Traditional Feast of the Epiphany| Epiphany Music| Epiphany Blessing| La Befana| Wedding Feast of Cana| S. Andre Bessette| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Traditional Latin calendar, we celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord.
The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
(Transferred to the first Sunday after January 1 in countries where this feast is not a Holy Day of Obligation in Ordinary Time. In the future, check with the Liturgical Calendar for Ordinary Time, for the actual date of the Feast Day.) This posting is for the year 2020.
Liturgical Color: White/Gold
Catholicism Did Multiculturalism Before Anyone Else
The Feast of the Epiphany has traditionally been considered more theologically important than almost any other Feast Day, including Christmas. The early Christians had only Scripture, not the wealth of tradition we have today, to guide them in marking the great events of the life of Christ. So Holy Week and Easter, the Baptism of the Lord, Pentecost, and Epiphany jumped off the pages of Scripture as great events which merited celebration. These few dates became fixed points on the calendar and were later surrounded over the centuries with numerous other feasts and saints’ days.
Two lessons from the visit of the Magi are worth considering. The first is that the wise mens’ gifts were given after Christmas. Many Catholic cultures preserve the ancient tradition of giving gifts on the Epiphany, not on Christmas itself. This tradition separates the birth of Christ from gift giving. When these two things—the birth of Christ and the giving of gifts—are collapsed into the same day, it causes some confusion of priorities, and the birth of Christ never wins. Waiting to exchange gifts until January sixth lets the Child God have the stage to Himself for a day. It makes people, especially children, wait, a modern day rarity in the Western world. Gift giving postponed until January sixth makes for a long, leisurely Christmas season and has the benefit of tradition and good theology as well.
Another great lesson from the Magi is more theological—that a true religion must be true for everyone, not just for some people. Truth is not geographical or confined to borders. Truth by its nature conquers untruth. The Magi are the first non Jews, or Gentiles, to worship Christ. They tell us that the mission field of Christ is the whole world, not just the Holy Land. The Church is forever bound, then, to teach, preach, and sanctify the world over. The Magi crack everything open. The true God and His Church must light a fire in Chinese souls, Arab souls, African souls, and South American souls. This may take until the end of time, but Christianity has time on its side. The Magi give personal testimony to the universality of the Church, one of its four marks. The Epiphany is the start of the multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, and faith-united society the Catholic Church envisions as the only source of true human unity. Catholicism started multiculturalism and diversity without sacrificing unity and truth.
Balthasar, Caspar, and Melchior, your minds were prepared to receive a greater truth. Let us see in you an example of holy curiosity, of pilgrimage by light to light. When you discovered your treasure, you laid your gifts in homage. May our search also find. May our pilgrimage also end in truth followed by love.
THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany.
Bethlehem! of noblest cities
None can once with thee compare;
Thou alone the Lord from heaven
Didst for us Incarnate bear.
Fairer than the sun at morning
Was the star that told His birth;
To the lands their God announcing,
Hid beneath a form of earth.
By its lambent beauty guided,
See, the Eastern Kings appear;
See them bend, their gifts to offer,
Gifts of incense, gold, and myrrh.
Offerings of mystic meaning;
Incense doth the God disclose;
Gold a royal child proclaimeth;
Myrrh a future tomb foreshows.
Holy Jesus! in Thy brightness
to the gentile world displayed!
With the Father and the Spirit,
Endless praise to Thee be paid! (5)
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
“We have seen His star, and are come to adore Him.”–Matt, ii, 2.
The festival of the Epiphany, also called the Feast of the Holy Three Kings, is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church of God; and from the very earliest ages was celebrated with special rejoicing by the children of the Catholic Church. We find the cause for this in the fact that this feast is associated with the remembrance of the greatest graces in which the faithful in every nation of the earth rejoice,–namely, their call to the only saving faith, the holy Catholic Church.
We learn from sacred history, that in the early days of Christianity this feast was celebrated with greater solemnity even than Christmas, the birthday of our Lord himself; for as the Church exclaims in her joy on Holy Saturday: “Of what use would it be for us to be born if we had not been made partakers of the benefits of redemption?” So might we cry out: “Of what use to us would it be to possess all the goods and pleasures of the world, if the grace of being called to the true faith had not been granted to us through the mercy of God?”
The three kings with their attendants, prostrate at the feet of the Infant Jesus, were the firstlings of the heathens who acknowledged Jesus, and entered His Church. As we reflect upon the great happiness vouchsafed to them, the question forces itself upon us: “Why do not all nations likewise enjoy a participation in their happiness?” My answer is: “Because they do not look upward with the same love of truth to the star of the Magi;” and this, as I understand it, I will explain today.
O Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, Mother of the King of kings, obtain for us, from your divine Son, hearts deeply penetrated with the love of truth! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater glory of God!
Christ, before whom the three Magi knelt, calls himself the King of Truth. He calls His kingdom, the Church, a kingdom of truth; consequently, whosoever will enter His kingdom, and find therein salvation must love truth and seek it; then he will find it, follow it, and through its influence attain salvation. It was thus that the hearts of the Magi were disposed; therefore they learned to know Jesus and the truth contained in His Church, to live in her spirit, propagate the kingdom of Christ, and at last to enter the realm of His glory.
