January 4. In many parts of the world where the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (January 6) is not celebrated as a “Holy Day of Obligation” – this includes the entire United States, where attending Mass on this day has never been obligatory (it’s not just one of those new-fangled changes) – the observance of this solemnity is transferred to the second Sunday after Christmas, which is today.
Actually, throughout the world there is no consistent way of celebrating the Epiphany; it’s one of those feasts that has many cultural variations. It’s one of those testimonies of wonderful diversity when we would rather have comfortable uniformity.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, whose feast is on January 4, is not celebrated this year, but she is still worth paying attention to. Born (1774) and married (1794) into the upper strata of New York society, she was a devout Episcopalian, devoted parent, and dedicated helper of the poor. Widowed in 1803 and received into the Catholic Church in 1805, she endured anti-Catholic prejudice of her day and discovered her vocation to serve the education of the poor, establishing a religious congregation, the Sisters of Charity. She is generally credited with laying the foundations for the Catholic school system in the United States.
Today’s gift: Ten Lords A-Leaping. So now we have male dancers joining the ballerinas of yesterday. This is getting interesting.