Fr. Timothy Shea

Blog #37: A Dark and Stormy Night

January 3, 2023

A few years ago, there was a contest for the best story that began with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Apparently, that sentence has become a cliché … I was thinking of that line on December 23rd and December 24th. We had two “dark and stormy” nights!!

Our Christmas Eve Mass schedule was 5 pm and 9 pm in Amherstview and 7 pm in Bath. The stormy wind and snow closed Bath Road, so the Mass in Bath was cancelled. 27 people made it to the 5 pm Mass; 20 people attended the 9 pm Mass. The powerful wind cleared off our parking lot and piled the snow in a five-foot high drift in front of the church. Saint Noel, our snowplow guy, cleared a path so parishioners had a way to enter the church … unfortunately the children’s pageant for the 5 pm Mass did not happen.

The Birth of Jesus is so important that we celebrate Christmas for eight days. The Octave of the Nativity of the Lord goes from December 25 to January 1. So, we moved the Children’ Christmas pageant to the 9 am Mass on January 1st.

It seems people are more familiar with the “Twelve Days of Christmas” than the Octave of Christmas. That is probably because of the popularity of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Those 12 days of Christmas stretch from December 25 to January 6: from the Birth of Jesus to the arrival of the Three Wise Men.

The origin of that song is very interesting. It comes from a time in England when it was against the law to practice the Catholic faith and to teach the Catholic religion. A resourceful Catholic composed this song so that the Catholic Catechism could be taught in code … the partridge in a pear tree is Jesus on the Cross … two turtle doves were The Offering of Mary and Joseph at Jesus’ Presentation; they represent the two parts of the Bible: Old Testament and New Testament … then there are the tree theological virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity); four Evangelists; etc. … When you get a chance, check out the remaining 8 days.