One of the distinctive features of Divine Worship: The Missal is the inclusion of certain titles and seasons in its liturgical calendar, that derive from the Anglican tradition as found in the various iterations of the Book of Common Prayer and the Anglican missals. An example of this is found in the fact that, after the celebration of Christmastide, Divine Worship moves into “Sundays after the Epiphany.” Here we will explore how these are found in the wider Latin tradition, and what is the character of this season in Divine Worship.
In the account of the calling of the apostles in the gospel according to Saint Mark, we are presented with an important lesson in the Christian life. We know that the response of the fishermen, of Simon (who will be called Peter), Andrew, James, and John, was to leave their work and follow Christ, and we know that their action was immediate; they did not hear the call and consider it, but dropped everything to follow their Lord. But who are these men to be called by Christ? We know them of course by name, but why did the Lord call them to be his apostles, together, and so make them what we might call the four cornerstones of the Christian Church?
This homily was given at Saint Mary, Mother of God, Washington, D.C.
Between the feast of Our Lady’s purification and the start of the pre-Lenten season, with Septuagesima next Sunday, the Church today keeps this fifth Sunday after the Epiphany of the Lord. In the ordinary form of the Roman rite, these ‘green Sundays’ are known as Sundays per annum or Sundays of ‘ordinary time’. They are marked by a return to normality after the festal celebrations of Christmas or of Easter, and they seek to return the faithful to the normal course of events in the liturgical year. In the extraordinary form (and in the ordinariates), the kalendar orientates these Sundays by two significant feasts – the Epiphany of the Lord and Pentecost (or Trinity) – giving a specific point of reference for these otherwise wayward days.
This homily was given to the Blessed John Henry Newman community in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter in Orange Country, California.
Our annual celebration of the epiphany of the Lord has two characteristics that we can identify as fundamental to the Christian life, not least as those who rejoice in celebrating the liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral traditions of our Anglican heritage (AC III). First, the solemnity of the epiphany is a highly liturgical feast. As we journey with the magi to the stable, and there bend the knee in adoration of the King of kings and Lord of lords, we come also to this awesome and admirable sacrifice – the Church’s offering of bread and wine in the wonderful exchange of the Eucharist – and we worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, with gold of obedience and incense of lowliness. We come to offer ourselves – our whole being – to be a living sacrifice to the one who, as a babe in a manger, comes to save us from ourselves. What is proposed for us by the magi, is fulfilled today in the Church’s worship of Christ in the Eucharist.