They saw the star, knew its signification, and followed it. Why? They loved truth. Had not this been the case, the annunciation of the birth of our Saviour through the star would not have excited so much interest in them. Had they not loved truth more than the goods and pleasures of this world, which, as crowned heads, they possessed in abundance, they would not have undertaken, at the cost of so much self-sacrifice, to seek for Christ. But they were more interested in obtaining the truth of salvation, in beholding the coming Teacher of nations, in learning to honor and adore Him, than in all the treasures of the world. Their resolution to search for Him was sublimely heroic.
If their eagerness for knowledge of heavenly things had not existed to so great a degree in their hearts, they might have thought within themselves: “It is well that He is born; He will surely arrange to come to us to teach us, or He will send some one else in His place. Besides, He is still a child, and can not converse with us, wherefore, then, should we undertake a journey connected with so many difficulties, and, perhaps, expose ourselves to the derision and mockery of the people of Jerusalem, to whom, it may be, the star did not appear?” All these circumstances, however, were of no weight with the three Magi, in whom eager desire and ardent love overpowered all other considerations, and they entered upon their journey.
The three sages searched for truth with assiduity and fearlessness. “Where is He who is to be born the King of the Jews?” Thus they inquired, full of confidence that their search would be rewarded, let the population of Jerusalem think what they would; let them mock and ridicule; did they but know the name of the place where the Messiah was to be born, according to the declaration of the prophets, they would find the way thereto, even if they could gain no companions for the journey, which it would seem was eventually the case, as they left Jerusalem alone. The star again appeared, and remained over the place wherein Mary abode with the child. They fall down before the divine Infant, and oh! with what joyful sentiments of adoration, love, and gratitude do they offer Him their homage! But, on the other hand, how graciously did the new-born babe bless them, and replenish their hearts with the power and unction of His grace; how did it strengthen them in their resolution to follow His inspirations, to live and die for Him, and to spread His kingdom among their people all over the earth!
The three Magi searched for the truth, found it, and returned, obedient to the admonition of an angel, by another road to their respective homes, thus to escape the snares of Herod, and to fulfill the will of God. It was thus, that these first fruits of faith in countries over which the dark cloud of heathenism still rested, gave the example unto all the children of men, how to know Christ and to enter heaven. And what is the reason that, up to this time, this was not done in such a manner as the mercy of God intended, for the evils of all mankind?
I answer by the assertion that love for truth is, in general, rare among men. They love darkness better than light,–delusion, which flatters them, more than the truth, which points to the exercise of duty, which teaches the spirit of Christian self-denial, which inspires contempt of human consideration, united with that fidelity which assures for us perseverance unto the end.
The gospel for today affirms that Herod, and with him all Jerusalem, was terrified at the message of the three Magi, that the Saviour, the King and Deliverer of the human race, was born. Herod was afraid, and trembled lest he should lose his throne. The scribes and Pharisees also, those whitened sepulchers of evil, as Christ called them, instead of rejoicing, were filled with alarm; for they felt, and truly, that the promised Messiah would penetrate their interior, and censure their hypocrisy and malice.
The people principally imitate those who have the power to govern or command them, and generally yield to the stronger will of men whose knowledge is superior to their own. They also felt disappointed, because they expected an earthly Messiah, who would elevate them to be the mightiest nation in the world, and endow them with all temporal advantages, riches, and pleasures. Yet now they hear He has entered this world without His advent being perceived, and, whilst the scribes remain in entire ignorance of His birth, men in the East are said to have seen His star, which nevertheless was not beheld by a single person in Jerusalem.
Love for truth was lacking in those who thus expressed themselves, and, therefore, they remained incredulous and indifferent, and did not even trouble themselves so far as to guide or direct the Magi to the vicinity of Bethlehem; nay, they probably regarded them as visionaries and dreamers. Behold here, as in a mirror, the character of the infidel, especially of those who, with premeditation, become infidels,–who, although born of Catholic parents, and brought up in the Church of God, later on, play the infidel, and pretend to waver in faith.
Such do not love truth, but the desire of their hearts is to find out what might make them rich and happy in this world. As regards their duties towards God–that is, with respect to religion–the generality of men are satisfied to live and die in that belief in which they were born, and do not inquire whether their religion is really the true religion.
Yes, a great portion, particularly of the so-called learned men, are afraid to recognize the truth, that they may not feel urged to confess and live according to its precepts. And, since they know that the word of truth condemns their sinful actions, and threatens them with terrible chastisements from God, they hate it, and wish that they could totally extirpate the kingdom of Christ on earth. If they, at times, arrive at the conviction that all their endeavors in this regard are Fruitless,–and if, at certain times, the voice of conscience whispers loudly that the threatenings of the Lord might one day be verified in them on account of their infidelity, then, in secret, like Herod, they tremble, and a fear, which for the time can not be stilled, fastens upon their souls.
Certainly they endeavor to appear, with all this, entirely different from what they are, and, therefore, become hypocrites, as Herod was. They assume the appearance of respecting God and His commands, Christ and His doctrines, but their actions do not correspond with their demeanor, for they persecute the Church with the direct intention to destroy her. Thereat they are filled with the suspicion which terrified the heart of Herod, that the Church would be dangerous to their plans. This is especially the case with rulers of the present day and with infidel politicians, although the experiences of the nineteenth century should long ago have opened their eyes, and forced them to see that the Holy Church not alone in spiritual, but in temporal affairs, exercises a most beneficial influence upon the state. They think to conquer by their cunning, just as Herod thought, but God's providence brings them to disgrace. I point especially to one propensity in the character of Herod, a fit type of this worthy class. He became a tyrant, and committed infanticide.
This also resembles, especially in our days, the conduct of the enemies of the truths of faith. Such men, if they succeed in grasping the reins of government, proceed to persecution, and as they are endowed with an evil prudence, they recognize that nothing can promote their ideas better than to pervert the Catholic youth to their dangerous ideas, and seek to destroy in their hearts the life of holy faith. Therefore their solicitude to impede the influence of the Church in the education of youth, with which that infanticide, of which Herod was guilty, is not to be compared.
Herod benefited the souls of the Holy Innocents against their will, whilst the Herods in our days corrupt the youth and destroy their souls. What crime! Therefore, children of the Church, thank God for your call to the only true Church–to the holy faith! Like the Magi, love the truth with all sincerity of heart. This disposition of heart is a pledge of victory over Lucifer, the “liar from the beginning.” Hold every-where and always to this maxim of life: ” Defend truth, and it will defend you and save you through Jesus Christ, the incarnate truth.”–Amen!
After the three Magi had first knelt in adoration and paid their homage to the new-born King of kings, they opened their treasures; and, according to Holy Writ, offered Him the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
At the annual recurrence of this feast, beloved in Christ, the meditation upon its mystery points to three circumstances which principally and powerfully attract our attention, namely: the star, the Infant (to whom it led), the three Magi, and the nature of their offering. Each of these three circumstances has its deep significance; and this year we shall especially consider the gifts of the three Magi, and the nature of their offering.
This consideration, beyond doubt, deserves a particular place, since the feast itself signifies the call of all nations to the Church of Christ. This call, which is most intimately connected with the salvation of our souls, pre-supposes that we have not only the happiness of being exteriorly called to the true Church of Christ, but that we also, as her faithful children, live truly in the spirit which animates her. But that our lives, as Catholics, may be indeed modeled according to the Church, the character of the gifts must be expressed in our Christian conduct. I will prove this today, and that through the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, which symbolize the virtues which we must practise.
O Mary, you who, with the warmest feelings of thanks, accepted the gifts which the three Magi offered to your Divine Child, look graciously upon that which we are resolved ,to offer to Him. I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater glory of God!
The general signification of the feast which we celebrate today is well known to us, as also its importance for the salvation of our souls, because of our call to the true faith. Let us, therefore, from the depths of our grateful hearts, pour forth our ardent thanks for this priceless benefit, which has been granted to us in preference to millions and millions; yes, we have been called to the only true and saving faith before those nations whose people, during the long course of centuries, have lived and died in the darkness of error. But let us not forget the warning of the Lord. “From him to whom much has been given much will be required.”
And do not let us forget, beloved in Christ, that St. James cries out to us: “You believe: the devil believes, too; but show your faith by your works.” Christ assures us: “That the children of the house shall be cast out into extreme darkness.” From this it is evident that we must not only believe, but also live according to the faith; and such a life, I will not conceal from you, must bear the character of sacrifice, as every thing in the whole order of salvation clearly proves. It was decreed, by the eternal God, that man was to be redeemed and saved; and this by the bitter sacrifice which Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, offered. His whole life bore the character of sacrifice, and He terminated it by the sacrificial death of the cross.
He offered it already on the eve of His passion, at the Last Supper, in an unbloody manner, to His heavenly Father; and so instituted the Sacrifice of the New Law, which characterizes and includes the entire divine service of Holy Church. Sacrifice, considered in general, is the highest act of divine worship, as is shown by its usage even among the heathens. So much the more necessary, then, is it, that, in the New Law, divine worship must leave its impress and character in the life of every child of God, in imitation of our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Those whom God has predestined to glory, He has also chosen to become like unto our Lord and Saviour, as we are most expressly assured by the Apostle of the Gentiles. The character of the life of Jesus was essentially one of sacrifice. He cries out to all mankind: “He who will follow Me, let him take up his cross and deny himself,” which signifies that our whole life must be one of self-denial, and, therefore, of constant sacrifice. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that we be thoroughly penetrated by this truth. The spirit of the Gospel is arrayed in opposition to that of the world; and the character of the life of a worldling to that of a true Christian.
The character of the worldling is to enjoy himself in the fullest sense of the word; to plunge recklessly into pleasures' giddy maze; to satisfy every desire; to accomplish all his projects. This is the creed of the child of the world; while St. Paul, on the contrary, cries out to us, in a far different spirit: “Those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its evil desires.” They are living burnt-offerings of the Lord, and their rule of life may be summed up in the following words: “Lord, I am Thine, with all that I am and I have; all is dedicated and offered for Thy greater glory.”
It must be so, and can not be otherwise; for we can serve God only in the spirit of self-denial and self-immolation, since, by the fall of our first parents, the law of the flesh and concupiscence have been firmly implanted in our members in opposition to the law of the Spirit. Therefore, since all who desire to belong to Christ have to live in this spirit of sacrifice, St. Peter calls the Christians, “A priestly people”; and those who finish their lives in this spirit will one day rejoice in heaven; for St. John declares: “Thou hast made of us kings and priests.”
