Announcing the 2014 Deepertruthblog Christmas special.

Posted by John Benko - December 24th, 2014

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Join us for our 2014 Christmas special. The show can be heard live on Christmas Eve day from 12 NOON- 2 PM Eastern. You can listen live right here!. The show will feature interviews, wonderful stories, a chance to win Dave Armstrong’s new book and a special countdown of my all-time top 25 favorite holiday songs!

You can follow the show and give us your comments right on the Facebook link for the show! (It will appear on the show page). You can also email your comments to email@deepertruthblog.com

We cannot wait! Spread the word far and wide!

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The Catholic Defender: My Christmas Season Hypothosis

Posted by John Benko - December 26th, 2013

I find it interesting that people on both sides of the line, Catholic and Protestant, seem to resist the notion that Jesus was born on December 25, 2 B.C.?

I have really enjoyed the research and discussion because it is very confirming what Catholics have always maintained from the beginning.

This has been a great Christmas study from several different perspectives.

Listening to the Anti-Catholics debating this, it really sounds like they can’t handle the idea that they are wrong about the foundations of the Catholic Faith.

For them, the Catholic Church has to be born from Paganism. Jesus can’t really be the founder of the Catholic Faith so for them, Dec 25th can’t be true.

Like the Wise men who followed a star, we too embark on a journey in search of the new born King.

Listening to good Catholics who hear this for the first time, it sounds to dogmatic, maybe to mean to shake family traditions.

It’s a wonderful tradition and the Church is celebrating Christmas to counter Paganism.

To them it doesn’t matter what day we celebrate Christmas. It has been interesting to be caught in the middle between faithful Catholics and anti-Catholics.

Of course we will always side with the faithful Catholics on this, but I think it is great that we can go deeper into the truth of Christmas. Recent scientific data, tradition, the scripture all point to the validity of Dec 25.

This is the basis on which the rest of this article will be based.

I want to try and place all the pieces together for the Christmas Story. December 25, Joseph brought Jesus and Mary into Bethlehem, but as they arrived, Luke 2:6 says, “While they were there, the time came for her to have her child”.

Maybe Joseph was attempting to report to the census, maybe because of Mary’s labor, it was an emergency that they find a place to deliver the child.

Luke 2:7 indicates Joseph attempted to find an inn but there was no room because of all the travelers coming to file in to the census. The manger or cave appears to have been a hasty place provided because of Mary’s quick labor.

Luke 2:7 says that Mary gave birth to Jesus where “she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger”.

Another possibility is that it was dark when Joseph and his family arrived in Bethlehem, as they quickly found a manger, the angels began praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

The Shepherds were out in the pastures watching over their sheep when all this began to take place.

Meanwhile, the star had led the Wise men to Israel and by this time, they are going through Jerusalem asking “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage”.

This ruckus grabbed the attention of King Herod and he summoned the Wise men to ascertain the time of the stars appearance.

Herod intended to deceive them so he could identify this threat to his throne and kill the Christ Child.

From the birth until the wise men arrived bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, St. Joseph moved from the cave or stable to perhaps a relatives house.

Since Bethlehem was the City of Joseph’s heritage (David), it’s possible that Joseph had relatives present in Bethlehem so he was able to make this move.


The star continued to shine over Bethlehem for another 5 more days. At any rate, Matthew 2:11 indicates that when the wise men did arrive, they entered the house where Mary and the Child was.

When did the wise men actually arrive at the place where Jesus and Mary were resting? There is a short window following this star for five days.

I think this event had to occur between 25 December and very early 1 January. I tend to think it would have been later than sooner because what happens next. Matthew states that the Wise men (magi) camped for the night and beheld a dream.

God warns the magi not to return to Herod, but to go another route out of the Country. This dream had to be important because as the magi were leaving Joseph received a dream from an angel saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herold is going to search for the child to destroy him” (Matthew 2:13).

I do not see St. Joseph waiting around to see what happens, they leave Bethlehem immediately. I think that the Magi’s visit and Joseph’s departure would be the same evening. This probably would be the night of 31 December or very early 1 January.

Luke’s next hard time line should be 1 January as Jesus is in Jerusalem (7 miles away from Bethlehem) and he is presented to the temple for circumcision.

This happened on the eighth day from his birth. The Child was named Jesus. Simeon foretells that Jesus would be “the fall and rise of many in Israel”.

That Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword. Also, there was an older lady who began to speak “about this child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem”.

Now this presents a problem for Joseph, after receiving a vision from an angel to get out of dodge and here they are in Jerusalem where surely if Herod knew Jesus was there, he would have called back all the Soldiers to Jerusalem?

What a story! Joseph sees Simeon prophecy concerning Jesus.  This is becoming a suspense novel! 

Just as Jesus walked through an angry hostile crowd who had wanted to throw him off a mountain, Jesus escapes to Egypt with no apparent problems.

Luke only records that from this scene, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Luke mentions nothing about Egypt and the haste leaving Bethlehem.

Remember, St. Luke was a Gentile and he writes what God wanted him to say. It makes sense that Joseph would take the Holy Family to Nazareth and from there flee to Egypt through a major route that Herod would not suspect.

The good news is that Jesus did not get caught by Herod’s thugs, but the bad news is that the magi could not have been in Bethlehem visiting Jesus on 6 January.

Jesus was on his way to Nazareth getting far away from Bethlehem. But the gold and gifts the magi gave to the Holy Family helped to pay for the trip to Egypt.

Science, scripture, and tradition along with personal perspective on my part, this is the most I can tell from the evidence given.

For more information concerning Dec 25 as the birth of Christ, please click here:
http://deepertruthblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/case-for-december-25th-2-bc.html

Video used by permission:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoTQhP0bdeM&feature=related

About the Author of the presentation video/DVD of the Star of Bethlehem project:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=venqYheEqic&NR=1

When you watch this video, you will see a picture given me from Iraqi friends of a baby being baptized. If you take a good look, you can see the water rolling off the head of the child in the form of a Rosary!


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My Christmas Letter to You

Posted by John Benko - December 25th, 2013

Dear and Precious One,

God loves you with a deep and everlasting love. His is the only perfect love you will experience here on earth. All other loves, as beautiful as they can be, are only pale imitations of His true and abiding Love. He resides in your heart, caring for each precious beat of it, whispering to the inmost part of you His words of True Love.

Like all good loves, He listens, too. He waits for your word, longs to hear you utter the smallest of prayers so that He can hear your desire for Him, for change, for perfection. He wants you to love Him in return. He will never force Himself upon you. He will wait for you and love you from afar for as long as you demand it.

He knows how you breathe, how you feel, how you wonder. He also knows your struggles. He meets you with Mercy when you fail to live in the way that He knows is best for you. He asks you to wait for something much better than you can imagine. He sighs with your impatience and anger at Him and loves you anyway.

Your life is so much more than you can even imagine. His plans for you are so far above your ideas as the Heavens are above the Earth. Allow Him, the author of your very soul, to whisper the first parts of His desire
s for you in the silence of your expectant heart.

I will pray each day for you, my brother, my sister in Christ,
Christie Martin


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The Catholic Defender: The History of the Yule Log

Posted by John Benko - December 24th, 2013

I remember watching a movie that had a scene during Christmas time in Africa or Australia that was very hot.

They were so strong on keeping tradition that despite the temp was 100 degrees, they still wanted to burn a Yule log.

What some people will do to keep alive something of home.

My family has never burned such a log that I am aware of so I thought this was a good opportunity to investigate the roots of this tradition.

The following is taken from www.whychristmas.com

The custom of burning the Yule Log goes back to, and before, medieval times. It was originally a Nordic tradition. Yule is the name of the old Winter Solstice festivals in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe, such as Germany.
The Yule Log was originally an entire tree, that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room! The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log which had been carefully stored away and slowly fed into the fire through the Twelve Days of Christmas.
 
It was considered important that the re-lighting process was carried out by someone with clean hands. Nowadays, of course, most people have central heating so it is very difficult to burn a tree!
In Provence (in France), it is traditional that the whole family helps to cut the log down and that a little bit is burnt each night.
 
If any of the log is left after 12th night, it is kept safe in the house until the next Christmas to protect against lightning! In some parts of Holland, this was also done, but the log had to be stored under a bed! In some eastern European countries, the log was cut down on Christmas Eve morning and lit that evening.
 
In Cornwall (in the U.K.), the log is called ‘The Mock’. The log is dried out and then the bark is taken off it before it comes into the house to be burnt. Also in the UK, barrel makers (or Coopers as barrel makers were traditionally called) gave their customers old logs that they could not use for making barrels for Yule logs. (My surname is Cooper, but I don’t make barrels! My Great Grandfather did own a walking stick factory though!)
(Notice how our Cat, Sylvester, loves to sit in front of our Christmas yule log and watch the flames popping in the fire place)

The custom of the Yule Log spread all over Europe and different kids of wood are used in different countries. In England, Oak is traditional; in Scotland, it is Birch; while in France, it’s Cherry. Also, in France, the log is sprinkled with wine, before it is burnt, so that it smells nice when it is lit.

 
In Devon and Somerset in the UK, some people have a very large bunch of Ash twigs instead of the log. This comes from a local legend that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were very cold when the shepherds found them on Christmas Night. So the shepherds got some bunches of twigs to burn to keep them warm.
 
In some parts of Ireland, people have a large candle instead of a log and this is only lit on New Years eve and 12th night.
 
Different chemicals can be sprinkled on the log like wine to make the log burn with different coloured flames!
  • Potassium Nitrate = Violet
  • Barium Nitrate = Apple Green
  • Borax = Vivid Green
  • Copper Sulphate = Blue
  • Table Salt = Bright Yellow
This sounds very dangerous, so please only try this out with some adult supervision!!
 
A brilliant chocolate Yule log made by Meg Hourihan: http://www.megnut.comThe ashes of Yule logs were meant to be very good for plants, this is sometimes called ‘potash’. But if you throw the ashes out on Christmas day it was supposedly very unlucky!

A Chocolate Yule Log or ‘bûche de Noël’ is now a popular Christmas desert or pudding. It’s traditionally eaten in France and Belgium, where they are known as ‘Kerststronk’ in Flemish.
They are made of a chocolate sponge roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with chocolate or chocolate icing and decorated to look like a bark-covered log. Some people like to add extra decorations such as marzipan mushrooms!


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The Catholic Defender: The History of the Mistletoe

Posted by John Benko - December 24th, 2013

Do you have anyone you would like to find under a mistletoe?

