January 7, 2018
The Epiphany of the Lord
May I express sincere best wishes to all of you for a Blessed and Merry Christmas. Although the stores are filled with After Christmas signs, we who are believers, know that Christmas is so great a mystery that it is not celebrated in merely one day, but it continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which is tomorrow. May I also express sincere gratitude to all of you for your great generosity to both me and to St. Paul’s parish. It is precisely your sacrifices and selflessness which enables St. Paul’s to continue to shine forth as a Light on our little Hill and bear witness to the Light of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless and reward each and every one of you. We are most grateful for all who worked so diligently and with such great care to make the Church look so beautiful. There were parishioners of all ages working on the decorating of the Church: children, teenagers, twenty-something’s and adults. Our Church decorators were; Veronica Borelli, Paula Dawson, Tony & Joanne Cinelli, Deanna Cinelli, Frank & Jo Ann Cruz and Ursula & Andy Coughlin. We are so grateful to our parish organist and cantors as well as our guest musicians (provided by a very generous parishioner). The music was so uplifting at Christmas and many remarked it was like being at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I am so grateful for the presence of orchestral music at St. Paul’s at Christmas. The 4.00PM and 6.00PM Mass had full orchestra, singers, cantor and organ.. The 10.00PM Mass had brass, timpani, organ, choir and cantor. That was also the case for the 11.00AM on Christmas Day. The 9.00AM Mass on Christmas Day had cantor and organ. It was a glorious Christmas and all this music was provided by a very generous parishioner who wishes to remain anonymous.
I am so grateful to our Altar Guild who worked to make the Church look so beautiful and I am grateful to our ushers, altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. This year an anonymous donor gave a beautiful Nativity set. The figurines are of fine porcelain and they are hand painted. Each piece is a work of art. My favorite was the camels which had such a charming expression. This year our nativity scene was once again at the front door of the Church so that all our parishioners, especially the children, could admire it, be uplifted, and pray before it. While it was on Cedar Swamp Road it was inaccessible to our parishioners and the cars speed by with such haste that no one could even pray before it or admire it. The Mass in the Night was at 10.00PM. As many know, this is the custom in many places. Even the Pope himself celebrates mass at 10. It is a realistic accommodation for a one priest parish and I am grateful that so many welcomed the change. (I myself said six Masses on December 24th and two on December 25th). At one time, the Midnight Mass was the First Mass of Christmas, but that is no longer the case.
Today we keep the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Although God had become a man on Christmas Day, the mystery was known by very few. It was as though the sun were just rising in the east with its glorious rays shining forth. But on the Feast of the Epiphany, we may say that the sun is shining forth in its noonday zenith and spreading its light throughout the whole world. That is why the Epiphany is the Feast of Light as our six candles on the altar so beautifully attest.
The word Epiphany means Manifestation. On this glorious Feast, the great mystery is made known to all the nations and peoples of the World. For on this day, the three Kings arrived bearing their wondrous gifts for the Holy Infant. In the person of the three Kings all the nations of the earth streamed to the manger. On Christmas we sang in the Liturgy, Christus natus est nobis, venite adoremus! Christ is born for us, come let us adore Him. But today, the Epiphany, we sing, Christus apparuit nobis, venite adoremus! Christ has appeared for us, come let us adore Him!
Actually on the Feast of the Epiphany three mysteries are celebrated: The three Kings come to the manger, Our Lord manifests His glory at the Jordan River, and He reveals His glory in the First Miracle of Cana by changing water into wine. The famous author James Joyce bases his charming short story The Dead from the Dubliners on these three manifestations.
Therefore, the Epiphany fills us with joy. Many of our dear little ones may be interested to know that in Italy, Spain, and the entire Ibero-Hispanic world it is the Three Kings who bring the good children their gifts. Just as American children may leave a snack for Santa and the reindeer, so in those lands the children leave the gift of hay for the camels of the Thee Kings.
CAPITAL CAMPAIGN: Our Capital Campaign continues to be a great grace. For that I am most grateful to all of you. Although our Capital Campaign has been public for less than three months, we are at this writing (December 30th) at 64.7% of goal. May God bless and reward you.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda