Monica McConkey shares an invitation to use a beloved Christmas carol as a way to learn about the gifts of our faith.
Most of us are familiar with the Christmas Song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and how it represents symbols of Catechism for the early Christians with the gifts that God gave to us. From the partridge representing Jesus Himself, each day brings numbered gifts to represent various elements of our Faith:
- the Old and New Testament
- the Three Theological Virtues
- the Four Evangelists
- the Five Books of the Pentateuch
- the Six Days of Creation
- the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
- the Eight Beatitudes
- the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
- the Ten Commandments
- the Eleven (original) Faithful Apostles
- the 12 points of Belief within the Creed
I think that it's helpful to dig deeper into these Gifts of our Faith and to see how they apply to us individually, while introducing key Feast Days within the season of Christmas. We can use these Gifts from God as a journey in gratefulness and Faith-building prompts to pray, in the new year ahead!
Our Catholic Faith is so rich! You will notice a few other Catholic Gifts I’ve introduced throughout these Days of Christmas, including the Church, Mercy, our Blessed Mother and Eternal Life, and how these relate to the original elements symbolized within the song.
On the first day of Christmas, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus. God gave us His Only Begotten Son as a vulnerable little Baby to experience everything we experience and to draw us into closer relationship with Him.
On the second day of Christmas, we celebrate the gift of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to teach us about the world God created and to draw us closer to Him through His Son Jesus.
On the third day of Christmas, we celebrate the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love, infused into us at our Baptism with Sanctifying Grace. We pray for God’s Grace to purify and strengthen these virtues in us, as we strive to love and serve God and one another.
On the fourth day of Christmas, we celebrate the Evangelists; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I think that this is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the Church, as we receive quite a direct account of the Early Church through the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles (also written by Luke).
On the fifth day of Christmas, we celebrate the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch and we learn of how God created the world and repeatedly called and guided His People, showing Mercy to all who recognized their need for it.
On the sixth day of Christmas, we celebrate the entire universe created during the six days of creation. I think that this is an excellent opportunity to be grateful for Life! God created each one of us and we are sustained at every moment by His Grace.
On the seventh day of Christmas, we celebrate the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we receive at our Baptism. These gifts are nurtured as we practice the virtues and they’re strengthened by the sanctifying grace that is renewed in us as we receive the Sacraments. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit help us to respond to the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
On the eighth day of Christmas, we celebrate the Beatitudes. Coincidentally, on the eight day of Christmas, we also celebrate Mary, the Mother of God who really is a beautiful model of humility, the underlying virtue of the Beatitudes!
On the ninth day of Christmas, we celebrate the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, from the Influence and Presence of Jesus in our lives. The Fruits are the actions or works resulting from living out the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Scripture (Galations 5:22-23) lists nine fruits, while our Catechism lists twelve (CCC 1832)
On the tenth day of Christmas, we celebrate the Commandments. We are called to follow these ten commandments, especially the greatest Commandment to love and serve God and one another. I think that this is also an excellent opportunity to be thankful that God has given us a guide, a set of rules to follow and a unique and unrepeatable Plan for each one of us, that takes into account all of our gifts and circumstances and even our struggles.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, we celebrate the original eleven faithful apostles. I think that this is also an excellent chance to appreciate the whole entourage of mentors God gives us: the Communion of Saints! Despite their own circumstances, struggles and hardship, the Saints persistently pursued holiness, wholeheartedly seeking virtue, prayer, and union with God. They now enjoy Eternal Life in Heaven, while interceding on our behalf.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, we celebrate the Creed; the summary of twelve beliefs we hold dear as Christians. It is the rule and definition of our Faith: it guides both our understanding of Scripture and our practice of our Faith. As we recite in the Creed, Jesus made our salvation possible, opening the Gates of Heaven to us through His Life, Death and Resurrection. I think the Creed reminds us to be grateful for the Gift of Eternal Life!
This is an excerpt from Prompt Me to Pray through Christmas by Monica McConkey. The full color, illustrated booklet with prayers and prompts to pray is available as a printable PDF or as a printed booklet, bundled with her book Prompt Me to Pray.
Copyright 2020 Monica McConkey
Images: main image created in Canva Pro; all others copyright 2020 Monica McConkey. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Monica, mom of 5, blogs about Catholic crafts and family traditions at EquippingCatholicfamilies.com. She is an author and creator of Super Saints quizzing cards and over 45 Saint, Sacrament, Catechism and Prayer-packed Craft Kits to help teach the Catholic Faith. The Catholic teaching tools and gifts are available through Arma Dei, the Catholic family publishing company founded with her husband Bill.