January 3, 2019 (First published Jan 2016)
Meanings of certain of the 12 Days of Christmas seem a tad nebulous.
As I scan the landscape of celebrations and practices, different sources recommend different things to do or observe. The foundational celebration of the Tenth Day of Christmas, though, is a feast or at least a focus on the Holy Name of Jesus.
I readily get on board with that.
There is no name like that Name
If only we treated that Name even with deference, let alone reverence. An idea for next year: Plan a feast centered on the Holy Name of Jesus and rejoice mightily because of His Name and His abundant provision. His Name is above all names!
There’s another tradition related to this Tenth Day of Christmas about a St. Genevieve. Here’s a quote from the blog Merlinspielen on this prominent person in the Catholic tradition, to fill you in:
In the official Christian feast days today is the Feast of St. Genevieve. Genevieve is the patron Saint and protector of Paris.
Apparently St. Genevieve lived in Paris during the 400’s when there was much turmoil across Europe. Much like today where hordes of bankers and money-lenders pillage the land. Back then it was Attila the Hun, and other wandering barbarians like the Visigoths. Huh – now that I think about it not much has really changed.
St. Genevieve apparently acted as what we would call today a “human rights worker” by making sure that food and aid went to those in desperate need of help. The directly Saintly part comes later after her death when she is credited (through prayer) with helping avert a medical disaster that was sweeping through Paris.
As I was originally considering this article, Amazon Prime Music was again playing in the background. On came John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas”, a song with little kids and sentimental thoughts – perfect for modern Christmas celebrations, right? Oh, as a product of the Vietnam era, there’s a distinct anti-war message too.
The moment this tune entered my ears, another anthem of John’s arose in the background of my mind: “Imagine”.
Sadness stole over my soul.
First. Let’s look at a few lyrics:
So this is Christmas and what have you done
Another year over, a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones, the old and the young
A very merry Christmas and a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fears…
And so this is Christmas (war is over)
For weak and for strong (if you want it)
For rich and the poor ones (war is over)
The world is so wrong (if you want it)…
Lyrics © ONO MUSIC; LENONO MUSIC
In a move unremarkable when the song was written, John actually employed today’s altered version of “Christ-Mass”. If he tried that now he’d suffer the wrath of our modern legalistic, finger-wagging, joyless, accusatory PC culture schoolmarms.
The name of Jesus Christ is now treated as dirty words used to be treated. I guess there’s still “no room at the inn”.
Now, from “Imagine”:
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
You have heard these songs on the radio. Possibly you have seen “Imagine” on some television program or online video. People light candles. Or smartphones. Rapturous emotions transform their faces. Here’s an anthem written by a poor, lost, searching, sad soul, wishing for a soulless utopia, and people feel caught up to heaven (or Nirvana or someplace other than here). My heart is heavy every time I hear this empty song.
The tune’s fine. The piano riff is intriguing.
Imagining a world sterilized from the presence of God is a depressing exercise.
These two songs help illustrate the syncretistic mix our current Christmas/holiday/solstice celebrations are. John is willing to voice “Christmas”, yet hopes for peace and joy without The Christ of the Mass.
Underneath all this? As I wrote yesterday, it’s the search for transcendence.
John needed to meet The Central Figure of the Incarnation. There’s at least one story out there indicating he may have.
I hope it’s true. That would be a fabulous joy.
This is the tenth in a series of 12 consecutive articles on the 12 Days of Christmas. Here are links to the rest of the series:
The 12 Days Have Begun!: First Day of Christmas
What Did You Get for Christmas?: Second Day of Christmas
Most People Missed the Good News: Third Day of Christmas
An Event, But So Much More: Fourth Day of Christmas
Are You Still Playing Carols?: Fifth Day of Christmas
Slow It Down: Sixth Day of Christmas
Silvesterpunsch: Seventh Day of Christmas
Let It Snow (Or Not): Eighth Day of Christmas
Whatever Happened to Christmas: Ninth Day of Christmas
So Done with the Holiday: Eleventh Day of Christmas
Those Who Are Wise Still Seek Him: Twelve Day of Christmas