MORE REASONS FOR THE SEASON
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A message to Earth in the Apollo 8 mission:
The legend of the Cherry Tree
Sr Thea Bowman
Bride's tree ornaments
Dom Perignoner
The Counsel of Ephesus
Elizabeth Ann Seton
The Story of Penny Lernoux
Are we Slave or Servant?

What is ancient letter writing
Why holiday stamps
Come to the water?
A message to Earth in the Apollo 8 mission

Apollo 8 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Dec 21, 1968. It was the 1st mission to the moon with a crew aboard, and its purpose was to orbit the moon in preparation for a future landing.
On Christmas Eve, Apollo 8 entered lunar orbit, and the crew began to relay back to Earth live television pictures of the moon and the Earth. They ended their broadcast by saying:
"For all the people of the Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you: "
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep."
The 3 man crew, taking turns, continued reading the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis which ended with the words
"And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters he called seas. And God saw that it was good."
Commander Frank Borman then added:
"And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God Bless all of you- all of you on the good Earth."
The Legend of the Cherry Tree

Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem for the census.
Along the way they passed a cherry orchard. The pregnant Mary asked her husband to pick some cherries for her, but Joseph told her to have the child's father do it.
Then the child in Mary's womb moved. He spoke to the cherry tree and told it to lower a branch toward Mary.
As Joseph watched the miracle, he was sorry for his harsh words.
Sr Thea Bowman
Born on Dec 29, 1937, the granddaughter of a slave, Bertha Bowman was a native of Mississippi. At age 9, she was baptized Catholic, and her parents later enrolled her in a Catholic school ran by Franciscan sisters. As age 16 Bertha joined the community and took the name Sister Thea("of God") SHe had a remarkable singing voice and sang black spiritual songs. ONe of her goals was to bring Black traditions into the Catholic Church. She was even profiled in 60 minutes. In 1984 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which soon spread to her bones. She died in 1990.

Elizabeth Ann Seton
The Story of Penny Lernoux
Are we Slave or Servant?

What is ancient letter writing
Why holiday stamps
Come to the water?
MORE
BRIDE TREE ORNAMENTS
In Germany a popular Christmas tradition is the Bride's Tree. It is believed that a couple needs 12 specific ornaments to ensure a happy marriage.
* Angel - (symbol of God's guidance
* Fish - (Symbol of Christ's blessing and of fertility)
* Bird - (joy, happiness and Holy Spirit)
* Rabbit- (hope and peace with nature)
* Fruit basket- (generosity and plenty
* Heart - (Love in the home)
* Pine cone - (Fruitfulness, and motherhood)
* Flower basket - (good wishes in thehome)
* Rose (Symbol of affection for the Blessed Virgin Mary)
* House (Protection)
* Santa - (Goodwill, giving and sharing)
Another tradition was to hide a glass pickle in the tree, the child who found it got a gift from Santa Claus.
Dom Perignon
Born in France in 1639, Pierre Perignon at the age of 20 took the vows of a Benedictine monk at the abbey of Hautvilliers which produced a variety of wine.
Pierre soom became a wine expect, perhaps because he was blind his sense of smell and taste were extraordinary. He always knews which grapes came from which vineyard,and practiced mixing each kinds to gether. When he was 60 yrs old he mixed certain grapes and produced "Champagne"
Later after he died in 1715, the company that bought out the monestary lands and its vineages named there most famous vintage "Don Perignon". which is used in most New Year's Eve celebrations.
The Counsel of Ephesus
IN the early 400's a great contravery arose over describing Mary as the Mother of God.
Some argued that Mary was the MOther of Christ, but calling her Mother of God was going to far.
IN 431, the Council of Ephesus finally resolved the controversy, by affirming that Mary was truly "Mother of God" The documents of the council were in Greek, and the term used for Mary was "Theotokos" which means "God bearer."
Elizabeth Ann Seton
Born Elizabeth Ann Bayley in Aug 28, 1774 in NY. At the age of 20 she married William Seton, a wealthy young merchant. When his father died, the couple became the guardian to his 7-half brothers and sisters. But when the business went bankrupt it took it's tolll on him. As a result William Elizabeth and their eldest daughter Anna traveled to Italy where William died 6 wks later. Elizabeth returned to NY. The people they stayed with in Italy were Catholic. In her grief from her husband's death she found solace in the Catholic religion, a decision that made it hard on her Episcopalian family.
In 1808, she founded a school for girls in Baltimore. Elizabeth and some of her teachers soon formed a religious concregation based on the rule of tSt Vincent de Paul for the Sisters of Charity. Among the members were her oldest daughter Anna.
Later they moved to Maryland where they devoted themselves to Catholic schools, with a special concern for the poor and sick.
She was considered to be the founder of the US Catholic School System.
The story of Penny Lernoux
"I admire women and men from other religious orders, but I owe a special debt to Maryknoll because it was through your missionaries in Chile that I regained my Catholic Faith"
In 1962, Penny Lernoux was a journalist in Columbia covering Latin America. Although raised Catholic, she had fallen away from her faith.
But by 1970 she met a group of Catholic Maryknoll missionaries in Chile "who showed me a different church- the church of the poor". Impressed by their dedication and faith, she soon began reporting their stories.. and giving a voice to the poor. Her books "Cry of the People" and "People of God" chhronicaled the struggles of the Catholic Church and the people of Latin America.
In 1989 she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died a month later on OCt 8th. She was 49 yrs old.
Her book "Hearts of Fire" was published after her death and told the story of the Maryknoll Sisters.
Are we slave or servant?
The English word "slave" evokes a image of African American slavery. However, the word itself has had a wide range of meanings, especially in the Greek and Roman world for the 1st century. For example; at the Annunciation, when Mary says that she is the "Handmaid of the Lord" the word "Handmaid" is the same word used for "slave".
Back then
*those who rowed the ships, and worked in mines
* Those who worked in households
*teachers, administrators of farms and business were all known as slaves.


What is ancient letter writing
Why holiday stamps
Come to the water?
What is ancient letter writing?
Writing of the 1st century was not easy. The ancient pen was a reed that was cut to a point. The paper was usually animal skin. The ink was generally made by mixing soot with a gum or glue. Trained scribes were the only one capable to doing it correctly.
Some of Paul's longer letters would have taken days or even weeks to write.
Why Holiday Stamps
The Madonna and Child Stamp has been part of the US Post Office since 1978. The first religious stamp was actually created in 1966, following the lobbying of a Catholic in Ct.
In 2007 alone, the PO printed about 700 million Madonna and Child stamps.
Come to the water
A Song written by Jesuit Fr John Foley, theologian, liturgist and musician. Fr Foley who studied piano as a child, began writing liturgical music in 1972. He was a member of the St Louis Jesuits, a group of students at St Louis University who created post-Vatican II liturgical music.
He has published more then 60 songs, including "One bread, One Body" "The cry of the poor" , and "all Shall be Well".