Today for December 13: Lucia, Martyr. One of the victims of the great persecution of Christians under the Roman emperor Diocletian, Lucia met her death at Syracuse on the island of Sicily in A.D. 304. Known for her charity, “Santa Lucia” (as she is called in Italy) gave away her dowry and remained a virgin until her execution by the sword. The name Lucia means “light”, and, because of that, festivals of light commemorating her became popular throughout Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries. There her feast day corresponds with the time of year when there is the least amount of daylight. In artistic expression, Lucia is often portrayed in a white baptismal gown, wearing a wreath of candles on her head.
Today for December 17: Daniel the Prophet and the Three Young Men. Daniel the prophet and the three young men–Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego–were among the leaders of the people of Judah who were taken into captivity in Babylon. Even in that foreign land, they remained faithful to the one true God in their piety, prayer, and life. On account of such steadfast faithfulness in the face of pagan idolatry, the three young men were thrown into a fiery furnace, from which they were saved by the Lord and emerged unharmed (Daniel 3). Similarly, Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions, from which he was also saved (Daniel 6). Blessed in all their endeavors by the Lord–and despite the hostility of some–Daniel and the three young men were promoted to positions of leadership among the Babylonians (Daniel 2:48-49; 3:30; 6;28). To Daniel in particular the Lord revealed the interpretation of dreams and signs that were given to King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar (Daniel 2, 4, 5). To Daniel himself, the Lord gave visions of the end times.
For today December 19: Adam and Eve. Adam was the first man, made in the image of God and given dominion over all the earth (Genesis 1:26). Eve was the first woman, formed from one of Adam’s ribs to be his companion and helper (Genesis 2:18-24). God placed them in the Garden of Eden to take care of creation as His representatives. But they forsook God’s Word and plunged the world into sin (Genesis 3:1-7). For this disobedience, God drove them from the garden. Eve would suffer pain in childbirth and would chafe at her subjection to Adam; Aam would toil amid thorns and thistles and return to the dust of the ground. Yet God promised that the woman’s seed would crush the serpant’s head (Genesis 3:8-24). Sin had entered God’s perfect creation and changed it until God would restore it again through Christ. Eve is the mother of the human race, while Adam is the representative of all humanity and the fall, as the apostle Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
For today December 20: Katharina von Bora Luther. Katharina von Bora (1499-1552) was placed in a convent while still a child and became a nun in 1515. In April 1523, she and eight other nuns were rescued from the convent and braught to Wittenburg. There Martin Luther helped return some of the women to their former homes and placed the rest in good families. Kathrina and Martin Luther were married on June 13, 1525. Their marriage was a happy one and blessed with six children. Katharina skillfully managed the Luther household, which always seemed to grow because of the reformer’s generous hospitality. After Luther’s death in 1546, Katharina remained in Wittenburg but lived much of the time in poverty. She died as a result of injuries she received in an accident while traveling with her children to Torgau in order to escape the plague.
For today December 21: St. Thomas, Apostle. All four Gospels mention St. Thomas as one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. John’s Gospel, which names him “the Twin,” uses Thomas’s questions to reveal truths about Jesus. It is Thomas who says, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” To this question, Jesus replies, ” I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:5-6). John’s Gospel also tells how Thomas, on the evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection, doubts the report of the disciples that they had seen Jesus. Later, “doubting Thomas” becomes “believing Thomas” when he confesses Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (John 20:24-29). According to tradition, Thomas traveled eastward after Pentecost, eventually reaching India, where still today a group of people call themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” Thomas was martyred for the faith by being speared to death.
BONUS: The Great “O” Antiphon’s for December 17-23
December 17: O wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, pervaiding and permeating all creation, mightily ordaining all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.
December 18: O Adonai, and ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law of Sinai: Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us.
December 19: O Root of Jesse, standing as an ensign before the peoples, before whom all kings are mute, to whom the nations will do homage: Come quickly to deliver us.
December 20: O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, You open and no one can close, You close and no one can open: Come and rescue the prisoners who are in the darkness and the shadow of death.
December 21: O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
December 22: O King of the nations, the ruler they long for, the cornerstone uniting all people: Come and save us all, whom You formed out of clay.
December 23: O Emmanuel, our king and our Lord, the annoited for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.