I have always wondered where the tradition of the mistletoe had derived from. I have seen it on television during the Christmas season and I was just curious to where this tradition comes from.

This particular custom is one that I have not experienced as I never have walked under the mistletoe.

Though I am so thankful for my wife, I am glad that I do not have to depend on a mistletoe. So, if you happen to go to one of those office parties at work or someplace, you better be careful for those looking to capture you under a mistletoe. You never know these days who might be looking for the opportunity to kiss you!

The following is from theholidayspot.com:

Mistletoe Mistletoe is especially interesting botanically because it is a partial parasite (a “hemiparasite”). As a parasitic plant, it grows on the branches or trunk of a tree and actually sends out roots that penetrate into the tree and take up nutrients. But mistletoe is also capable for growing on its own; like other plants it can produce its own food by photosynthesis. Mistletoe, however, is more commonly found growing as a parasitic plant.

There are two types of mistletoe. The mistletoe that is commonly used as a Christmas decoration (Phoradendron flavescens) is native to North America and grows as a parasite on trees in the west as also in those growing in a line down the east from New Jersey to Florida. The other type of mistletoe, Viscum album, is of European origin.

The European mistletoe is a green shrub with small, yellow flowers and white, sticky berries which are considered poisonous.

It commonly seen on apple but only rarely on oak trees. The rarer oak mistletoe was greatly venerated by the ancient Celts and Germans and used as a ceremonial plant by early Europeans.

The Greeks and earlier peoples thought that it had mystical powers and down through the centuries it became associated with many folklore customs.

The Plant : Mistletoe is especially interesting botanically because it is a partial parasite (a “hemiparasite”). As a parasitic plant, it grows on the branches or trunk of a tree and actually sends out roots that penetrate into the tree and take up nutrients.

But mistletoe is also capable for growing on its own; like other plants it can produce its own food by photosynthesis. Mistletoe, however, is more commonly found growing as a parasitic plant. There are two types of mistletoe. The mistletoe that is commonly used as a Christmas decoration (Phoradendron flavescens) is native to North America and grows as a parasite on trees from New Jersey to Florida.

The other type of mistletoe, Viscum album, is of European origin. The European mistletoe is a green shrub with small, yellow flowers and white, sticky berries which are considered poisonous. It commonly seen on apple but only rarely on oak trees. The rarer oak mistletoe was greatly venerated by the ancient Celts and Germans and used as a ceremonial plant by early Europeans.


The Greeks and earlier peoples thought that it had mystical powers and down through the centuries it became associated with many folklore customs.
The Mistletoe Magic : From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious, and sacred plants of European folklore.

It was considered to bestow life and fertility; a protection against poison; and an aphrodisiac. The mistletoe of the sacred oak was especially sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. On the sixth night of the moon white-robed Druid priests would cut the oak mistletoe with a golden sickle. Two white bulls would be sacrificed amid prayers that the recipients of the mistletoe would prosper.

Later, the ritual of cutting the mistletoe from the oak came to symbolize the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Mistletoe was long regarded as both a sexual symbol and the “soul” of the oak. It was gathered at both mid-summer and winter solstices, and the custom of using mistletoe to decorate houses at Christmas is a survival of the Druid and other pre-Christian traditions.

The Greeks also thought that it had mystical powers and down through the centuries it became associated with many folklore customs. In the Middle Ages and later, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. In Europe they were placed over house and stable doors to prevent the entrance of witches.

It was also believed that the oak mistletoe could extinguish fire. This was associated with an earlier belief that the mistletoe itself could come to the tree during a flash of lightning. The traditions which began with the European mistletoe were transferred to the similar American plant with the process of immigration and settlement. Kissing under the mistletoe : Kissing under the mistletoe is first found associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia and later with primitive marriage rites.

They probably originated from two beliefs. One belief was that it has power to bestow fertility. It was also believed that the dung from which the mistletoe would also possess “life-giving” power.

In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up. Later, the eighteenth-century English credited with a certain magical appeal called a kissing ball.

At Christmas time a young lady standing under a ball of mistletoe, brightly trimmed with evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments, cannot refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and goodwill.

If the girl remained unkissed, she cannot expect not to marry the following year. In some parts of England the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the twelfth night lest all the boys and girls who have kissed under it never marry.

Whether we believe it or not, it always makes for fun and frolic at Christmas celebrations. Even if the pagan significance has been long forgotten, the custom of exchanging a kiss under the mistletoe can still be found in many European countries as well as in Canada.

Thus if a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life. In France, the custom linked to mistletoe was reserved for New Year’s Day : “Au gui l’An neuf” (Mistletoe for the New Year).

Today, kisses can be exchanged under the mistletoe any time during the holiday season. The Legend : For its supposedly mystical power mistletoe has long been at the center of many folklore.

One is associated with the Goddess Frigga. The story goes that Mistletoe was the sacred plant of Frigga, goddess of love and the mother of Balder, the god of the summer sun.

Balder had a dream of death which greatly alarmed his mother, for should he die, all life on earth would end. In an attempt to keep this from happening, Frigga went at once to air, fire, water, earth, and every animal and plant seeking a promise that no harm would come to her son.

Balder now could not be hurt by anything on earth or under the earth. But Balder had one enemy, Loki, god of evil and he knew of one plant that Frigga had overlooked in her quest to keep her son safe. It grew neither on the earth nor under the earth, but on apple and oak trees. It was lowly mistletoe. So Loki made an arrow tip of the mistletoe, gave to the blind god of winter, Hoder, who shot it , striking Balder dead.

The sky paled and all things in earth and heaven wept for the sun god. For three days each element tried to bring Balder back to life. He was finally restored by Frigga, the goddess and his mother. It is said the tears she shed for her son turned into the pearly white berries on the mistletoe plant and in her joy Frigga kissed everyone who passed beneath the tree on which it grew.

The story ends with a decree that who should ever stand under the humble mistletoe, no harm should befall them, only a kiss, a token of love.

What could be more natural than to translate the spirit of this old myth into a Christian way of thinking and accept the mistletoe as the emblem of that Love which conquers Death? Its medicinal properties, whether real or imaginary, make it a just emblematic of that Tree of Life, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations thus paralleling it to the Virgin Birth of Christ.


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The Catholic Defender: History of the Yuletide

Posted by John Benko - December 23rd, 2013

I grew up hearing “yuletide” traditions but I never really knew much about how it fit in with Christmas.

It was just somehow associated with Christmas. In looking at some of these ancient traditions we that see some of them had Pagan origins.

That would not be so surprising since people had customs the Church simply used as tools to point to Christ.

We see this from the Church using large Roman architects for basilicas  to the history of customs such as the yuletide.

I’ve had people tell me that Christians should not participate in these celebrations because God is offended by it. I can’t agree with that assessment, Christianity is always adapting to the environment or rather converting it.

The transformation of the heart centralizes why we celebrate any feast. What the Church does in these celebrations I find people doing the very same thing today through Christian Contemporary Music. I think this is great because music reaches where the people are.

Just as these celebrations do. People would be horrified to learn that some of the most beloved hymns like “Amazing Grace” were taken from popular bar songs from that time period. That was what was popular at the time.

Today, when we sing old fashioned hymns today, who recalls much of the secular songs of that time? I think you would have to be a history music major to know much of that culture. As we continue to prepare for the Christmas Season, here is a fine article by Adrianne Loggins “Yuletide History” from www.ehow.com

Yuletide has come to be synonymous with the Christmas season, but it was not always a Christian celebration. The origin of yule began thousands of years before Christianity was founded.

    Terminology

  1. One linguistic theory is that the word “yule” came from “aboriginal Scandinavians,” and meant the winter solstice festival or “a celebration of the cycle of nature and a reaffirmation of the continuation of life,” according Candle Grove.
  2. Solstice

  3. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. It also marks the march toward spring. According to Candle Grove, “many of the ancient traditions surrounding Yuletide are concerned with coping with the darkness and the evils it was thought to harbor, and helping the return of light and warmth.”
  4. Christianity

  5. Jesus Christ is supposed to have been born Dec. 25, four days after the winter solstice. There is some controversy as to whether this date is accurate because of time discrepancies in the Gospels. Regardless, Christmas Day is celebrated Dec. 25 as the day of Christ’s birth. Emperor Constantine, once he adopted Christianity as his religion, was responsible for “co-opting the December [pagan] festivals of Saturn and Mithras for a celebration of Christ’s birth.”
  6. Decorations

  7. “Trees, specifically evergreens, were a common part of pre-Christian solstice celebrations, but in England it wasn’t until Victorian times that the idea of having one in the house was revived. It was the Queen’s [Victoria] own family who introduced the custom to the country,” according to a report in the Telegraph newspaper. The yule log, now a Christmastime pastry, was originally a fresh-cut piece of wood brought into a home to protect against evil and darkness.
  8. Santa Claus

  9. According to the Telegraph, Santa Claus and Father Christmas were actually two different individuals. St. Nicholas, or “Sinterklaas,” is the patron saint of children and students. In Dutch legend, he was a “bringer of gifts at Christmas.” He was portrayed as a chubby, bearded man. Father Christmas was the character of the joyous season. Over time, the two became one, and in the 1930s, Coca-Cola added Santa Claus’ signature red suit in an advertisement, and it has stuck ever since.

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*BEST OF DTB #237* The Catholic Defender: Midnight Mass

Posted by John Benko - December 22nd, 2013

Pope Telephorus is accredited with establishing the custom of celebrating the Midnight Mass (for Christmas) beginning in 125 A.D.

It is just a few more years (129 A.D.) that he began instituting songs for this Mass about angels.

It is probable that all this is true, but St. Telephorus was not the first formerly to offer Midnight Mass!

Acts 20:7 states, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus was sitting in the window. He sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and embracing him said, ‘Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him. And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the lad away alive, and were not a little comforted”.

Here is a written record of someone falling asleep during one of St. Paul’s sermons.

God was able to show his favor with St. Paul through this as the boy fell out of a third story window.

In this case, St. Paul was going to be leaving so this was a late service.

Midnight Mass is late, but it is ushering in the day of Christmas. This tradition would branch throughout the Christian world as the Church would survive terrible persecutions.

By the 4th century it was becoming universal as December 25th became solidified. Some placed emphasis on January 6 because this is the feast of the Epiphany or “manifestation” and so the Eastern Lung of the Church has this strong tradition.

In Bethlehem, the early Christians would celebrate Midnight Mass carrying torches to the site believed to be where Christ was born.

With Constantine’s “Edict of Milan”, the people in Jerusalem built the Church of the Nativity over the traditional site of Christ’s birth in about 326 A.D. Today, there are a number of other Christmas Masses offered earlier on Saturday, mostly for children, and Mass on Christmas day are celebrated all over the world.

My Mother would take me to Midnight Mass when I was young and so this was instilled in me very early as a family tradition.

I took my family to Midnight Mass all their growing up years as well. What a great blessing it was celebrating Midnight Mass in Saudi Arabia.

I look back at that time remembering the candles, the Humvee’s, the desert uniforms, the outdoors under the bright stars touching the hearts with Christmas.

Over the years many traditions and customs developed in the many Countries around the world that reflect the ushering in the Christmas story.


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The Catholic Defender: The 12 Days of Christmas

Posted by John Benko - December 20th, 2013

As we move closer to Christmas, this year is very important to me as I reflect the past few years.

Three out of the last four Christmas seasons I was deployed in Iraq. It’s tough being deployed away from home for a year or more, but it becomes very difficult especially during the major holidays.

The Catholic Church instituted the 12 Days of Christmas in 567 through the Council of Tours.

Ever since then nations have developed their traditions and being deployed we miss the family traditions.

We do well to try and keep alive our traditions among us in a foreign land. I would use the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas” to inspire interest in the Season. For most Americans, Christmas is over after Christmas day.

We have lost the understanding of the season of Christmas for the most part. I found this out simply through the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas”.

In fact, most thought that the 12 days of Christmas began before Christmas, that Christmas day ended the season.

The actual 12th day is January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany (the manifestation) with the wise men finding the Christ Child after about an 18 month journey following a star.

On December 23, 2006 from Iraq, I wrote on Defenders of the Catholic Faith:

Today, I was able to sing Christmas carols with Philippine women who work in our laundry department. It was kind of cool. These people are here to make money to send home. It is to such as these that Father began to go to for Holy Communion. These people have a strong faith and love the Church. Christmas must be a thing of the heart. That’s where it plants itself to do good. God be with you all and Merry Christmas. I will be going to Midnight Mass here, I hope many of you can go!!!

I was trying to get in the Christmas spirit and inspire others to do the same. On Christmas day, 25 December, I was reminding DCF of the 12 days of Christmas.

Each day I would ask the Catholic Board (DCF) and Soldiers I served with what the song said for each day as the days passed by. Friends would ask me about the next day and I would make them wait!

What makes this song special to me is the idea that there could be hidden messages in the song for Catholics.

The Church was suffering persecution in England and it is believed William Shakespeare wrote the song in code. The following is a version of what people believed about the song:

The ‘partridge in a pear tree’
means there is only one God and is also symbolic of Jesus (see Luke 13:34). I have also heard that the first verse was depicting baby Jesus in the manger.

The ‘two turtle doves’
are the Old and New Testaments. Though according to Zondervan’s Twelve Days of Christmas the story behind a favorite Christmas song this is the 2 turtle doves sacrificed that Joseph and Mary brought when they presented Jesus at the Temple.

The ‘three French hens’
are the three Persons of the holy Trinity or the three virtues: faith, hope, and love, though according to Ace Collins’ book “Stories of the Best Loved Christmas Songs”, they represent the expensive gifts of the Wise Men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The ‘four calling birds’
are the Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; or their Gospels. Which makes sense because they are “calling” out the story.

‘Five gold rings’
are the first five books of the Bible, or the Pentateuch.

‘Six geese a-laying’
refer to the six days of the Creation.

‘Seven swans a-swimming’
are the seven sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

‘Eight maids a-milking’
are the eight Beatitudes.

‘Nine ladies dancing’
are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

‘Ten lords a-leaping’
are the Ten Commandments.

‘Eleven pipers piping’
are the eleven faithful Apostles.

‘Twelve drummers drumming’
are the twelve doctrines in the Apostles’ Creed.

This interpretation is usually taught with a story, that British Catholics, suffering persecution in the 16th century, wrote the song with these hidden meanings. The song would have served as a pedagogical tool.

This particular version was taken from Wikipedia.org but there are several very close to it. Some dispute the whole idea, but as this story goes. I used the popular historical belief that the song was indeed coded for the faithful Catholics suffering persecution.


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*BEST OF DTB #42* The case for December 25th, 2 BC

Posted by John Benko - December 17th, 2013

(Editors note) Please check out the radio program “The case for 12/25″ (blogtalkradio) located on the right of the page. Just push play and follow along with John’s excellent show notes “The Case for December 25, 2 B.C.”

I have been asked by a number of people, rather, told by a number of people that the Catholic Church opened the doors to pagan influence beginning with the celebration of Christmas.

Some of them have developed wild imaginative developments showing some connection with the old Babylonian mystery religion with Christmas.

Sir Arthur Weigall, a noted Archeologist, said:

December 25th was really the date, not of the birth of Jesus, but of the sun-god Mithra. Horus, son of Isis, however, was in very early times identified with Ra, the Egyptian sun-god, and hence with Mithra…

Is he correct with this assessment? Anti-Catholics say the following:

“In the end the effect is the same: “Christmas” is the birth not of the “son of God” but of the sun. Indeed, there is much evidence—including many ancient monumental alignments—to demonstrate that this highly noticeable and cherished event of the winter solstice was celebrated beginning hundreds to thousands of years before the common era in numerous parts of the world. The observation was thus provably taken over by Christianity, not as biblical doctrine but as a later tradition in order to compete with the Pagan cults, a move we contend occurred with numerous other “Christian” motifs, including many that are in the New Testament”.

I know some Christians who have this mindset! John and I give what we believe strong evidence that Christ was born on Christmas Day. This is attested by what we want to show through science, the bible, Jewish tradition, and history. You can check out this radio program in the Archives and follow along with John’s Christmas story.

The following is a defense for the historic truth behind Christmas.  The opponents of Christmas coming from various points of view have a deep bias against the Catholic Faith.  They have a canned ready response to Christmas and we see this all the time from Atheists to Anti-Catholic Protestants.

Two things to consider that is happening almost simultaneously yet independent of each other that bares much into this discussion:

October 3 B.C. The Day of Atonement-Yom Kippur, the busiest Temple day of the Temple year (Luke 1:10) sometime late March early April. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah and announced the coming of John the Baptist.

September 3 B.C. The planet Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo-Leo the Lion. This would be the star the wise men would follow leading them to Bethlehem. They followed the star for about 16 months until the Star rested over Bethlehem for six days beginning on Dec 25, 2 B.C.

For many Catholics, it matters not the actual day, so they do not get into the arguments but are often stumped when pressed about the “pagan” roots of Christmas. 

The following research points to reliable, historical facts taken from scripture, history, tradition, and science.

“The Case for December 25, 2 B.C”.

Year after year, I hear the same arguments against the traditional date of December 25th as the date of the birth of Christ. Many of these arguments are based on incorrect interpretations and flawed logic. Some are downright silly.

The purpose of this article (and the accompanying show) is to refute the nonsensical claims that Christmas is derived from paganism. That case we will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Misconception #1 December 25th was only chosen because it coincided with a Roman pagan feast.

Though it is true that December 25th was a pagan feast under the Roman calendar, the same is true of just about every other day on the calendar. It is also true that the early church made December 25th a Holy day of obligation, at the council of nicea in 325 AD, as a strategic move to prevent Christians from attending that pagan feast, but that does not mean the date was chosen for that purpose.

The truth is that the celebration of December 25th as the Nativity of Our Lord can be traced back at least to 125 AD and the institution of the Midnight Christmas Mass by Bishop Telesphorus of Rome. Early Church Fathers Tertullion, Hippolytus, Cyril of Alexandria, and John Chrysostom all identified either December 25th or January 6th as Christ’s date of birth. Pope Julius in the 4th century examined census documents brought by Titus to Rome to calculate the birth date of Christ and he, also, arrived at the date December 25.

In fact, as far back as we can go, only two dates were generally excepted- December 25th and January 6th, with the majority adhering to the December date. This is why the early church established this space of time as the Christmas season.

In the 2nd century, a massacre in the catacombs on December 25th was recorded as having occurred on the date of the Nativity.

Alfred Edersheim, a Messianic Jew, wrote, “There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of this date. The objections generally made rest on grounds which seem to me historically untenable.”

Again, this does not prove that December 25th was in fact the birth date of Jesus Christ. however, it does prove- beyond a shadow of a doubt- that the celebration of Christmas on December 25th, predates the edict of Milan by at least 200 years and can be placed within less than a century from the death of the Savior.
Misconception #2 There is nothing in Scripture that suggests late December as the birth of Christ.

This misconception springs from the assumption mentioned above that the date was chosen out of thin air or specifically to compete with (or worse yet, to incorporate) the pagan feasts. The fact is that the Biblical case for a late December Nativity is very strong.

The biggest misconception occurs with Luke chapter 1 and Zachariah’s service in the Temple.

5* In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, * of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9* according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.

Abijah was one of the 24 Priestly courses established under King David. You can read about it in 1 Chronicles. The rotation began with the start of the Jewish year. Abijah would have served in the 8th and 32nd weeks of the regular rotations, excepting the three major feast days. This filled the 51 weeks of the Jewish Calendar.

The biggest mistake many people make is that they go by the Priestly schedule set forth in 1 Chronicles 24:7-10 and apply it to Jesus time. The problem is that after the Temple was destroyed on the 9th of Av, B.C. 586 (Tish’a B’ Av), and rebuilt, this day of destruction became a fast day and was established as the new beginning day of the rotation.

We know that this new rotation was still in effect in 70 AD because the first course was serving on the 9th of Av of that year when- incredibly- the Temple was destroyed on the same day. Historical records prove this.

This means that Zechariah’s course would have been serving their second go around about October 2nd- 9th, commencing with the day of Atonement- Yom Kippor. As the busiest Temple day of the Temple year, it certainly would explain why the whole multitude was in the Temple (Luke 1:10).

The Scriptures tell us that Elizabeth was in her sixth month when Mary conceived ( Luke 1:26-35). That put us to Late March/ Early April. Add 9 months for her pregnancy and bang- Late December, Early January.

Misconception #3 The shepherds could not have been tending their sheep in the dead of winter. So Jesus must have been born in the spring or summer.

This argument really backfires on those who make it.

Southern Israel’s weather in late December is actually quite mild and would have have actually been the very best time for grazing sheep. This argues for the second course of Abijah in the Temple. If it had been the first course, it would have occurred in about February. Not only is this inadequate to explain the large multitudes, it places the sheep in the fields in late spring during the dry season when the fields would be barren.

