kofcmuseum civil 4274 webOne of the displays at the exhibit “Answering the Call: Service & Charity in the Civil War” at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven is a reproduction of a tent chapel that shows how chaplains ministered to soldiers and how Mass was celebrated on the battlefield despite hardships. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

NEW HAVEN – History buffs likely won’t want to miss a new exhibit at the Knights of Columbus Museum, “Answering the Call: Service & Charity in the Civil War,” which focuses on religious ministry and medical care provided to Civil War soldiers.

Honduras 2 2015 178 webVillagers gather for the opening of Clinica la Amistad (Friendship Clinic) in Monte de los Olivos, in the city of El Progreso, Honduras, Feb. 3.

WETHERSFIELD – The Feb. 3 opening of a health clinic in Honduras by three Connecticut women was the result of three revelations the women experienced.

20150305cnsbr8397 pope webPope Francis greets elderly woman as he arrives for weekly audience in 2014 in St. Peter's Square at Vatican. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The most serious ailment the aged face and the greatest injustice they suffer is abandonment, Pope Francis said.

knights columbus logo webNEW HAVEN – To aid war-torn Ukraine in the aftermath of an undeclared war waged by Russia, the Knights of Columbus has donated $400,000 for humanitarian relief programs sponsored by the Catholic Church in Ukraine.

bro bob head webBrother Bob Moriarty

BLOOMFIELD – In this Year of Consecrated Life, many people are asking, “What, exactly, do individuals do who are in religious communities? How do they live their lives on a daily basis?’

For cloistered religious, like the Bene

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

st joes medal 8572 webGerard Staves of St. Mary Parish in Windsor Locks takes a moment with Paula Taylor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Windsor Locks. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)

HARTFORD – Archbishop Leonard P. Blair presided over a joyful ceremony on March 22, celebrating the blessing and conferral of this year’s St. Joseph Medals of Appreciation to 206 parishioners from across the Archdiocese of Hartford.

PAS hearing 8363 webHundreds of people fill a room at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on March 18 as a hearing before the legislature’s judiciary committee offered people the opportunity to present their views on House Bill 7015, An Act Concerning Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)

HARTFORD – The cold March wind on March 18 did not deter more than 200 people from testifying at the third Connecticut public hearing in as many years on the attempt to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state of Connecticut.

20150213cnsto0043 web This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On a gray and overcast morning in Washington, just a short walk from Capitol Hill, construction work began on a museum intended to promote engagement, education and discussion of the Bible.

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MsgrLiptak_TNQ. Is the tradition referring to Christ’s birth in a "manger" based on the Biblical account?

A. Yes; St. Luke’s Infancy Narrative explicitly states that the newborn Christ Child was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. The Greek word for "manger" used by St. Luke is φάτνη (transliterated, phatne), meaning "manger," "feeding-trough" or "stable." (Lk 2:7). The text reads, "She [Mary] wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger…." (NAB)

The Greek for "manger" can also be rendered as "stall" or "feeding place." However, the usual and almost universal translation of the scene at Christ’s birth is "manger." It is a word that Luke repeats a total of four times in his Christmas story. For example, the "manger" is cited by the Christmas Angel in the message to the shepherds: "For today …a Savior has been born for you… you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager…." (Lk 2:12)

Interestingly, Luke’s reference to the manger in his Christmas narrative is especially significant because of its "sign" value. Biblical scholars point to the prophecy of Isaiah 1:3: "An ox knows its owner,/ and an ass, its master’s manger;/ But Israel does not know,/ my people has not understood…."

This text indicates that the shepherds’ enthusiasm should be seen as in contrast with Israel’s nonchalance, indeed, nonconcern, regarding the Savior’s Nativity.

Reference to a "manger," given the real-life situation then (the German phrase is Sitz in Leben), would most certainly be part of a grotto or a small cave dug out of a hillside. (Was it a cave once used to safeguard King David’s horses?)

St. Justin Martyr (d. 165), a native of the area, recounted that Joseph, without a place to lodge in the village, cleared out one of the caves near the village. Origen reflects this same narrative at the beginning of the third century.

While discussing the manger of Jesus’ birth, it is important also to analyze the significance of the "swaddling clothes." (Luke 2:7 and 12) Curiously, these wrappings constitute a portion of the "sign" of the manager. The Greek used by Luke appears only here in his Gospel and contrasts with an Old Testament text of Ezekiel, in which the absence of such wrappings is mentioned as a "sign" of maternal abandonment. See The Truth of Christmas, Beyond the Myths, René Laurentin; trans. Michael J. Wrenn, 1986.

In the above-cited volume, Luke 2:7 ("She wrapped him in swaddling clothes….") is compared with Luke 23:53, the story of Jesus’ burial: "And he wrapped [it] in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb…."

An added note about the Cave of Jesus’ birth: Origen informs us that the Cave was venerated as early as his time (third century). In a famous work call Contra Celsum, he added, "What is shown there is famous … even among people alien to the faith."

For more details on the manger and the cave, see The Truth of Christmas, cited above. Currently, of course, we all are awaiting a new monograph by Pope Benedict XVI, who plans to add it to his two-volume Jesus of Nazareth series.

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