A Solemnity of such importance as the Epiphany could not be without an Octave. The only Octaves, during the year, that are superior to this of the Epiphany, are those of Easter and Pentecost. It has a privilege which the Octave of Christmas has not; for no Feast can be kept during the Octave of the Epiphany, unless it be that of a Patron of first class; whereas, Feasts of a double and semi-double rite are admitted during the Christmas Octave. It would even seem, judging from the ancient Sacramentaries, that, anciently, the two days immediately following the Epiphany were Days of Obligation, as were the Monday and Tuesday of Easter and Whitsuntide. The names of the Stational Churches are given, where the Clergy and Faithful of Rome assembled on these two days.
In order that we may the more fully enter into the spirit of the Church, during this glorious Octave, we will contemplate, each day, the Mystery of the Vocation of the Magi, and we will enter, together with them, into the holy Cave of Bethlehem, there to offer our gifts to the Divine Infant, to whom the Star has led the Wise Men.
These Magi are the harbingers of the conversion of all nations to the Lord their God; they are the Fathers of the Gentiles in the faith of the Redeemer that is come; they are the Patriarchs of the human race regenerated. They arrive at Bethlehem, according to the tradition of the Church, three in number; and this tradition is handed down by St. Leo, by St. Maximus of Turin, by St. Cesarius of Aries, and by the christian paintings in the Catacombs of Rome, which paintings belong to the period of the Persecutions.
Thus is continued in the Magi the Mystery prefigured by the three just men at the very commencement of the world: Abel, who, by his death, was the figure of Christ; Seth, who was the father of the children of God, as distinct from the family of Cain; and Enos, who had the honor of regulating the ceremonies and solemnity to be observed in man’s worship of his Creator.
The Magi also continued, in their own person, that other Mystery of the three new parents of the human family, after the Deluge, and from whom all races have sprung: Sem, Cham, and Japheth, the Sons of Noe.
And, thirdly, we behold in the Magi that third Mystery of the three fathers of God’s chosen people: Abraham, the Father of believers; Isaac, another figure of Christ immolated; and Jacob, who was strong against God (Gen. xxxii. 28), and was the father of the twelve Patriarchs of Israel.
All these were but the receivers of the Promise, although the hope of mankind, both according to nature and grace, rested on them; they, as the Apostle says of them, saluted the accomplishment of that Promise afar-off (Heb. xi. 13). The Nations did not follow them, by serving the true God; nay, the greater the light that shone on Israel, the greater seemed the blindness of the Gentile-world. The three Magi, on the contrary, come to Bethlehem, and they are followed by countless generations. In them, the figure becomes the grand reality, thanks to the mercy of our Lord, who having come to find what was lost, vouchsafed to stretch out His arms to the whole human race, for the whole was lost.
These happy Magi were also invested with regal power, as we shall see further on; as such, they were prefigured by those three faithful Kings, who were the glory of the throne of Juda, the earnest maintainers among the chosen people of the traditions regarding the future Deliverer, and the strenuous opponents of idolatry: David, the sublime type of the Messias; Ezechias, whose courageous zeal destroyed the idols; and Josias, who re-established the Law of the Lord, which the people had forgotten.
And if we would have another type of these holy pilgrims, who come from a far distant country of the Gentiles to adore the King of Peace, and offer Him their rich presents–the sacred Scripture puts before us the Queen of Saba, also a Gentile, who hearing of the fame of Solomon’s wisdom, whose name means the Peaceful, visits Jerusalem, taking with her the most magnificent gifts–camels laden with gold, spices, and precious stones–and venerates, under one of the sublimest of his types, the Kingly character of the Messias.
Thus, O Jesus! during the long and dark night, in which the justice of thy Father left this sinful world, did the gleanings of grace appear in the heavens, portending the rising of that Sun of thine own Justice, which would dissipate the shadows of death, and establish the reign of Light and Day. But, now, all these shadows have passed away; we no longer need the imperfect light of types: it is Thyself we now possess; and though we wear not royal crowns upon our heads, like the Magi and the Queen of Saba, yet Thou receivest us with love. The very first to be invited to Thy Crib, there to receive Thy teachings, were simple Shepherds. Every member of the human family is called to form part of Thy court. Having become a Child, Thou hast opened the treasures of Thine infinite wisdom to all men. What gratitude do we not owe for this gift of the light of Faith, without which we should know nothing, even whilst flattering ourselves that we know all things! How narrow, and uncertain, and deceitful, is human science, compared with that which has its source in Thee! May we ever prize this immense gift of Faith, this Light, O Jesus! which Thou makest to shine upon us, after having softened it under the veil of Thy humble Infancy. Preserve us from pride, which darkens the soul’s vision, and dries up the heart. Confide us to the keeping of Thy Blessed Mother; and may our love attach us for ever to Thee, and her maternal eye ever watch over us lest we should leave Thee, O Thou the God of our hearts!
INTROIT Malachias 3: 1
Behold the Lord the Ruler is come: and the Kingdom is in His Hand, and power, and dominion. (Ps. 71: 2) Give to the king Thy judgment, O God: and to the king’s Son Thy justice. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat Behold the Lord the Ruler is come…
O God, Who on this day, didst manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles by the guidance of a star: graciously grant, that we, who know Thee now by faith, may be led on even to contemplate the beauty of Thy Majesty. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen
Collect for the Blessed Mother
O God, Who didst will that at the message of an angel Thy word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that we, Thy suppliants, who believe her to be truly the mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee.
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Isaias 60: 1-6
Lessons from Isaias the Prophet. Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon Thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Life up thy eyes round about and see: all these are gathered together: they are come to thee; thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, a=the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense and showing forth praise to the Lord.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Isaias 60: 6, 1
All they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense and showing forth praise to the Lord. V. Arise and be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Matthew 2: 2) We have seen His star in the East, and are come with gifts to adore the Lord. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 2: 1-2
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda in the days of King Herod, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and are come to adore Him. And king Herod hearing this was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the Prophet: And thou Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the Captain that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them: and sending them into Bethlehem said: Go and diligently inquire after the Child, and when you have found Him, bring me word again that I also may come and adore Him. Who having heard the king went their way. And behold the star, which they had seen in the East, went before them until it came and stood over where the Child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary His mother, (here genuflect) and falling down they adored Him. And opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalms 71: 10-11
The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts: and all kings of the earth shall adore Him: all nations shall serve Him.
Graciously look down, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon the gifts of Thy Church by which gold, frankincense and myrrh are no longer laid before Thee; but he is sacrificed and received who by those very gifts was signified, Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God
Forever and ever. R.Amen.
Secret for the Blessed Virgin Mary
Strengthen in our minds, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the mysteries of the true faith, that, confessing Him Who was conceived of the Virgin to be true God and true man, we may deserve, through the power of His saving resurrection, to attain everlasting joy.
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Epiphany
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: for when Thine only-begotten Son was manifested in the substance of our mortal flesh, with the new light of His own Immortality He restored us. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
Communicating, and keeping this most holy day on which Thine only-begotten Son, who is coeternal with Thee in Thy glory, showed Himself in true flesh and with a visible body like unto us; and also reverencing the memory first of the same glorious Mary, ever Virgin, Mother of the same our God and Lord Jesus Christ: as also of the blessed Apostles and Martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, and Thaddeus; Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and of all Thy Saints, through whose merits and prayers, grant that we may in all things be defended by the help of Thy protection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 2: 2
We have seen His Star in the East, and are come with gifts to adore the Lord.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that by a purified mind we may attain to the understanding of that which we solemnly celebrate. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Postcommunion for the Blessed Virgin Mary
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of His resurrection.
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.