Oh, happy day!

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As I worked on this week’s post for our church blog, I wondered when exactly Ordinary Time would start.  Not Sunday.  That’s the Epiphany of the Lord.  Monday?  Even though it’s the baptism of the Lord?  Probably.

I was looking at the Word among us and found that Tuesday prayers reflect the first week in Ordinary Time.  So when does Christmas officially end? I wondered, and off I went into search and find mode.  So I googled when does Christmas start and end but round and round I went taking longer than anticipated until, finally, I was enlightened.

Then I read, Christmas begins at sundown on Christmas Eve and ends with the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord.

Major epiphany

Woohoo!  Great response.  Now I know for sure.

Funny that I’d never stopped to wonder why it was that, back home, folks celebrate Three Kings Day in a very big way.  It’s a rather complicated story to me related to finding the baby in cake served and then having to pay it forward by hosting another party for everyone.  I don’t even recall when the initial baby cake is served, so I guess this is a story for another time when I’ve checked it out.

Our principal used to do that to the faculty and staff at our public school.  But, while it was always fun to eat cake, it wasn’t so much fun to host a party ’cause I’ve always been a party pooper.  Still, it worked out well, since she’d have the baker place ten babies in the initial cake so that the expense and the responsibility would be shared, which was fine.

Oh, the memories!  But, while I’m at it, what is Epiphany?

I continued my searches.  And when I was nearly frustrated I remembered the source that never disappoints.

Fish eaters have the most gorgeous pictures with their explanations on the various topics!  I love their site!  And I found lots to read and share so, last night when Steven asked for this month’s issue of the Word among us to prepare for today’s readings, I waxed eloquent on the topic of Epiphany.

Wow.  I couldn’t believe I’d gone all these years without fully grasping the meaning of the twelve days of Christmas.

What an epiphany!  Yes.  I couldn’t resist the pun.  The ol’ pea brain is always blown away with every little (and big) morsel of knowledge gleaned.

Epiphany

The Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated in ways I never knew!  I couldn’t believe we’ve never discussed these traditions at church, so I kept my ears and eyes open during this morning’s Mass.

Yes, Father Xaviour talked about the Magi.  Yes, Jay Masterson had us sing We Three Kings.  But where was the tradition of the chalk and the gifts of the Magi, not to mention the Epiphany water that one takes home to bless every room in the house?

Customs and traditions

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 [five] 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 [is] led by a priest, if possible, or the father of the house if no priest is available… (Fish eaters, n. d.).

Gifts of the Magi

SJC122513-2While I love the idea of baking a Three Kings cake now that I have the recipe, what matters more is that I understand the meaning of Epiphany and the significance of the gifts of the Magi.

Although Steven and I like to keep Christmas year ’round, I find myself eagerly awaiting the Epiphany of the Lord again so that I can participate more fully.  Additionally, I look forward to being present at a Mass during which gold, frankincense, myrrh, water, and chalk are blessed and subsequently shared with the church community.

I want to live my faith by bringing home the gifts of the Magi, reciting the prayers, and blessing every room in the house!  After all, Epiphany is an extraordinary tradition with countless blessings for the entire year.

January 22, 2012

After Mass, Ly Vu gave me the Epiphany prayer and a piece of pink chalk from the service she attended at St. Louis Cathedral in Austin.  What a thoughtful surprise!

       

January 5, 2014

In choosing to be born for us God chose to be known by us.  He therefore reveals himself in this way in order that this great sacrament of his love may not be an occasion for us of great misunderstanding.

Today the Magi find, crying in a manger, the one they have followed as he shone in the sky.  Today the Magi see clearly, in swaddling clothes, the one they have long awaited as he lay hidden among the stars.

Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: Heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body.  As they look they believe and do not question as their symbolic gifts bear witness: Incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.

So the Gentiles who were the last become the first: The faith of the Magi is the first fruits of the belief of the Gentiles (St. Peter Chrysologus).

December 24, 2015

The whole round earth is thirsting for your birthday, Lord.  In that one happy day are contained all the ages to come (St. Ephrem of Syria).

January 3, 2016

The star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognize and adore the king of heaven and earth.  The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ (St. Leo the Great).

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Links of interest…  Baptism of the Lord…  Christmas novena (Nov 30-Dec 24)…  Christmastide: customs / days / foods / octave (more) / other countries & cultures / overview / prayers (guide) / twelve days (more) / why celebrate…  Epiphany: about / feast (more) / five inspirational quotesfour beautiful traditionsglory of God revealed / meaningprayers & customs (more) / saints / season / “three kings day“…  Las posadas & the 2nd Christmas novena (Dec 16-24)…  Sermons of St. Peter Chrysologus…  We three kings (YouTube)…  What became of the Magi after visiting JesusWhat became of the Magi after visiting Jesus…  What stars can teach us…  Where are the relics of the three wise men…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Budding relationships…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Concrete abstraction…  Faith and prayer…  Golden…  On being Christian…  Our Lady…  Powerful intercessor
…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Sweet Jesus…  Thanksgiving prayers

2 Responses

  1. Excellent info package!

    In Finland ending is no problem, I think. Christmas ends on Epiphany, January 6th. We have here boys who have the first name, “Nuutti.” According to old laws, Christmas lasted 20 day and thus it ended on the day of Nuutti on January 13th. This is a popular historic view of the ending of Christmas here in Finland. My grandson is called Nuutti also.

    We have an old traditional proverb, which I translate freely here: “Good Thomas brings the Christmas, bad Nuutti takes it off.”

    Also, Christmas peace is declared on TV and on the radio as January 24th. It lasts 20 days. This habit dates back to the Middle Ages. I am sorry when I tell this not in the ecclesiastical way, but in a secular way.

    I hope that you understand roughly what I meant.

    • Matti, I most certainly do understand what you mean.

      Sadly, commercialism, thanks to TV and radio, has taken over our long-held Christmas traditions; and the true meaning of Christmas has been lost in the shuffle.

      I love your proverb! It’s hilarous! I’ll have to remember it exactly, so I can share it with our friends.

      Thanks so much for your comments, which are always welcome!

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