How God Made an Unexpected Arrival: Feast of the Epiphany 2022

January 6th is the traditional date for the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany in the Catholic Church. This year the dioceses in the United States have celebrated the feast on Sunday January 2nd.

Second Epiphany

The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation”. In the context of the Catholic Church, it relates to the arrival of the Magi (Wise men or Three Kings) and visiting the Christ child. It is one of the most important feasts of the liturgical year because God is revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.

I attended the Cathedral of the Epiphany, in Sioux City, IA, in the early days of my married life so this feast has special significance to my family. My oldest son was baptized in that church, and we formed the foundation of our family’s faith life as members of the Cathedral of the Epiphany.

From Meticulous Study to Marvel

Feast of the Epiphany

While we sing about the Wisemen as Kings (We Three Kings is one of my favorite Christmastime songs) it is more apt to describe the travelers as Magi. They studied astronomy (mixed with a bit of astrology). The noticed something in the night sky and the unusuality of the Star intrigued them to journey East and stopping in Bethlehem. A more detailed description of the Magi can be found in the Related Links section at the end of this article.

Studying a subject as large and mysterious as the universe (represented by the night sky) puts into perspective our littleness. According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from his 2011 homily on the Feast of the Epiphany, ”

Probably to their (the Magi) amazement, they were obliged to note that this newborn Child was not found in the places of power and culture, even though in those places they were offered precious information about him.

On the other hand, they realized that power, even the power of knowledge, sometimes blocks the way to the encounter with this Child. The star then guided them to Bethlehem, a little town; it led them among the poor and the humble to find the King of the world.

God could have arrived as a scientist, or a mighty ruler, or a political leader. Instead, he chooses to humble himself in the form of an infant. The Magi receive the gift of wonder and awe from the Holy Spirit and persist in following the Star. They continue to receive gifts (of humility and reverence) even as they gift the Christ-child with gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Epiphany Foreshadows Pentecost

Pentecost

The manifestation of Jesus to the Magi is a pivotal event in the liturgical calendar. The Magi represents the non-Jews. It is often taken for granted the fact Jesus is a savior for all mankind, but it was a novel concept to ancient Jews. The deacon at my parish hammered home the point that the Epiphany is about the salvation of mankind as a people. “Statistically speaking, you and I, are likely not descended from the Jews, so the Feast of the Epiphany is a reason to hope,” he proclaimed in his homily.

Jesus Christ revealed himself to the world at first as a baby and later in his public ministry he is more specific with his identity as being God. It is a wonderful feast to recall how Christ unites a confused and broken world.

I started listening to the Bible in a Year podcast by Father Mike Schmitz. Day five centered on Tower of Babel in Genesis 10-11. The pride of humanity spurred the creation (attempt) of an early skyscraper reaching the heavens.

Building a large tower is not bad in itself. Father Mike points out throughout church history Christians build massive basilicas and cathedrals for the glory of God. The key difference is Nimrod (the king of Babel) and his people’s ambition to make a name for themselves and not seek excellence in the name of God.

God Brings True Unity

Humanity’s pride leads to God scattering them by confusing the language. Generations later the event of Pentecost (the arrival of the Holy Spirit) reverses the effects of Babel. Peter and the Apostles are able to communicate the Good News in different languages. True unity doesn’t occur through human efforts but by humbling oneself and serving others for the glory of God.

The Magi don’t seek earthly ambition to prop up themselves. God’s manifestation to the Wisemen opens up the way for the Holy Spirit being revealed to the whole world on Pentecost.

How God Revealed Himself this Epiphany

The first Epiphany of Our Lord occurred over 2000 years ago. But this feast is as relevant today as it was for the Magi. God plan of salvation unfolded over time. It didn’t occur instantly nor stop with a singular kind of people. God is Love and desires to bridge all of the brokenness back into unity with Himself.

Your spiritual journey will rarely be in a linear or upward trajectory. It involves curves, backsteps, and countless zigzags. Think the Israelites’ 40 years in the wilderness. God revealed Himself in an interesting way to me this week of the Epiphany. In the story of a dog being turned into a toy by a wizard because he lacked manners. I’m referring to Tolkien’s endearing children’s tale: Roverandom. I began reading my kids this short story yesterday. I want to complete a few pages a night. And my ultimate goal is to have Roverandom serve as a springboard to Tolkien’s other work (notably The Hobbit).

God revealed Himself in a wonderful way during the reading aloud of this silly and enchanting story. My kids grew quiet and attentive. Something about J.R.R. Tolkien makes me ponder Truth, Goodness, and Beauty after reading any of his works. I’m convinced his imagination and storytelling is necessary to manifest Christ in the lives of others.

Start this Epiphany Tradition Now

Finally, the Feast of the Epiphany has inspired me to follow a longstanding Catholic tradition of marking your home’s door with a blessing. You may have seen the formula: 20 + C + M + B +22 pop up on your social media or parish bulletin. The initials stand for the names of the Wise Men: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. The numbers bookending the formula represent the current year. And the pluses represent the cross. I also learned that the C, M, and B have another meaning. In Latin, it is short for Christmus mansionem benedicat (“May Christ bless the house”).

Invite Jesus into your home this Christmas season and look to Mary as your guide towards the Son. God will surprise you in how He shows up in your life.


Epiphany Blessing (One of Many Versions)

Leader: Peace be to this house, and to all who enter here.
People: Amen.

One or more of the following prayers maybe said:
May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is your incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen.

God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten One to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Savior. Amen.

Loving God, bless this household. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, and abiding in your will. We ask this through Christ our Savior. Amen.

As participants take turns making the inscription, the leader says:
The three Wise Men, [C] Caspar, [M] Melchior, [B] and Balthasar followed the star to Bethlehem and the child Jesus [20] two thousand, [20] and twenty years ago. [+ +] May Christ bless our home [+ +], and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.

All say the Lord’s Prayer.

Related Links

Magi: Catholic Answers

Epiphany Home Blessing

An Unexpected Journey? The Case For The Canonization Of J.R.R. Tolkien

Season of Expectancy

Thank you for sharing!

The Simple Catholic’s Second Christmas Card

Happy First Anniversary of the inaugural Chicoine Family Christmas Card!

This year my parents are too tired and busy (it seems like adults are always tired) to pitch in to help. And my siblings get too distracted doing art, playing carwash or swinging around like Spider-Man. It’s up to me (again) to provide an accurate summary of our year.

I’m going to turn three soon and I like to share my wisdom I learned over the past year along with trying to make my boring family seem interesting. We will go in age order (I hear that phrase all the time— especially when it comes to opening presents).

Mommy

This year has been the most challenging year of teaching for mommy. She teaches between two buildings. I don’t know their names because I’m a toddler and get easily distracted (wanders off to leap off the couch with siblings).

Mommy is the best and I love her very much. She helped me get speech and OT therapies. And she lets me eat off her dinner plate! She and daddy talk a lot about the basement (it’s getting finished) and enjoys coffee. I think she needs it to stay awake because my brothers and sister wear her out.

Mommy also loves helping everyone learn and enjoys decorating our new home. She also gives great hugs!

I think mommy’s greatest accomplishment this year is helping me learn this year!

Daddy

Daddy still works evenings. He has to take naps in the morning. I enjoy spending time with daddy because he takes me to the library, watches Blippi with me, and cuddles with me.

I occasionally still try to obtain a sip of his coffee. Daddy doesn’t like this for some reason. Maybe my siblings also wear him out like they make mommy tired. But the times I do get to taste coffee it is awesome!!! I feel so fast and powerful.

Daddy still writes for his blog and includes some of my antics in it. He recently mentioned something about Tea with Tolkien but I don’t know what that means. Maybe he wrote something for them.

Probably the most important of daddy’s accomplishments is giving me horsey rides. It’s fun!

Noah

Noah is in fourth grade at “the school whose name I don’t know” (again because I’m a toddler and get easily distracted with details). He played soccer in the spring and fall. According to my parents, Noah scored his first goal in soccer. I wasn’t there because I was too busy playing with toys at home.

Noah loves Marvel superheroes (we jump around like Spider-Man a lot lately) and loves reading. He also finds long division fun and leads the family in creative play.

I think Noah’s greatest accomplishment this year is rocking my to sleep in the rocking chair. I love my big brother!

Amelia

Amelia is in second grade at “the school whose name I don’t know”. She loves drawing and creating unique things out of paper, cardboard, tape, and other craft supplies. Some of her neatest creations this year were a cardboard platypus and a picture of Wanda (Scarlet Witch). Daddy thought the Wanda drawing was amazing.

Amelia has made a lot of neighborhood friends. (and Noah too). Noah and her learned how to roller blade. I am learning and wear one skate 🛼 to travel in the living room.

My sister is the best because she loves me and helps me get dressed, brushes my hair, and usually lets me play with her toys.

Amelia’s most important accomplishment this year is painting my fingernails. I love my sister!

Josiah

Josiah is a kindergarten at the “school whose name I don’t know”. He is adjusting pretty well to the elementary school life. He has receives speech, OT, and PT therapy at school which help him a lot.

My brother is obsessed with carwashes and garbage trucks. My dad even for a membership to a “carwash whose name I don’t know” (editor’s note: the carwash membership is for Silverstar Car Wash). Josiah plays carwash or garbage truck most days. He sometimes even lets me help him set up the car wash!

