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Archbishop's Desk

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  • On receiving the pallium

    On June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, I was blessed to receive from the hands of...

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Milestones

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  • Daughter of Mary Immaculate professes final vows

    NEW BRITAIN – Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso poses with Mother Mary Jennifer Carroll,...

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Youth

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  • St. Dunstan's awards two scholarships

    GLASTONBURY – Two graduating seniors from St. Dunstan Parish have received the Rev. Joseph R....

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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.

Events Calendar

September 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
12:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library , Bloomfield, United States
The Archbishop O’Brien Library will participate in a community-based project with Life Choice Donor Services, a non-profit organ procurement organization, during September, to raise awareness for organ [...]
Date :  September 01, 2014
2
3
4
06:00 PM
Hartford Club, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – The House of Bread, one of the area’s largest urban ministries, will kick off its 35th [...]
Date :  September 04, 2014
5
6
09:00 AM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
“Empowering Catholic Social Justice Teachings through Gospel Living, Every Day, Every Way’ is the title of a Catechist Day presentation to be given by Father Chris Tiano, director of the Office of [...]
09:00 AM
“Empowering Catholic Social Justice Teachings through Gospel Living, Every Day, Every Way’ is the title of a Catechist Day presentation to be given by Father Chris Tiano, director of the Office of [...]
Date :  September 06, 2014
7
02:00 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, Hartford, United States
08:00 AM
Academy of the Holy Family's Dining Hall, Sprague, United States
The Baltic Knights of Columbus will have a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 7 at the Academy of the Holy Family’s Dining Hall at 54 W. Main St., Baltic.  Pancakes, French [...]
11:30 AM
St. Rita Day Care Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
St. Rita Parish in Hamden will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an outdoor Mass at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 7 [...]
Date :  September 07, 2014
8
9
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11
07:00 PM
St. Lawrence O'Toole Church, Hartford, Hartford, United States
People from the English, Spanish and Portuguese Cursillo communities will be among the congregants at a multicultural Cursillo Mass that will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at St. Lawrence O’Toole [...]
Date :  September 11, 2014
12
03:00 PM
St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church, Springfield, Springfield, United States
The Archdiocese of Hartford will host a one-day pilgrimage to St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church in [...]
Date :  September 12, 2014
13
09:00 AM
Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
A workshop titled "Building Intercultural Competence in Our Parishes" will be presented from 9 a.m. to [...]
10:00 AM
Lourdes in Litchfield Shrine, Litchfield, United States
BRANFORD – The St. Mary Ladies Guild is planning a Day of Pilgrimage and Prayer on Sept. 13 at the [...]
10:30 AM
Mortensen Riverfront Park, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – Immaculate Conception Shelter & Housing Corp. will have its third annual “Give Me [...]
Date :  September 13, 2014
14
08:30 AM
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Waterbury, Waterbury, United States
WATERBURY – Sheridan Council 24 of the Knights of Columbus will host its second annual Communion [...]
Date :  September 14, 2014
15
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17
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19
06:00 PM
Church of St. Ann, Avon, Avon, United States
St. Ann's Church of Avon is having its fifth annual clothing sale from 6-8:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20 in Father Bennett Hall at the parish. Proceeds benefit students [...]
Date :  September 19, 2014
20
08:30 AM
Church of St. Ann, Avon, Avon, United States
St. Ann's Church of Avon is having its fifth annual clothing sale from 6-8:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20 in Father Bennett Hall at the parish. Proceeds benefit students [...]
10:00 AM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, Bristol, United States
St. Paul Catholic High School open houses at 10 and 11:30 a.m. Sept. 20,  7 p.m. Oct. 8 and at 10 and [...]
Date :  September 20, 2014
21
11:00 AM
Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, United States
Applications are being accepted for the 2014 Catholic Youth Spectacular (CYS), set for Sept. 21 on the [...]
Date :  September 21, 2014
22
23
11:00 AM
Wampanoag Country Club, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – The 22nd annual Archbishop John F. Whealon Memorial Golf Tournament will take place Sept. 23 [...]
Date :  September 23, 2014
24
06:00 PM
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Hamden , Hamden, United States
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Hamden will have its monthly Pro-Life Holy Hour Novena from 6-7 p.m. September 24.The Holy Hour will include exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, pro-life rosary, [...]
Date :  September 24, 2014
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27
09:30 AM
Holy Angels Parish Center, South Meriden, Meriden, United States
MERIDEN – The Meriden-Wallingford Council of Catholic Women will sponsor a catered breakfast at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 27 at Holy Angels Parish Center in South Meriden. Guest speaker Deacon Thomas J. Davis [...]
Date :  September 27, 2014
28
01:00 PM
Polish-American Club, West Haven, United States
NEW HAVEN – St. Stanislaus Parish will have its annual picnic/harvest festival from 1-8 p.m. Sept. 28, rain or shine, at the Polish-American Club at 194 W. Spring St., West Haven. Polish and [...]
Date :  September 28, 2014
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