The second- and even stronger- argument is the area of Israel that is cold and snowy- the hill country. If we are to believe that Jesus was born in spring or summer, then we must believe that Mary traveled to the hill country by herself, in the dead of winter, to visit her cousin Elizabeth.

Misconception #4- Herod’s death Herod the Great died in the spring of 4 BC and this does not fit with a winter birth because the Scripture says that his death occurred soon after Jesus’ birth.

It was commonly believed that Herod the Great died following an eclipse in March of 4 BC. However, the Jewish writer Josephus doesn’t give the date per se. He simply mentions an eclipse and other events.

The late Father William Most, one of the preeminent Scripture scholars of our time has much to say on this.

The date of the birth of Christ hinges on just one thing, the statement of Josephus (Antiquities
17. 6-8) that Herod died shortly after an eclipse of the moon. Astronomers supply the dates for such eclipses around those years: None in 7 or 6 BC. In 5 BC, March 23: 29 days to Passover. Also in 5 BC, Sept 15: 7 months to Passover. In 4 BC, March 13: 29 days to Passover. In 3 and 2 BC, no eclipses. In 1 BC, January 10: 12 1/2 weeks to Passover.
Josephus also tells what events happened between the Eclipse and the Passover (cf. Martin pp. 85-87). They would occupy probably about 12 weeks. Martin also, pp. 99-101, shows that the eclipse of Sept 15, 5 BC could not fit with known data, especially the fact that Herod was seriously ill in Jericho (over 800 feet below sea level) when the eclipse happened – but Jericho was a furnace of heat at that time, Sept 15. Herod would not have stayed there when he could have had the much better climate of Jerusalem. But if the eclipse was in midwinter — Jan 10 — Herod would find Jericho comfortable.
So Herod died in 1 BC, and the birth of Christ cannot be put too much earlier than that.

For a Scripture scholar of Father Most’s stature to insist on the January, 1 BC date as the death of Herod lends great credence to this position.

Further, Father Most addresses 2 of the most common objections;

Objection 1: Josephus gives two indications of the length of the rule of Herod: A) He says Herod had a reign of 37 years from the time he was proclaimed king by the Romans and; B) 34 years after the death of Antigonus, which happened just after Herod took Jerusalem.
These would make the death of Herod come in 3 BC. But there was no eclipse of the moon in that year. Nearest one was March 13, 4 BC- – so scholars said they had stretch the statements of Josephus.
Reply to objection 1: Herod took Jerusalem late in 36 BC. Josephus says Herod’s siege of Jerusalem was during a sabbatical year, and 36 was a sabbatical year. Otherwise would need to be 7 years before or after 36. Also, all sabbatical years ended on Yom Kippur. Josephus said Herod’s capture of Jerusalem coincided with Yom Kippur. He and the Jews would remember it well, for it was an outrage to press a siege on Yom Kippur. Josephus said it was 27 years to the day that Pompey committed his abominations, which he did in 63 BC. This gives again 36 BC for Herod’s capture of Jerusalem. If we use the common accession method of counting years of rule, the date to start his 34 years is the first of Nisan in 35 BC. So Herod’s 34th year of rule would start with the 1st of Nisan in 2 BC. and end with first of Nisan in 1 BC. Now 34 years after 35 BC would give 1 BC for the death and end of the reign of Herod, his death, soon after the eclipse of Jan 10, 1 BC.
Objection 2: Herod’s three successors, Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip, seem to have their reigns starting in 4 BC.
Reply to objection 2: Herod had two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus by Mariamme, a Hasmonean. They were popular with the people, but Herod had designated Antipater his oldest son as his successor, who saw the 2 sons, Alexander and Aristobulus as a threat to him — so he made false charges, led Herod to have them executed. Antipater became co-ruler with Herod in 4 BC. But Antipater plotted to kill Herod, who found out, had him executed in 4 BC.
Archelaus and Antipas were sons of Herod by Malthace, a Samaritan. Philip was a son by Cleopatra of Jerusalem. Archelaus, Antipas and Philip counted their reigns as starting also in 4 BC. However, antedating reigns was common, as coins show, and Herod gave his kingdom to them before his death. It was tactical to antedate the reigns of these three to the death of the two “royal” sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, who were of Hasmonean descent, so that Archelaus, Antipas and Philip would seem successors to these two.
This reason was intensified by the fact that Herod had been demoted by Augustus in 4 BC. Herod had sent troops to Arabia to end activities of robbers and to collect a large debt owed him by the Arabian ruler. Syllaeus the Arabian misinformed Augustus about Herod’s actions–Herod really had permission from the governors of Syria for that. Augustus wrote to Herod: “Whereas of old he [Augustus] had used him as his friend, he should now use him as his subject.” This was politically devastating. He had to have Caesar’s representatives for Syria hear the case against Alexander and Aristobulus and the trial was held in Beirut. Later before executing Antipater, Varus governor of Syria heard the case. Also in 4 BC began the joint rule of Antipater with Herod.

Misconception #5 The Census. The Census could not have occurred in the winter and Quirinius was not Governor until 6 AD.

Once again, Father Most dashes this myth.

