Thursday, December 26, 2013

On the Feast of Stephen

Today in the Catholic Church it is the Feast of St. Stephen, the Church's first martyr (Acts 6-7). He was one of seven deacons chosen by the apostles to look after widows and the poor. Throughout the years, different traditions have sprung up around this saint, including national holidays in some countries, gift giving, feasts, festivities, and alms giving.

I gathered the kids around the piano and slowly sang through the song, "Old King Wenceslaus" and we talked about what happened in the song with each stanza. Then I introduced them to our St. Stephen's Blessing Jar (just an old plastic pickle jar, cleaned and rinsed, with a picture of St. Stephen and the words to the song on it). Throughout this coming year it will sit out on a school shelf and anyone can donate coins. During Advent of next year, we will take the coins and turn them in for cash for donation, most likely to a local food/shelter for the homeless that runs solely on donation and volunteer work.

This is an idea that has sat in my idea folder for a few years, but the Christmas season petered out in our house the last few years (new baby, ill, etc.). This year, I have something simple (mostly) planned each day of Christmas and hopefully we can keep Christmas going.

Old King Wenceslaus

Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the feast of Stephen,
when the snow lay round about,
deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cruel,
when a poor man came in sight,
gathering winter fuel.

Hither, page, and stand by me.
If thou know it telling:
yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?
Sire, he lives a good league hence,
underneath the mountain,
right against the forest fence
by Saint Agnes fountain.

Bring me flesh, and bring me wine.
Bring me pine logs hither.
Thou and I will see him dine
when we bear the thither.
Page and monarch, forth they went,
forth they went together
through the rude wind's wild lament
and the bitter weather.

Sire, the night is darker now,
and the wind blows stronger.
Fails my heart, I know not how.
I can go no longer.
Mark my footsteps my good page,
tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
freeze thy blood less coldly.

In his master's step he trod,
where the snow lay dented.
Heat was in the very sod
which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
wealth or rank possessing,
ye who now will bless the poor
shall yourselves find blessing.

1 comment:

  1. Look forward to seeing what you are doing for Christmas! Hope you are all settled in and enjoying the new house!


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