Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 2009 - Pope St. Sylvester I - Christmas Traditions

Today is the seventh day of Christmas and New Year's Eve. The liturgy of the day, while maintaining the Christmas tone of joy, notes in the readings our propensity to the end of the calendar ("Children, it is the last hour") from the First Epistle of John and yet, that, with God all is forever new ("In the beginning was the Word") from the Gospel of John.

Church Tradition enshrines the praying today of the Miserere (Psalm 51) to lament the sins and failings of the year now closing along with the Te Deum, thanksgiving to God for all the blessings received from the Lord's hands this year.

Today the Church also commemorates the life and death of Pope St. Sylvester I, who died on December 31, 335.

The date of his birth is unknown, and his pontificate is better known for the apocryphal stories surrounding it than any actual occurrences: Take, for instance, the story of his slaying a dragon (see illustration for proof) and raising the reptile’s (are they?) victims to life; or that he cured Constantine of leprosy and later baptized the emperor; and who can forget the Donation of Constantine?

Popular folklore and piety notwithstanding, Sylvester rightfully remains an important figure in the early church. The son of man named Rufinus, Sylvester was made bishop of Rome after the death of Pope St. Miltiades.

During his twenty-one year pontificate, three of the great churches in Rome were constructed: St. John Lateran, St. Croce, and St. Peter. Further, Sylvester was instrumental in stemming the spread of Arianism throughout the Western church, as well as the promulgation of orthodox christology (homousion of the Son) in the wake of Nicea I (325).

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Christmas Traditions, OLD...


From the time of Mgr Joseph-Eugene-Bruno Guigues, the bishops and archbishops of Ottawa have celebrated the Christmas Midnight Mass in Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica and the Christmas Morning Mass at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity.

So, for the third time, I took part in these rituals wearing a new mitre, made with material recycled from a cope to match the diocesan centennial year Marian Congress (1947) Chasuble. The photos are from a visit to the infirmary where the elderly sisters participated in a hymn sing in French, a stop in the board room and a luncheon in the dining-room: a lovely tradition and a great experience.

...and NEW....

Last year, I invited the priests to an exchange of greetings at my residence, followed by a luncheon in the cathedral's parish hall. It was well-received, so we repeated the event yesterday, to the delight of all involved.

Dress for the occasion was casual, but some pastors had parish obligations (several funerals) and other commitments. Herewith some photos:

Six priests ordained in 2009 and serving in Ottawa: two from Ottawa Archdiocese and one each from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Dominicans, the Companions of the Cross, the Montfort Fathers

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