The Epiphany: a worthy feast

It’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve really delved into the beauty of the Epiphany. I always just kinda glanced over it as another Christmas feast and superficially understood that three wise men came to visit Jesus and gave him fancy gifts. How deprived was I of such depth! The more intentional Kevin and I are with our liturgical living, the more the feasts and seasons are coming alive. We really wanted to do was celebrate Christmas in it’s fullness and in it’s time. That also means keeping the season going when the rest of the world is done. One way we went about this was hosting an Epiphany party last night!

Our invitations!

We (mainly Kevin) created some festive Epiphany props for our homemade photobooth!

It was a grand time with close friends. There was great conversation, lots of laughs, deep spiritual insights after the gospel reading, and a traditional Epiphany cake! Kevin and I are both so grateful for the evening and could not have asked for anything better. I’m particularly glad that we were able to delve into the passage with the Magi, as their journey to Jesus was pretty much the reason to party. Another reason why we love our friends so darn much. The story is truly so rich and leaves the heart pondering so many things.

Mr. & Mrs. Melendez!

I wanted to just share a few thoughts from a couple of very wise men (pun intended). First is from a priest here in Boston who is an incredibly gifted preacher. Fr. Peter Grover, of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, has never failed to touch my heart with his homilies and reading this one on the Epiphany is no exception:

“Here is a question. How many Magi are in Matthew’s gospel?  You probably just sang “We Three Kings” the Epiphany liturgy.  Perhaps you got a card with a picture of three kings mounted on camels.  If you think the answer is three, then you better read your Bible again.  Matthew tells us there were three gifts but he doesn’t tell us the number of Magi.  It could have been two or four. How many do I think there were?  I would confidently say hundreds of Magi. Have I lost my mind?  My reasoning is simple.  They had gold, frankincense and myrrh, kingly and godly gifts. They better have an army of people to transport those riches half way across the planet.  Picture this:  King Herod is in his chamber and he hears a knock on his door.  “What is it?”  “Magi from the East are here to see you.” Herod then looks out the window and sees hundreds kings, princes, astrologers and the wise gathered from around the world at his door.  That is what frightened Herod and the city of Jerusalem. Who is this kid that is drawing so many from all over the world?  The child is the Light of the World.”

What a beautiful image! I mean, it makes sense, right? They would have needed a multitude of people to successfully make that kind of trip and with all those riches. Something stirred in these people’s hearts; they were lead to Jesus, the savior of the world. They could not have known the fullness of what they were seeking. Even upon seeing and worshiping the child, they, along with Mary and Joseph, didn’t really know what this meant. But they were changed. It’s impossible to encounter Jesus and remain the same. They were changed and they went back a different way. And from this, Jesus is made manifest to the entire world. He has come to save us all.

There’s just so much we can pull from this short passage, but Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains it well in a few sentences:

“The key point is this: the wise men from the east are a new beginning. They represent the journeying of humanity toward Christ. They initiate a procession that continues throughout history. Not only do they represent the people who have found the way to Christ: they represent the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religions and human reason toward him.”

Now I understand why so much of the world holds this feast so high, like a “second Christmas”. This is officially a very special day in the Gearns household. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making yourself known to us all.

Party time :)

Kev, Jared, Javi & John...clearly enjoying themselves.

 

2015: learning to be present

While in Duluth, Kevin and I were on the way to adoration and chatting about the year to come. We’re super excited for 2015 and all the possibilities that lay before us. Lists and “resolutions” aside, we wanted to think seriously about how we can grow in virtue this year. I’m sure we can all think of a particular vice we have or a certain virtue we are lacking. I can think of a ton for myself. But as the wise Ron Swanson once said, “never half-ass two things; whole-ass one thing.” That’s applicable here, right?

I proposed Kevin and I each come up with a virtue the other should work on (which could have gone horribly wrong), but we actually each said what the other was thinking.

Be present.

