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Sunday, January 5, 2020


Epiphany Sunday

TWELFTH NIGHT


 Wisdom, Chapter 5, Verse 2
Seeing this, the wicked shall be shaken with dreadful fear, and be amazed at the unexpected salvation.

This verse is about the reaction of the wicked upon discovering that Christ is real and that they have chosen poorly and now they are to pay up for their crimes.

What Will Hell Be Like? 
THOUGH many of the pagans were true atheists, considering Hell a fable invented to frighten the wicked, the more renowned of the ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Xenophon, Aristotle, Plato and others had no difficulty in admitting the existence of a future life— a Heaven where the good would be rewarded, and a Hell where the evil are to be punished. Only the most perverted of men will deny that there is a God, the Creator and Governor of all things. Such men would prefer to deny the existence of God than to face the just chastisement of their own misdeeds.[1]

Confronting Evil[2]


Why doesn’t God stop human beings from committing wicked deeds? 
Evil’s continuing presence among us is a mystery we can’t fully figure out in this life. Nevertheless, we can say this much: God allows evil because He’s powerful enough to bring out of even the greatest evil a much greater good. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ provides a vivid illustration of this reality. According to the Gospel, when “Satan entered into Judas,” one of the twelve Apostles, he went out to betray Jesus (see Lk 22: 3– 4). So, the worst evil we can imagine— the torture and murder of God’s innocent Son— occurred through the Devil’s influence. Yet the triumph of the empty tomb transformed the horror of the Cross. Satan was thwarted. When Jesus rose from the dead, He displayed God’s power to bring out of the greatest of evils an even greater good: the world’s redemption. Meanwhile, our days in this life provide a season for God to test, purify, strengthen, and perfect us, making us fit to live with Him forever in heaven. To that end, the demons serve as useful tools for Him as they constantly test us by tempting us, so that we become purer and stronger and closer to perfection every time we resist the temptation. In this sense, we might say, quoting St. Augustine: “As an artist, God makes use even of the Devil.”

982 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. "There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.

1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man's relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life:

All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When "our God comes, he does not keep silence.". . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . "I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father - but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore, you have found nothing in my presence."

2783 Thus the Lord's Prayer reveals us to ourselves at the same time that it reveals the Father to us.

O man, you did not dare to raise your face to heaven, you lowered your eyes to the earth, and suddenly you have received the grace of Christ all your sins have been forgiven. From being a wicked servant you have become a good son. . . . Then raise your eyes to the Father who has begotten you through Baptism, to the Father who has redeemed you through his Son, and say: "Our Father. . . . " But do not claim any privilege. He is the Father in a special way only of Christ, but he is the common Father of us all, because while he has begotten only Christ, he has created us. Then also say by his grace, "Our Father," so that you may merit being his son.

Epiphany Sunday


WHAT mystery does the Church celebrate to-day?
She celebrates to-day a threefold mystery:
1. The arrival in Bethlehem of the Wise Men from the East to adore the new-born Savior;
2. The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan;
3. The first miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana.

Why is this festival called Epiphany, or the manifestation?
Because in the three events just mentioned Jesus manifested Himself not only to the Jews, but also to the gentiles, as the expected Messiah, the Redeemer of the world, and the beloved of His heavenly Father. The Church sings to-day with joy at the Introit, “Behold the Lord, the Ruler, is come, and a kingdom in his hand, and power and dominion” (Mai. iii. 1). “Give to the king Thy judgment, O God, and to the king’s son Thy justice” (Ps. Ixxi. 2).

Prayer.

O God, Who didst on this day reveal Thy only-begotten Son to the gentiles by the guidance of a star, grant in Thy mercy that we, who know Thee now by faith, may be brought to be hold the beauty of Thy majesty.

EPISTLE. Is. Ix. 1-6.

Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee: and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about and see: all these- are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.

Of what does the prophet here speak?
He foretells the future manifestation of the light of the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem, which was a type of the Church, and that by that light the gentiles should enter into the one Church of Christ.

Prayer.

Give praise, O ye heavens, and rejoice, O earth; ye mountains, give praise with jubilation, because the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His poor ones (Is. xlix. 13).

GOSPEL. Matt. ii. 1-12.

When Jesus, therefore, was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of King Herod, behold, there came Wise Men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and are come to adore Him. And King Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him, In Bethlehem of Juda: for so it is written by the prophet: And thou Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the Captain that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod, privately calling the Wise Men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them: and sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go and diligently inquire after the child: and when you have found Him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore Him. Who having heard the king, went their way: and behold, the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary, His Mother, and falling down, they adored Him: and opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country.

Why did the Wise Men come from afar to seek the Savior in Jerusalem?

They lived in Arabia, and had acquired some information of the prophecies of Israel, particularly of the noted prophecy of Balaam, “A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a scepter shall spring up from Israel” (Num. xxiv. IT), which was the more significant to them because they were, as their name denotes, skilled in astronomy. But to these human considerations must be added the light of divine inspiration, as St. Leo says, “The star shone also in their hearts a beautiful example for us to follow, without delay, the inspirations of divine grace, and to do the will of God without fear of men”.

What was the significance of the presents which the Wise Men offered to the Savior?

In offering gold, the Wise Men honored the infant Jesus as King; in frankincense, as God; in myrrh, as suffering Man.

How can we offer to Jesus similar gifts?

We can present Him with gold by giving up to Him what we value most, our will; also, by giving alms in His name to the poor. We can present Him incense in fervent and devout prayers ascending to heaven; and myrrh, by preserving purity of body and soul.

Prayer.

Give to me, O my divine Savior, the faith of these Wise Men; enlighten my understanding with the light which enlightened them; but move my heart also, that I may follow that light, and sincerely seek Thee, and Thee only, Who didst first seek me. Grant that I may find and adore Thee, with the Wise Men, in spirit and in truth, offering to Thee, like them, gold in my obedience and alms, incense in my prayers, myrrh in my penances and mortifications, that, after having brought Thee the offerings of my faith on earth, I may adore Thee in Thy eternal glory. Amen.

The Twelfth Night[3]

But what exactly are the Twelve Days of Christmas? They are the days between Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany that constitute an unbroken period of joy and celebration. Epiphany is considered the twelfth day of Christmas (in fact it is sometimes called "Twelfth Day") while the Eve of Epiphany is called "Twelfth Night." Shakespeare's play, "Twelfth Night," takes its name from the Vigil because during this period festivals (such as the Feast of Fools or the Feast of the Ass) used to be held in which everything was turned upside-down -- a little like the reversed identities of the characters in the play. These "preposterous" observances, incidentally, were a joyful mimicry of the inversion of almighty God becoming a lowly man, of the King appearing as a humble infant.
The twelve nights of Christmas were primarily a time of rest from unnecessary labor and joyful prayer. On each of these nights the Christmas tree lights and the Christmas candle would be lit, while the family would gather around the manger to recite prayers and sing carols and hymns. Similar services are held in some churches during these nights as well.

Twelfth day of Christmas is represented by the Twelve Drummers drumming in the song which of course represents the twelve points of the Apostles Creed.  It is interesting to note that these 12 points are indeed pointing to the abode of God and that our Lord is the gate of heaven.

1.      I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2.      I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3.      He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4.      He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5.      He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
6.      He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
7.      He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8.      I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9.      the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10.  the forgiveness of sins,
11.  the resurrection of the body,
12.  and the life everlasting.

Additionally, the 12th Station of the Cross Jesus dies. Today would be a good day to do the Eucharistic Stations of the Cross.

Activities for the Twelfth Day of Christmas[4]

At the time of St. John Neumann's episcopate there was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment in Philadelphia and having had two churches burned and another barely saved, priests were advising the Bishop, not to proceed with introducing the 40 Hours of continual adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, believing it would somehow increase the hostility already directed against the Church. The Bishop had a decision to make and then something happened to make up his mind to proceed with the devotion of the 40 Hours of Adoration:

One night, he was working very late at his desk and fell asleep in his chair. The candle on the desk burnt down and charred some of the papers, but they were still readable. He awoke, surprised and thankful that a fire had not ignited. He fell on his knees to give thanks to God for protection, and heard His voice saying, "As the flames are burning here without consuming or injuring the writing, so shall I pour out my grace in the Blessed Sacrament without prejudice to My honor. Fear no profanation, therefore; hesitate no longer to carry out your design for my glory." He introduced the practice of 40 Hours Devotion at the first diocesan synod in April 1853, and the first devotions began at St. Philip Neri Parish, an appropriate place since that St. Philip had begun that very devotion in the city of Rome. The holy Bishop then introduced the program for the whole diocese, so that each parish would have Forty Hours Devotion during the course of the year. He wrote a booklet for the devotions and obtained special indulgences for the faithful attending them. The Forty Hours Devotion was so successful it spread to other dioceses. At the Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866, the Forty Hours Devotion was approved for all Dioceses of the United States. Excerpted from St. John Neumann and the 40 Hours Devotion by JosephMary


We suggest that today would be an excellent time to make a family holy hour (or holy half hour) at an adoration chapel or in your parish church. If you can't make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament your family can pray this litany at home. The activity can by brought to conclusion by singing Christmas carols and enjoying Christmas cookies and the Christmas bread, Vanocka.

St. John Neumann - Day Twelve[5]

John Neumann was born in Bohemia on March 20, 1811. Since he had a great desire to dedicate himself to the American missions, he came to the United States as a cleric and was ordained in New York in 1836 by Bishop Dubois. In 1840, John Neumann entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists). He labored in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. In 1852, he was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia. There he worked hard for the establishment of parish schools and for the erection of many parishes for the numerous immigrants. Bishop Neumann died on January 5, 1860; he was beatified in 1963.
·         Day Twelve activity (Visit to the Blessed Sacrament)
·         Day Twelve recipe (Vanocka)

Go to a Three Kings Parade[6]

January 5 or 6

Many cities around the world celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day on the 12th day of Christmas. The celebration marks the day on the Christian calendar when the Magi brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Parade, performances and feasts are all part of the tradition. New York and Miami hold big parades as well as many cities in Mexico, Spain and other parts of Latin American and Europe. No matter which celebration you go to, be sure to get some rosca de reyes; it’s a sweet bread baked in a ring shape to represent a crown and decorated with candied fruit to represent the jewels.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after SUNSET ON SATURDAY till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.



[1]Schouppe S.J., Rev. Fr. F. X.. Purgatory Explained
[2]Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare.
[5]https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2019-01-05


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