Josiah also got to help the garbage truck worker put the can in the back of the truck. He was so excited. He makes me laugh like no one else. My brother is great at distracting my parents so I can achieve my shenanigan quota for the day (some days I worry I won’t hit my goal)..

Josiah’s biggest accomplishment for this year is teaching me how to cut with scissors and helping me draw. I love my other big brother!

Avila Catherine Geraldine

Why do I get my full name displayed? It’s the least I deserve considering I spearheaded my family’s Christmas letter (again).

I don’t go to “school whose name I don’t know” in fact I don’t go to school—yet. Mommy and daddy say I will be going to early childhood starting in January. It will be at a different school that my siblings go to. To avoid confusion I will call it “different school whose name I don’t know”.

This year was one of adventure and growth for me. I learned so many new words and skills. Speech and OT therapies have helped me so much.

I still struggle with the “wigglies” at Mass. My parents have to take me out a decent amount because of how loud my worship is.y reasoning is if Jesus is God and he saved us why not shout it from the pew (I can’t reach a rooftop. Plus my parents stop me even when I stand on a table. They aren’t fun).

Live your life to the fullest. Thank the people who helped you grow and learn. Count your blessings and your stuffed unicorns. And don’t waste time learning the names of schools whose name you don’t know.

Love,

ACGC— Muffin Miscreant, Coffee Culprit, and Adventure Seeker

P.S. Special thanks to my daddy for editing the Chicoine Family Christmas Card. I paid him in hugs.

Thank you for sharing!

You Better Watch Out! Christmas Movies in Advent


By: Mark Wilson


You Better Watch Out…

You Might Just Cry…

You Better Not Complain…

I’m telling You Why…

Advent is coming to town…

and it is that time of year that we prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. Christmas is on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolves. Advent helps prepare us for having the hap-hap-happiest Christmas we could have. I’m hoping that this article will help you smile, as smiling’s my favorite.

Christmas joy

Catholics and other Christians liturgically celebrate the holiday December 25th. The rest of the world celebrates Christmas anytime around Thanksgiving up until Christmas. This is what I like to call secular Christmas as opposed to liturgical Christmas. Does society know it’s not Christmas? It’s the only time during the whole year you actually hear secular society mention Jesus in song on the radio and in stores. As Bart Simpson reminds us…

‘Christmas is the one time of year when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.’

During Advent or Secular Christmas as Mary and Joseph are getting ready to travel to Bethlehem and the three kings of orient are journeying to the same place from the east as God places the Christmas Star in a far away part of the universe, other people in our time and place are preparing for the grand celebration of yuletide festivities by singing Christmas Carols loud for all to hear which is the best way to spread Holiday Cheer, and by going Christmas Shopping to support people who have to work in retail, and by watching Christmas movies and TV Shows.

Christmas movie

Christmas movies help us get in the mood and spirit of Christmas by capturing our imaginations with grand stories of holiday merriment and wonder. And if you watch and take it all in and tie it to your faith, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you! So let’s get ready to Deck those Halls and Step into Advent as God gets ready to send us his Hallmark Christmas Movie wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager.

As God is getting ready to honor Mary’s fiat, by developing a combo of man and God without mixing the two together in Mary’s womb and bringing Joy to the World, certain individuals who are lovingly creepy but smiley and nice are getting ready to combine two different holidays of giving. Say for example Halloween and Christmas. ‘What’s This?’ you may ask.

Preparing for Christmas can be Scary

A Nightmare before Christmas

As I said above, the holy family is preparing for their trip to Bethlehem and will later plan their trip to Egypt. Families are usually preparing their kid’s Christmas Vacations, but COVID has brought a halt to the usual kid’s vacation plans. Still some people are

  • still busy getting stuff ready for that grand Christmas dinner
  • getting ready to buy that surprise swimming pool for the family
  • planning on kidnapping your scrooge-like boss who didn’t give you that Christmas bonus for the pool you are planning on buying
  • preparing to do battle with obnoxious relatives and rouge squirrels
  • getting ready for perhaps a surprise visit from the SWAT squad after the kidnapping of your boss
  • planning a hike out to the forest to find that Christmas tree

This is best exemplified in the film ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.’

squirrel gif

As we get ready for grand celebration of Christ’s birth, angels from realms of glory are getting ready to earn their wings by helping humans on earth. Sometimes they are allowed to grant grand interdimensional visits to another reality.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” when Christ is Present

It's a Wonderful Life

As the three kings of orient are trying not to get lost, a bunch of Catholic priests are trying not to get lost while Christmas shopping in a department store during the shopping season. It’s easy to wind up lost in the lingerie section, which would be embarrassing for the priests.

Find holiday humor in the Father Ted Christmas episode “A Christmassy Ted”

A Christmassy Ted

As we get ready to prepare a fitting place for Christ in our heart, the King Herods of the world are planning chaos and destructive acts to disrupt the arrival of Christian love and peace. This is especially true of men who are greedy and want to use the occasion of Christmas to terrorize and steal. But as the shepherds guarded the Christ child, so did a NY city cop help protect and save Christmas partygoers trapped in a building seized by terrorist thieves. And up at the North Pole a Majors TV legend helped fend of terrorists trying to steal Santa’s workshop of toys.

Die Hard is a Christmas movie

Those of us who know DIE HARD is a Christmas movie are so over the argument. We just go about our lives and drink eggnog and watch DIE HARD in December, and we don’t give a rip who has Objections. -Deacon Steven D. Greydanus

These are really Christmas movies!

The Night the Reindeer Died

The innkeeper was planning for the census rush and was not as prepared when the couple which included a pregnant woman came to his inn and wanted in a room. As the innkeeper helped to set up the stable suitable for an incarnated God to come as a baby, in other places, children geniuses set up their homes to thwart less lethal thieves from breaking into their home and stealing their earthly goods. The traps and devices are designed only to hurt and maim but not utterly destroy with death.

How to Spend Your Christmas “Home Alone”

Home Alone

As the wise-men were planning their trip back and forth across the middle east they were eventually contemplating how to deal with nasty king Herod. Small towns were also busy planning for Christmas and would eventually contemplate what to do with vicious nasty little monsters who have infected their town like Tribbles.

Beware the Grim Gift of “Gremlins”

Gremlins a Christmas movie?

As God was getting ready to give his Son to the world, Santa was also busy getting ready, by loading up his sleigh and finishing the last batch of toys to put into it for the Christmas eve dash around the world in his sleigh, The Little Saint Nick. The master toymaker made sure he included in his sack…

Santa's elf

  • a Buzz Saw Louie,
  • a Turbo Man Action Figure,
  • a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle,
  • water pistol that shoots jelly with a gift certificate to the Jelly of the Month Club
  • an Oscar Mayer Weiner Whistle
  • a moose mug
  • bunny outfit and
  • · A woman’s leg lamp

Besides getting ready to go around the world, Santa is also planning on going to court, after an altercation with someone at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. He now has to prove he is the real Santa.  But he can’t use Christmas magic in front of others.

Seriousness of The Santa Clause

The Santa Clause

As all this is going on, Santa’s number one fan travels to New York to spread Christmas cheer.. Santa’s little Buddy was hoping to go to Pine Tree, Vermont to put on a Christmas show and experience a White Christmas, but off to NY he goes. He was willing to make the sacrifice of giving up his dentistry practice to do this task.

It was tough traveling such a distance from the North Pole. This honoree elf had to get by the dreadful Cotton Headed Ninny Muggin Snow Miser who whips up storms every time Santa tries to leave the north pole. Santa is also prepping his special magical train to pick up various children for a special visit to the north pole.

This is exemplified in the films Elf and The Polar Express and several others mentioned above, hidden in XMas easter eggs.

The Polar Express

As Herod gets ready to take the life of the newborn king of the Jews, a misunderstood loner was getting ready to steal Christmas away from the annoying citizens of the town near where he lived. He eventually had a change of heart that grew in size, unlike Herod who had his heart grow to stone.

Grow Your Cold Heart with “How the Christmas Stole Christmas”

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

As the angels get ready to sing to the shepherds and announce the arrival of a savior, 3 ghosts get ready to visit grumpy, pessimistic and miserable people who once loved Christmas but have grown cold in their love for the holiday and other people.

This is best exemplified in any version of ‘A Christmas Carol’. One of my favorites of recent years is Scoooged in which Bill Murray prepares his network for the airing of A Christmas Carol LIVE on Christmas Eve.

A Christmas Carol

As secular society gets ready to tell all these wonderful stories of Christmas, a group of school children gets ready to re-enact the true story of Christmas in one of the few mainstream stories to actually give the real meaning of Christmas.

A Secular Christmas Story: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

A Charlie Brown Christmas

And as we reflect on the words of Linus as he explains to Charlie Brown the true meaning of Christmas, we can get into the spirit of getting ready for the coming of the Lord by watching movies and relating them to the spiritual realities of our Catholic life.

Remembering the first Christmas is best exemplified in the film ‘The Nativity Story’ and ‘The Star’

The Nativity Story gif

Mary did you Know… your life would one day be in a movie?

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas…

Thank you for sharing!