Posted by james0235 on December 5, 2007
Today begins Hanukah, the Festival of Lights, in Judaism. The Festival commemorates a miraculous event that occurred during the rededication of the Second Temple following its desecration at the hands of Gentile invaders.
The Maccabees, the Jewish freedom fighters who defeated the forces of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, had only enough olive oil on hand to keep the flame burning in the Temple for one day. But, by the power of God, the oil burned for 8 days. And during this time more oil was prepared and consecrated to keep the fire buring after the 8 days. The Festival is celebrated every year on the 25th day of Kislev, which falls on December 5th this year.
What, if anything, does this have to do with Catholicism?
First, the establishment of Hanukah is recorded in the Canonical Scriptures:
For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered holocausts and sacrifices of deliverance and praise. They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests’ chambers and furnished them with doors. There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev. (1 Maccabees 4:56-59 NAB)
And second, several members of the Maccabees, 7 brothers and their mother, are commemorated as martyrs in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (The Tridentine Mass) on August 1 of every year. The story of their martyrdom can be found in 2 Maccabees 7.
The prayers of the Mass are as follows:
May the crown of these holy brothers, Thy Martyrs, bring joy to us, O Lord: may it give increase of virtue to us who believe, and by their manifold prayers bring us consolation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
In honor of Thy holy Martyrs, may we devoutly celebrate Thy mysteries, O Lord, and may we ever find in them an increase of protection and joy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that by partaking of Thy Sacrament we may evermore emulate the faith of Thy Saints whose commemoration we celebrate. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
The Holy Maccabees can be found in the Roman Martyrology and therefore can also be honored in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. But, as there is no specific Mass for them in the Ordinary Form it would be necessary to celebrate a Votive Mass using the Common of Martyrs.