Thought for the Day – 9 January – 3rd Day after Epiphany

Thought for the Day – 9 January – 3rd Day after Epiphany

Excerpt from Pope Francis’ Homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, celebrated 6 January 2019, in St Peter’s Basilica

“In order to find Jesus, we also need to take a different route, to follow a different path, His path, the path of humble love.   And we have to persevere.   Today’s Gospel ends by saying that the Magi, after encountering Jesus, “left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2:12).   Another road, different from that of Herod.   An alternative route than that of the world, like the road taken by those who surround Jesus at Christmas – Mary and Joseph, the shepherds.   Like the Magi, they left home and became pilgrims on the paths of God.   For only those, who leave behind their worldly attachments and undertake a journey, find the mystery of God.for only those who leave behind their worldly attachments - pope francis epiphany 2019 9jan2019.jpg

This holds true for us too.   It is not enough to know where Jesus was born, as the scribes did if we do not go there.   It is not enough to know that Jesus was born, like Herod, if we do not encounter Him.   When His place becomes our place, when  His time becomes our time, when His person becomes our life, then the prophecies come to fulfilment in us.   Then Jesus is born within us.   He becomes the living God for me.   Today we are asked to imitate the Magi.   They do not debate – they set out.  They do not stop to look but enter the house of Jesus.   They do not put themselves at the centre but bow down before the One who is the centre.   They do not remain glued to their plans but are prepared to take other routes.   Their actions reveal a close contact with the Lord, a radical openness to Him, a total engagement with Him.   With Him, they use the language of love, the same language that Jesus, though an infant, already speaks.   Indeed, the Magi go to the Lord not to receive but to give.   Let us ask ourselves this question – at Christmas did we bring gifts to Jesus for His party, or did we only exchange gifts among ourselves?when his place becomes our place - pope franics epip homily 2019 9 jan 2019.jpg

let us ask ourselves - pope francis 9 jan 2019 epiphany homily 2019.jpg

If we went to the Lord empty-handed, today we can remedy that.   The Gospel, in some sense, gives us a little “gift list”: gold, frankincense and myrrh.   Gold, the most precious of metals, reminds us God has to be granted first place – He has to be worshipped. But to do that, we need to remove ourselves from the first place and to recognise our neediness, the fact that we are not self-sufficient.    Then there is frankincense, which symbolises a relationship with the Lord, prayer, which like incense rises up to God (cf. Ps 141:2).   Just as incense must burn in order to yield its fragrance, so too, in prayer, we need to “burn” a little of our time, to spend it with the Lord.   Not just in words but also by our actions.   We see this in the myrrh, the ointment that would be lovingly used to wrap the body of Jesus taken down from the cross (cf. Jn 19:39).   The Lord is pleased when we care for bodies racked by suffering, the flesh of the vulnerable, of those left behind, of those who can only receive without being able to give anything material in return.   Precious in the eyes of God is mercy shown to those who have nothing to give back.   Gratuitousness!

In this Christmas season now drawing to its close, let us not miss the opportunity to offer a precious gift to our King, who came to us not in worldly pomp but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem.   If we can do this, His light will shine upon us.”in this christmas season - pope francis - 9 jan 2019.jpg


“Chalk the Door” – 6 January – Epiphany House Blessing

“Chalk the Door” – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Each year around the feast of the Epiphany many parishes throughout the world participate in an annual blessing of chalk.   It is an ancient tradition that not only places God at the entrance of your home, it places your entire family under his protection.

The Epiphany blessing of chalk and homes is a centuries old tradition where priests would visit each home in their parish after the Feast of the Epiphany.   Over time it became more difficult to accomplish such a feat, as parishes became larger and larger and priests were stretched thin.   For this reason it became an accepted tradition that a member of the household is able to lead this blessing in place of the priest.

The blessing has biblical roots, deeply tied to the Passover in the book of Exodus.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt … “take some of the blood [of the lamb], and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it … The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” (cf. Exodus 12:1-13)

It is no coincidence that the Epiphany blessing is traditionally written on the lintel of the main doorway and even some of the prayers echo God’s words of protection that He gave to Moses.   While the Epiphany blessing was not given in the same manner as it was to Moses, the Church provides it for our own spiritual benefit.   The Church desires our salvation and so gives us beautiful sacramentals to assist us along the path to Eternal Life.

Traditionally a priest blesses chalk on the Feast of the Epiphany by saying the following prayer (from the Roman Ritual):

Bless, + O Lord God, this creature, chalk and let it be a help to mankind.   Grant that those who will use it with faith in your most holy name and with it inscribe on the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Casper, Melchior, and Baltassar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health in body and protection of soul, through Christ our Lord.

The chalk is then distributed after Mass.   If your local parish does not administer such a blessing, inquire around and see if any neighbouring parishes do.   Parishioners then take the chalk home and use it while invoking God’s blessing upon their home.

It is a beautiful blessing, one that brings many graces upon those who practice it in faith and is an added protection against any spiritual enemies that may be lurking around.

The Blessing:
Once you acquire the blessed chalk, either a priest or another member of the household can bless the home in the following manner (adapted from the Roman Ritual):

Upon entering the house [or at the front door]:

Priest/Head of Household:   Peace be to this house.
All:   And to all who dwell herein.
Priest:   From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord and opening their treasures, they offered precious gifts – gold for the great King, incense for the true God and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

During the Magnificat, the room is sprinkled with holy water and incensed.

The Magnificat
The Canticle of Mary
Luke 1:46-55

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour
He looks on His servant in her lowliness
Henceforth all ages will call me blessed:
The Almighty works marvels for me,
holy is his Name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear Him.
He puts forth His arm in strength
and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, His servant,
remembering His mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons forever. the-magnificat-luke-1-46-55-31-may-2018-feast-of-the-visitation1

After this is completed:  All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord and opening their treasures, they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

Priest:   Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.   Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.   And lead and lead us not into temptation,
All: But deliver us from evil.
Priest:  All they from Saba shall come
All:  Bringing gold and frankincense.
Priest:  O Lord, hear my prayer.
All:  And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.   O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty.   Through Christ our Lord.

All:  Amen.
Priest:  Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee– Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.
All:  And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendour of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.

Priest:  Let us pray. Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfilment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.   And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein.   Through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen

After the prayers of the blessing are recited, walk through the house and bless each room by sprinkling with Epiphany/holy water and incensing it.

Take the blessed chalk and first write the initials of the three Wise Men, connected with Crosses, over the inside of your front door (on the lintel, if possible).   Then write the year, breaking up the numbers and the year so that they fall on both sides of the initials. It should look like this, for example

20 C+M+B 19

The equation is written to be the first two digits of the year, followed by the initials C, M, and B, followed by the last two digits of the year.   Each portion is split by plus signs.   For this year, the equation would be written as “20 + C + M + B + 19.”

The chalking holds two meanings. The C, M and B, refer to the traditional names of the Magi:  Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.   The letters also stand for the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “May Christ bless the house.”   The plus signs represent the cross and the 20 and 19 simply refer to the year.epiphany house blessing 2019


Thought for the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Thought for the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church

epiphany-feast-7-jan-2018 (1)

“They saw the child with Mary his mother.   They prostrated themselves and did him homage”...Matthew 2:11

The magi find a poor young woman with a poor child wrapped in poor linen bands… and yet, on entering this cave, they feel a joy never experienced before… The divine Infant’s expression lights up, sign of the loving delight with which He welcomes them as the first conquest of His redeeming work.   Then the holy kings turn their eyes to Mary, who does not speak, remaining silent, yet her face, reflecting joy and shining with a heavenly sweetness, confirms that she welcomes them and is grateful to them for being the first to recognise her Son for who He is – their Sovereign Lord…

O Child so worthy of our love, I see You lying on the straw in this cave, so poor and despised.   Yet faith teaches me that You are my God come down from heaven for my salvation.   I acknowledge You as my Sovereign Lord and Saviour, as such I proclaim You, yet I have nothing at all to offer You.   I am without love’s gold, since I have given my love to the things of this world – I have only loved my own whim, rather than loving You, so infinitely worthy of love.   I am without prayer’s incense since I have lived wretchedly without thinking of You.   I have no myrrh of mortification since, so as not to forsake some paltry pleasures, I have so often saddened Your infinite goodness.   So what am I to offer You?   O my Jesus, I offer You my heart, soiled and naked as it is.   Take it and change it, for You have come down to us to wash our guilty hearts with Your blood and so transform us from sinners into saints.   O grant me that gold, incense and myrrh that I lack.   Grant me the gold of Your holy love;  grant me the incense that is the spirit of prayer;  grant me myrrh, the willingness and strength to deny myself in all that displeases You…

O holy Virgin, you welcomed those devout magi kings with keen affection and satisfied them.   Deign to welcome and comfort me also, I who come, following their example, to visit and offer myself to your Son.i acknowledge you as my lord and saviour - st alphonsus 6 jan 2019


Quote/s of the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Quote/s of the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?
For we saw his star when it rose
and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:2matthew 2 2 - where is he - 6 jan 2019

“For by gold, the power of a king is signified,
by frankincense the honour of God,
by myrrh the burial of the body
and accordingly they offer Him,
gold as King,
frankincense as God,
myrrh as Man.”

St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father & Doctor of the Churchfor-by-gold-st-john-chrysostom-7-jan-2018

“Though many kings of the Jews
had been born and died, none of them,
did the Magi seek to adore.
And so they, who came from a distant foreign land,
to a kingdom that was entirely strange to them…
But they had learnt, that such a King was born,
that by adoring Him, they might be sure of obtaining
from Him the salvation which is of God.”though many kings had been born and died st augustine 6 jan 2019

by which the world is held together,
has sprung from the earth,
in order to be carried
in a woman’s arms.”

St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Churchtruth by which the world is held together - st augustine - 6 jan 2019.jpg

“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.”

St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) Father & Doctor of the Churchtoday the magi gaze in deep wonder - st peter chrysologus 6 jan 2019.jpg

“What are you doing, O Magi?
Do you adore a little Babe, in a wretched hovel,
wrapped in miserable rags?
Can this Child be truly God? …
Are you become foolish, O Wise Men …
Yes, these Wise Men have become fools
that they may be wise!”

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Doctor of the Churchwhat-are-you-doing-o-magi-st-bernard-7-jan-2018.jpg


One Minute Reflection – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

One Minute Reflection – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was...Matthew 2:9

REFLECTION – “The Gospel account of the Magi describes their journey from the East as a journey of the spirit, as a journey toward the encounter with Christ.   They are attentive to signs that indicate His presence;  they are tireless in facing the trials of the search;  they are courageous in deducing the implications for life that derive from encounter with the Lord.   This is life – Christian life, is a journey but being attentive, tireless and courageous.   A Christian, journeys like this.   Journey attentively, tirelessly, courageously.”…Pope Francis – Angelus, 6 January 2015matthew 2 9 when they heard the king - the gospel account of the magi pope francis 6 jan 2019

PRAYER – On this day, Lord God, by a guiding star, You revealed Your Only-begotten Son to all the peoples of the world.   Lead us from the faith by which we know You now, to the vision of Your glory, face to face.   May the prayers of St Andre Bessette and all Your saints, who stand beside You, assist us on our journey.   Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God, forever amen.the solemnity of epiphany light of all light reveal yourself this day 6 jan 2019

st andre bessette pray for us -6 jan 2018


Our Morning Offering – 6 January – The Solemnity of Epiphany

Our Morning Offering – 6 January – The Solemnity of Epiphany

Traditional Andalusian Epiphany Prayer

The heavens are shining
with the clear beauty of the stars,
O Lord
and the very earth, is made beautiful,
by a shining light
because You did vouchsafe
to appear to the world
from out Your holy dwelling place.
Remove, therefore,
from our hearts all sadness,
for unto this end You are come,
that You may make all things new.
Grant also, that light unto our eyes
which may purify us
and fit us to behold You forever,
that thus we, who preach to the nations,
the glad joys of Your Apparition,
may be made glad with You
in infinite joy.
Amentrad epiphany prayer - 6 jan 2019.jpg


The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – 6 January

The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – 6 Januaryepiphany

For many years in the English speaking world the feast of Epiphany has been overshadowed by that of Christmas.   But unless we realise the significance of this great day, we see only one side of the mystery of the Incarnation.   Now after contemplating the staggering fact that God has become a human child, we turn to look at this mystery from the opposite angle and realise that this seemingly helpless Child is, in fact, the omnipotent God, the King and Ruler of the universe.   The feast of Christ’s divinity completes the feast of His humanity.   It fulfils all our Advent longing for the King “who is come with great power and majesty.”   We see that whereas Christmas is the family feast of Christianity, Epiphany is the great “world feast of the Catholic Church.”

Francesco Bassano the Younger

Epiphany is a complex feast.   Originating in the Eastern Church and formed by the mentality of a people whose thought processes differ sharply from our own, the Epiphany is like a rich Oriental tapestry in which the various themes are woven and interwoven — now to be seen in their historical setting, again to be viewed from a different vantage point in their deep mystical significance.   In this brief introduction four of the main ideas of the Epiphany will be outlined.

Divine manifestation:   The Epiphany takes its name from the Greek epiphania, which denotes the visit of a god to earth.   The first idea of the feast is the manifestation of Christ as the Son of God.   “Begotten before the daystar and before all ages, the Lord our Saviour is this day made manifest to the world.”   The feast unites three events in the life of Christ when His divinity, as it were, shines through His humanity – the adoration of the Magi;  the baptism of Christ in the Jordan and the first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana.   Moreover, at Epiphany the Church looks forward to the majestic coming of Christ on the “youngest day” when His manifestation as God will be complete.   The Gospels of the baptism and the marriage at Cana are read on the Octave Day and the Second Sunday after Epiphany and later Sunday masses in the Epiphany season continue to show the divine power of our Lord in some of His most striking miracles.

epiphany 793px-peter_paul_rubens_009
Peter Paul Rubens

Royal kingship:   A second important idea in Epiphany is the extension of Christ’s kingship to the whole world.   The revelation of Christ to the three kings at Bethlehem is a symbol of His revelation to the whole of the Gentile world.   Epiphany presents to us the calling of not merely a chosen few but all nations to Christianity.

epiphany bartolomé_esteban_murillo_-_adoration_of_the_magi_-_google_art_project
Bartholome Esteban Murillo

Your Light is Come:   Closely linked to both these themes of divine manifestation and world kingship is a third idea running through the Epiphany feast – that of light.   During Advent, the world was in darkness and we prayed and waited in the spirit of the Jewish nation, which lived in expectation of the Coming Light during thousands of years.   At Christmas, the Light shone forth but dimly, seen only by a few around the crib, Mary and Joseph and the shepherds.   But at Epiphany the Light bursts forth to all nations and the prophecy is fulfilled:  “The Gentiles shall walk in Thy light and kings in the brightness of Thy rising.”   The mysterious star of Epiphany, “flashing like a flame,” is still another facet of the light-motif, a symbol capable of being interpreted in a dozen different ways.

epiphany velázquez_-_adoración_de_los_reyes_(museo_del_prado,_1619)

How much food for thought and reflection is contained in just these three ideas and what a significance they have for our own time!   Epiphany lifts our eyes from the family celebrations and demands that we should include in our vision “all the ends of the earth.”   It demands that, like the three wise men, we should have the courage to follow the light of the star we have seen, however hazardous the journey;   that the light of our faith, like that of the wise men, should be so strong that we are able to see and recognise our Lord and Ruler, in however unexpected a way, He may present Himself to us and that having recognised Him, we should bow down and adore Him, offering Him our total loyalty.

Moreover, Epiphany demands that like these kings we should return to our own countries a different way, carrying to all those we meet the light of Christ.   “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,” says the Epistle of the Epiphany Mass, “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. . .”   These words may be applied to us, upon whom the light of Christ has indeed risen and who have the responsibility to radiate that light in the darkness of our own world.   It is clear how much the feast of Epiphany must mean to all who are engaged in the apostolate and are striving to extend the kingdom of Christ.

The royal nuptials:   Besides the important ideas outlined above, there is still another great theme threaded through the Epiphany feast—the theme of the royal nuptials, the wedding of Christ with humanity.   It is an idea on a completely different level from the historical events which the Epiphany celebrates, yet inextricably bound up with them; for example, the historical marriage feast of Cana is used by the Church to suggest the setting for Christ’s nuptials with the Church, the wise men represent not only the three Persian Magi adoring the Babe 2000 years ago at Bethlehem but also the Gentile world hurrying to the wedding feast at the end of time when mankind’s nuptials with the divine Bridegroom will be celebrated, the gold, frankincense and myrrh are not only tokens for the little Baby King in the stable but royal wedding gifts for the mystical marriage feast of heaven.

epiphany pieter_van_lint_-_adoration_of_the_magi
Pieter van Lint

The Epiphany antiphon for the hour of Lauds brings out strikingly this theme of the divine marriage of Christ with humanity and at the same time shows the deep mystical significance behind the historical events surrounding the feast.   Perhaps nowhere more clearly than in this antiphon, do we see that on Epiphany we do not commemorate a set of historical facts, as much as we celebrate a great mystery:

“This day the Church is joined to her heavenly Spouse, for Christ has cleansed her crimes in the Jordan.   With gifts the Magi hasten to the royal nuptials and the guests are gladdened with wine made from water.”this day the church - epiphany - 6 jan 2019

Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Elsa Chaney, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1955