Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
First, a sincere word of thanks to each person who helped make our Christmas celebrations outstanding and spiritually enriching. Thank you to the wonderful voices and leadership of all of St. Mary's choirs. Hours and hours of practicing go in to bring us such beautiful music. We are grateful for all the volunteers who set up for Masses, especially this year since our beloved sacristan, Ginny Whitaker, has been on medical leave. (Please continue to keep her in your prayers!) Many thanks to our lectors who proclaim the word of God, our extraordinary ministers who help the priests and deacons distribute Holy Communion, our ushers, and those who clean and prepare behind the scenes so well that you and I never know the amount of work it takes. What looks effortless is far from it! Thanks to those who serve the poor, helping us keep the works of mercy at our core. And, of course, a very special word of gratitude to all of our "elves," who decorated our churches and gave us the second largest indoor tree I've ever seen in my life. To all – thank you from the bottom of my heart. You help make St. Mary's great!
One liturgical note: After six years, we felt it time to introduce a new Gloria. This will give us a couple of Glorias to sing through the year. I know it is difficult learning a new piece, but stick with it and keep trying to learn – You'll be humming it before long! I think we can appreciate the joyful energy of the piece. Feel free to take home an ordo to help learn it.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany. In many countries this is known as "Little Christmas," and no doubt many of your who grew up in Italian households celebrated "Little Christmas."
One hymn we will sing should be extremely familiar to all – We Three Kings. It's not just popular, but it's great theology. Each of the gifts of the Magi symbolize a reality of the Christ Child. Gold is for Jesus as King: Born a King on Bethlehem's plain / Gold I bring to crown Him again, / King forever, ceasing never, / Over us all to reign. Frankincense was a special type of incense used in the worship of God in the Jewish Temple. Jesus as true God from true God also receives this: Frankincense to offer have I; / Incense owns a Deity nigh; / Prayer and praising, all men raising, / Worship Him God Most High. And finally, myrrh was an herb used in preparing the dead for burial, symbolizing the gift of His life for us: Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume / Breathes a life of gathering gloom; / Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, / Sealed in the stone cold tomb. The final verse sums it all up: Glorious now behold Him arise; / King and God and Sacrifice; / Alleluia! Alleluia! / Earth to heav'n replies!