We know from an inscription from Paphlagonia in Asia Minor — cf. Lewis and Reinhold, Roman Civilization, Source Book II, pp. 34-35 — that in 3 BC all the people took an oath of allegiance to Augustus. The same oath is also reported by the Armenian historian Moses of Khorene, and by the later historian Orosius.
Augustus was to receive the great title of Pater Patriae on Feb. 5, 2 BC. So the actual governor of Palestine, probably Varus, would have had to go to Rome for the festivities, and since sailing on the Mediterranean stopped about Nov. 1, and did not resume until Spring, he must have gone in the early fall of 3 BC. But Quirinius was nearby, had just finished a successful war against the Homonadenses. So he was left as acting Governor. Luke does not use the noun governor, but the participle, “governing”.

Therefore, it is highly possible, even probable, that Quirinius would have been acting as Governor for the implementation of the census in late 2 BC.

The clincher

Now that these misconceptions have been dispelled, I would like to give the amazing evidence that I believe clinches it. The Star of Bethlehem.

Coinciding almost precisely with the time Zacharias would have been serving in the Temple, a mysterious star began rising over the middle east in what is now probably Iraq. This star was in fact the planet Jupiter. It would continue it’s rise for about 9 months.

What happens next is simply astounding. Again, Father Most;

In the evening of June 17, 2 BC, there was a spectacular astronomical event in the western sky. Venus moved eastward seemingly going to collide with Jupiter. They appeared as one star, not two, dominating the twilight of the western sky in the direction of Palestine. This conjunction had not happened for centuries, would not happen again for more centuries.
Jupiter was considered the Father, Venus the Mother. Then not many days later, Venus came within .36 degrees of Mercury. On Sept 11 came the New Moon, the Jewish New Year. This happened when Jupiter, the King planet was approaching Regulus, the King star. Further, there were three conjunctions of Jupiter and Regulus within the constellation of Leo, the lion which was considered the head of the Zodiac.
Now Gen 49:10 had foretold there would always be a ruler from Judah, whom Jacob called the lion, until the time of the Messiah. Leo was dominated by the star Regulus, which astronomers called the King Star. The Magi, being astronomers and astrologers, would surely read these signs. (The three conjunctions with Regulus were Aug 12, 3 BC; Feb. 17, 2 BC, and May 8/9 2BC). In Hebrew Jupiter was called sedeq, righteous, a term specially pertaining to the Messiah.
On Sept 11, Jupiter was close in the constellation of Virgo, the virgin. On Sept 3 of 3 BC Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo–Leo the Lion, which was associated with Kings, and the Lion of Judah, as foretold by the dying Jacob in Egypt in Genesis 49. 10.
Also, on Dec. 25 of 2 BC, Jupiter stopped for 6 days over Bethlehem.

The only thing that could add to this would be a neon sign saying Jesus Christ, born here December 25.

The June convergence of Jupiter and Saturn would have been so spectacular as to dwarf anything before or since. It also would have coincided with the birth of John the Baptist. The Magi would certainly have seen this as the sign and began their journey which would have led them to Jerusalem. As they arrive in Jerusalem and inquire about the child, Herod asks them when they first saw the star at it’s rising. This would have been about 15 months. It is not a stretch to say that Herod rounded this figure off to 2 years to determine which children to slaughter.

The star then went before the Magi and rested over Jerusalem on December 25th. It was about a 6-12 day journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. This does not take us beyond January 6th- the traditional day of the visit of the Magi.

It is less than a week to the eclipse that marks God’s judgment on the life of Herod for his abominable crimes.

After this, anyone who says there is no case for December 25th just isn’t being honest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsQbdeGym_k&NR=1&feature=fvwp


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The Catholic Defender: History of the Candy Cane

Posted by John Benko - December 17th, 2013

Christmas is about the birth of Christ pure and simple.

Over the years traditions have developed to help bring joy to the season of Christmas bringing many sub-traditions that help us focus on the reason for the season.

It is centered around family, faith, and love. It is about traditions that help people identify to the birth of Christ.

As deepertruth looks at the season of Christmas, I thought it was interesting to look at the history of the candy cane.

I remember growing up putting candy canes on the Christmas tree.  They were usually found in the stockings around the fireplace.  

The following is written by Mary Bellis of about.com

The origin of the candy cane goes back over 350 years, when candy-makers both professional and amateur were making hard sugar sticks. The original candy was straight and completely white in color.

Birth of the Candy Cane

Around the seventeenth century, European-Christians began to adopt the use of Christmas trees as part of their Christmas celebrations. They made special decorations for their trees from foods like cookies and sugar-stick candy. 

The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff. The all-white candy canes were given out to children during the long-winded nativity services.

The clergymen’s custom of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America. The canes were still white, but sometimes the candy-makers would add sugar-roses to decorate the canes further.
The first historical reference to the candy cane being in America goes back to 1847, when a German immigrant called August Imgard decorated the Christmas tree in his Wooster, Ohio home with candy canes.

The Stripes

About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all-white candy canes. 

Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites.

Sweet Secrets of the Candy Cane

There are many other legends and beliefs surrounding the humble candy cane. Many of them depict the candy cane as a secret symbol for Christianity used during the times when Christian were living under more oppressive circumstances. 

It was said that the cane was shaped like a “J” for Jesus. The red-and-white stripes represented Christ’s blood and purity. The three red stripes symbolized the Holy Trinity. The hardness of the candy represented the Church’s foundation on solid rock and the peppermint flavor represented the use of hyssop, an herb referred to in the Old Testament.”

Gregory Keller

A Catholic priest called Gregory Keller invented a machine to automate candy cane production during the 1950′s.


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