21 December 2010

21 December - Saint Thomas the Apostle; O Oriens; Ursid Meteor Shower

Astronomy: Tonight is the Cold Moon, and very well named, because if it is visible, you can be sure the night is very, very cold.

However, the full moon will probably make viewing the Ursid Meteor Shower nearly impossible.  Peak is tonight (actually tomorrow morning, the 22nd, and again on the 23rd) between midnight and dawn.  Look between north and northeast for the Big Dipper - the radiant will be between it and the North Star.

Also, this is the Winter Solstice.  The sun is returning!
Weather: As the wind and weather at the solstice, so they will be for the next three months.
Overcast for most of the day and then - merciful heavens!  Is that snow?

A frost beginning on Saint Thomas's Day will last for three months. No frost, just snow.  I don't want snow to last for three months.
Today the antiphon is O Oriens (O Dayspring or Radiant Dawn), when we pray again to be lifted out of the darkness.

O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis

O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, 
come to give light to them that sit in darkness 
and in the shadow of death.

In the Old Calendar, this is the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, the Doubting Thomas (now moved to 3 July.  The ways of the calendar makers are indeed mysterious.)

He it was who would not believe in his Lord's resurrection, until he placed his fingers in the nail-holes and in the wound made by the soldier's spear. And he it was who was reproved by Our Lord: "Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed" (John 20:29).  But he it was also who made the simple profession of faith: "My Lord and My God".

Doubting Thomas is the saint for this world, because it demands proof.  Strangely enough, however, it only demands proof of the existence of God, and accepts everything else because, well, you know, computers don't lie, and if a computer model can be manipulated to show global warming or cooling or imminent destruction, well that's PROOF!  And if a doctor of whatever mental attainments publishes a book of his fantasies and calls it modern sexuality, that's PROOF!  And if all science determines that certain people are not allowed to live, because they are inconvenient, well, what more PROOF do you need in order to kill them?
This was a day when farmers would go around their farmyard, sprinkling holy water and asking Our Lord's protection on all they owned, while family and servants gathered to recite the Rosary.  We can do the same, placing our house and holdings under His protection.

One of the customs of today is going 'a-Thomasing', also called 'a-mumping' or 'a-gooding', which was going from house to house begging for money or food to furnish the Christmas table.  Usually, the mumpers were poor widows or single women, sometimes children, sometime people who would not beg at any other time of the year.  Instead of money, they might receive a dole of wheat with which to make a frumenty.

Well-a-day, well-a-day, St. Thomas goes too soon away,
Then your gooding we do pray, for the good time will not stay.
St. Thomas grey, St. Thomas grey, the longest night and the shortest day,
Please to remember St. Thomas Day.

You can carry on this tradition to 'furnish a Christmas table', by making a contribution to a women's shelter, foster children's program, orphanage, soup kitchen, or parish St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Which is a sight more useful than demanding PROOF that God loves a cheerful giver.