The Magi, travelling from the East, are guided by the light of a star. In a real sense they are on pilgrimage, seeking God in their midst and opening themselves to change and to conversion.
The solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord comes to us from the East. Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation,” “showing forth,” or “advent.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in 361 AD, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the Magi, the baptism of the Lord in the Jordan River, and Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana.The significance behind the visit of the Magi is the revelation of Christ as “Lord and King.” The Wise Men were the first Gentiles to publicly recognize the divinity of Jesus, honoring him as King, Prophet, and Priest by way of their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The traditional date of the feast, January 6, marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas and is, therefore, the official end of the Christmas Season.
Light overcoming darkness continues to be a dominant theme during this season:
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)
The light of a star guides the Magi on their journey: And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising precede them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
And, St. Paul brings to our attention another theme: the universality of the salvation Christ brings. He reminds us:
the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6)
The liturgy for the feast may include a solemn blessing or prayer over the people. It may be used in place of the simple blessing after Communion. The deacon or priest invites the Assembly to bow their heads and pray for God’s blessing. He then extends his hands over the people while he says or sings:
God has called you out of darkness,
into his wonderful light.
May you experience his kindness and blessings,
and be strong in faith, in hope, and in love. (Amen)
Because you are followers of Christ,
who appeared on this day as a light shining in darkness,
may he make you a light to all your sisters and brothers. (Amen)
The wise men followed the star,
And found Christ who is light from light.
May you too find the Lord
when your pilgrimage is ended. (Amen)
May almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, and +the Holy Spirit. (Amen)
Epiphany is the traditional day to bless our homes. In this home ritual we dedicate ourselves to welcoming guests as we would welcome Christ and we bless the rooms and activities that we will experience with each other in the coming year.
Recall in baptism that you received the Light of Christ and that you, your parents and godparents were charged to keep this Light burning brightly until you were brought into eternal life. Throughout this week bring the Light of Christ to a person, situation or place that is different from you or your usual daily experience. Like the Magi, leave your familiar surroundings and through word and/or example be a source of encouragement, peace and joy.
Learn more about immigrants and how you can help with the local and national Church in responding to the needs of refugees by visiting USCCB website. Reflect on what you learn and choose one concrete way you will contribute – offer a gift – to help ensure the success of these efforts.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is described as “one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church.” Her mother was Episcopalian and while Elizabeth tended her sick husband in Italy, she became a Catholic. She accomplished amazing tasks in her lifetime while raising five of her own children, including founding the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity.
You blessed Elizabeth Seton with gifts of grace;
As wife and mother, educator and foundress,
So that she might spend her life in service to your people.
Through her example and prayers
May we learn to express our love for you
In love for our fellow men and women.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.
St. John Neumann came to New York when he was 25 and became a Redemptorist priest. He was ordained Bishop of Philadelphia at 41 and organizing the parochial school system into a diocesan system.
Saint John Neumann,
Servant of God and Man,
your desire to bring all souls to Christ
inspired you to leave your family, home and your country.
Ask for us the grace to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism
so that all our thoughts, words and actions of every day
will bring God our Father greater honor and glory.
Ask for us the graces necessary to help and to serve
the poor, the suffering and the oppressed.
May we live as you lived persevering in every difficulty
to know and to do God's will.
In this life, may we share your intercession,
the protection of Mary and the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
Saint John Neumann, Pray for Us.
St. Andre Bessette faced many health challenges throughout his life and endured them all through his lifelong devotion to St. Joseph. He became a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and through his nursing of the sick many experienced cures.
I come to you in prayer for healing.
(state your intention)
You were no stranger to illness.
Plagued by stomach problems,
you knew suffering on a daily basis,
but you never lost faith in God.
Thousands of people have sought your healing touch
as I do today.
Pray that I might be restored to health
in body, soul and mind.
With St. Joseph as my loving Protector,
strengthen my faith and give me peace
that I might accept God’s will for me
no matter what the outcome.
Diocese of Manchester
The Catholic Church in New Hampshire
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Manchester, NH 03105-0310
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