Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Our choir director/organist, Nelda Chapman organized a choir pilgrimage to Italy. They departed a week ago and today's celebration of the Solemnity of the Epiphany with Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica is the culminating Liturgy for them. They return to Macon tomorrow, Thursday.

Fr. Vernon Knight, our parochial vicar, accompanied them.

A blessed Christmastide to everyone! Why or why couldn't this last Sunday in the USA have been the Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus and today, January 6, have been the Solemnity of the Epiphany? Why or why, I ask?

This Traditional Mass in the untraditional new order, is in Latin for the most part. I don't think Pope Francis has an integrated philosophy for the use of Latin as Pope Benedict did. Why today, but not for the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter's, is Latin used? It is baffling to say the least. Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Latin but often in Italian at papal Masses at the Vatican even when multiple language pilgrims are there. Pope Benedict also celebrated the Canon of the Mass in Latin even if other parts were in the vernacular:

Pope Francis' homily for Epiphany:

The words of the Prophet Isaiah – addressed to the Holy City of Jerusalem – are also meant for us.  They call us to go forth, to leave behind all that keeps us self-enclosed, to go out from ourselves and to recognize the splendour of the light which illumines our lives: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (60:1).  That “light” is the glory of the Lord. 

The Church cannot delude herself into thinking that she shines with her own light.  Saint Ambrose expresses this nicely by presenting the moon as a metaphor for the Church: “The moon is in fact the Church… [she] shines not with her own light, but with the light of Christ.  She draws her brightness from the Sun of Justice, and so she can say: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’” (Hexaemeron, IV, 8, 32).  Christ is the true light shining in the darkness. To the extent that the Church remains anchored in him, to the extent that she lets herself be illumined by him, she is able to bring light into the lives of individuals and peoples.  For this reason the Fathers of the Church saw in her the mysterium lunae.
  We need this light from on high if we are to respond in a way worthy of the vocation we have received.  To proclaim the Gospel of Christ is not simply one option among many, nor is it a profession.  For the Church, to be missionary does not mean to proselytize: for the Church to be missionary means to give expression to her very nature, which is to receive God’s light and then to reflect it.  There is no other way.  Mission is her vocation.  How many people look to us for this missionary commitment, because they need Christ.  They need to know the face of the Father.
The Magi mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew are a living witness to the fact that the seeds of truth are present everywhere, for they are the gift of the Creator, who calls all people to acknowledge him as good and faithful Father.  The Magi represent the men and woman throughout the world who are welcomed into the house of God.  Before Jesus, all divisions of race, language and culture disappear: in that Child, all humanity discovers its unity.  The Church has the task of seeing and showing ever more clearly the desire for God which is present in the heart of every man and woman.  Like the Magi, countless people, in our own day, have a “restless heart” which continues to seek without finding sure answers.  They too are looking for a star to show them the path to Bethlehem.
 How many stars there are in the sky!  And yet the Magi followed a new and different star, which for them shone all the more brightly.  They had long peered into the great book of the heavens, seeking an answer to their questions, and at long last the light appeared.  That star changed them.  It made them leave their daily concerns behind and set out immediately on a journey.  They listened to a voice deep within, which led them to follow that light.  The star guided them, until they found the King of the Jews in a humble dwelling in Bethlehem.
 All this has something to say to us today.  We do well to repeat the question asked by the Magi: “Where is the child who has been born the King of the Jews?  For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage” (Mt 2:2).  We are impelled, especially in an age like our own, to seek the signs which God offers us, realizing that great effort is needed to interpret them and thus to understand his will.   We are challenged to go to Bethlehem, to find the Child and his Mother. 

Let us follow the light which God offers us!  The light which streams from the face of Christ, full of mercy and fidelity.  And once we have found him, let us worship him with all our heart, and present him with our gifts: our freedom, our understanding and our love.  Let us recognize that true wisdom lies concealed in the face of this Child.  It is here, in the simplicity of Bethlehem, that the life of the Church is summed up.  For here is the wellspring of that light which draws to itself every individual and guides the journey of the peoples along the path of peace.


James said...

I suspect there's a fairly banal reason behind what seems like arbitrary choices between Italian and Latin. Msgr Marini's office must have template files for the papal ceremonies which are held in St Peter's each year (e.g. Epiphany, St Peter and St Paul), and they seem to stick with whatever language was used previously during Pope Benedict's time (you're right that Pope Francis doesn't seem to have strong feelings about this). Whereas the Holy Door ceremonies and other one-off masses require planning from scratch, so more Italian creeps in, no doubt on the assumption that Pope Francis prefers the vernacular. Or maybe the Holy Door ceremonies were based on the service books from the previous jubilees, in Piero Marini's time, when solely Italian was the norm.

It was nice to see the Pope wearing the cope from the 1983 Holy Year when opening the Holy Door at Santa Maria Maggiore (I mentioned this cope in a comment a few weeks before Christmas, so maybe Msgr Marini reads this blog!).

Marc said...

James, You may be right about the practical reasons for more Latin here, more Italian there: I'd point out, however-- not that I'm quite sure of the years of Mons Piero Marini's tenure-- that there was a fairly substantial presence of Latin used in the rites of the Great Jubilee, or at least in the Jubilee Mass for Rome itself (I don't recall clearly: May? the libretto is at home and I'm at work): but I see, re-reading, that the question is more specifically about the ceremonies of the opening of the Holy Door.

Happy new year to you, in any case, and to Fr McDonald and all of you here at his fine blog! I read but don't much comment. Happy feast day!

Anonymous said...

Thank Father for rising early and going to the trouble to find this.. And for putting the translation of the Homily here.
We singers stationed behind the Altar couldn't understand the Italian Homily.
Your genererosity is noticed.. And appreciated!

From a 'man on the scene'.. It was an awesomely reverent Mass.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Sheila! Thanks for commenting. I was wondering where you were and I was there in spirit as I watched a good portion of it live! Safe trip back tomorrow!I hope the entire pilgrimage was fun. God bless

George said...

The Three Wise men had spent their lives searching for the truth. The would find He who is Truth in Bethlehem.
They had spent their lives searching the "lights in the heavens" for what the stars could tell them. In the Christ child they found He who is the Light of the World, and would later heed what He would tell them.
They had come to Bethlehem from palatial splendor. The Son of God, the Divine King who was born of a woman, had come down to us from Heavenly splendor.
The Three Kings came to offer royal gifts to the Divine child. The would in time find He would offer gifts far greater than what they had presented.

John Nolan said...

You could have had the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on Sunday 3rd and Epiphany on the 6th if you had used the older Rite. The Feast of the Holy Name originated in the 16th century and was extended to the Universal Church by Innocent XIII in 1721. The 'trio of maniacs' (Fr Bouyer's words) who devised the NO calendar suppressed it. I believe JP II allowed a votive Mass of the Holy Name to be celebrated on that day; however, the only thing it shares with the traditional Mass for the feast is the Introit.

When SP was issued the English bishops, who had recently transferred Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi, wanted this also to apply to the EF, and petitioned Ecclesia Dei to this effect. However, they did not publish the full response, and so in July 2008 the Latin Mass Society submitted a dubium of its own. The response came in October; the EF retained its proper calendar, and the feasts were to be celebrated on their correct days although without the obligation. On Sundays where they had been transferred there was the option of repeating them as an external solemnity.