minority in the world.
If you can read this message, you are more blessed
than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful,
you are truly blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

It came without ribbons

Yesterday marked my 9th Anniversary with the Cuyahoga County SheriffSheriff. I am so proud to know and work together with the men and women in black. Sworn officers, civilians; family. My new book, The Lyrics of Irish Freedom will be out January 1st, it would make a great Christmas gift (www.songsandstories.net), and today I sent off the 9th Anniversary issue of the Ohio Irish American News (www.ianohio.com).

Beannachtaí na Nollaig ~ Blessings of Christmas!

Lyrics_Cover_Web
The Lyrics of Irish Freedom
by John O’Brien, Jr.
Get your autographed copy at www.songsandstories.net
The Lyrics of Irish Freedom by John O'Brien, Jr. Get your autographed copy at www.songsandstories.net
The Lyrics of Irish Freedom
by John O’Brien, Jr.
Get your autographed copy at www.songsandstories.net

You can read all the 25 Days of Christmas at: http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed/

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It is 7 Days Until Christmas …

It is 7 Days until Christmas … ~ One Week meh peeps! Tick, tick TICK

Musically, the Diatonic Scale has 7 notes. 1. Do. 2. Re. 3. Mi. 4. Fa. 5. So. 6. La 7. Ti.  Then it starts all over again, on a higher plane, with Do. The world was created in 7 days, and a week has 7 days – and 7 days from today, it is Christmas.  Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

7

Growing up, the things I remember most are the frequent guests that stayed over night, when they were playing in Cleveland.  Do you remember Bridie Gallagher, the brilliant singer?   I remember listening to Dermot O’Brien, Glen Curtin, Noel Henry, Barleycorn as well.  When I woke to the smell of bacon on a Sunday morning, I knew Dad had brought the band home, and the breakfast table was going to be full of stories from the road.  It was a great way to grow up.

As I got older, I started finding my own songs and singers that I loved.  My dad and a group of friends started the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, with the first one in 1983.  One day my dad walked into my bedroom and said, “Johnny, we’re starting a festival, you’re doing the parking”. And he walked out. I was 16 years old.

Because of the festival, dances and Sunday morning breakfasts, I became immersed in the music.  I was deeply impacted by the message of Tommy Makem and how preserving and promoting the culture was so important, before it all disappeared.  Being able to meet, talk with, and form friendships with so many of the performers who had impact on the music, and on me, really influenced my thinking.

My memories of the first festival are still very strong; I have so many cherished memories from the ensuing thirty-three (and counting) years, all related to the festival performers, many, like Tommy and Bridie, now gone home; the volunteers and amazing, legendary afters’ parties and sessiúns that have filled the years with joy, remain a  treasured part of my life.

I was hooked on the music and still, to this day, learn as many songs as I can, knowing hundreds at this point.  Songs in my head, songs always on my tongue, songs I love to sing, songs that tell stories ~ Folk Songs.

For as Sean O’Casey said, in his Rose & Crown:

Oh, and the folk-song, the folk-song, the gay and melancholy strains of the Irish folk-song, on fiddle, on harp, and on fife. And no folk-art is there but is born in the disregard of gain, and in the desire to add a newer beauty and a steadier charm to God’s well-turned-out gifts to man.

In recent years, maybe as my strident side mellows and I meet people from all over the world in this writing life, I am more struck by the similarities in people than the differences.  Every culture has its own niches, its cool things that touch your soul, but the similarities, especially of emotion and defining values, are remarkable, and unmistakable.

William Butler Yeats:
Folk-art is indeed, the oldest of the aristocracies of thought, and because it refuses what is passing and trivial, the merely clever and pretty, as certainly as the vulgar and insincere, and because it has gathered unto itself the simplest and most unforgettable thoughts of the generations, it is the soil where all art is rooted.

From my darkest hours to the brightest days, music is present; the soundtrack of my life has Irish roots, influences and seminal moments, enriched by the story behind those songs.  Come have a listen, become a character in my life, and we’ll sing, Christmas once again.

Nollaig faoi mhaise duit (daoibh). Merry Christmas to you

John

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Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán fein.
There is no fireside like your own fireside.

It is 8 Days Until Christmas …

It is 8 Days until Christmas … ~ The 8th day is a new week, a new beginning, the eighth day starts over the cycle, but is not held back by the past, it writes its own road.  Eight days after Jesus was born, his name was officially recorded.

In a manger, in Bethlehem, the world began anew. More than 2,000 years later, Christmas, the mass (celebration) of Christ, is observed in countless ways, some secular, some not, even tho the nots still call it the mass of Christ, or Christmas.  Talk about wanting your cake and eating it too – a free ride of celebration, but no accountability; of presents, but no kindness; of all the joy of the season, but none of the advent.

Advent literally means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. We await, the arrival of the most notable person in the history of man; the God who became man.  It is the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays. We mark it with a newly lit candle, we mark it with anticipation and hope.

advent

It is 8 days until Christmas, and the world anticipates the coming.

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It is 9 Days Until Christmas … Nine Ladies Leaping!

It is 9 Days until Christmas …

In the 12 Days of Christmas song, the 9th day says “9 Ladies Dancing”, which symbolizes the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Never heard of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit? In Galatians 5:22-23, it says:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Spirit is capitalized on purpose, to indicate it is a specific gift of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to an essence or idea to shoot for

Faith makes things possible, not easy. To me, that means being men for others (also the motto of St. Ignatius, where I went to high school). The greatness of a man can nearly always be measured by his willingness to be kind. Great is in the man who doesn’t take the easy way – who thinks beyond himself, and his tiredness, to take the extra second, the extra stroke of kindness, the road less taken, and makes one man, and thereby mankind, better for it.

WWJD? THAT is What, I believe, Jesus Would Do.

“People don’t want to be saved; they want to be loved; that is how you save them.”
– Regina Brett, Columnist, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Author

It is easy to be cruel. It is easy to mock, insult or ignore others. To unleash in the (misguided) belief that what you say on Facebook or Cleveland.com won’t be seen by people who don’t have that need to cut others down to raise themselves up, and may hold you accountable for what you say. Life is lived in seconds; repercussions, live forever.

I know impatience well. Pain is my constant companion. Can’t call it a friend, though it has certainly brought awareness to people and things a healthy me would never have experienced, including my writing. I broke my back 13 years ago in January; I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was 19, 30 years ago. I was born with a 50% hearing loss – my challenges have been physical. My patience never developed as I lost most of my concentration, to fighting pain ~ it is amazing how much it zaps you, even after you attempt to take other’s advice, and “get over it”.

Yet still, I strive and subscribe to, you are what you eat – my fruit being love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I fail, and I fall. But so far, my getting up has always been one more time than my falling. Dance, dance, where ever you may be … I can only believe, is because of the grace of God.

oh, and I like the nine ladies dancing too.

grace wordle

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It is 10 days Until Christmas …

It is 10 Days until Christmas … Ten Lords a Leaping in the 12 Days of Christmas Song refers to The Ten Commandments. There is also the Ten Martyrs, the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel, Ten Days of Repentance beginning on Rosh Hashanah and ending on Yom Kippur, Ten is a quorum, 10 yards to a first down, a basket is 10 feet off the ground and the 10 ton Famine Stone is too. Ten is the count for a boxing knockout, and Bo was a ten, and a knockout, too. 10-4 is understanding of a communication ~ do you get it? The Chinese word numeral for ten is a cross.

I always understood that the cross was a sacrifice, but the sign of the cross is given as a blessing. It is also the atomic number for neon. Neon blessings, my nieces and nephews are my rainbow. Full of life and impatience to taste it, I have enjoyed their passages thru life more than I did my own, I think; I constantly pray for their health and happiness, less pain, more persuasion. The gold mine at the end of a day, or in a text, keeps yielding more than man deserves.

4 Nephews tired

“Close friends contribute to our personal growth. They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder because they are there. – Judith Viorst ~ I wish to substitute the ‘close friends’ for nieces and nephews. Well, not substitute, perhaps add. I agree friends are fine wine too.

I have 10 nephews, a pretty remarkable thing for me; growing up, I had no brothers, no relations in the United States. So the nephews and the common interests of sports, faith, and foraging about to see the world first hand, is such a pleasure for me to see in them. The boys cover it all, share it all, rather directly!, and best of all – never stop laughing. Like Woody Allen, I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.

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It is 11 Days Until Christmas …

It is 11 Days until Christmas – Have you ever heard the term Irish twin?  It means siblings born less than 12 months apart. On December 25th, my Irish twin Trish was born.  We are 11 months apart.

She is the Martha Stewart of West Park, with her kids, and all the kids, that live in the neighborhood. She is dedicated to them, her husband and our folk’s quality of life. She married a great Italian guy, Phil, full of giving, laughter, hard work and denying, despite his actions that prove otherwise, he has a heart of gold.  Cooks like Michael Symon too.

The similarities between the journey of the Irish immigrant to America and the Italian one are striking – faith, family and fun are the precepts throughout both ethnicities American immigrant journey.  Ethnic communities with doors wide open, whether at Irish Town Bend or in Little Italy, welcomed family from the old sod, from the boot, north or south. In sacred acts and symbolism, they grabbed life from the bootstraps, out of the dirt, and then built neighborhoods. Soon after, invariably, the neighborhood parish church, for generations yet to come. Through it all, there was that faith, family and fun. They met the challenges, usually with wry humor, and a hand reached down, to pull another up.

My sister symbolizes that for me.  We live 2 miles apart, and actually work in the same building complex, but life gets in the way.  She knows I love her; hopefully she knows why, but that journey really doesn’t matter.

“Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile,” said Franklin P. Jones.

Lordy, Lordy, my little big sis is turning 51. Hark the Herald Angels Sing!

It is 11 days until Christmas …

11

***

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It is 12 Days Until Christmas ~ The 12 Days of Christmas Song

It is 12 Days Until Christmas ~ As the tough side of ourselves develops growing up, we often accept the cynical, as if it were cool. It is less faith, less work. The greatness of a man can nearly always be measured by his willingness to be kind. It is easy to be mean, hard to be a man. We learn that hard work teaches that rewards multiply; our view becomes more world-wise, rather than self-centric. When we take the easy way, our views narrow, and actually become more immature, self-centric feels good in the moment, but perpetuates and isolates, from God and our fellow man, long term.

Recently there has been an effort to discredit the olde catechism, or beliefs, around the meaning of The 12 Days of Christmas song. I learned the song, and the true meaning behind it, some 40 years ago. Bah Humbug on those who are only happy when they are unhappy, and insist on trying to take others down with them. The 12 Days of Christmas have lasted thousands of years; not going down.

Here is how I learned it, with a little broad explanation for what might be forgotten: The 12 Days of Christmas is a song of symbolism ~ little clues to help young goslings remember tenants of our Catholic faith when long ago, writing or even talking about Catholics, being Catholic or observing any Catholic rite, passage or ceremony was subject to death. It was written as a way to teach and help children remember the most important things in our faith, in a way that was safe should they run across authorities, birthed the 12 Days of Christmas song.

Many believe that these are the twelve days before Christmas, but are actually the twelve days after, from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th). Epiphany is the feast that celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through, his son, Jesus.

The full song text is at the end, but the last verse sums it up: On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

The ‘True love” in the song is Jesus (On the 1st Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …)

A partridge in a pear tree – represents the mother church, which protects her young by distracting would be persecutors, murderers and those who would harm the church or her people.

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = the Theological Virtues – Faith, Hope and Charity,
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick)
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes (Jesus gave us the eight Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
(love, joy,
 peace, patience, 
kindness,
 generosity,
 faithfulness,
 gentleness, 
self-control)
10 Lords A-leaping = The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, were delivered to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They are a set of biblical principles which play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christianity. They are considered essential for spiritual good health and growth, and serve as the basis for social justice: (The 10 Commandments List, in Short Form:
• You shall have no other gods before Me.
• You shall not make idols.
• You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
• Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
• Honor your father and your mother.
• You shall not murder.
• You shall not commit adultery.
• You shall not steal.
• You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
• You shall not covet.
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles:
Peter (also known as Simon Peter) 2. Andrew (Simon Peter’s brother), James son of Zebedee, John (James’ brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (Judas, son of James), Simon the Zealot.)
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

The gift we receive, is baptism.

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All the stockings hung Xmas 15

 

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It is 14 Days Until Christmas …

It is 14 Days Until Christmas ~ Two weeks from today, for all you shoppers given to panic or planning. I am given to neither, though I give to favorite charities and causes with contemplation, cash and my presence. I tend to shop in the week before Christmas, making a day of it; shopping, lunch, walking where the music and the sites of the season take me and can settle deep within me, where it is most welcome and anticipated.

Though I have always decorated for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, I am held back from the mental immersion, mostly because of the crass commercialism so prevalent and exploited by retailers; earlier and earlier it drums, with each passing year. We saw the big push for Thanksgiving Day sales this year – greedy little minds. Many lament, yet, still … they go. Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say”.

So for me, the cross is still the stillpoint in a turning world.

It is fourteen days until Christmas … two weeks from today. 14 is also the number of the Stations of the Cross, a meditative prayer and remembrance of real hardships Christ suffered, sacrifice and death, so that we may live ~ The Stations are full of symbolism, sacrifice and sharing, just like Christmas.

14 stations-the-cross

In Catholicism, fourteen refers to The Fourteen Holy Helpers, saints venerated together in Roman Catholicism because their intercession, believed to be particularly effective against diseases. This group originated at first in the Rhineland, in the 14th century, largely as a result of the epidemic that became known as the Black Death.

Saint Christopher and Saint Giles were invoked against the plague itself. Saint Denis was prayed to for relief from headache, Saint Blaise for ills of the throat, Saint Elmo for abdominal maladies, Saint Barbara for fever, and Saint Vitus against epilepsy. Saint Pantaleon was the patron of physicians, Saint Cyriacus invoked against temptation on the deathbed, and Saints Christopher, Barbara, and Catherine for protection against a sudden and unprovided-for death. Saint Giles was prayed to for a good confession, and Saint Eustace as healer of family troubles. Domestic animals were also attacked by the plague, and so Saints George, Elmo, Pantaleon, and Vitus were invoked for their protection. Saint Margaret of Antioch is the patron of safe childbirth.

The “fourteen angels” of the lost children’s prayer in Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairy opera, “Hansel and Gretel”, are the Fourteen Holy Helpers. The English words are familiar:
When at night I go to sleep,
Fourteen angels watch do keep,
Two my head are guarding,
Two my feet are guiding;
Two upon my right hand,
Two upon my left hand.
Two who warmly cover
Two who o’er me hover,
Two to whom ’tis given
To guide my steps to heaven

In a flash mob not seen since the 14th century, could we implore the 14 Saints to besiege the most prevalent diseases of today? Not Ebola, but cancer, racism, greed, hunger, apathy, sexual assault, poverty, equality, hate crimes, immigration, unemployment, universal health care, accountability and the one that would fix them all, short attention spans?

If the 14 Holy Helpers can stop the real Black Friday, Black Death, perhaps together we could give that White Christmas of hovering angels, to everyone.

Every year, as prayer, church and music work their magic within me; I begin to tune the greedy and the hurtful out, and the reason for the season blossoms, tho more than 2,000 years old. Christmas = the mass of Christ. We get out of anything, only what we put into it, whether it be mass, relationships or thanksgiving.

I have a friend who, as she wraps each present gorgeously, stops in the moment and prays for good health and happiness, a good life, for that person whose present she is wrapping up, in her good wishes and her love. That fantastic idea I am adopting. Christmas just takes a little nurturing, a little effort, for faith, family and focus to prevail. No Black Fridays, just a Christmas made pure and White, by the angels that hover around me.

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