Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Epiphany manifestation

Musings from a Catholic Bookstore:

Epiphany is the Christian feast that celebrates the Incarnation and in particular the revelation to mankind that God took on human form. It is curious then that in the West we typically associate January 6th with the three wise men. It is true that these men from the East represent man’s discovery of the Messiah, but they weren’t looking for the Son of God. In fact, the Jewish people had been waiting nearly 2000 years for their savior but they were only expecting a great king, prophet, or priest. It is somewhat ironic that the Magi traveled so great a distance on faith yet they failed to see the greatest mystery before their eyes. Simeon and the prophetess Anna also realized that the prophecies were being fulfilled and that the Messiah had been born when they saw Jesus in the temple, but the full revelation was not made known to them.

The word Epiphany is very vague and implies only “manifestation”. In the early Church, particularly in the East, this feast commemorated the Magi, but it also included other events of manifestation such as the Nativity, the Wedding at Cana and, in particular, the Baptism in the Jordan. It is in this last feast that Jesus’ Divinity is revealed.

Hat Tip: Da Mihi Animas

Hat Tip: Catholic Fire

Finally, I ran across this fascinating and intriguing history of the Catholic Church's roots in Alaska, as cited by CNA:

Anchorage, Jan 5, 2009 / 05:47 pm (CNA)- Nearly 230 years ago, three Roman Catholic priests sailed from Mexico to Alaska where they would celebrate the first Catholic Mass in the state and bring the Body and Blood of Christ to the Last Frontier.

According to the Catholic Anchor, by the year 1779, the race to explore and claim rights to the far north had already reached Alaska. During the previous year, the English Captain Cook had sailed into the inlet that now bears his name, and the Russians were already trading furs with Native Alaskans.

The Spanish were sailing with a two-fold mission: to claim territory for their Catholic king and to spread the faith.

According to Father Richard Tero, a church historian and pastor at Sacred Heart Church in the city of Seward, taking possession of new land involved erecting a cross at each site and, if a priest was present, celebrating Mass.

In 1774, Spain’s first expedition to Alaska fell short – landing in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands.

The next year, part of a Spanish contingent arrived in what is now Sitka and Bucareli Bay (named after the Spanish Viceroy of Mexico Don Antonio María Bucarelí). But the ship carrying priests was forced to turn back with a crew suffering from scurvy. Those who landed in Alaska claimed territory for Spain and erected crosses. But without a priest, there was no Mass.

Franciscan Father Junípero Serra, the beatified former head of the Californian missions, was undaunted by the challenges of evangelizing Alaska. Desiring to bring the Gospel to Natives in the north, he had been assigning chaplains to travel with the Spanish missions.

After the disappointment of the1775 trip, he wrote to Bucarelí. “There the crosses remain but … there are lacking those who can explain their meaning to those poor natives,” he said.

In 1779, Bucarelí sent another crew north, as he described, to “contain the plans of the Russians to establish themselves” in Alaska. Three chaplains accompanied them: Father Juan Antonió Garcia Riobó and Father Matiás de Santa Catalina Noriega, Franciscans from Mexico, and Father Cristóbal Antonio Díaz, a secular priest from Peru.

Read Entire Article.

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