Monday, January 6, 2014

The Feast of the Epiphany!

If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a man, and they acknowledged a God.
St. John Chrysostom

Nevertheless, if the Magi had had the same indifference which the majority of 
Christians have for heavenly things, they would have perhaps looked upon the star only as a curiosity, and they would have met, perchance, to seek for natural causes to account for its appearance. They would not have hastened to set out on so long a journey and in delaying to obey the secret order which impelled them onwards, they would have lost the greatest of blessings.


Dear Jesus, as You led the Three Kings to Yourself by the light of a star, please draw us ever closer to You by the light of Faith. Help us to desire You as ardently as they did. Give us the grace to overcome all the obstacles that keep us far from You. May we, like them, have something to give You when we appear before You. Amen
by Dutch painter, Jan deBray, 18th c.
For many years' collection of links, photos, history, and customs of the day, please click here.

Wrapping up a season full of family fun, frantic activity, and fun traditions, the Epiphany has come back around again to bless us once more. We still have a little bit of time before the official end of the Christmas season on the Feast of the Purification (Feb. 2nd), but this day effectively signals the end of the family gatherings.

 Kevvy had to get back to work in Denver last week, Paul and family went home to San Clemente right after the New Year, we drove Theresa back to boarding school in Colorado (Holy Guardian Angels) this past weekend, Dominic is on his way back to his seminary studies in Idaho tomorrow, and Michelle is off for adventures in California on Wednesday... (sigh) So we're soon to be back to the core-core family at home, just the four Littles (or Not-So-Littles-Anymore!), Dan and me.   

We're all sorry to be done with all the fun, but at least the Christmas season ends up with one
more taste of our family favorite today:  Magi Bread.  Every year since we found this recipe on  Catholic Cusine  it's been the top request from everyone in the family, far and near.  Catherine is the star chef of this confection (Pun somewhat intended...) and has wound up turning out loaf after loaf every year, starting in Advent, so that it can be shipped out to clamoring family afar -- and gobbled up as soon as it's left unguarded by family a-near!  It really is a wonderful recipe!
One of Cathy's first Epiphany Cakes -- made
in 2010.  My goodness how she's grown up
since then!
The goodies in this bread are intended to remind us of the Three Kings' gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh;.  (I guess you might call the oranges gold, the cherries frankincense, and the coconut myrrh maybe? )  We bake a little fake, hard plastic ring inside to see who comes up with "extra blessings" in the year.  And instead of baking it in the two cake pans, we use a fancy bundt cake pan, and decorate with cherries, icing, and a gold crown in the middle of the cake.

Gift of the Magi Bread

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 
This year's Three Kings table and cake

1 cup sugar 
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium) 
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained 
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries 
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut 
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips 
2/3 cup sliced almonds, divided 
1/2 cup chopped dates or raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans, or 6 or 7 mini loaf pans. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter or margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the mashed bananas to the creamed mixture. Stir in the mandarin oranges, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, only 1/2 cup almonds, cherries and dates or raisins. 

*Pour into the two greased loaf pans or mini-loaf pans. Sprinkle the top with remaining almonds.
** Alternatively, pour into one well-greased bundt pan...
 Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes (slightly longer in the bundt pan) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing bread from pans. Cool completely on wire racks.
Decorate and enjoy!
One of my all-time favorite paintings of the Three Kings with Little Jesus.  I wish I knew who the painter was!

Now Something a Little Different I Just Stumbled Across on This Feast Day:
A unusual, but beautiful prayer/poem for the Epiphany suitable most especially for converts!
(In honor of our dear friend, June, who comes home today!)

by Evelyn Waugh

Like me, you were late in coming.
The shepherds were here long before even the cattle. 
They had joined the chorus of angels before you were started.

For you the primordial discipline 
of the heavens had to be relaxed
and a new defiant light set to blaze amid 
the disconcerted stars.

How laboriously you came, taking sights 
and calculating,
where the shepherds had run barefoot.
How odd you looked on the road,
attended by what outlandish liveries, 
and laden with such preposterous gifts.

You came at length to the first stage of your pilgrimage 
and the great star stood still above you. 
What did you do? 
You stopped to call on King Herod. 
Deadly exchange of compliments 
in which there began that un-ended war
of mobs and magistrates against the innocent.

Yet you came, and were not turned away. 
You too found room before the manger. 
Your gifts were not needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, 
for they were brought with love.

In that new order of charity
that had just come to life, there was room for you, too.
You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass.

You are our special patrons, and patrons
of all latecomers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth,
of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation,

of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, 
of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents.

May we, too, before and at the end
find kneeling-space in the straw.

For His sake Who did not reject your curious gifts,
pray always for all the learned,
the oblique, and the delicate.

Let them not be quite forgotten
at the Throne of God when the simple
come into their kingdom.


+ + + + +

Evelyn St. John Waugh

1903-1966  Evelyn Waugh, a convert at the age of 27 and a popular and noted author of his
day wrote several astounding articles describing his conversion process in London's Daily Express newspaper.  Go here to read about this phenomenon and the controversy it stirred up, as well as G.K. Chesterton's influence on Waugh.  (Awesome story!)  The above prayer was written by Waugh for his novel, Helena, [1950], based on the legend of the Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, who reputedly searched for and found the relics of the true cross on which Christ was crucified. The Empress makes her prayer to the Three Wise Men before finding the Holy Cross. 

1 comment:

Sharolyn said...

I love that painting, too! It's The Holy Men by Liz Lemon Swindle.