Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament – January 3

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament – January 3

Sunday, January 3 is the Solemnity of the Epiphany. 

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament will be offered at St. Vincent Ferrer following the 12 noon Solemn Mass, concluding with Benediction at 5 pm.  James Wetzel will offer an extended prelude of Christmas organ music from 4:30-5 pm.  

The Epiphany is a very ancient feast with origins in the Christian East.  It highlights the mystery of the manifestation of Jesus Christ to all peoples, as exemplified by the Magi who came to worship the King of the Jews just born in Bethlehem, the Baptism by John in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana.  This feast is traditionally celebrated on January 6 is also known as ‘Little Christmas’ or ‘Three Kings Day,’ and is considered the ‘peak’ of Christmastide.

Customarily on this day (or during this tide), Epiphany water, frankincense, gold, and chalk is blessed.  The chalk is used to write the letters C+M+B over the doors of churches and homes.  This formula represents the names of the Magi (by tradition, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), and also the phrase Christus mansionem benedicat (May Christ bless the house).

Also on Epiphany, the proclamation of the movable feasts is sung.  This ritual dates from a time when calendars were not widely available.  The Roman Missal provides a formula using the tone of the Easter Vigil’s Exsultet, announcing the dates of Ash Wednesday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and the First Sunday of Advent.

Gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.  When describing Jerusalem’s glorious restoration, Isaiah tells of nations and kings who will come and “bring gold and frankincense and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord”  (Isaiah 60:6).  Although Matthew’s Gospel (2:1-11) does not include the names or number of the magi, many believe that the number of the gifts is what led to the tradition of the Three Wise Men.  In the Christian tradition, the three gifts foretell three aspects of Christ’s life: gold for a king; frankincense for a priest; and myrrh as embalming oil for the dead.