Dear Sacred Heart Family,
Today actually begins a beautiful tradition within our Church, the 12 days of Christmas, and best known by a song made popular by Bing Crosby. The 12 days are not the 12 days before Christmas or the best shopping days, but the 12 days that follow. The 12 days ends with the coming of the wise men/three kings but its meaning is much more than just the passing of time between Christmas and Epiphany. The song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English Christmas carol. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
The “True Love” one hears in the song is not a smitten boy or girlfriend but Jesus Christ, because truly Love was born on Christmas Day.
The two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments
The three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The five golden rings represented the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man’s fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit—Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit—–Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience [Forbearance], Goodness [Kindness], Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Continency [Chastity].
The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful Apostles.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed. Original Source: Fr. Calvin Goodwin, FSSP.
Unfortunately, most radio stations only play Christmas music before Christmas, but for us as Catholics, this is the Christmas season and worth listening to and singing our songs of faith in the days that lie ahead. It is fascinating that whereas we enjoy freedom of faith today, most of us are unaware of these simple truths of our faith. For that reason, it is worthwhile to teach them again to our children and grandchildren that we don’t lose the importance of these 12 days.
With a heart for Mission,