Having laid their offerings at the feet of Jesus, as the sign of the alliance they had, in the name of all mankind, contracted with Him, and laden with His graces and blessings, the Magi take their leave of the Divine Babe; for such was His will. They take their departure from Bethlehem, and the rest of the world seems a wilderness to them. Oh! if they might be permitted to fix their abode near the new-born King and His incomparable Mother!–but no; God’s plan for the salvation of the world requires that everything savouring of human pomp and glory should be far from Him, who had come to take upon Himself all our miseries.
Besides, they are to be the first messengers of the Gospel; they must go and tell to the Gentiles that the Mystery of Salvation has begun, that the earth is in possession of its Saviour, and that their salvation is nigh at hand. The Star does not return to them; they needed it to find Jesus; but, now, they have Him in their hearts, and will never lose Him. These three men are sent back into the midst of the Gentile-world, as the leaven of the Gospel, which, notwithstanding its being so little, is to leaven the whole paste (St. Matth. xiii. 33). For their sakes, God will bless the nations of the earth; from this day forward, infidelity will lose ground, and faith will progress; and, when the Blood of the Lamb having been shed, Baptism shall be promulgated, the Magi shall be, not merely men of desire, but perfect Christians, initiated into all the Mysteries of the Church.
The ancient tradition, which is quoted by the author of The Imperfect Work on St. Matthew, which is put in all the editions of St. John Chrysostom, and was probably written about the close of the 6th century–tells us that the three Magi were baptised by St. Thomas the Apostle, and devoted themselves to the preaching of the Gospel. But we scarcely need a tradition on such a point as this. The vocation of these three Princes could never be limited to the mere privilege of being the first, among the Gentiles, to visit the eternal King, who had come down from heaven to be born on this earth and show Himself to His creatures; a second vocation was the consequence of the first, the vocation of preaching Jesus to men.
There are many details relating to the life and actions of the Magi, after they had become Christians, which have been handed down to us; but we refrain from mentioning them, as not being sufficiently ancient or important traditions, to have induced the Church to give them place in her Liturgy. We would make the same observation with regard to the names assigned to them of Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthassar; the custom of thus naming them is too modern to deserve credit; and though it might be indiscreet to deny that these were their true names, it seems very difficult to give proofs of their correctness.
The Relics of these holy Kings were translated from Persia to Constantinople, under the first christian Emperors, and, for a long time, were kept in the Church of Saint Sophia. At a later period, they were translated to Milan, when Eustorgius was Bishop of that City. There they remained till the 12th century, when, through the influence of the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa, they were translated to the Cathedral Church of Cologne, by Reynold, Archbishop of that metropolitan See. The Relics are in a magnificent Shrine, perhaps the finest specimen now extant of medieval metallic-art, and the superb Cathedral, where it is religiously kept, is, by its size and architectural beauty, one of the grandest Churches of the Christian world.
Thus have we followed you, O Blessed Magi! Fathers of the Gentile-world! from your first setting out from the East for Bethlehem, to your return to your own country, and even to your sacred restingplace, which the goodness of God has made to be in this cold West of ours. It was the love of children for their parents that made us thus cling to you. Besides, were we not ourselves in search of that dear King, whom you so longed for and found? Blessed be those ardent desires of yours, blessed be your obedience to the guidance of the Star, blessed be your devotion at the Crib of Jesus, blessed be the gifts you made Him, which while they were acceptable to God were full of instruction to us! We revere you as Prophets, for you foretold the characters of the Messias by the selection of your three gifts. We honour you as Apostles, for you preached, even to Jerusalem herself, the Birth of the humble Jesus of Bethlehem, of that Jesus whom His Disciples preached not till after the triumph of His Resurrection. We hail you as the Spring-Flowers of the Gentile-world, but Flowers which produced abundant and rich fruits, for you brought over entire nations and countless people to the service of our divine King.
Watch over us, and protect the Church. Be mindful of those Eastern countries, whence rises to the earth the light of day, the beautiful image of your own journey towards Bethlehem. Bless this Western world of ours, which was buried in darkness when you first saw the Star, and is now the favoured portion of God’s earth, and on which the Divine Sun of Justice pours forth His brightest and warmest rays. Faith has grown weak among us; re-enkindle it. Obtain of the divine mercy, that the West may ever send forth her messengers of salvation to the south, and north, and even to that infidel East, where are laid the tents of Sem, and where the light that you gave her has been long extinguished by her apostacy. Pray for the Church of Cologne, that illustrious sister of our holiest Churches in the West; may she preserve the faith, may she defend her sacred rights and liberty; may she be the bulwark of Catholic Germany, and be ever blessed by the protection of her Three Kings, and the patronage of the glorious Ursula and her virginal army. Lastly, we beseech you, U venerable Magi! to introduce us to the Infant Jesus, and His Blessed Mother; and grant us to go through these forty days, which the Church consecrates to the Mystery of Christmas, with hearts burning with love for the Divine Child, and may that same love abide with us during the pilgrimage of our life on this earth.
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
Of the Blessed Virgin Mary
O God, it was through the motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary that Thou didst bestow the gift of eternal life upon mankind. Grant that we may feel the powerful intercession of Mary, through whom we were privileged to receive the giver of life, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord…
For the Church
Graciously accept the prayers of Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that, overcoming all hostility and error, She may serve Thee in safety and freedom. 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
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.
Of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Through Thy clemency, O Lord, and by the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, may this offering avail unto our prosperity and peace, now and for evermore…
For the Church
Protect us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that holding fast to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and soul. 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
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.
Of the Blessed Virgin Mary
May this Communion, O Lord, cleanse us from sin and bestow on us spiritual health from heaven through the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, the Mother of God…
For the Church
We beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that Thou wouldst not allow to be exposed to human perils, those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of these divine mysteries. 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