Epiphany Traditions
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Epiphany Traditions
Adapted from here

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[...] this Feast -- also known as the  "Theophany" or "Three Kings Day" -- recalls Christ revealing Himself as Divine in three different ways: to the Magi, at His Baptism, and with His miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

For families who practice traditions involving "the Magi" or "La Befana" leaving gifts for children, the day begins with the wee ones discovering what was left for them while they slept on Twelfth Night.

At today's Mass, there will be a blessing of gold, frankincense, myrrh, Epiphany Water, and, after Communion, a blessing of chalk. Bring small special items of gold to have with you during the Mass, and they will be blessed if they are exposed as you sit in your pew with them (wedding rings, rosaries, an heirloom piece of gold jewelry, for example).

When Mass is over, you will take some of the blessed chalk, frankincense, myrrh, and Epiphany Water home with you, so it's good to bring a container to transport Holy Water and one to put some grains of incense and a piece of chalk into. (Note: if you can, take and keep 5 pieces of blessed incense for your Paschal Candle this Easter),

When you get home, sprinkle some Epiphany water (otherwise and afterwards used as regular Holy Water) in the rooms of your house to protect it and bring blessings. This Holy Water recalls the waters of the Jordan, and is a visible reminder of Christ's Divinity, of Jesus's revealing Himself as God at His Baptism, when were heard the words from the Father: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." This rite of blessing the home -- led by a priest, if possible, or the father of the house if no priest is available -- goes like this:

Upon entering the house:

Priest/Father:
Peace be to this house.

All:
And to all who dwell herein.

Priest:
From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

During the Magnificat, the room is sprinkled with holy water and incensed.

All:
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For He hath regarded the humility of His handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His Name. And His Mercy is from generation unto generations upon them that fear Him. He hath shewed might in His arm, He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel, His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our Fathers, Abraham and His seed forever.

After this is completed:

All:

From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.

Priest:
Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead and lead us not into temptation,

All:
But deliver us from evil.

Priest:
All they from Saba shall come

All:
Bringing gold and frankincense.

Priest:
O Lord, hear my prayer.

All:
And let my cry come unto Thee.

Priest:
Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord.

All:
Amen.

Priest:

Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee-- Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

All:

And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.

Priest:
Let us pray. Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

After the prayers of the blessing are recited, walk through the house and bless each room by sprinkling with Epiphany water and incensing it.

Take the blessed chalk and first write the initials of the three Wise Men, connected with Crosses, over the inside of your front door (on the lintel, if possible). Then write the year, breaking up the numbers and the year so that they fall on both sides of the initials. It should look like this, for ex.:

20 C+M+B 19

with the "20 "being the millennium and century, the "C" standing for the first Wise Man, Caspar, the "M" standing for Melchior, the "B" standing for Balthasar, and the "19" standing for the decade and year. It is also popularly believed that the Kings' initials also stand for "Christus mansionem benedicat" ("Christ bless this house").


Note that some write the first Wise Man's name as "Gaspar," "Kasper," or "Jaspar," so the initials would be "G+M+B" or "K+M+B" or "J+M+B." In any case, these initials over our doorway serve to remind us of Who the Magi saw and how they saw Him. They remind us to adore Him as they did. The chalk markings remain over the door 'til Pentecost.

It is a popular custom among some people that all who enter or re-enter their home for the first time after the blessing should step with their right foot across the threshold so as to start things off "on the right foot."

It is customary in some religious orders to choose a new patron Saint today for the coming year. Families can do this, too, choosing a new Saint by designating someone (e.g., father or mother, etc.) to select the new Patron, by determing by lots who will select the new patron, by having family members write down their choices and choosing at random, by allowing the person to choose who presents the best argument for a particular Patron, etc. It would be very beneficial if the person who chooses teaches the rest of the family about that particular Patron, perhaps looking up the Saint in Butler's works, finding art work depicting the Saint, etc., and sharing it.

As to foods, the bread-like Three Kings Cake is eaten on this day. In some cultures (e.g., Mexico), whoever finds the piece with the trinket (usually shaped like Baby Jesus) inside has to host the Candlemas party. A recipe:

Three Kings Cake

Cake:
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4 oz.) envelopes active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
2 eggs
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Icing:
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Trinket, almond, other nut
Colored sugars, if desired

Cook first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Cool mixture to 100 degrees to 110 degrees.

Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add butter mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

Punch dough down; divide in half. Turn 1 portion out onto a lightly floured surface; roll to a 28- x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half each of cinnamon mixture and softened butter on dough. Roll dough, jellyroll fashion, starting at long side. Place dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, cinnamon mixture, and butter.

Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.

To finish: Make a tiny cut into the cake and hide a plastic or china trinket (shaped like Baby Jesus, if possible) inside (may substitute an almond or other nut). Mix the icing ingredients and do one of the following: 1) simply spread on cake (may dot with candied cherries), 2) spread on cake and then top with a colored sugard 3) spread on cake and sprinkle with alternating bands of colored sugar (in New Orleans, the traditional colors are green, gold, and purple).


In Rome today, a miraculous image of Our Lord as Divine Infant, il Santo Bambino di Ara Coeli, is honored, after having been brought out from its home in the Church of Santa Maria di Ara Coeli on the Capitoline Hill in Rome on Christmas Eve to be revered by the Roman people.

When the Octave of the Epiphany (13 January, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord) is over in 8 days, the feeling of Christmastide begins to wane a bit. It is either today or on the Octave that some people take down their Christmas decorations, though many wait until the eve of Candlemas on February 2. Though the Season of Christmas liturgically ends with the Octave of the Epiphany, the celebration of Christ's entry into the world and His childhood doesn't truly end until Candlemas (also known as "The Feast of the Presentation and Purification) when we celebrate Christ's being presented in the Temple and Mary's Purification.

You can download the above blessing in Microsoft Word .doc format here: Blessing of the Home on the Feast of the Epiphany (1 page).
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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