Years ago I learned that JPII celebrated Christmas through February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation. I liked this a lot, and only later learned that this was typical, at least in Europe of days gone by. We still have our little tree up in Mom’s room, as well as all the Christmas cards we received hanging and the Nativity sets are still out. Today is Mrs. Schuller’s (Mrs. Haggerty) birthday. I had wished her early birthday greetings yesterday, and the following was included in her reply.
I know around here the 2nd of February is called 'groundhog day' and Punxsutawny Phil might see his shadow, causing us to have six more weeks of winter, but in Germany he was an unknown at our house. I always looked forward to my birthday because Feb. 2nd, known as Maria Lichtmeß (Feast of the Purification of Mary) marked the end of the Christmas season and the day our little Tannenbaum was 'undecorated' and then taken down. Undecorated meant that the cookies and gilded nuts my parents had hung there on Christmas Eve day were taken off and distributed, and I received the lion's share since it was my birthday. We didn't have money for a cake or presents, so the cookies were a real treat. You might wonder how a tree could stay green for so long. Well, it stood on a dresser in our only bedroom (all six of us slept there) which was not heated. Our little tree might have seemed primitive–besides the cookies and gilded nuts there were a few apples, candles (that were lit on Christmas Eve primarily) and some tinsel. We had no ornaments, but to us children it was magical and we could see the tinsel glistening on the tree as we lay in our beds. Actually, my older sister and I slept in one single bed, on a mattress of straw.
I wrote in reply that poverty seems to add something to the wonder of Christmas. I also asked her if she would be willing to contribute to the book on Seton. Her reply here is also noteworthy:
Yes, of course you may use part of my e-mail for your blog. Also, I would be happy to contribute to the book about Seton. There again one might say: Out of poverty rises a phoenix, well, truly better than a phoenix–a bright beacon of light! This last image is so very fitting for this Feast of Lichtmeß, which actually means Mass of Light. Father Juan Puigbo, our wonderful Spanish speaking priest, had the Mass this morning and spoke about his childhood memories when, on this day, his hometown church would be dark until the candles had been blessed and lit and all the children marched into the church filling it with light.
The Catholic Faith is so beautiful. There are rich traditions that could enhance its perceived beauty for us if we adopted them. To do so would be to overcome our real poverty.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.