But if, in the second place, you inquire what are really the most proper and special gifts which, as children of the Church we are bound to offer, they are symbolized by the gifts of the three holy kings. They offered to the Infant Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I apply these gifts to our understanding, will, and heart, which are dedicated to God, and offered through our faith, as children of the Church, through our hope and our love.
This oblation of the life of a true Christian possesses, indeed, and that in the highest degree, the qualities which characterize a sacrifice in the service of God as an oblation of praise, thanksgiving, and expiation. I prove this through the following remarks: Man is, according to his nature, intellect, will, and heart.
The intellect is the power of the soul, by which we know the reality of things, and the relation which they bear toward one another. This faculty of the soul man offers to his God and Creator through holy faith; for holy faith places before him the truths which are above his comprehension. He believes them to be true only in consideration of the infallible truth, which is God Himself speaking to us by the mouth of the infallible Church. He believes these revealed truths, although they contradict the senses, and man should, by force of intellect, be utterly unable to penetrate them, or to prove them. This act, therefore, is an oblation of the intellect, and a magnificent and precious oblation it is. It is by faith, among other acts, that we honor God–the genuine coin or test-metal between true and false currency.
The will of man is, according to its nature, free. Naturally its desires tend toward the possession and enjoyment of that which is earthly; but the power of holy hope imparts to it the wish to aim after “the things which are above.” It draws man gently on to the resolution to yield his will to nothing whatsoever which is of “the earth, earthly”; but only to fulfill the will of God, who will reward our obedience and our fidelity with eternal bliss. This oblation is symbolized by the frankincense, whose sweet odor ascends toward heaven.
Our hearts feel and love, and naturally incline, toward creatures–toward other hearts. The power of love toward God effects that man loves God above all things,–every thing else he loves only in God and for God; and, that he may one day rejoice in the eternal possession of God, he joyfully resolves, in the fervor of his love, to sacrifice every thing in this world to overcome all difficulties which are an obstacle to the love of God. Yes, in the heat of this love, he desires even to sever the closest and tenderest bonds of friendship and nature.
This oblation is symbolized by myrrh, for no one is able to lead such a life without feeling, in regard to earthly things, and in the combat of the interior, the bitterness of self-sacrifice.
In this disposition, the faithful, hoping, and loving soul praises and thanks God unceasingly by her life, which is dedicated and immolated to the Lord. Well may we rejoice if we in truth have a right to declare before Christ, with St. Ignatius: “Take, O Lord, all my liberty, my intellect, my memory, and my entire will. All that I am and that I have, I have from Thee. I give and offer it all to Thee again. Give me only Thy love and Thy grace, and I am rich enough.”
Such is the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh of our dedication and oblation to Him, the Triune God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Homily of St. Gregory the Great
Dearly beloved: As you have heard in the Gospel lesson, an earthly king was troubled when the King of Heaven was born. Earthly greatness is thus brought to confusion when the Majesty of Heaven appears. But, we ask, why is it, pray, that at the Redeemer's birth an angel appeared to the shepherds in Judea, while from the east, the Magi were led to adore Him, not by an angel, but by a star? The reason would appear to be this. To the Jews, as creatures possessing the use of reason, a reasoning being, that is an angel, speaks. The Gentiles, who do not seem to possess the use of reason, are not led to the knowledge of the Lord by a voice, but rather, by a sign. Hence, St. Paul says: Prophecies are given to believers not to unbelievers; and signs to unbelievers not to believers. Therefore the prophecies were given to the Jews, as to believers, and not unbelievers, whereas to the Gentiles, as to unbelievers, and not believers, signs were given.
Note further! It was the Apostles who preached the Redeemer–after He had reached His age of perfection–to those same Gentiles, even as a star, and not human voices proclaimed Him to the nations when He was an Infant, too young to speak. Surely common sense demands that the tongues of men should proclaim the Lord and His teaching, even as voiceless elements proclaimed Him before He had begun to speak. With all the signs which point to the birth and death of the Lord, consider how stony were the hearts of those Jews who would know Him neither through prophecies nor through miracles.
All elements in nature testified that their Creator had come. Let me indicate them in our everyday fashion. The heavens knew that He was God, for they sent a star to herald Him. The sea knew Him, for it bore up His feet upon it. The earth knew Him, and trembled when He died. The sun knew Him, and hid his light. The stones and walls knew Him, and were rent at His death. Hell knew Him, and gave up its dead. All the insensible elements of nature knew Him, but even up to this minute the hearts of the unbelieving Jews will not recognize Him as God, and–more hard than rock–will not be rent in penitence.
Homily of St. Augustine
Our Lord Jesus Christ, dearly beloved, Who from eternity is the Creator of all things, today, being born of a mother, has become for us a Savior. Today, of His own will, He is born for us in time, that he might lead us to eternal life in the Father. God is made man that man might be God. Today is the Lord of Angels become man, that man might eat the Bread of Angels.
Today is fulfilled that prophecy: Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. He Who had made others was Himself made that He might save those Who would perish. For in the psalm man confesses: Before I was humbled, I sinned. Man sinned and became guilty; the God-Man is born that He might deliver the guilty. Man indeed fell, but God descended. Man fell miserably, God descended mercifully. Man fell through pride, God descended with grace.
