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"...And behold the star which they had seen in the east
went before them, until it came and stood over
where the Child was. And seeing the star they rejoiced
with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house,
they found the Child with Mary His Mother,
and falling down they adored Him;
and opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts: 
gold,  frankincense and myrrh...."         

                                                                                                                           - Matthew 2:9-11

The gospel story of the Magi,
so closely associated with Epiphany,
is not meant to be read as an historical event.

Rather, it is a reflection on an important aspect
of the mystery of The Incarnation:

The Messiah has come to all people and not just to the Jews,
a theme highlighted by Matthew's gospel.

 

The word "magi" is Greek
and refers to a learned caste in Babylonia,
probably astrologers.
It fits into the symbolism of supernatural circumstances
that led representatives of the Gentile nations
to the Messiah.

References to prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures
(for example, Isaiah 60:1-6)  are used by the author
to emphasize the universal purpose of Jesus' birth.

This gospel reflection on the birth of the Messiah
was embellished by popular details as the centuries passed.
The number of Magi was set at three by Origen (d. 254)
because of the three gifts mentioned. 

The Magi were turned into Kings in the 6th century
because of Old Testament references
Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 6O:3.

 

 


The representation of the Magi as three kings
along with their physical appearance
comes from pious legends in the 9th century.

They described the kings as representing
the three major races and gave them names:

 

Melchior, an old white man with a long white beard,
bearing the gift of gold;

Caspar, young and of darker hue, carrying
incense;

and Balthasar, a black man, offering myrrh.

 

 

 

GOLD FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH

The three gifts mentioned in the gospel,
were traditional symbols of homage in the East.
Traditionally they have come to symbolize
the destiny of Jesus:

Gold    for His Royalty

Frankincense   for His Divinity

Myrrh for His   Suffering and Death


 

 

 

 

 

 

It is an ancient custom to have a priest come
to bless the home on this Feast.
Since this is usually not possible today,
the same blessing can be read by the head of the home.
After the blessing is read aloud, the father uses
the blessed white chalk to place the initials of the 3 Kings -

Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar -
on the inside of the door frame.
The initials can also be written on the red paper.
Frame the initials by the number of the year,
and connect all these symbols by crosses
– for example, the new year: 20 + C + M + B + 12.
This symbolizes that all of our comings and goings
will always be in search of the TRUTH,
He whom the Magi searched for by the light of the star.
 

Epiphany Blessing of the Chalk Prayer
Traditionally offered by the father of the family:
Let us pray. O Lord God, through the power of the priest,
Thou didst bless this creature chalk to make it helpful to man.

Grant that we who use it with faith and inscribe with it
the names of Thy saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar
upon the entrance of our homes, may through their merits
and petition enjoy physical health and spiritual protection.
May all our coming and going during this New Year,
be always in search of Truth and Thy holy will for our lives.
Through Christ our Lord.

 

 

 EPIPHANY NOVENA TO THE MAGI
Beginning Dec. 28

DECEMBER 28
O holy Magi! You were living in continual expectation of the
rising of the Star of Jacob, which would announce the birth of the true Sun of justice; obtain for us an increase of faith and charity, and the grace to live in continual hope of beholding one day the light of heavenly glory and eternal joy. Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost as it was in the begining, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

 DECEMBER 29
O holy Magi! who at the first appearance of the wondrous star
left your native country to go and seek the newborn King of the Jews; obtain for us the grace of corresponding with alacrity to every divine inspiration. Glory be...

 DECEMBER 30
O holy Magi! who regarded neither the severity of the season, nor the inconveniences of the journey that you might find the newborn Messiah; obtain for us the grace not to allow ourselves to be discouraged by any of the difficulties which may meet us on the way of salvation. Glory be...

 DECEMBER 31
O holy Magi, who, when deserted by the star in the city of
Jerusalem, sought humbly, and without human respect, from the rulers of the Church, the place where you might discover the object of your journey; obtain for us grace to have recourse, in faith and humility, in all our doubts and perplexities to the counsel of our superiors, who hold the place of God on earth. Glory be...

 JANUARY 1
O holy Magi, who were gladdened by the reappearance of the
star which led you to Bethlehem; obtain for us from God the grace, that, remaining always faithful to Him in afflictions, we may be consoled in time by His grace, and in eternity by His glory. Glory be...

 JANUARY 2
O holy Magi, who, entering full of faith into the stable of
Bethlehem, prostrated yourselves on the earth, to adore the newborn King of the Jews, though he was surrounded only by signs of poverty and weakness; obtain from the Lord for us a lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the blessed Sacrament, the true spirit of poverty, and a Christ-like charity for the poor and suffering. Glory be...

 JANUARY 3
O holy Magi, who offered to Jesus Christ gold, incense, and
myrrh, thereby recognizing Him to be at once King, God, and Man; obtain from the Lord for us the grace never to present ourselves before Him with empty hands; but that we may continually offer to Him the gold of charity, the incense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance and mortification. Glory be...

 JANUARY 4
O holy Magi, who, when warned by an angel not to return to
Herd, traveled back to your country be another road; obtain for us from the Lord, the grace that, after having found Him in true repentance, we may avoid all danger of losing Him again. Glory be...

 JANUARY 5
O holy Magi, who were first among the Gentiles called to the
knowledge of Jesus Christ, and who persevered in the faith till your deaths, obtain for us of the Lord the grace of living always in conformity to our baptismal vows, ever leading to a life of faith; that like you we may attain to the beatific vision of that God Who now is the object of our faith. Glory be...