Thursday, 2 February 2017

Punxsutawney Phil or Wiarton Willie - pretty poor pagan substitutes for the real Light of lights

          Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple on this day. The Holy Spirit had revealed to the just and devout Simeon that he should not die before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. In the temple the old man glimpsed Jesus in Mary's arms and blessed God, knowing that at last he had seen the Savior, "a light of revelation to the Gentiles and a glory of Thy people Israel."
          But only after the Savior's Passion and Crucifixion would the light win for men the final victory over bodily and spiritual death. Simeon therefore said to Mary, the co-redeemer of mankind, "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:35). May we, too, after having shared the redemptive sufferings of Christ attain the final grace of presentation in the holy temple of God's glory.
(from a Missal introduction to today's Mass)

While the pagan secularists are out celebrating a couple of rodents, be they in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania or Wiarton, Ontario, we Catholics are blest to know that the groundhog is but a beautiful creature of God, it is not a god that can predict anything. Even in jest, it is a mockery of the One True God and His First Commandment - to even joke that an animal can predict the weather, other than by its Creator growing it a longer coat. 

A little English rhyme which seems to indicate the origin of the rodent used for prediction.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

In Germany, it went thus:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.

I see the groundhog ritual as satanic, more than just pagan. If the rodent sees the sun, he goes back in to his hole. Satan sees the Light of Christ, which he runs from. 

Today is Candlemas, the official end of the Christmas Season according to ancient tradition. The Christmas cycle ends today, the last singing of the Alma Redemptoris Mater after Lauds is this morning,

This feast - solemnity recalls the day when our Blessed Mother - Mary being a Jewess and forty days after giving birth to her first-born Son, the Messiah; presented herself in the Temple as Orthodox Jewish women still do today for a mikvah, or Purification. In the Roman Missal of 1962, they actually changed the name to the Presentation of the Lord, which it is of course. Prior to that, it was the Purification of Mary. Common folk, not liturgists, called it Candlemas because, "we bless candles" as Father Zed says, and we receive blest candles and take them home. Father Hunwicke has some thoughts on this and how "purification" does not fit with our modern sensibilities of a woman being, "unclean."

In the great Responsory to the Antiphons during the Procession, we sing, repeatedly after each verse:

After the days of Mary 's purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord

Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph went up to Jerusalem "according to the law of Moses." They followed the Law, they loved, the Law. They did not mock the Law, they did not feel that the Law kept them from grace. They were not "rigid." They were not "hiding" anything.

A few weeks ago, right after Epiphany and for the first time, the Creche and Christmas Tree in St. Peter's Square were removed. It was then, after all, "Ordinary Time." As I sit and write this, the Christmas Tree, (cut ourselves in early December and left outside until the 23rd) is still alit. It actually has new growth, never losing its water supply and tricked in to thinking it was Spring, it is only now starting to drop a few needles. The house is still decorated with the manger and holly and boxwood and pine. Fox and I will still use our Christmas mugs for this mornings coffee. Tonight, for Vespers followed by Holy Mass, it will be lit for the last time until next Christmas, the Lord willing. 

Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.
Here is an old poem giving insight into the beautiful tradition when our ancestors would mark the changing of time and seasons and think of simpler things, and God.

1. Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the mistletoe ;
Instead of holly, now up-raise
The greener box, for show.

Thus times and seasons oft do shift; each thing his turn doth hold ;
New thoughts and things now do succeed, as former things grow old.

2. The holly hitherto did sway ;
Let box now domineer
Until the dancing Easter day,
Or Easter's eve appear. Refrain

3. Then youthful box which now hath grace
Your houses to renew ;
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped yew. Refrain

4. When yew is out, then birch comes in,
And many flowers beside ;
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin
To honour Whitsuntide. Refrain

5. Green rushes, then, and sweetest bents,
With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments
To re-adorn the house. Refrain


Sandpiper said...

Thanks for that beautiful overview. Think I'll go buy a boxwood.

Jim J. McCrea said...

I never thought of it that way, but using a groundhog to predict the weather is the sin of divination.

Guest said...

Christ is Born!

Since today is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (TL calendar: Purification of Our Lady), I thought that you might like this:

The Ancient of Days, Who of old gave the Law to Moses on Sinai
appears this day as an infant.
The Creator of the Law fulfils the Law.
He is brought into the Temple
and is given over to the Elder.
The just Simeon receives Him,
and beholding the fulfilment of the divine promise, joyfully cries out:
My eyes have seen the mystery hidden from all eternity.
It has been revealed in these latter days.
The Light has radiated the darkness of unbelieving Gentiles
and gives glory to the newly chosen Israel.
Therefore, let Your servant depart from the bonds of this flesh
to the wondrous unending life that knows no age.
And we pray You to grant great mercy to the world.

He, Who once gave the Law to Moses on Sinai,
today submits Himself to the prescriptions of the Law.
In His compassion He has become like us for our sakes.
Now the pure God, as a holy infant having opened a pure womb,
is being offered as God to Himself.
He is freeing us from the curse of the Law
and granting light to our souls.


This is the true meaning of the day, not Punxsutawney Phil. (Just wondering: How did you find out about PP since you're north of the border? Are you originally from Pennsylvania?)

In Christ the King,


Vox Cantoris said...

Pux gets around!

Guest said...

Hmmm...PP must be one fast groundhog in order to get to Toronto in one day! ;-)

Guest said...

Same here. Thanks for posting it.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Learned something new.

Osusanna said...

I agree it's mockery. Phil presented to the world. If I remember correctly, this day in 2015 the Gerber Baby of the Year was shown on my local news. Satan apes God.

Anonymous said...

On busycatholic blogspot, they do the opposite, the usual Dan Brown thing. " the church copied it from pagans" I tried to explain how that couldn't be true. Anyone else wanna direct these confused Catholics back into the Light?

Jonvilas said...

One correction – tonight, at the end of Compline, the antiphon "Ave Regina caelorum" should be sung, not "Alma redemtoris Mater".

Vox Cantoris said...

Yes, you are correct, thanks for catching that, I will edit it. Fox and I sang the Alma for the last time after Lauds this morning.

Anonymous said...

Not today! Today is a solemn Holy Day. Our Lord hates it when people shop on Sundays and Holy Days.

Eternal Father, I offer Their the Adorable Face of Thy Beloved Son for the honor and glory of Thy Holy Name and for the salvation of all men.

Our Lord Jesus Christ gave this prayer to Sr. Mary of St. Peter in establishing devotion to His Holy Face.

Kathleen1031 said...

What a lovely post, something helpful to contemplate and sweet to consider. Thank you.
The voice of the priest singing in the video is just so beautiful, what a voice he has, even speaking it is amazing but in song, my word. What a sound that praises God! Lovely.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for reposting my post from last year. It was so thoughtful of you!

In Christ the King,