downloadable PDF file: Women of Faith Resources December 2017
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” ~ Henri Nouwen
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou
“Kindness is like snow. It beautifies everything it covers.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Featured Feast Day: December 13 – Saint Lucy
Born: 283 AD, Syracuse, Italy; Died: 304 AD, Syracuse, Italy. Some sources say her date of birth and death are unknown.
Lucia of Syracuse, also known as Saint Lucy or Saint Lucia, was a young Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches.
Lucy’s feast is on December 13th, in Advent. Her feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a festival of light. (For additional biographical information see For Spiritual Reading below.)
Patron of the blind, those with eye disorders, and writers
Prayer to Saint Lucy
Saint Lucy, your beautiful name signifies LIGHT. By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, increase and preserve His light in my soul so that I may avoid evil and be zealous in the performance of good works,
Obtain for me, by your intercession with God, perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use them for God’s greater honor and glory and the salvation of souls.
St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. Amen.
Lectio Divina: Scripture for spiritual reading and meditating
- Psalm: 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21
- Matthew 25:1-13
- John 1:9-13
Audio Divina: Music accompanied by images
Enjoy the following selections and let your heart and soul be touched by the beauty of orchestration and song.
St. Lucy published by Catholic Online.
Lucia 2015 Sweden: Excerpts from SVT and TV4 broadcasts from Lucia 2015. Participating are students from music classes in Gothenburg and Växjö, Sweden. The music is beautiful. Songs: Santa Lucia, Star of Bethlehem, Luminous Saint, Orderly Men, How Dark Is The Night, Medieval Maria Ballad, Yule, Yule, Glorious Yule, Santa Lucia (in Italian). (On YouTube, you can find many celebrations of St. Lucy in Sweden.)
Candles, carols and cinnamon buns – Swedish Sankta Lucia in London: The Swedish Christmas celebration of St Lucy is celebrated annually in early December and organized at Westminster or St Paul’s Cathedral by the Swedish Church in London. Lucia is followed by other single candle holders and “star boys”, singing hymns and handing out special holiday biscuits called Lussekatter.
Luciano Pavarotti sings “Santa Lucia” : Here are the lyrics in English:
Hark! through the darksome night. Sounds come a winging: Lo! ’tis the Queen of Light, joyfully singing. (Repeat) Clad in her garment white, wearing her crown of light, Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia. (Repeat) Deep in the northern sky bright stars are beaming; Christmas is drawing nigh; candles are gleaming. (Repeat) Welcome thou vision rare, lights glowing in thy hair Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia. (Repeat)
Visio Divina: Art for Prayer and Meditation
“Visual images are another doorway to sacred awareness. They can touch into our desire to grow in intimacy with God. So, we encourage one another to let ourselves be touched by the colors, shapes, figures and symbols that capture our attention most as we are praying. While gazing at an image ~ a painting, a photo, an icon, a sculpture, a piece of pottery … something may leap out at us, calling our attention to something of God just waiting to reveal itself to us.”
(Ideas inspired by Christine Valters Paintner and Betsey Beckman in their book, Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction. See also Abbey of the Arts.)
Vergós Workshop: Spanish, documented 1439–1503
Saint Lucy, About 1500
What strikes you in this painting? To what are your eyes attracted? Feel the colors and textures …
Lucy, Lucia means Light.
Advent Candle verse: “The gift of the light we shall thankfully take, but it shall not be alone for our sake. The more we give light, the one to the other, it grows and gives light, and shines even farther: Until every heart, by love set aflame, in every place great joy shall proclaim…”
Ask yourself: What is my experience of Light given and Light received …?
For Spiritual Reading: to learn more about Saint Lucy
About St. Lucy at St. Lucy’s Church
“St. Lucy’s Lesson of Light” at Loyola Press
St. Lucia for children at PBS Kids
Featured Scandinavian Traditions: Pepparkakors and Gavlen Goats
For years, my sister-in-law who is Swedish, baked pepparkakors for Christmas. I always promised to help her, but as my ministry brought me far and near, I was never available to experience the moment. As I was researching St. Lucy Day Traditions, I came upon recipes for these delicious cookies.
According to Swedish tradition, pepparkakors are usually eaten around St. Lucia’s Day. This commemorates how St. Lucy brought food and aid to Christians hiding in catacombs, lighting her way with a wreath of candles on her head.
The cookies are also used to decorate Christmas trees. They come in basic shapes like hearts, gingerbread boys, and stars.
Sometimes, they are shaped like the Swedish Christmas goat. Every year in Gavle, Sweden, a giant (40 ft. by 20 ft.) straw goat is erected in the middle of the town. This enormous straw goat is a wonder to behold. You can change the text to English or other languages. You can also view films on how the goats are built.
Swedish custom says to place a Pepparkakor in the palm of your hand. Then you make a wish, and using the index finger or thumb of your other hand, tap the cookie in the middle until it breaks. Tradition says that if the pepparkakor breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. This reminds me of the tradition of breaking the turkey wishbone.
If you would like to bake pepparkakors, you can find the recipe here.
HAPPY SAINT LUCIA’S DAY