Arise, shine, for the Light of the World has come!
Darkness covers the earth and its people,
but the radiance of God’s Light
burns away its shadows,
illuminates the smallest corner,
and heralds in the start
of a new dawn,
where hearts no longer fear,
souls might be set free,
and sister shall follow brother,
nation shall follow nation,
and kings and princes bow down in awe
before the one who comes to reign.
Arise, shine, for the Light of the World has come!
Courtesy of here.
The Journey Of The Magi by T.S. Eliot
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
–T. S. Eliot; courtesy of here.
Epiphany–the Twelfth Day of Christmas–is today. The Catholic Church in this country celebrates it on the nearest Sunday, and thus celebrated it this past Sunday this year; but the real Epiphany is today.
In American diocese, the Catholic Church has moved the feat of Epiphany (the traditional Twelfth Day of Christmas) from its correct location on 6 January to the nearest preceding weekend. Thus, it was celebrated yesterday in Catholic parishes across the country. I’ve always been an opponent of moving Holy Days of Obligation to Sundays in the (almost always vain) hope that it will get people more engaged. In any case, these chants (one for each of the Magi!) are going up on the real date for Epiphany. Enjoy!
Today is Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and the feast which celebrates the arrival of the Magi (if you read the account in Matthew, you’ll see that they are never referred to as “kings”, nor is the number specified). Today is also known as the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. In either case, it officially ends the Christmas liturgical season. Admittedly, the space between Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, which occurs on the Sunday following Epiphany on the current calendar, is a “kinda-sorta” interval, not quite of the Christmas season, not quite Ordinary Time. It’s somewhat like the Anglican, but not officially so.
Actually, the Baptism of Christ was originally considered to be part of Epiphany. “Epiphany” means “manifestation”; and the idea was that Christ was manifested to the world by proxy through the Magi at birth; again by his circumcision (the first major rite of a Jewish male); and finally by his baptism in the Jordan. All three events were considered part of Epiphany. The Baptism of the Lord as a separate feast goes only back to the 1950’s, and it’s been tweaked on and off until it was stabilized as the Sunday after Epiphany in the post-Vatican II era. Thus, I consider Epiphany the real end of the Christmas season.
This year is particularly special in that Epiphany actually falls on Epiphany. Epiphany has, time out of mind, been celebrated twelve days after Christmas on 6 January. In the early 90’s, the bishops of the United States moved all but six of the ten Holy Days of Obligation, including Epiphany, to the nearest Sunday. Thus, depending on the day of the week on which Christmas falls, Epiphany is officially celebrated anywhere between 2 and 8 January. Occasionally, thus, the relevant Sunday and 6 January coincide, as happens this year.
Personally, I think this shifting of days was a bad, in fact, stupid and misguided, decision on the part of the bishops. Many dioceses (including my own) have compounded this by moving the celebration of Ascension Thursday to the nearest Sunday. Alas!
In any case, have a great Epiphany, and I hope your Christmas season was a great one, and that your New Year is good, too!