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Catholic Activity: Epiphany Mass

The center and focal point of the Solemnity of Epiphany is the most Holy Mass. This describes some of the traditions that may be included in the celebration of the Mass on this day.

The feast of manifestation, or Epiphany, is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th. In the dioceses of the United States this feast has been moved to the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.


Of course, the very center and focal point of the celebration must be the Mass — and what a glorious Mass today's is! We are almost overwhelmed by the majesty, the brilliance, power and dominion of our King, to whom "the kings of Tharsis and the islands, of Saba and Arabia" are offering gifts. We feel that we ourselves are taking part in the fulfillment of the prophecy, "The Gentiles shall walk in Thy light and kings in the brightness of Thy rising."

If any Mass in the whole year should be celebrated with all possible magnificence, with music and incense, it is surely today's. And it is especially appropriate to have a beautiful Missa Cantata in the parish with representatives of every family present. Perhaps some active young people can assist the pastor in encouraging a good attendance at a High Mass, and they might also gather together a group to rehearse the singing. Copies of the Laudate Dominum with the antiphon, Christus vincet; Christus regnat; Christus imperat, could be mimeographed so that the entire congregation can join in singing praise to Christ.

The Epiphany Mass is like a great offertory procession, led by the three Magi. This fact is emphasized in some parishes with a special procession before Mass. Three representatives of the parish bring up gold, frankincense and myrrh, together with the bread and wine for the Offertory, while the choir chants special antiphons from the Epiphany liturgy. (The gold can be represented by gifts of old jewelry from parishioners, which can later be sold for the benefit of the poor.)

At the altar, the gifts are presented to the officiating priest, who may then read over them the special blessing the Church gives for gold, incense and myrrh on this feast day. Such a procession can help all the people enter more fully into an understanding of the Epiphany mystery, and its theme of offering adoration and praise to God.

Because Epiphany falls on a weekday most of the time, [Editor's Note: In the dioceses of the United States, the Solemnity of the Epiphany has been transferred to the second Sunday after Christmas. --JGM] it may not be possible to arrange such a celebration in the parish — but in school or college it should not be difficult to cooperate with school authorities in planning a special observance of the Epiphany feast, beginning with a sung High Mass in the morning.

But even if we cannot participate in a High or Sung Mass before hurrying off to work or school, at least we can read through the texts of the Mass the evening before, so that our minds and hearts are suffused with the splendor of the feast and its rich and deep significance for our life and work in the apostolate.

Activity Source: Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Elsa Chaney, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1955

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