Not the fourth day within the Octave of the Epiphany...

Five reasons why the Church should revive the Octave of the Epiphany

1. To emphasise the importance of the mission to convert the whole world, symbolised by the worship of the Magi.

2.  To emphasise that God truly reveals himself to us in a miraculous way, in theophanies such as occurred at the birth of Jesus, at his baptism and through the miracle of Cana, thus countering those who prefer to interpret the Gospels as merely 'allegorical'.

3.  To promote the reappropriation of Christmas as a religious feast consisting of twelve days, with Epiphany providing a demarcation line, and not just a secular 'happy holiday'.

4.  To extend the season of Christmas, and thus contribute to a proper balance between feasting and fasting - the Christmas season was originally forty days in length, to match the duration of Lent.

5.  To promote ecumenism with the Eastern Churches using the Julian calendar, and thus celebrating Christmas Day around our feast of the Epiphany...

St Gregory on the wise man's return by another route

And in the meantime, for your meditation during this season of Epiphanytide, the former readings used today in the Benedictine Office, courtesy of the Divinum Officium website:

"The wise men teach us a great lesson in that they departed into their own country another way. That which they did, being warned of God in a dream, we ought to do. Our country is heaven; and, when we have once known Jesus, we can never get there by returning on the way wherein we walked before we knew Him. We have left our country far, by the way of pride, and disobedience, and worldliness, and forbidden indulgence we must seek that heavenly Fatherland by tears, by subjection, by contempt of the things which are seen, and by curbing the fleshly appetites.

Let us then depart into our own country another way. They that have by enjoyment put themselves away from it, must seek it again by sorrow. Therefore, my dearly beloved brethren, it behoveth us to be ever fearful and watch, having continually before the eyes of our heart, on the one hand, the guilt of our doings, and, on the other, the judgment at the latter day. It behoveth us to think how that awful Judge will surely come, Whose judgment is hanging over us, and hath not yet fallen the wrath to come is before sinners, and hath not yet smitten them and the Judge yet tarrieth in order that, when He cometh, there may haply be less to condemn.

Let us afflict ourselves for our faults with weeping, and, with the Psalmist, let us come before His Presence with thanksgiving. Let us take heed that we be not fooled by the appearance of earthly happiness, or seduced by the vanity of earthly pleasure. For the Judge is at hand, even He That saith Woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep, Luke vi. 25. Hence also Solomon saith Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness, Prov. xiv. 13. And again: I said of laughter, It is mad; and of mirth, What doeth it? Eccles. ii. 2. And yet again The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth, (vii. 5.)"


Sean said...

"Christmas season was originally forty days in length, to match the duration of Lent."

Not entirely correct. The season of Christmas has ended on Jan. 13th for probably over a millennium. The Purfication is a "satellite" Christmas feast, but it itself can occur in Lent. Septuagesima Sunday in penitential violet can occur at the earliest on Jan. 18th.

Kate Edwards said...

My statement was about the original length of the season, not the current situation and is correct.

Indeed, Dom Gueranger in The Liturgical Year series opens his chapter on the history of Christmas with the statement:"We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2..."

Traditionally the greater season of Christmas includes time after Epiphany, and the 1962 Office retains some elements reflecting this, including a Christmastide version of the Office of Our Lady on Saturday, and the Marian antiphon.