O miracle! O marvel! My brethren. The laws of nature are changed in man. God is born. A virgin conceives without knowing man; the Word of God weds her who knows not man. At one and the same time she is both mother and virgin–she becomes a mother, yet is undefiled. The Virgin bears a Son, yet knows not man. She is inviolate, but not barren. He alone is born without sin; the son born apart from the cooperation of man, conceived not in the concupiscence of the flesh, but through obedience of the virgin's soul.
For families who practice traditions involving “the Magi” or “La Befana” leaving gifts for children, the day begins with the wee ones discovering what was left for them while they slept on Twelfth Night.
At today's Mass, there will be a blessing of gold, frankincense, myrrh, Epiphany Water, and, after Communion, a blessing of chalk. Bring small special items of gold to have with you during the Mass, and they will be blessed if they are exposed as you sit in your pew with them (wedding rings, rosaries, an heirloom piece of gold jewelry, for example).
When Mass is over, you will take some of the blessed chalk, frankincense, myrrh, and Epiphany Water home with you, so it's good to bring a container to transport Holy Water and one to put some grains of incense and a piece of chalk into. (Note: if you can, take and keep 5 pieces of blessed incense for your Paschal Candle this Easter),
When you get home, sprinkle some Epiphany water (otherwise and afterwards used as regular Holy Water) in the rooms of your house to protect it and bring blessings. This Holy Water recalls the waters of the Jordan, and is a visible reminder of Christ's Divinity, of Jesus's revealing Himself as God at His Baptism, when were heard the words from the Father: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” This rite of blessing the home — led by a priest, if possible, or the father of the house if no priest is available — goes like this:
Upon entering the house:
Peace be to this house.
And to all who dwell herein.
From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.
During the Magnificat, the room is sprinkled with holy water and incensed.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For He hath regarded the humility of His handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His Name. And His Mercy is from generation unto generations upon them that fear Him. He hath shewed might in His arm, He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel, His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our Fathers, Abraham and His seed forever.
After this is completed:
From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.
Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead and lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
All they from Saba shall come
Bringing gold and frankincense.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
And let my cry come unto Thee.
Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord.
Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee– Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.
And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.
Let us pray. Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.
After the prayers of the blessing are recited, walk through the house and bless each room by sprinkling with Epiphany water and incensing it.
Take the blessed chalk and first write the initials of the three Wise Men, connected with Crosses, over the inside of your front door (on the lintel, if possible). Then write the year, breaking up the numbers and the year so that they fall on both sides of the initials. It should look like this, for ex.:
20 C+M+B 20
with the “20 “being the millennium and century, the “C” standing for the first Wise Man, Caspar, the “M” standing for Melchior, the “B” standing for Balthasar, and the “20” standing for the decade and year. It is also popularly believed that the Kings' initials also stand for “Christus mansionem benedicat” (“Christ bless this house”).
Note that some write the first Wise Man's name as “Gaspar,” “Kasper,” or “Jaspar,” so the initials would be “G+M+B” or “K+M+B” or “J+M+B.” In any case, these initials over our doorway serve to remind us of Who the Magi saw and how they saw Him. They remind us to adore Him as they did. The chalk markings remain over the door 'til Pentecost.
It is a popular custom among some people that all who enter or re-enter their home for the first time after the blessing should step with their right foot across the threshold so as to start things off “on the right foot.”
It is customary in some religious orders to choose a new patron Saint today for the coming year. Families can do this, too, choosing a new Saint by designating someone (e.g., father or mother, etc.) to select the new Patron, by determining by lots who will select the new patron, by having family members write down their choices and choosing at random, by allowing the person to choose who presents the best argument for a particular Patron, etc. It would be very beneficial if the person who chooses teaches the rest of the family about that particular Patron, perhaps looking up the Saint in Butler's works, finding art work depicting the Saint, etc., and sharing it.
Song We Three Kings of Orient Are
Today, is also the traditional day for the blessing of your home on the Feast Day of the Epiphany. A prayer for this occasion can be found by Clicking Here.
Markings on Door is as follows for 2020:
20+C+M+B+20 (In the future - insert year for that year's blessing and symbols)
An Optional Second Blessing
Blessing of the Home and Household on Epiphany
The traditional date of Epiphany is January 6, but in the United States it is celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8 (As note above).
When all have gathered, a suitable song may be sung. The leader makes the sign of the cross, and all reply, “Amen.”
The leader greets those present in the following words:
Let us praise God, who fills our hearts and homes with peace.
Blessed be God forever. R/. Blessed be God forever.
In the following or similar words, the leader prepares those present for the blessing:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. It is Christ who enlightens our hearts and homes with his love. May all who enter this home find Christ’s light and love.
One of those present or the leader reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example, Luke 19:1-9:
Listen to the words of the holy Gospel according to Luke:
Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.> When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
The intercessions are then said:
Leader: The Son of God made his home among us. With thanks and praise let us call upon him. R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, with Mary and Joseph you formed the Holy Family: remain in our home, that we may know you as our guest and honor you as our Head. We pray: R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, you had no place to lay your head, but in the spirit of poverty accepted the hospitality of your friends: grant that through our help the homeless may obtain proper housing. We pray: R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader:Lord Jesus Christ, the three kings presented their gifts to you in praise and adoration: grant that those living in this house may use their talents and abilities to your greater glory. We pray: R/. Stay with us, Lord.
After the intercessions the leader invites all present to say the Lord’s Prayer.
The leader says the prayer of blessing with hands joined:
Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill them (us) with the light of Christ, that their (our) concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The leader concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:
May Christ Jesus dwell with us, keep us from all harm, and make us one in mind and heart, now and forever.
It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song, for example, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” or “We Three Kings.”
An Optional Third Blessing
Epiphany House Blessing
Due to the linking of the liturgy to the visit of the three Magi, it is most appropriately used at the start of the season of Epiphany. But because the service is so flexible in where it may be used, it might be used any time during the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany — or as part of a celebration observing the changing of the secular calendar from one year (or millennium) to the next.
In Great Britain, the service commonly takes place on Twelfth-Night. We know that Christmas Day is December 25 and that there are twelve days of (or after) Christmas, variously observed as December 25 through January 5 or December 26 through January 6. The twelfth day of Christmas (Twelfth-Day), January 6, is also observed as Epiphany, commemorating the visiting of the Christ Child by the three Magi (Wise Men) with their gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. The season of Epiphany is also known as Twelfth-Tide; and the night before Twelfth-Day (Epiphany) is known as Twelfth-Night. On Twelfth-Night in Europe, many families gather in their homes to celebrate this feast with friends, food, singing, and gifts. It is at these Twelfth-Night celebrations that “Chalking the Door” is most often observed. (2)
Chalk, a substance made of common elements of the earth, is used by teachers to instruct students and by children in their games and play. We use chalk in this service as an ordinary substance put to holy use. Further, chalk will not permanently mar the dwelling. As its image fades from view over time, those who participated in its original placement will remember it and the purpose for which it was intended. In doing so, they may rededicate themselves to that purpose. After a year passes and a new Epiphany arrives, they will have the opportunity once again to celebrate the themes of this season and once again to seek God's blessing on their homes and on those who come and go through the home.
The family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows.
A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, 20 + C + M + B + (insert year). The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross, then write the year at the end.
Blessing the Chalk (by priest beforehand)
V. Our help is the name of the Lord:
R. The maker of heaven and earth.
V. The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in:
R. From this time forth for evermore.
Let us pray.
Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant that through the invocation of your most Holy Name that we who use it in faith to write upon the door of our home the names of your holy ones Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit our home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Instructions for Blessing the Home
BLESSING OF HOMES on Epiphany by priest (or father of the house)
As the priest comes into the home he says:
P: God's peace be in this home.
All: And in all who live here.
P. Ant.: Magi from the East came to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasure chests they presented Him with precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial. Alleluia.
Canticle of the Magnificat
P: “My soul extols the Lord;
All: And my spirit leaps for joy in God my Savior.
P: How graciously He looked upon His lowly maid! * Oh, see, from this hour onward age after age will call me blessed!
All: How sublime is what He has done for me, * the Mighty One, whose name is ‘Holy'!
P: From age to age He visits those * who worship Him in reverence.
All: His arm achieves the mastery: * He routs the haughty and proud of heart.
P: He puts down princes from their thrones, * and exalts the lowly;
All: He fills the hungry with blessings, * and sends away the rich with empty hands.
P: He has taken by the hand His servant Israel, * and mercifully kept His faith,
All: As He had promised our fathers * with Abraham and his posterity forever and evermore.”
P: Glory be to the Father.
All: As it was in the beginning.
Meanwhile the home is sprinkled with holy water and incensed (if available). At the end of the Magnificat the antiphon is repeated. Then the priest says Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)
P: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.
P: Many shall come from Saba.
All: Bearing gold and incense.
P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May he also be with you.
Let us pray.
God, who on this day revealed your only-begotten Son to all nations by the guidance of a star, grant that we who now know you by faith may finally behold you in your heavenly majesty; through Christ our Lord.
Responsory: Be enlightened and shine forth, O Jerusalem, for your light is come; and upon you is risen the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.
P: Nations shall walk in your light, and kings in the splendor of- your birth.
All: And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
Let us pray.
Lord God almighty, bless + this home, and under its shelter let there be health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to your commandments, and thanksgiving to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May your blessing remain always in this home and on those who live here; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen. (5)
Using the blessed chalk mark the lintel of your front door (or front porch step) as follows:
20 + C + M + B + (insert year) while saying:
The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and nineteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.
“Chalking the door” is a way to celebrate and literally mark the occasion of the Epiphany and God’s blessing of our lives and home. With time the chalk will fade. As it does we let the meaning of the symbols written sink into the depths of our heart and be manifest in our words and actions the Latin words, Christus mansionem benedictat, “May Christ bless the house.”
There is also an ancient children's Epiphany story that has been quite popular in European countries for many centuries. The story about La Befana can be found by Clicking Here.
Italian Christmas tradition of "La Befana"
The legend of Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) has existed in Italy mostly since the days of World War II. However, there is even a more ancient (and popular) Italian Christmas tradition that has its origins traced back to the 13th century: the legend of “La Befana”
Deriving from the word Epiphany (Greek term meaning “manifestation” or “appearing”), the legend of “La Befana” is that of an old witch lady with a big red nose and slight hunch, dressed in a jacket of colorful patches. She is often pictured with a broom.
Legend has it that on the 12th night of Christmas (January 5th) the 3 Wise Men, on their search for the baby Jesus, asked “La Befana” to join them in their quest. She initially declined, stating she had too much housework to do. She later changed her mind and went looking for the 3 Wise Men and the baby Jesus, but was unable to find them.
Therefore, every year, on the night of January 5th, “La Befana”, will travel on her magic broom, to every house in Italy in search of the baby Jesus bringing gifts. Climbing down the chimneys, she brings candy (“caramele”) or fruit to the children that were good and black coal (“carbone”), onions or garlic to the children that were naughty. The children will leave out their stockings, and even their shoes, hoping to awake on the morning of January 6th to some “caramele”. Similar to the Santa Claus tradition, many of the children will write notes to “La Befana” and even leave out food and wine for her (sausages and broccoli in some parts of Italy).
It is a tradition that is still strong in Italy with many stores selling stockings, mostly red, but sometimes even sand-colored, for the children to leave out for “La Befana”. It is a fairy-tale story of the good witch / bad witch, depending on how you behaved during the past year. After her arrival, there are many parties and Italians will celebrate going from house to house celebrating the bonds of family and friends.
Here is an Italian nursery rhyme that the children will sing for “La Befana”
La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col cappello alla romana
viva viva la Befana!
The Befana comes at night
wearing old broken shoes
dressed in Roman (hat) style
long live la Befana!
Also celebrated on this date according to the 1962 version of the Divine Office is the Feast Day of:
Wedding at Cana
By Father Michael
Do whatever He tells you
Three great mysteries are commemorated regarding the Epiphany of our Lord. The adoration of the Magi, the Baptism of the Lord, and today we celebrate the third great Epiphany mystery, the marriage feast, the wedding at Cana.
We see that the mother of Jesus was at the wedding, and Jesus was also invited. He shows us the good of being at the wedding feast. At His mother’s request, we see Jesus perform His first miracle. Our Lady tells the severs, do whatever He tells you, and the Mother of God knew that such a statement could only be made regarding her Divine Son. Obedience to God only grants blessing whereas disobedience only spells disaster.
The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage. Marriage being an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence (CCC 1613). Marriage being an efficacious sign, meaning being able to produce an effect, an effect of Christ’s presence between both baptized man and woman within matrimony.
Hence, Christ elevated the matrimonial covenant to a sacrament and God Himself is the author of marriage. Marriage, a permanent and indissoluble bond. The partnership of husband and wife is ordered to the good of each other and the procreation and education of offspring. The home, it’s the domestic church, and it is the place to raise the future citizens of heaven.
We know within the book of Genesis, in the beginning God created them, both male and female, and both are made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, both husband and wife share an equal dignity with each other.
As for marriage in the Lord, Saint Paul gives great insight within the book of Ephesians as to how the roles of husband and wife are to be. He tells us:
“Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord: because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church. He is the savior of his body.
Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ: so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church and delivered himself up for it” (Eph. 5:22-25).
What does this all mean? The Father, the husband, is the head of the family. The burden, the onus is upon him. He has been given authority from on high. With that said, it is most important to remember that we don’t look at such authority in a secular or politicized fashion. The authority that is given by Almighty God is always given in reference for the good of the other. Hence, the husband’s authority and being the representative of God within the family he is to live as another Christ. He is to do this for his beloved. As Saint Paul tells us, husbands are to love their wives as the Church as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for it.
The husbands love for his wife is to be sacrificial just our Lord’s as He ascended Calvary on the royal road of the Cross. The authority he possesses is for his wife’s good, to will her good, to die to ones-self each day a little bit more. In its extreme, the man is to sacrifice his own life in self-defense for both wife and children.
The man’s rule within the family is to be one of gentleness, kindness, and to have leniency for his wife, since like Adam, Eve being made of the flesh taken from his side. The authority that the man possesses is never to be felt as a burden to the other. For any man who acts in this way towards his wife his behavior is both sinful and shameful. He is to be a representative of God within the household.
And so, husbands are to plead to Saint Joseph, the just man, to be good fathers, to be good leaders. This authority that Saint Paul speaks of was also evidenced within the Holy Family. God gave the great example of how to rule and to govern as we see that the angel did not appear to Mary in a dream, but to Saint Joseph, and the flight into Egypt was to be made under him.
As for the wife, a sacrifice of obedience is to be made, like that of our Lady, our heavenly mother who was perfectly obedient to Almighty God. This does not mean a slavish servitude. For when the man and woman come together the two become one flesh. Even though rule is established by the man he is still dependent on the will of his wife. As Saint Ambrose tells us, not just one yoke exists as if the man were still single, but there is a double yoke which rests upon both on husband and wife and they pull together.
The good wife also will always influence her husband far more effectively by her silence, meekness, prayer, rather than by reproaches. This is part of the feminine genius and the character of the truly strong woman. Saint Augustine tells us that his mother, Saint Monica, did more for the conversion of her husband Patricius by the saintliness of her life rather than by her words. As the book of Proverbs tells us as for the husband who has the good wife, how precious is she, and how fortunate is he to have her. Her children call her blessed, her husband praises her. And as the book of proverbs continues: “Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 30:31). As we can see, sacrifice is required by both husband and wife.
Now when the divine order is followed, happiness accompanies it. We can certainly say we’re glad when we follow the Ten commandments. Blessedness, happiness comes when we ascend the Beatitudes. So, it is for us in our states in life. A priest will be happy if he is a man of prayer and sacrifice. A couple will be happy in reverencing each other and appreciating the complementarity and different roles of one another.
Most especially, within the sacraments, such as marriage, God grants us graces of state. This is particularly the case when we follow His Divine Designs. In the sacrament of Matrimony, between baptized man and woman, special graces are attached to this state. There is the great mutual affection for one another who receive this sacramental grace. Strength is given to them to preserve inviolable fidelity to one another and to bear with patience the ills of life. Those ills being the faults and failings of the other or their troubles with their children. Grace is also given to discharge the most important duty of all, to raise their children in the fear and love of God.
Rather than being married for earthly motives, the sacrament of matrimony serves as a means to get husband, wife, and children to heaven. It grants great graces. Therefore, it’s important to encourage both young and old to be married within the Church. It will provide the assistance that the married need. Maybe some here know some Catholics who haven’t been married in the Church. You can encourage them to get their marriages rectified in the Church. By doing so, the Church would recognize those marriages as true, and then they would be pleasing before the eyes of Almighty God. Feel free to encourage anyone to contact their local priest regarding this.
Christ elevated marriage to a sacrament. Through it, husband and wife reverence each other, and sanctify one another. Encourage those who are married outside the Church to come in and have elevated it to the sacrament it is meant to be. Encourage the youth to commit, to be married. It’s countercultural. Truly it’s a sign of contradiction against the rest of the world which rails against commitment and most especially the holiness and sacredness of the family. In promoting and defending the sacrament of marriage we can help strengthen and rebuild Christian society.
St. André Bessette
Brother André expressed a saint’s faith by a lifelong devotion to St. Joseph.
Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at 12, when both parents had died, he became a farmhand. Various trades followed: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith—all failures. He was a factory worker in the United States during the boom times of the Civil War.
At 25, he applied for entrance into the Congregation of the Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget (see Marie-Rose Durocher, October 6), he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years,” he said.
In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of St. Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, “Some day, St. Joseph is going to be honored in a very special way on Mount Royal!”
When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.
When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “St. Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.
For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of St. Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected 200 dollars to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening, applying St. Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.
The chapel also grew. By 1931 there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of St. Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.
He is buried at the Oratory. He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2010. At his canonization in October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that St. Andre "lived the beatitude of the pure of heart."
Rubbing ailing limbs with oil or a medal? Planting a medal to buy land? Isn’t this superstition? Aren’t we long past that?
Superstitious people rely only on the “magic” of a word or action. Brother André’s oil and medals were authentic sacramentals of a simple, total faith in the Father who lets his saints help him bless his children.
“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures,” said St. André Bessette.
Looking Around You:
The greatest thing each of us offers the world is ourselves, not a whirlwind of activity. People all around us are starving for love. People need our company, our presence and our comfort.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
How good our God is! Have more trust in the divine mercy.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Introductory Reflections: 1-10
We begin, today, reflecting upon an introduction to Diary of Divine Mercy of Saint Faustina. This treasure reveals Jesus’ own Heart. It reveals His infinite love and Mercy. Ponder each short daily reflection throughout the day so that, by the end of the Year, you will have pondered everything Jesus revealed to this great saint.
In the reflections that follow, you will discover many of the beautiful truths of God’s Mercy. Some may strike you to the heart, while others may not. Pay attention, especially, to those reflections that jump out at you. Some may be deeply convicting and be the cause for you to reexamine your life. Do not be afraid to let the Lord speak to you in a powerful way and do not resist His message of Mercy. If a particular message does strike you, and if this is the result of God speaking to you and challenging you, then listen. Pray over that reflection and let the Lord speak. Do not be offended and do not turn away.
This first section presents a basic introduction and overview of Saint Faustina’s Diary and the message of Divine Mercy in general. These first ten reflections are offered as a way of introducing you, by way of an overview, to the Heart of our Lord as revealed through the six notebooks Saint Faustina filled with her inspirations and private revelations. As you read through this initial section, allow yourself to be open to the newness of the concept of Divine Mercy and the devotion that flows from it. God deeply desires to pour out His Mercy in our day and age and the revelations given to Saint Faustina are a gift by which God is speaking to us in a special way.
Reflection 5: Redemption of the World
The Incarnation was the greatest act of Mercy ever known. The only subsequent act that surpassed it was the act of Jesus dying on the Cross destroying sin and death by His blood. The redemption of the world, through the blood of the Cross, is an act of love and Mercy that we will never fully comprehend. We could never be grateful enough for this act since we will never fully fathom the depth of this love.
Spend time throughout this day pondering the crucifix. Hold it in your hand, look at it, imagine it and meditate on it. And then try and close your eyes from time to time pondering the full reality of the Crucifixion. This was not an easy sacrifice. It was especially difficult to receive such brutality and to say, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” This is Divine Mercy.
Lord, help me to gaze deeply upon Your Cross and to discover, within that Cross, an ocean of pure Mercy. Wash me in this sacrificial love and help me to obtain eternal redemption. Jesus, I trust in You.