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January 4, 2005

Manifesting Christ to the World

by Thomas A. Droleskey

The Feast of the Epiphany occurs in the calendar of Tradition as it has from time immemorial, January 6. This is really the day on which we should be giving gifts to our family members and friends. The Church has long taught us that the Feast of the Epiphany symbolizes three distinct manifestations of Our Lord to the world. The first centers around the homage paid the Christ-child by the wise men from the East, the Magi. Our Lord's manifestation to them was His unfolding to the Gentile world, the world of unbelievers, that He was the true light of the world. While the Magi had been guided to pay homage to the newborn King of Kings by the star, it is Our Lord who is the light, as St. John the Evangelist tells us in his gospel, to guide us to our true home, Heaven.

The Wise Men from the East followed a star to find the Infant King, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We must follow Our Lord through His true Church to the point of our dying breaths. The Kings of this earth offered the Child Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gold represented Our Lord's kingly glory, the frankincense His priestly dignity, the myrrh the balm with which He would be anointed following His death on the wood of the Holy Cross to redeem us. Those of us who have been baptized as members of His one, true Church founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope, have the obligation to give to Our Lord constant gifts of total self-surrender, especially by becoming (or by renewing our pledge as) consecrated slaves to His Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

The Magi's adoration of the Infant King stands in stark contrast to how the world today blasphemes Him. That is why we have a special obligation to manifest Him anew to the world in which we live. And we must do so in prayer, in word, in work, and in sacrament. It is the Church herself which makes it possible for us to manifest Christ to the world, as it is she who gives us all of His truths for us to know us and it is she which gives us access to the limitless font of graces that He won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday. The world is waiting for its light, and that light will not shine unless we are willing to some risks so that it will radiate out from our very being.

The second manifestation of Our Lord which is symbolized in the Feast of the Epiphany is His baptism by His cousin St. John the Baptist in the Jordan River. St. John the Baptist recognized that he was not the light, that he was not worthy to untie the straps of the sandals worn by the One whose precursor he was. But his own personal sinlessness made it possible for him to see the Light of the world when He presented Himself to be baptized, thus commencing His Public Ministry. The world which had been shown His radiant glory when the Magi adored Him was now about to be faced with the gradual unfolding of Who He was, and what it was He had to do to reconcile mankind with the Father. To ratify this public manifestation of Our Lord, it was the Father Himself who sent the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove to rest above the parted waters of the Jordan, declaring that the One being baptized was His beloved Son. And this was the Trinitarian revelation in salvation history: the Son, made manifest in the flesh, receiving the Father's public approbation while the Holy Ghost hovered above.

The world was not simply to know Our Lord for the sake of knowing Him. He who had not need of baptism did so in order to fulfill the Father's will, to fulfill all of the prophecies uttered about Him under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. And He did so in order to make manifest publicly His
power to supersede the laws of nature, which is exactly what happened when He transformed the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, the third manifestation remembered in the Feast of the Epiphany.

Our Lord had become man to redeem us–and to give us His own Body and Blood to be our spiritual food and our spiritual drink. His first public miracle, performed in Cana, performed at the behest of His own Blessed Mother, is a foreshadowing of this. And it is a foreshadowing of how the Church herself would be empowered by the Holy Ghost to enflesh Christ anew under the appearance of bread and wine for the sanctification and salvation of souls. If there is no manifestation of His very Flesh and Blood in the Eucharist, it will be impossible for us to make Him manifest in the world. For Our Lord meant it when He said that we have no life in us if we do not eat of His Flesh and drink of His Blood.

All three events symbolized by the Epiphany teach us how to follow the light Who is Christ. We receive the light in our own baptism, a light can only shine brilliantly if we are fed by the Eucharist and accuse ourselves frequently in the hospital of Divine Mercy that is the confessional. Each day, therefore, is called to be an Epiphany, one in which we are conscious of our obligation to live out in the midst of our own states-in-life a very visible witness to the Our Lord and His Holy Church.

This witness is especially important when our shepherds, laboring under the errors of ecumenism and conciliarism, refuse to manifest the Deposit of Faith Our Lord entrusted to Holy Mother Church with boldness and clarity. Indeed, the witness that is meant to be given by the true Church in the midst of an unbelieving world is diminished when the Vicar of Christ himself rewards men such as Archbishop-elect Joseph Fiorenza with promotions and honors after they have publicly eschewed the necessity of belief in Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for salvation by terming the Old Covenant God made with "the people of Israel" to be enduringly valid. In the midst of the rewarding of those who deny the fact that Our Lord established a new and eternal testament and who deny the very historicity of that New Testament, it is up to us lowly sheep to flock to shepherds who will indeed demonstrate their fidelity to the Truth Who manifested Himself in humility to the Magi on the first Epiphany.

Indeed, the witness given by Father Stephen Zigrang (who was "suspended" by Archbishop-elect Fiorenza for associating with a "schismatic" group that, among other things, rejects the "enduring validity of the Old Covenant God made with the people of Israel") and Father Patrick Perez and Father Lawrence Smith and Father Stephen Somerville, as well as the witness given by the bishops and the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X, to the necessity of proclaiming the fullness of the Catholic Faith without compromise and without any dilution at all serves as an inspiration to the sheep who are seeking safety and security in the midst of doctrinal and liturgical instability and turmoil within the diocesan structures. Oh, there are many other good priests who are suffering in silence, both in "recognized" traditional communities and in the midst of the diocesan structures. The above-named priests, though, stand out for particular recognition because they have forsaken everything, including their financial security and all considerations of human respect, in order to bear a faithful witness to the totality of the Deposit of Faith, especially by offering so generously the birthright of every Latin Rite Catholic: the Immemorial Mass of Tradition. They are willing to be calumniated, even by fellow traditionalists who have anointed themselves to be in the august and pristine "mainstream," in order to bear a witness to the authentic Tradition of the Church without any compromise at all. These priests are willing to wait until the Last Day for their heroic manifesting of Catholic Tradition to be understood and appreciated at the General Judgment of the Living and the Dead. No loss of human respect and no amount of name-calling or sloganeering will ever deter them from giving their sheep the fullness of the Catholic Faith.

At least some of the sheep will respond when their shepherds put themselves on the line to give them what is their due, namely, the Traditional Latin Mass. Hundreds upon hundreds of people, for example, have found their way to Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Garden Grove, California. Most of these people have never heard of The Remnant, Catholic Family News, or Christ or Chaos. They've never heard of Christ the King College and most of them probably think that "GIRM Warfare"* has something to do with bacteriology. They're just Catholics who understand that the first law of the Church is the salvation of souls and that they do not have to sit idly by and be subjected to the rot of conciliar novelties in the context of what pretends to pass for the Church's liturgy and catechesis. These good souls want the fullness of the Catholic Faith to be made manifest to them during Holy Mass and in the life of their parish. The same is true of the fifteen families who have found their way from Saint Andrew's Church in Channelview, Texas, to Queen of Angels Church in Dickinson, Texas (and Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel in Spring, Texas), following after their inimitable pastor, Father Stephen P. Zigrang. The sheep want Christ and His truth to be made manifest to them without novelty or dilution. This is nothing other than one of their baptismal birthrights as Catholics.

The upcoming Feast of the Epiphany, which is a feast of great joy and celebration, should be an occasion for those of us who have been led by Our Lady's graces to embrace the fullness of Catholic tradition without compromise to give great thanks to God for the gifts of those priests who place themselves at risk for their total self-surrender to the cause of restoring the Traditional Latin Mass as normative in the life of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and of restoring the Social Reign of Christ the King as one of the first fruits of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Indeed, I, for one, am humbled to realize that I, a terrible, recidivist sinner, have been privileged to know and to count as my friends and associates priests such as the ones named above. These good men, each of whom is simply doing what they know they must do in order to save and to sanctify souls, are bearing a tangible witness to a belief in the power of the graces won for us by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross to plant seeds for what seems to be, humanly speaking, an impossibility: the restoration of Tradition and the restoration of Christendom.

May Our Lady and Saint Joseph, both of whom were present as the Wise Men presented the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to their Infant King, continue to protect those brave shepherds of tradition who are bearing a witness to that same King with every fiber of their being.

Blessed Feast of the Epiphany to you all.

*An update on G.I.R.M. Warfare: Book sales are going very well. We are very happy with the response the book is getting. It will be possible for a second printing to be done of the book in another month or two if the pace of sales continues as it has been.

In the second printing, I will be clarifying  my commentary on page 91, where it might appear as though the Gloria is prayed in the Traditional Latin Mass on ferial days, which is not the case. The sentence was meant to convey the fact that the Gloria is omitted in the Novus Ordo Missae on the feast days of saints below the ranks of "Solemnities" and "Feasts," that is, on "Memorials" and "Optional Memorials." Weekday observances of the sanctoral calendar in the Traditional Latin Mass do include the Gloria at all times throughout the liturgical year no matter the level of the feast being celebrated. The point of that section on page 91 remains valid, namely, that the Gloria is omitted from the Novus Ordo Missae at times when it is included in the Mass of Tradition. My apologies for letting this one slip into print without clarifying it by means of more precise language beforehand.



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