From the Pastor: Is Epiphany January 6 or 7? Yes!
The Church keeps two main liturgical calendars, one for the Novus Ordo and one for the Traditional Latin Mass. There are also other, lesser known, liturgical calendars followed by other Catholic Rites, and there are some variations within the calendars of various Religious Orders, but explaining all of those would be beyond the scope of this article. Since this is Epiphany of Our Lord Parish and we follow both calendars, I want to explain a little about the date upon which Epiphany falls, since it is one of the many times when the two calendars are not unified. In the 1962 calendar, Epiphany is always celebrated on January 6. This is the 12th day after Christmas. The Novus Ordo calendar, on the other hand, has transferred Epiphany to the following Sunday, regardless of the date. This year, the Solemnity of The Epiphany of the Lord on the Novus Ordo (1970) calendar falls on Sunday, January 7. So our strange calendar situation means that we will celebrate Epiphany on Saturday, January 6 at the TLM and again on Sunday, January 7 in the NOM. “But Father!” you might be thinking, “That’s not right! I read this article during the NOM on Saturday, January 6 and the priest was celebrating the Solemnity of The Epiphany of the Lord. Now I am re-reading it during the Sunday morning TLM on January 7 and the priest is celebrating the Mass of The Epiphany of the Lord today! I think you must have transposed the dates when you were explaining the differences in the calendars.” While I can easily see myself doing such a thing, in this particular case I got it right. I have even checked and rechecked just to be sure since it would be a horrible time to incorrectly write that I am correct even while acknowledging that the people are experiencing Masses being celebrated on the dates that I stated are not the proper dates for their particular calendar. Ohhh, my head is spinning. Yes, the NOM calendar says that January 7, not the 6th, is Epiphany, yet we celebrated it on January 6th anyway and we did so while following the calendar correctly. And, yes, the TLM calendar puts Epiphany on January 6, yet we, following that calendar properly, too, celebrated it on January 7. How now, brown cow?
It turns out that there are quirks in both calendars. In the NOM calendar, although Sunday, January 7, is the date for Epiphany, the Vigil Mass, which, in this case was celebrated at 5:00 pm Saturday, January 6, is considered the anticipated Sunday Mass. So the Saturday evening Mass is the same as the Sunday Mass, hence, it was the Mass of The Epiphany of the Lord. If we had a NOM on Sunday, too, we would have celebrated the same Mass both days. As for the TLM, we celebrated it, as the calendar tells us to do, on Saturday, January 6 at the morning Mass. The quirk to this calendar is that it allows parishes to celebrate, as an external solemnity, the parish patronal feast day (Epiphany, for us) on either the preceding or following Sunday in addition to celebrating it on the proper date, if the pastor considers it to be beneficial to the people. I believe it to be beneficial, so we celebrated the same Mass on both days, even though it meant that the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph got bumped from the calendar. Whew! The “backward dates” were correct!
Now that we have that straightened out, let me remind you that there was a special exorcism and blessing of salt and water during the evening of January 5. I only blessed several hundred gallons of the Epiphany Holy Water; there may be some left for you to take home if you missed that ceremony. There certainly will be plenty of specially blessed Epiphany chalk for you to take home to mark the lintels of your doors with the traditional Epiphany markings. This year it is written as 20 + C + M + B + 24, which is the current year, 2024, with crosses and the initials of the Three Kings (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) between the first two digits and the last two digits. The CMB also stands for “Christus mansionem benedicat,” or “May Christ bless the house.” The Roman Ritual book of blessings allowed on Epiphany, along with the chalk, blessing of gold, incense, myrrh, and houses. We use frankincense and sometimes myrrh at the high Mass, so I am not giving it out, as I am sure none of you would wish to take anything home that should more properly give honor to Our Lord. And I forgot to purchase a thousand extra gold bars to bless and pass out to everyone. Maybe next year. Finally, everybody has different needs and desires for the size and type of house they want to live in, so I decided not to purchase one for each member of the congregation this year, so as to avoid the great arguments over “who gets what house” that erupted last year when I tried it for the first time. But I did manage to bless each house that you brought in for the blessing. If you missed doing so this year, it is not too soon to start making plans for next year!
Happy Octave of Epiphany!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka