Dear Parishioners:Happy Feast of the Epiphany! It is hard to believe that the Christmas Season is drawing to an end already. It always seems to pass too quickly and end too swiftly. For many in our society Christmas seems to end on December 26th when people take down their trees and decorations. The stores put up the Valentine’s Day merchandise before the New Year even arrives! For others the Christmas Season ends with the celebration of New Year’s Day.
However, in the life of the Church the great and holy Season of Christmas doesn’t officially end until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Many think it ends with the Epiphany but we return to the Season of Ordinary Time next week after we celebrate the Lord’s Baptism. We will still be celebrating Christmas at Our Lady of Mercy until Monday, January 14th! So keep those trees and crèches up in your homes as they will remain up in our Church. Keep the lights on the trees outside and continue to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas.” For as Yogi Berra once said: “It ain’t over til it’s over!”
In fact in much of the world, Christmas gifts are not exchanged until the Epiphany. It is a celebration in imitation of the Three Kings bringing their gifts to the Christ Child. In Spain, the Three Kings stop by the house and fill shoes with candy and goodies to celebrate the birth of Christ. So be sure to put your shoes outside the door on Sunday night and maybe the Wise Men will stop by and fill them.
In Germany, they have the wonderful custom of blessing homes on the Epiphany. The head of the household writes above the front door with chalk the following: 20 + C + M + B + 13. This represents the year, 2013, plus the first initial of the Three Kings: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. It also can be read as the first letters of the Latin phrase: Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means “May Christ Bless this House. “ If you write this above the door, the Three Kings stop and Christ blesses your home!
The following prayer is said by all the families who wish their home to be blessed on the Epiphany: God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this home and all who live in it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ who dwells among us. Amen. Loving God, may all who come to our home this year rejoice to find the love of Christ here; and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is your incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen.
In Rome it is the tradition for the Pope to ordain new bishops on the Epiphany because it is a feast that emphasizes the Church's universality. The Epiphany marks the day when the infant Christ was recognized by the Magi who were really representatives of the world at large. Usually these new bishops are from around the world and serve in many different countries. Let us pray for these new bishops that as successors of the Apostles they might proclaim the Gospel with zeal, holiness, faith and integrity.
On behalf of Father Shemek and myself, we wish to thank the many parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy who were so thoughtful and generous during this Christmas Season. Your support of our priestly ministry at OLM with so many warm wishes, thoughtful and generous Christmas gifts are truly appreciated. We are both very grateful to be able to serve such a supportive and welcoming parish as Our Lady of Mercy. The celebration of Christmas at OLM was truly a joyful and joy-filled event for us. Be assured of our continued prayers for you.
As we begin this new year, I pray it may be a new year full of health and happiness but also a year to renew our faith in Christ, deepen our union with His Church, and strengthen our love of God and neighbor. May the generosity and faith of the Three Wise Men lead each of us to wisely follow the light of Christ in all our words and deeds. Happy Epiphany! God Bless.