The Feast Day of The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception:
The Blessed Virgin Mary in Her aspect of The Immaculate Conception has been called the patroness of the United States, & 8 December is the octave of her feast for our country & for the virtue of piety. We celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 9 months before her birth celebrated on 8 September. Although it is not officially part of Advent, in celebrating this feast we can easily enter into the spirit of Christmastide, for it is like the hope & truth of the dawn that grows within us all. Mary is our guide, & mother along the path of the Sun.
The vigil of the Immaculate Conception is an opportune time to light a special Advent candle in Mary’s honor expressing symbolically the words of Isaias, “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of this root.” I usually put a beeswax candle in a candleholder covered with white silk, tied with red & blue ribbon. I place this before my statue of Our Lady.
From the womb of Our Lady, comes the light of the world. The candle represents Christ, who dispels all darkness.
I also love to sing or listen to the superb German Advent carol “Behold, a Branch Is Growing.
“Behold a branch is growing
Of loveliest form and grace.
As prophets sung, foreknowing;
It springs from Jesse’s race.
And bears one little flower.
In midst of coldest winter,
At deepest midnight hour.
Isaiah hath foretold it In words of promise sure,
And Mary’s arms enfold it,
A Virgin meek and pure.
Through God’s eternal will,
This Child to her is given
At midnight calm and still.
Joachim & Anna are the parents of the Luke Mary.
Interestingly enough, the name Anna (or Hannah in the Hebrew) means “full of grace” – and indeed the mother of Mary was at one time full with the one who is called “full of grace”! Joachim is a variant form of the Hebrew name Jehoiachin and can mean “God will establish” or “The Lord exalts” or “God has granted a son.” Fitting names for the ones who would bear & raise the child Mary who would become the Mother of God!
Joachim was of the tribe of Judah, & a descendant of King David. St. Anna was the daughter of Matthan the priest, of the tribe of Levi as was Aaron the High Priest..
Joachim & Anna had been married for fifty years, & were barren. They lived devoutly & quietly, using only a third of their income for themselves & giving a third to the poor & a third to the Temple. Joachim had done this since he was 15-years-old, & God multiplied his flocks, so the couple was well provided for. They longed for a child but remained childless into their old age.
When they were in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice to God, the High Priest, Issachar, upbraided Joachim, “You are not worthy to offer sacrifice with those childless hands.” This caused the aged couple great grief. Then the two of them gave themselves to prayer to God that He would work in them the wonder that He had worked in Abraham & Sarah, & give them a child to comfort their old age.
Joachim took his flocks & went to a high mountain, refusing to return home in shame. Meanwhile, Anna prayed in her garden. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to each of them, who gave them tidings of the birth of “a daughter most blessed, by whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed, & through whom will come the salvation of the world.“ Each promised to have their child raised in the Temple as a holy vessel of God. The archangel told Joachim to return home, where he would find his wife waiting for him in the city gate. The Archangel told Anna to wait at the gate. When they saw one another, they embraced, & this image is the traditional icon of their feast.
Anna conceived shortly thereafter. This Conception of the Most Holy Mother of God is celebrated by the Church on December 8 & the Nativity of the Theotokos is celebrated on September 8.
Joachim & Anna took Mary, at the age of three, to the temple to be dedicated to the service of the Lord, & presented her to the priest Zechariahs. The parents then, after offering up her sacrifice (according to the custom of the time), left the Virgin with other maidens in the apartments of the temple to be brought up there.
The Ave Maris Stella, is another vesper hymn for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Even the cook can be part of the octave of the Immaculate Conception, for it is time to make Moravian Spritz. These gingerbread cookies are made for the vigil of the Immaculate Conception since Mary, too, “gave forth sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatic balm and yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh.” The cookies must stand for ten days in the refrigerator before baking, & are then shaped into Christmas figures, especially hearts. (Later on in the season, when we come to Candlemas, we could cut the cookies into the form of candles & turtle-doves)
The Immaculate Conception as the Patroness of the United States reminds us that the hope of Peace in the world does not rest in force of arms, but rather in prayers & social action & with recourse to the intercession of Our Lady. The octave of the Immaculate Conception furnishes an admirable occasion for a renewal of true love for our country. St. Thomas Aquinas associates the virtue of piety with the cardinal virtue of justice.
May all our concepts be immaculate
8 December 2020 – “Speaking with the Stars”: Tonight, & thru out these long December nights, you can find the constellation Auriga the Charioteer. The Heavenly Chariot – with its brilliant yellow star Capella – starting the journey in the northeast at early evening, flying overhead around midnight & finishes up in the northwest at dawn.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
“We understand only the very smallest part of human history and of our own life if we consider it in its external aspect, I mean in that aspect which we see from the limited view-point of our earthly life between birth and death. It is impossible to comprehend the inner motives of history and life unless we turn our gaze to that spiritual background which underlies the outer, physical happenings”. ~Rudolf Steiner, Karmic Relationships, Volume IV: Lecture III
3 – Deathday of Saint Eucharius, venerated as the first bishop. He lived in the second half of the 3rd century. According to an ancient legend, he was one of the seventy-two disciples of Christ, & was sent to Gaul by Saint Peter as bishop, to preach the Gospel. He came to the Rhine where Maternus his companion died. St. Peter gave his pastoral staff to Eucharius, &, upon being touched with it, Maternus, who had been in his grave for forty days, returned to life. The Gentiles were then converted in large numbers. Among other miracles related in the legend, an angel announced to him his approaching death & pointed out Maternus as his successor. Eucharius died on December 8, having been bishop for twenty-five years, & was interred in the church of St. John outside the city. The staff of St. Peter, with which Maternus had been raised to life, was preserved at Cologne until the end of the 10th century when the upper half was presented to Trier, & was afterwards taken to Prague by Emperor Charles IV to become ever after the staff of the Pope.
1542 – Birthday of Mary, Queen of Scots
1765 – Birthday of Eli Whitney, American engineer, invented the cotton gin
1854 – In his Apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX proclaims the definition of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived free of Original Sin
1953 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his “Atoms for Peace” speech, which leads to an American program to supply equipment & information on nuclear power to schools, hospitals, & research institutions around the world
1963 – Pan Am Flight 214, a Boeing 707, is struck by lightning & crashes near Elkton, Maryland, killing all 181 people on board
1966 – The Greek ship SS Heraklion sinks in a storm in the Aegean Sea, killing over 200
1969 – Olympic Airways Flight 954 strikes a mountain outside of Keratea, Greece, killing 190 people in the worst crash of a Douglas DC-6 in history
1972 – United Airlines Flight 553, a Boeing 737, crashes after aborting its landing attempt at Chicago Midway International Airport, killing 145. This is the first-ever loss of a Boeing 737
1980 – Former Beatle John Lennon is murdered by Mark David Chapman in the archway of the Dakota, his residence in New York City. Earlier that day, photographer Annie Leibovitz had been to the Lennons’ apartment to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stone magazine. Delayed by a late limousine, they left their apartment to mix the song “Walking on Thin Ice” (an Ono song featuring Lennon on lead guitar) at the Record Plant Studio. As Lennon & Ono walked to a limousine, shared with the RKO Radio crew, they were approached by several people seeking autographs. Among them was Mark David Chapman. It was common for fans to wait outside the Dakota to meet Lennon and ask for his autograph. Chapman, a 25-year-old security guard from Honolulu, Hawaii, had previously traveled to New York to murder Lennon in October (before the release of Double Fantasy), but had changed his mind & returned home. Chapman silently handed Lennon a copy of Double Fantasy, & Lennon obliged with an autograph. After signing the album, Lennon asked, “Is this all you want?” Chapman smiled & nodded in agreement. Photographer & Lennon fan Paul Goresh took a photo of the encounter. Chapman had been waiting for Lennon outside the Dakota since mid-morning, & had even approached the Lennons’ five-year-old son, Sean, who was with the family nanny, Helen Seaman, when they returned home in the afternoon. According to Chapman, he briefly touched the boy’s hand.
The Lennons spent several hours at the Record Plant studio before returning to the Dakota. Lennon had decided against dining out so he could be home in time to say goodnight to his son, before going on to the Stage Deli restaurant with Ono. Lennon liked to oblige any fans who had been waiting for long periods of time to meet him with autographs or pictures, once saying during an interview with BBC Radio’s Andy Peebles on 6 December 1980: “People come and ask for autographs, or say ‘Hi’, but they don’t bug you”. The Lennons exited their limousine on 72nd Street instead of driving into the more secure courtyard of the Dakota.
The Dakota’s doorman, Jose Perdomo, & a nearby cab driver saw Chapman standing in the shadows by the archway. As Lennon passed by, he glanced briefly at Chapman, appearing to recognize him from earlier. Seconds later, Chapman took aim directly at the center of Lennon’s back & fired five hollow-point bullets at him in rapid succession from a range of about nine or ten feet away. Lennon, bleeding profusely staggered up five steps to the security/reception area, saying, “I’m shot, I’m shot”. He then fell to the floor, scattering cassettes that he had been carrying. The concierge, Jay Hastings, first started to make a tourniquet, but upon ripping open Lennon’s blood-stained shirt & realizing the severity of his multiple injuries, he covered Lennon’s chest with his uniform jacket, removed his blood-covered glasses, & summoned the police.
They reported that Chapman had dropped the revolver to the ground & was holding a paperback book, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.
Realizing the extent of his injuries, the policemen decided not to wait for an ambulance & immediately carried Lennon into their squad car & rushed him to St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
Dr. Stephan Lynn, head of the Emergency Department, who had been called in again after having just returned home after a 13-hour-long work shift, received Lennon in the emergency room at Roosevelt Hospital a few minutes before 11:00 pm.
When Lennon arrived, he had no pulse & was not breathing. Dr. Lynn, two other doctors, a nurse & two or three other medical attendants worked on Lennon for ten to 15 minutes in a desperate attempt to resuscitate him.
Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival in the emergency room at the Roosevelt Hospital at 11:15 pm by Dr. Lynn.
The surgeon also noted—as did other witnesses—that, at the moment Lennon was pronounced dead, a Beatles song (“All My Loving”) came over the hospital’s sound system.
1987 – An Israeli army tank transporter kills four Palestinian refugees & injures seven others – one of the events which sparked the First Intifada
1988 – A United States Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II crashes into an apartment complex in Remscheid, Germany, killing 57 people & injuring 50 others
POD (Poem Of the Day)
~I rise from the center of myself,
Fire on wick,
Burning, tossing back shadows…
Patient & plain as day…
Sunday 20 December 2020, 2 pm – 3pm CT
‘Awakening to the Light in the Darkness’: A Christmas Contemplation with Rev. Craig Wiggins. In-Person at The Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago & online
We will begin with live Music by Lucien Dante Lazar
And end the program with Eurythmy with Mary Ruud
Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/7052931041?pwd=ai94YmhnS1k3cWN3TFFlL3ozTDgxdz09 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041 – Passcode: Peace
For more info. contact Hazel Archer firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 23 December 2020 – 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm CT
Unwrapping our Cosmic Gift: Thoughts on the Christmas Conference 1923
with the Central Regional Council. Themes inspired by Prokofieff’s book: May Human Beings Hear it! include: Turning Points of Time; Christ, Sophia and Michael; Foundation Stone Meditation.
Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83533262486
for more info. contact Alberto Loya email@example.com
24 December 2020 – 5 January 2021, 11 am – 11:30 am CT
ASA Holy Nights 2020-21 “A Rose By Any Other Name…”
International online gathering on the Theme of the Divine Feminine.
Hosted by Laura Scappaticci & Tess Parker, featuring the Sophia Working Group.
27 December – Leading Thoughts by ~hag
29 December – with Ultra-Violet Archer calling in on the Full Moon from Sweden
For the full schedule contact Tess Parker firstname.lastname@example.org
Register Here. Then check your email for a confirmation with the Zoom registration link.
The Festivals Committee for the Rudolf Steiner Branch in Chicago invites you to Holy Nights December 24, 2020, through January 5, 2021
Please note–No meeting December 29th and 31st. See special offerings below for these dates.
The Fifth Gospel by Rudolf Steiner https://wn.rsarchive.org/Religion/GA148/English/RSPC1950/FG1950_index.html
Each evening we will study together on Zoom from 7 pm – 8 pm CST
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/92592034861?pwd=Mmo0eURaWDVqYVlabTdSY1ltcUFxdz09 Meeting ID: 925 9203 4861 Passcode: Peace
On Tuesday, December 29th, 6 pm – 8:30 pm CST, we will join Anthroposophy Atlanta for a reading of Goethe’s fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily This has a separate zoom code: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82656914578?pwd=MHN3Mmt3OEhtQlZTMlc1NHFtUm80QT09 Meeting ID: 826 5691 4578 Passcode: Goethe
New Year’s Eve, there will be NO zoom call, as we will gather for our Annual NYE event. This year’s theme is “A Masked Ball” 6 pm till 10:30 pm
6 pm Potluck and artistic mask making with Lucien Dante Lazar
7:30 – 9:30 Live Music with Jutta and the High Dukes
10:10 pm Project Thought-Seed
The evening ends at 10:30 pm
Wednesday, January 6, 2021, 2 pm – 4 pm CST Joan’s Epiphany: What Joan of Arc Calls for Today In-Person at Elderberries & The Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago and online
Today on the Birthday of Joan of Arc, we welcome special guest Nancy Poer
We will also explore The Destinies of Individuals and of Nations, Lecture 5, “The Nature of the Christ Impulse and the Michaelic Spirit Serving It” by Rudolf Steiner, with Leading Thoughts by Hazel Archer-Ginsberg
Social Sculpture: “The Passage” with Lucien Dante Lazar
We will also share an artistic exploration, singing and Eurythmy.
This event has a new Zoom Code https://zoom.us/j/7052931041 Meeting ID: 705 293 1041
For more info, contact Hazel Archer email@example.com
Peace and Good Will to All, Deborah Rogers on behalf of the Rudolf Steiner Branch Festivals Committee