November 11, 2018 32nd Sunday of Ordinary time
1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9: 24-28; Mark 12: 41-44
Saint Martin’s day, also known as the Feast of Saint Martin, or Martinmas, is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours and is celebrated on November 11 each year.
Saint Martin was a Roman soldier as a young man. The most famous legend concerning him was that he had once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from the cold. That night, Martin dreamt of Jesus, who was wearing his half-cloak and saying to the angels, “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is now baptized; he has clothed me.” So Martin was baptized as an adult and became a monk.
The goose became a symbol of St. Martin of Tours because of a legend that he tried to avoid being ordained bishop by hiding in a goose pen, where he was betrayed by the cackling of the geese. He would have preferred to be a hermit, but became the Bishop of Tours, France.
St. Martin was known as friend of children and patron of the poor. This holiday originated in France, and then spread to the Netherlands, the British Isles, Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. St. Martin’s feast day comes at the time when autumn wheat seeding was completed, and the annual slaughter of fattened cattle as well as geese and pigs happened. It celebrated the end of the farming year and the harvest.
St. Martin’s Day was an important medieval autumn feast. It became the custom of the wealthy to eat goose at the feast. In the peasant community, not everyone could afford to eat goose, so many ate duck or chicken instead. (An old English saying is “His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog,” meaning “he will get what he deserves” or “everyone must die”.)
In the 6th century, Church councils required fasting on all days except Saturdays and Sundays from Saint Martin’s Day to Epiphany on January 6, a period of 56 days, but of 40 days fasting, like the fast of Lent. It was therefore called Saint Martin’s Lent. This period of fasting was later shortened and became what we call the season of “Advent”.
Saint Martin is also credited with a prominent role in spreading wine-making throughout the Touraine region of France and facilitating the planting of many vines. Martin is also credited with introducing the variety of grapes from which most of the white wine of western Touraine is made.
The feast coincides not only with the end of the Octave of All Saints, but with the time when newly produced wine is ready for drinking as well as the completion of the harvest. Because of all this, St. Martin’s Feast is much like the American Thanksgiving: a celebration of the earth’s bounty. St Martin died on Nov. 8, 397.
Sources: Wikipedia & “A Calendar of Saints”
A story about St. Martin and his namesake
November was Martin’s favorite month, because it contained his birthday, precisely on St. Martin’s Day. Martin was finally old enough to go to the festival by himself. He put on his coat and wrapped his favorite, bright-striped scarf around his neck. He put a few coins in his pocket so he could buy himself some hot fruit punch and a doughnut. Then he set off to the marketplace in the center of town.
Everyone was happy and excited, and nobody noticed the beggar hunched up in a dark doorway next to the church. Martin could see the beggar was shivering with cold. He felt sorry for him and wanted to help him. But how? He could hardly copy St. Martin and cut his coat in two!
The beggar looked up in surprise. With a smile he said something in a foreign language. Martin smiled back and thoughtfully fingered the coins in his jacket pocket. Should he give them to the beggar or perhaps invite him for some hot fruit punch? But this man needed winter boots, a jacket, or a warm scarf. Then suddenly Martin knew exactly what he could do. “Come on!” he cried excitedly, waving. “You must come with me. Please!”
Martin led the man to a brightly lit doorway behind the church. This was the used clothing store that was run by the church and in which his grandmother sometimes worked. Martin rushed in, put all his money on the counter, and said, “Please may I have a pair of men’s boots – or a winter coat?” The assistant looked at Martin and laughed. “Yes, St. Martin, I’m sure we can find something.” She got a mug of hot tea for the man and had him sit by the heater. Then she brought him two pairs of woolen socks, fur lined boots, a shirt and a sweater, a coat, a soft hat, and gloves.
She took the beggar to a little room where he could wash and change. When he came back in his warm clothes, his cheeks were rosy, and his whole face was covered with a radiant smile. He shook the assistant’s hand. Then he bent down to thank Martin too. “Wait!” said Martin. “There’s something missing…” and around the man’s neck he carefully wound his favorite, bright-striped scarf. Then Martin waved happily to the beggar and ran across the marketplace to join the other children. Inside he felt wonderfully warm and comfortable, even though he no longer had a scarf, and he hadn’t drank a drop of hot fruit punch.
Source: 24 Stories for Advent/ Brigitte Weninger, written in Germany 2015, NorthSouth Books- edited and abridged
So, here is the “punch line”. What do we do with our coins? What is Holy Trinity Parish doing for our Christmas charity? How do we continue the work of the Saints? Come to the Parish Council meeting next Sunday prepared to answer that question.