The Epiphany of the Lord

January 7, 2024 Column Father De Celles News

Janet Smith This Week at SRP. As we announced last week, we are very excited to have renowned Moral Theologian, Professor Janet E. Smith, coming to speak in our parish this Thursday, January 11, at 7 pm, in the Parish Hall. Her topic will be “The State of the Catholic Church Today.” Dr. Smith is a very plain-spoken and dynamic speaker, with a unique vantage point in the Church as a leading theologian, who also happens to be a woman. She is highly respected by priests, bishops and cardinals, as well as academics and ordinary Catholics.

                 So if you are confused about the state of things in the Church, you need to come to this talk.

Before her retirement in 2019, she was a professor of Moral Theology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit for eighteen years, holding the Father McGivney Chair of Life Ethics. Before that, she taught philosophy for nine years at the University of Notre Dame, and twelve years at the University of Dallas.

She also served three terms as a consulter to the Pontifical Council on the Family, and eight years on the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission III.

Professor Smith is perhaps best known by the Catholic faithful for her widely circulated talk, “Contraception: Why Not,” more than 2 million copies of which have been distributed. She authors a regular column for the National Catholic Register and has appeared on Geraldo, Fox Morning News, CNN International, CNN Newsroom, and EWTN among others, and is the author of several books.

Dr. Smith holds a Ph.D. in Classical Languages from the University of Toronto, and has received numerous academic and ecclesiastic honors including 1993 John Cardinal Wright Award (Fellowship of Catholic Scholars) and honorary doctorates from Franciscan University of Steubenville and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (Philadelphia).

Epiphany and the End of the Christmas Season. Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, commemorating the visit and adoration of the magi to Christ in Bethlehem. It has historically been celebrated on January 6th since at least the 3rd century, but is celebrated in the U.S. on the Sunday falling between January 2nd and January 8th (inclusive). In the Orthodox Church and many of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches it also, effectively, celebrates the birth of Our Lord, i.e., Christmas. This year it also represents the last Sunday of the Christmas season, which ends tomorrow, Monday, with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

The visit of the magi is rich in symbolic meanings for Christians, in particular those relating to the revealing (“epiphany”) of the Christ to the gentile world. As we think about this, it reminds us that that the Church is the Body of Christ on Earth, and so is called to continue the Christmas/Epiphany revelation of the coming of the Messiah to the world. But this is not just a responsibility for the Pope, bishops and priests: each of us is baptized into Christ and members of Christ’s Body, and so each of us is called to go out to the gentiles of today—those who do not share our Christian and Catholic faith—and reveal Christ to them. This can take various forms, but it begins with living our lives as if we believe in Jesus ourselves. So we live lives in keeping with the moral teaching of Christ, especially when it comes to chastity and charity. But we also must speak to others about Jesus, and His Church. Again, this can take various forms, considering prudence, our own particular talents, and the particular opportunities the Lord gives us to share our faith.

March for Life. On Friday, January 19, hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans will gather from all over the country to march in the 49th annual “March for Life” on the Mall in Washington. Since the Supreme Court decision in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade, the abortion issue has largely returned to the states to decide. But this has proven to provide a whole new set of challenges to the Pro-Life movement. As Jesus taught us, “I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

On January 19 we will have three busses ready to take St. Raymond parishioners down to the Mall. Please join us. Sign-up sheets for the bus are located in the narthex of the Church today.

For those of you who cannot go down to the Mall, we will have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament all day until the buses return.

Three Different Perspectives.

1) Cardinal Wilton Gregory. The Archbishop of Washington made the following comments at a gathering at Catholic University when asked about the Traditional Latin Mass:

Tradition dies a slow death, sometimes a bloody death… In many of the places where it grew …it grew because priests promoted it. And not because people — in other words, if you had a guy that came into the parish, and said, ‘Well, I like this rite, I’m gonna do it,’ and he gathered people together, and now all the sudden he created the need, in places where there wasn’t a need there….“So I think that the Holy Father is right to say: ‘Deal with the priests.’”

2) Archbishop Charles Chaput. Speaking to a meeting of bishops recently (in remarks published in First Things) the Emeritus Archbishop of  Philadelphia said:

The third problem is we ourselves; each of us as a believer and bishop; our limitations; our weaknesses. God called us to lead. The Church ordained us to lead. Therefore we’re responsible. Yes, we bishops didn’t create the world in which we now live. Yes, we don’t control most of the factors that will shape the world tomorrow. …But I do know that …Mass attendance and sacramental practice have been declining for decades in many North American dioceses, well before the clergy abuse crisis of recent years. And I do know that millions of Catholics …are baptized and even catechized, but they don’t know Jesus Christ—and therefore, for many of them, the language of Catholic Scripture, Catholic worship, and Catholic moral reasoning is incomprehensible. Again, we bishops are responsible—not for every failure; not for every mistake; and not for things over which we have no influence or control. But we do have the duty to examine ourselves and our work honestly; to correct each other frankly; to reform our hearts; and to give our lives zealously, completely, without counting the cost, to serving God and our people….”

3) And American Priests Say… From October of 2022, reported in The Pillar:

“…According to a study published yesterday, American Catholics priests describe their bishops as ‘imperious,’ ‘above the law,’ and ladder-climbing ‘chameleons.’…In the report … some priests told researchers that they live in ‘regular fear’ of being ‘thrown under the bus’ by bishops, who – some priests say – see them as ‘expendable’ and ‘liabilities.’ Survey results showed that priests were more likely to describe their spiritual fathers as ‘CEOs’ rather than ‘shepherds.’

Felicem diem Nativitatis, et Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles