Wednesday, January 6, 2021
1 John, Chapter 4, Verse 18
There is no FEAR in love, but perfect love drives
out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
Our Lord showed no fear of the money changers or the priests when He overturned the tables in holy zeal for the statutes of the Lord. Is the Holy Spirit moving you to make a real change today? Are you being called to be holier, stronger, more committed to God and better prepared for the trials and persecution of our world? Consider the message of The Holy League.
Read: The Epiphany marks the arrival of visitors, identified in Scripture as magi, to the place where Jesus was born. Although we know virtually nothing about them, we do know they brought three gifts:
· Gold, a symbol of wealth and power, identifies the recipient as a king.
· Frankincense, the crystalized resinous sap of a tree used as incense and as an offering, is symbolic of prayer.
· Myrrh, another resinous tree sap, was used in healing liniments and as an embalming ointment. Myrrh is an odd gift for a child—so, even at the beginning of Jesus' life on earth, this gift foreshadows his death.
Reflect: Practice the ancient art of Lectio Divina today and reflect on the readings on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.
Pray: Say a blessing on your home on the Epiphany.
Act: Did you wish someone a Merry Christmas today? The Christmas season continues until next Sunday, which is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. An easy way to evangelize is to wish someone a Merry Christmas during the Christmas season after December 25 and explain why. The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Epiphany: The Holy Light of the Manifestations (January 6)
Traditionally today is the Feast of the Epiphany or the day the three kings presented gifts to Christ. They are an example of men who overcame great obstacles and their own fears to come and present gifts to our Lord. They also being wise men knew that they could not trust Herod when he asked them to return to him and tell him where Christ was. It is not always possible to get to a win-win situation and we must also use our wisdom as the three Kings did and know when we must fight, run, do nothing, compromise or prepare for growth. Christ reveals Himself not just to the Jews, but to the Gentiles, as the visitation of the Magi makes clear that the Light of Christ did not come to illuminate one nation but all, and so on the Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate His first manifestation (epiphaneia) to the Gentiles, the three Magi who followed His star from the East. This manifestation also leads us to consider other "firsts" -- the first manifestation of His mission at His Baptism and the first manifestation of His power at the wedding of Cana. Hence both are also remembered on the Feast of the Epiphany.
Epiphany is one of the greatest feasts of the liturgical year. The twelfth day after Christmas, it concludes Christmastide proper by celebrating the "manifestation," or epiphaneia, of Christ to the Gentiles. To this day the Eastern churches consider Epiphany more important than Christmas. The Holy Spirit's guidance of these wise men to the Holy Land through the aid of a star signifies the calling of all nations, not just the Jews, to the New Covenant. But this "manifestation" to non-Jews also calls to mind other manifestations of our Lord's divinity. The Nativity continues to be remembered as the first crucial manifestation, but so too does the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan, since it affirms both His divinity as well as His humanity. And the wedding of Cana comes to mind because it was Christ's first public manifestation of His power with the transubstantiation of water into wine. (It also comes to mind because the Gospel uses the word "manifest" (ephanerosen) to describe this event (Jn. 2.11).)
Finally, the manifestations of Jesus Christ during His earthly existence ineluctably lead us to consider His final manifestation in glory, a manifestation for which we have longed throughout Advent and Christmastide. Hence St. John Chrysostom says in his sermon on Epiphany:
There are two manifestations of Christ, not one. The first is the one which has already happened, His epiphany in the present. The second is the one of the future which will come at the end of time with great splendor and glory. You have heard read today what St. Paul writes to Titus about both of these epiphanies. Concerning the first he says, "The grace of God our Savior has appeared to all men..." About the second he writes, "We look for the blessed hope and glorious coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2.11-13) (On the Baptism of Christ).
It is for these reasons that St. Gregory Nazianzus refers to Epiphany as the "the Holy light of the manifestations."
The Three Kings
The Gospel of Matthew mentions only that several Magi -- respected priestly scholars from Persia and other neighboring countries -- came to worship the Christ Child from the East. Tradition, however, has added a few details: that there were three of them, that they were kings, and that their names were Gaspar, Melchior, and Baltasar. Devotion to the three kings is a marked feature of Epiphany and was traditionally encouraged in a number of ways. From Christmas onward, for example, the figurines of the Magi, which had been kept a distance from the crèche, were brought closer and closer until it reached the crèche on Twelfth night. Another traditional observance was the solemn blessing of a home on the Feast of the Epiphany, after which the initials of the Magi would be written on the frame of the door, together with the year and several crosses that connected all of the letters and numbers. There is even a special blessing for the chalk in the Roman ritual.
