The Feast of Christmas is over; the five Octaves are closed ; and we are on the Eve of the Solemnity of our Lord's Epiphany. We must spend this fifth of January in preparing ourselves for the Manifestation which Jesus, the Angel of the Great Counsel, is about to make to us of His glory. A few more hours, and the Star will stand still in the heavens, and the Magi will be seeking for admission into the stable at Bethlehem.
This Vigil is not like that of Christmas, a day of penance. The Child, whose coming we were then awaiting, in the fervour of our humble desires, is now among us, preparing to bestow fresh favors upon us. This eve of tomorrow's Solemnity is a day of joy, like those that have preceded it; and therefore, we do not fast, nor does the Church put on the vestments of mourning, even in those churches where the Octave Day of St. Thomas of Canterbury is not observed. If the Office of the Vigil be the one of today, the color used is White.
This is the Twelfth day since the Birth of our Emmanuel. If the Vigil of the Epiphany fall on a Sunday, it shares, with Christmas Eve, the privilege of not being anticipated, as all other Vigils are, on the Saturday: it is kept on the Sunday, has all the privileges of a Sunday, and the Mass is that of the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas Day. Let us, therefore, celebrate this Vigil in great joy of heart, and prepare our souls for tomorrow's graces.
The last words of our Advent were those of the Spouse, recorded in the prophecy of the Beloved Disciple: Come, Lord Jesus, come! We will close this first part of our Christmas with those words of the Prophet Isaias, which the Church has so often spoken to us : unto us a Child is born! The heavens have dropped down their Dew, the clouds have rained down the Just One, the earth has yielded its Saviour, The Word Is Made Flesh, the Virgin has brought forth her sweet Fruit--our Emmanuel, that is, God with us. The Sun of Justice now shines upon us; darkness has fled; in heaven there is Glory to God; on earth, there is Peace to men. All these blessings have been brought to us by the humble yet glorious Birth of this Child. Let us adore Him in His Crib; let us love Him for all His love of us; and let us prepare the gifts we intend to present to Him, with the Magi, on tomorrow's Feast. The joy of the Church is as great as ever; the Angels are adoring in their wondering admiration; all nature thrills with delight:--Unto us is born a little Child!
Father Ed Bakker,
Priest and Missioner
Anglican Catholic Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne