Saturday, January 7, 2012

Extending the Effulgence of the Epiphany

(Okay, yes, I used the word "effulgence" for the alliteration effect. But it fits! phits?)

I like celebrating a feast - such as the Epiphany - on the day/date the Church has historically set for it; there is always a reason for the set date, and we lose that special meaning when the feast is transferred to the next Sunday. I find it distressing that this happens with such regularity in the US! And that’s beside the damage done by compartmentalizing the faith: all things liturgical are relegated to Sundays, and maybe Wednesday evenings during Religious Education, if we can present it at a 1st grade level…
But despite that, I am enjoying a prolonged celebration of Epiphany this year. Epiphany is really celebrated on January 6, and in the novus ordo Mass in the US it will be celebrated on Sunday January 8th.  Though no EF Mass (or NO Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, for that matter) was available for me to attend on the 6th, I still prayed the Divine Office for that feast, read the epistle and Gospel for that Mass, and even sang the propers. And since no EF Mass will be available to me this Sunday, I will hear about the Epiphany again at the NO Mass I attend. In between the two Masses, I am still thinking about the Epiphany.
A commentary I read this year pointed out that the Epiphany is not something which happened on one day, like the Nativity of Our Lord. The epiphany – the revelation of the divinity of Jesus, of Jesus as God – happened all though his life. The Church picks three miracles to commemorate on the feast of the Epiphany: the gifts of the Magi, the baptism of our Lord, and the changing of water to wine at the wedding feast of Cana. But every miracle Jesus performed was primarily for the purpose of demonstrating his Divinity, of revealing to the world that he was in fact the Son of God.
The readings from Matins (or vigils) of the Divine Office seemed particularly meaningful to me this year – my own little personal epiphany, I suppose! Perhaps you will find special meaning in them as well. You can read the full set here (but you must change the date to Jan. 6, choose “matins”, “seasonal”, and “English” on the menus at the bottom of the screen).
Here are some excerpts:
From the Sermons of Pope St Leo (the Great)

Dearly beloved brethren, rejoice in the Lord; again I say, rejoice. But a few days are past since the solemnity of Christ's Birth, and now the glorious light of His Manifestation is breaking upon us. On that day the Virgin brought Him forth, and on this the world knew Him. The Word made Flesh was pleased to reveal Himself by degrees to those for whom He had come…
Dearly beloved brethren, we recognize in the wise men who came to worship Christ, the first-fruits of that dispensation to the Gentiles wherein we also are called and enlightened. Let us then keep this Feast with grateful hearts, in thanksgiving for our blessed hope, whereof it doth commemorate the dawn…Let all observance, then, be paid to this most sacred day, whereon the Author of our salvation was made manifest, and as the wise men fell down and worshipped Him in the manger, so let us fall down and worship Him enthroned Almighty in heaven. As they also opened their treasures and presented unto Him mystic and symbolic gifts, so let us strive to open our hearts to Him, and offer Him from thence some worthy offering.
From a Homily by Pope St Gregory the GreatDearly beloved brethren, hear ye from the Gospel lesson how, when the King of heaven was born, the king of earth was troubled? The heights of heaven are opened and the depths of earth are stirred. Let us now consider the question, why, when the Redeemer was born, an angel brought the news to the shepherds of Judea, but a star led the wise men of the East to worship Him. It seemeth as if the Jews as reasonable creatures received a revelation from a reasonable being, that is, an angel, but the Gentiles without, being as brutes, are roused not by a voice, but by a sign, that is, a star. Hence Paul hath it: a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 1 Cor. xiv. 22. So the prophesying, that is, of the angel was given to them that believed, and the sign to them that believed not.
Thus also we remark that afterwards the Redeemer was preached among the Gentiles not by Himself, but by His Apostles, even as, when a little Child, He is shown to them, not by the voice of angels, but merely by the vision of a star. When He Himself had begun to speak He was made known to us by speakers, but when He lay silent in the manger, by that silent testimony in heaven. But whether we consider the signs which accompanied His birth or His death, this thing is wonderful, namely, the hardness of heart of the Jews, who would not believe in Him either for prophesying or for miracles.
All things which He had made, bore witness that their Maker was come. Let me reckon them after the manner of men. The heavens knew that He was God, and sent a star to shine over where He lay. The sea knew it, and bore Him up when He walked upon it. The earth knew it, and quaked when He died. The sun knew it, and was darkened. The rocks and walls knew it, and rent at the hour of His death. Hell knew it, and gave up the dead that were in it. And yet up to this very hour the hearts of the unbelieving Jews will not acknowledge that He to Whom all nature testified is their God, and, being more hardened than the rocks, refuse to be rent by repentance.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be courteous and concise.