Resources: January 2018~Epiphany of the Lord

downloadable PDF file:  Women of Faith Resources January 2018

January Quotes

“And now, let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

“It’s not enough to love. People have to feel that they are loved.” ~ St. John Bosco

“The things that we love tell us what we are.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas

Featured Feast Day: January 7 – Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany was introduced into Western Christianity in the 4th century. On Epiphany, we give thanks to God for Jesus Christ, revealed in the Gospel as the Savior for all people and as the Light for the world.

For a visual presentation of Epiphany. see this on YouTube.

Lectio Divina:  Scripture for spiritual reading and meditating

Audio Divina:  Music accompanied by images

Enjoy the following selections of  “We Three Kings of Orient Are” and let your heart and soul be touched by the beauty of orchestration and song.

We Three Kings of Orient Are” Sung by Jennifer Avalon, accompanied by the lyrics. Both the lyrics and the music were written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. around 1857.

We Three Kings” A version by Clamavi de Profundis

We Three Kings of Orient Are” Sung by The Robert Shaw Chorale

For Spiritual Reading:

The Tenacity of Peacemakers by Sr. Yvette Bellerose, SSA

During Advent, I participated in a morning reflection and was drawn to the Magi in a new way.  I prayed with them more.  And bring them to you today.

Before looking more closely at the images of the Magi, I offer you a few thoughts on their incredible journey.

These men, these astronomers, knew the heavens well, knew the stars.  Tradition tells us, they had never seen this particular star before.  But they knew that one day a star would appear in the sky that was different from all other stars.  Their Scriptures told them the star would announce the Savior, a promised King above all other kings.

Astronomers have queried for centuries about this star.  Was it the confluence of three planets? Was it a super nova?  For us, or at least, for me, what it was makes no difference.  What I wonder is: what could this star mean to me, to us, today?

This journey of the Three Kings needed preparation.  Arrangements for an entourage of servants, supplies for all traveling, gifts for the Holy Child, and even plans to meet up with Magi from other regions.  Many legends surround the story of the Three Kings. And, the distance they were to travel would take a very long time.   Some legends say the star disappeared several times as they journeyed and not only when they stopped to get information from King Herod about where this child could be.

But, the Kings persevered and kept traveling in the direction of the star even when it was not a clear starry night.  It is said that they journeyed close to two years.

Let’s turn to Pope Francis for some insights into the Kings seeking and finding Jesus, insights for us today.  On the Feast of the Epiphany in 2017, Pope Francis said the Magi’s journey reflects people’s longing and searching for God. He says: “seeing the star of Bethlehem did not prompt them to embark on their journey but rather that they saw the star because they had already set out.”

“Their hearts were open to the horizons and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by an inner restlessness.  They were open to something new.”

“This restlessness awakens a longing for God that exists in the hearts of all believers who know that the Gospel is not an event of the past but of the present.”

“This longing for God draws us out of our iron-clad isolation which makes us think that nothing can change and helps us seek Christ.”

“The Magi…are a living witness to the fact that the seeds of truth are present everywhere…all divisions of race, language and culture disappear…

The Pope reminds us that it is the Holy Spirit that stirs in our hearts.  We see an inner star that changes us.  Like the journey of the Magi, it takes a long time to come face to face with the reality of Bethlehem.  But, we hear the voice within us.  We heed the words, in stages, one small journey at a time…We might say one small star at a time, tiny lights – guiding us to the manger, to a place of freedom, understanding, and love.

This longing, this wisdom of inner light, this tenacity of staying on the journey is what allows people who are peacemakers to never give up…to never give up on life, on possibilities for making things right, on possibilities for changing swords into ploughshares, on possibilities to heal relationships, on possibilities to transform harsh behavior into right relationships.

Now, l invite you take a look at the images in the Visio Divina section that follows.

Visio Divina: Art for Prayer and Meditation

“Visual images are another doorway to sacred awareness.  They can touch into our desire to grow in intimacy with God.  So, we encourage one another to let ourselves be touched by the colors, shapes, figures and symbols that capture our attention most as we are praying.  While gazing at an image ~ a painting, a photo, an icon, a sculpture, a piece of pottery…something may leap out at us, calling our attention to something of God just waiting to reveal itself to us.”

(Ideas inspired by Christine Valters Paintner and Betsey Beckman in their book, Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction.  See also Abbey of the Arts.)

Three Wise Men

Close your eyes for a few moments and let your own journey of following the star flash before you.  See snippets of your following the inner star guiding your search for God, for Jesus.

King Herod

Did you ever stop to get information in your following your star that did not favor your finding what you sought?  Were there conversations, actions, relationships that could have sidetracked your seeking God had you returned to them?

Look at the expressions of these three wise women as they present gifts to the Christ Child.  What gift(s) do you wish to present to people on your pathways, people need signs of peace, signs that things can change in our world if we are steadfast on the journey.

Featured Poem:  WISE WOMEN ALSO CAME

By Jan L. Richardson from Night Visions: searching for shadows of advent and christmas, 1998: United Church Press

Wise women also came.
The fire burned in their wombs long before they saw the flaming star in the sky.
They walked in shadows, trusting the path would open under the light of the moon.

Wise women also came, seeking no directions, no permission from any king.
They came by their own authority, their own desire, their own longing.
They came in quiet, spreading no rumours, sparking no fears to lead to innocents’ slaughter,
to their sister Rachel’s inconsolable lamentations.

Wise women also came, and they brought useful gifts:
water for labour’s washing, fire for warm illumination, a blanket for swaddling.

Wise women also came, at least three of them,
Holding Mary in the labour,
crying out with her in the birth pangs,
breathing ancient blessings into her ear.

Wise women also came, and they went, as wise women always do, home a different way.

Like the star of Bethlehem, our lives can lead others to Christ…

A Blessed New Year from Gatherings for Women of Faith