Blessing of Water
The commemoration of our Lord's Baptism in the Jordan led to a number of impressive blessings concerning water. In Palestine, the river Jordan itself was blessed, with throngs of the faithful immersing in it three times to obtain the blessing, while in Egypt, the whole Christian population and its livestock would show up for the blessing of the Nile and do the same thing. In Byzantium, Epiphany water was blessed in church and then distributed. Rome followed this custom, instituting it on the Vigil of the feast. The formula for the blessing may be found in the Roman ritual.
Like Christmas, Epiphany was a favorite time for caroling; and like all great solemnities from the Middle Ages, Epiphany encouraged mystery plays. These were called Magi plays and featured the story of the Nativity, the slaughter of the Innocents, and the visit of the Magi. They were also quite boisterous: the character of Herod was portrayed as a raving lunatic, wreaking havoc with his wooden spear: hence Shakespeare's line about overacting-- "it out-Herods Herod!" (Hamlet III.ii). Variations of these mystery plays have survived into the present day.
And also like all great solemnities, Epiphany was a day for great feasting. Though the dishes varied, one consistently popular custom was Kings' or Twelfth-night cake, which included a small object that identified its finder as the "king" for the day. Many countries also use this occasion for the exchange of gifts.
The Feast of the Holy Family
Held on the Sunday after Epiphany, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph holds up the domestic life of Jesus, his mother, and foster father as the perfect model for all Catholic households. As Pope Leo XIII explains, there is a lesson in this family for everyone: for fathers, for mothers, for children; for nobility (the Holy Family was from the royal house of David), for the poor (they gave up their possessions in fleeing to Egypt), and so on. There are no prescribed or uniform customs for the feast, but that does not mean no observances were made. The following is an account from Father Weiser of Holy Family Sundays at our own parish, Holy Trinity German Church, in the 1940s. The annual Holy Childhood procession, on the feast of the Holy Family, is one of the most attractive ceremonies. In former years this procession was called the "Shepherds' Procession" as the children marched through the church dressed as shepherds and shepherdesses -- a lovely relic of popular medieval piety (Holy Trinity Parish, 1844-1944, p. 37). This feast is also an ideal time to pray any of the devotions to the Holy Family that are given in the Raccolta, the Church's old official list of indulgences. The fact that many of these prayers are no longer indulgenced does not make them any less meaningful or worthy of use.
Epiphany Facts & Quotes
· Epiphany Day is celebrated as a public holiday in Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Denmark and Norway do not have the day off but do hold special mass and church services. The day is also a holiday throughout much of Eastern Europe.
· Frankincense, a perfume, and myrrh, anointing oil, were traditional gifts for kings during the time of Christ. Bodies were also prepared for burial with these items. These were the gifts that the wise men brought to the baby Jesus.
· In Latin American culture, Epiphany, which means 'manifestation', is celebrated with plays and special songs that celebrate the coming of the three kings, or magi. Children place boxes of hay under their beds for the magi' camels, and in return they receive gifts.
· In some Eastern Orthodox Christian communities, Epiphany is celebrated by a procession to the nearest river, lake, or pond. The priest blesses the water and he throws a cross in the waves. People dive into the water to retrieve the cross, and the one who finds it is thought to be particularly blessed in the New Year.
· It’s a time to focus on the guiding star and the three men who out of curiosity followed the star to Jesus, - Martin Modeús of the Church of Sweden
Epiphany Top Events and Things to Do
· Take down any decorations, you should have taken these down on Knut’s Day, the day before Epiphany, but if you’ve been too busy eating, today is the day to get them down.
· Sing We Three Kings, a traditional Epiphany hymn telling the story of the magi.
· Go to an Orthodox service and witness a Epiphany procession. This often includes pageantry of colorful robes and a large bowl of water centered in the middle of the church. Churches are often decorated with flowers and greenery.
· In some Western churches, church members share king cake, similar to the pastry served on Mardi Gras in New Orleans. A coin or bean is cooked into the cake, and whoever receives them gets to wear a crown for a day.
a Christmas themed movie. Our favorites include
1) Fanny and Alexander (1982), this film depicts a family in Uppsala, Sweden during the 1900s and is a national favorite.
2) Santa Claus (1990)
3) Elf (2003), Will Ferrell’s modern Christmas classic
Home Blessing for the Feast of Epiphany
Today would also be a good time to honor your Father in heaven by marking your home in chalk; publicly stating who’s you are.
Every year the Carmelite Pre-novitiate Community at Carith House in Chicago on the Feast of the Epiphany blesses their home. We invite you to adopt this custom in your family. 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 + 21. 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 and 2021 is the year.
Blessing the Chalk
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
Using the blessed chalk mark the lintel of your front door (or front porch step) as follows:
20 + C + M + B + 21 while saying:
The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar
followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and twenty-one
years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the New
Then offer the following prayer: Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. 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.”
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the Day of Judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 Jn 4:15-19)
Bl. Andre Bessette - Day Thirteen
Brother André spent most of his days in a narrow lodge, with only a table, some chairs and a bench as furnishings. He was attentive to the needs of all, smiling, obliging. In the evening he would engage in the difficult work of maintaining the parlor and hallway floors. He was on his knees until late at night, washing, polishing, and waxing by the dim light of a candle. — Abbey of Saint-Joseph de Clairval
The use of candles is one of the loveliest Christmas customs that we can keep on using throughout the year. Now, more than ever, Christmas is a festival of light in a dark world, a time to hold our candles high, and to teach our children all the little ceremonies which make life gracious and full of meaning. No matter how long we live, nor how learned we become, we may travel the world over, and find nothing more beautiful than candlelight on the face of a child. "Now the Lord be thanked because we have light." — Dorothy Albaugh Stickell
· Day Thirteen Activity (Candles for the Domestic Church)
· Day Fourteen Recipe (Yule Spice Cake)
St. André Bessette
Brother André expressed a saint's faith by a lifelong devotion to Saint Joseph.
Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of twelve children born to a French-Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at twelve, 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 twenty-five, 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, 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 forty years."
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 Saint Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, "Someday, Saint 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. "Saint Joseph cures." In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the eighty thousand 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 Saint Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected two hundred dollars to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there smiling through long hours of listening, applying Saint 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 Saint Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he'll get it." The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took fifty years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at ninety.
He is buried at the Oratory and was beatified in 1982. On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a decree recognizing a second miracle at Blessed André’s intercession and on October 17, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI formally declared sainthood for Blessed André. — Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.
Things to Do:
· Read more about the life of St. André.
· Learn more about the Holy Cross Brothers, the order of which Bl. André was a member. Pray for an increase in vocations and for those who are already living the religious life.
· If you live close to St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, make a pilgrimage. If that's not possible make a virtual pilgrimage.
· Say a prayer for the sick who were so dear to the heart of Brother André.
· Try the recipes offered to sample authentic French-Canadian food.
Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph
The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.
Our Heavenly Father desires all three hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to be honored. And so along with devotion to Jesus on First Fridays, and to Mary on First Saturdays, Our Father longs for us to add devotion to St. Joseph on each First Wednesday of the month.
"The Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have been chosen by the Most Holy Trinity to bring peace to the world." It is at God's request that "special love and honor be given to them" to help us "imitate" their love and their lives, as well as "offer reparation" for the sins committed against them and their love.
The St. Joseph First Wednesday devotion is:
1. Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary - remembering St. Joseph's love, his life, his role and his sufferings
2. Receive Holy Communion - in union with the love St. Joseph had for Jesus the first time and each time he held him - his son, his God and Savior - in his arms.
In the approved apparitions of Our Lady of America, St. Joseph revealed:
· "I am the protector of the Church and the home, as I was the protector of Christ and his Mother while I lived upon earth. Jesus and Mary desire that my pure heart, so long hidden and unknown, be now honored in a special way.
· Let my children honor my most pure heart in a special manner on the First Wednesday of the month by reciting the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary in memory of my life with Jesus and Mary and the love I bore them, the sorrow I suffered with them.
· Let them receive Holy Communion in union with the love with which I received the Savior for the first time and each time I held Him in my arms.
· Those who honor me in this way will be consoled by my presence at their death, and I myself will conduct them safely into the presence of Jesus and Mary."
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus