Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Epiphany SEASON

The verse for this Parochial and Plain sermon is, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him." John ii. 11.--

THE Epiphany is a season especially set apart for adoring the glory of Christ. The word may be taken to mean the manifestation of His glory, and leads us to the contemplation of Him as a King upon His throne in the midst of His court, with His servants around Him, and His guards in attendance. At Christmas we commemorate His grace; and in Lent His temptation; and on Good Friday His sufferings and death; and on Easter Day His victory; and on Holy Thursday His return to the Father; and in Advent we anticipate His second coming. And in all of these seasons He does something, or suffers something: but in the Epiphany and the weeks after it, we celebrate Him, not as on His field of battle, or in His solitary retreat, but as an august and glorious King; we view Him as the Object of our worship. Then only, during His whole earthly history, did He fulfil the type of Solomon, and held (as I may say) a court, and received the homage of His subjects; viz. when He was an infant. His throne was His undefiled Mother's arms; His chamber of state was a cottage or a cave; the worshippers were the wise men of the East, and they brought presents, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. All around and about Him seemed of earth, except to the eye of faith; one note alone had He of Divinity. As great men of this world are often plainly dressed, and look like other men, all but as having some one costly ornament on their breast or on their brow; so the Son of Mary in His lowly dwelling, and in an infant's form, was declared to be the Son of God Most High, the Father of Ages, and the Prince of Peace, by His star; a wonderful appearance which had guided the wise men all the way from the East, even unto Bethlehem.

This being the character of this Sacred Season, our services throughout it, as far as they are proper to it, are full of the image of a king in his royal court, of a sovereign surrounded by subjects, of a glorious prince upon a throne. There is no thought of war, or of strife, or of suffering, or of triumph, or of vengeance connected with the Epiphany, but of august majesty, of power, of prosperity, of splendour, of serenity, of benignity. Now, if at any time, it is fit to say, "The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him." [Hab. ii. 20.] "The Lord sitteth above the waterflood, and the Lord remaineth a king for ever." "The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." "O come, let us worship, and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker." "O magnify the Lord our God, and fall down before His footstool, for He is Holy." "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; bring presents, and come into His courts."

Blessed John Henry Newman is here reflecting on the manifestations of Jesus: to the Magi; at His Baptism in the Jordan River, and at the Marriage Feast of Cana. The Feast of Epiphany has been moved to Sunday in the Ordinary Latin Rite calendar; otherwise it is celebrated as the 12th day after Christmas--"Twelfth Night", the last burst of festivity before the return of workaday efforts. On the calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, the season of Epiphany lasts until the end of January, as Septuagesima, the pre-Lenten season, begins on Sunday, February 1.

It's a tradition to announce the dates of movable feasts of the Church Year on Epiphany:

Know, dear brethren (brothers and sisters), that, as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so by leave of God's mercy we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection, who is our Savior.

On the eighteenth day of February will fall Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.

On the fifth day of April you will celebrate with joy Easter Day,the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[In those places where the Ascension is observed on Thursday:
On the fourteenth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.]

[In those places where the Ascension is transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter:
On the seventeenth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.]

On the twenty-fourth day of May, the feast of Pentecost.

On the seventh day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

On the twenty-ninth day of November, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever.


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