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Daily Catholic Question

Is the candy cane a religious symbol?

In "surfing the Net," the Wise Man's assistant found two versions of the candy cane's origin.

According to one legend, the choirmaster of the Cologne Cathedral gave his young singers sugar sticks in 1670 to keep them quiet during a long creche ceremony. He bent them in the shape of shepherds' crooks.

Another Web site explains that an Indiana candymaker wanted to make a Christmas witness. He began with a stick of pure white hard candy to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless character of Jesus.

Hard candy symbolized the Church's rock foundation. Upright, the staff-like shape represented Jesus the Good Shepherd. Upside down, the cane became the letter J for "Jesus."

The candymaker added one broad red stripe and three narrow ones. The broad stripe calls to mind the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross. The narrow ones represent the stripes of his scourging.

Click here for the rest of today's answer

Monday, December 24, 2012
Daily Catholic Question for 12/23/2012 Daily Catholic Question for 12/25/2012


Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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