Surprise, surprise. I need to work on being present. Big picture: I need to not be continuously planning our future (out loud AND in my head). It doesn’t matter that I enjoy it and that it brings me temporal satisfaction, it can often rob me of the gift of the moment. Not to say that planning isn’t good and necessary, but there’s a line that often goes unnoticed and that I pass by several miles. I have learned time and time again that no matter how much I plan, if God’s plan is different, it will win out (and praise Jesus for that). There is an amount that we can do, but ultimately it has to be left up to the hands of our Creator.

I also need to take care to be present in the little things. I was reading the Popcak’s book “Just Married” about the first five years of marriage. One part struck me about people’s love styles: audio, visual, and kinesthetic (related to the way in which we learn as a child). Being a very visual person, I often find myself unable to relax or enjoy the moment if my environment isn’t to my liking. While there are great things to being visual, I can get so caught up in it that I bypass good time that could be spent with others (or even in prayer).

So a few attainable things to work on:

  • Abstaining from cleaning/preparing when better time would be spent enjoying time with my husband, with others, or in prayer.
  • Learning to enjoy leisure in it’s truest form (there’s lots more to say on this one).
  • Pausing frequently to thank God for the graces of the moment.
  • Be more intentional with prayer time so I’m not looking at the clock or anxious about “the next thing.”
  • Leave the life planning to specific times that both Kevin and I have set aside for it (ie: don’t bring up big decision topics on the bus or over breakfast).

The more I’m able to be present, the more, I hope, I’ll be able to notice God’s subtle movements in my life. Grace is all the time being poured out onto all of us, but we have to receive it. And contrary to what many people may think, receptivity is an active virtue. Also, by being attuned to God’s daily graces, I hope to cultivate more of a heart of gratitude. So in a nutshell, that’s a big thing I’m working on in 2015.

Anyone have any exciting things they’re working on this year?

 

Merry Christmas from Duluth!

A most merry Christmas to you all! Currently, I’m resting in our lovely hotel room right on the edge of Lake Superior (spectacular views). Last night, we attended Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary. Kevin introduced me to Bishop Sirba, a real delightful man! And so our solemnity began!

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This is my first Christmas away from Pennsylvania and away from my family (who I miss very much!), but we’re making the most of it and it’s beautiful being here in Kevin’s homeland. I’m really enjoying myself. And my family was blessed with this past weekend together in DC for our annual Philadelphia Eagles game!

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I hope you’re all having a joyous Christmas and that it continues throughout the entire season! I’m sure I’ll be back later with a plethora of pics and updates!

Monday updates & a great feast!

Happy feast of the Immaculate Conception! A truly grand solemnity, indeed! This day is quite special to Kevin and I for many reasons, not the least of which being that it’s simply a wonderful day to honor our lady! I’ll admit, we indulged a bit this morning and woke up early to watch an episode of Parks and Rec. Hey, we all celebrate differently. We look forward to Mass this evening followed by a nice reception with the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.

This past weekend was very full, but really a joy. I’m so grateful for the drastic separation from work life and home life. Work has been hard, but my time at home and with friends has been absolutely life-giving. Saturday I was able to spend time with my good friend and her husband beginning with confession (I’ll always take a free ride to the church). Then we enjoyed the afternoon at their apartment decorating and making it festive. It was so much fun and very relaxing. Exactly what I needed.

Afterwards, I met up with Kevin and we went to dinner with a friend’s parents. This friend is a seminarian in Rome studying for the Boston diocese, and his parents and I have developed a great relationship over the past couple years (they even came to my wedding in May when he couldn’t!). So we decided to get dinner (which was a blast) and go to the Festival of Lessons & Carols at the seminary here. They hadn’t been around the sem much since their son had been asked to go to Rome, so it was  real treat for them as well.

The concert is my favorite festive thing to do during Advent. Kevin and I have gone the past three years now, and it truly helps us delve deeper into the season. It’s a night of scripture, carols, and hymns put on by the seminarians and they always sound amazing. This year was no exception.

Sunday we went to Mass followed by a morning of homemade waffles with two good friends! And the rest of our day was spent with just the two of us walking, resting, andddd watching the Chronicles of Narnia…a movie that we find most appropriate for this time of year.

I’m very grateful for the beautiful moments that were had. May this week be full of many more!