The word epiphany out of the greek means a manifestation and when we use it associated with true religion, we mean a manifestation of god and though we only celebrate one feast under that title. Church recognizes that there are a number of epiphanies or notable manifestations of the divinity of christ. We can say that the first epiphany appropriately was to the holy family, the miraculous virginal birth of the christ. Child was first manifested to mary and joseph. That was an epiphany. We celebrated under the title of christ, mass or christmas. The first invited to the manger scene were the shepherds representing the faithful of judaism. Again, we don’t celebrate it as a feast, but that was an epiphany to the representatives of the faithful remnant of judaism, and then we have the epiphany of the magi that we celebrate as a feast, the epiphany to the gentiles. We also have the epiphany the first epiphany at the jewish temple, the occasion in which our lord was presented at the table, and we have simian and adam who recognize the fulfillment of all the old testament hopes. That was an epiphany. There are other epiphanies as well. We would say that in a sense, the 12 year old christ, child uh, who was speaking to the astonishment of even the scholars of judaism, was an epiphany of sorts when they marveled at the divine wisdom in this young boy. There is the epiphany of the baptism of our lord, in which the voice of the father came down from heaven, and the holy spirit was visibly seen over christ.
That certainly was an epiphany manifestation of the divinity of christ and we have the epiphany of this gospel. The occasion of the first public miracle, at least of our lord, at the wedding feast at cana, where he revealed his glory as saint john writes, and that was an epiphany. So god manifested the divinity of christ a number of times, and there are more. That could be added as well, but god continues to reveal not in the sense of divine revelation, which is found in sacred scripture and sacred tradition and not in the epiphanies of the lifetime of christ. But god does continue to manifest things to us in various ways. So i suppose we could call them minor, epiphanies or epiphanies of a different sort, and i am convinced – and i believe many others are – that there’s – a sort of an epiphany that’s in the works right now, the sort that god often does be for he brings some Sort of correction upon inerrant people, an epiphany which manifests more clearly evil for what it is, in contrast to good we’ve, been seeing. This i’ve used the language, as has archbishop vegano of the children of darkness versus the children of light. This is very much an image compatible with the gospel of saint john Music, in which our lord is associated with light and those who have nothing to do with christ who are opposed to it, the darkness. So there are the the children of darkness and the children of light, and god has very much manifested in the past days, weeks months and years, more and more, the children of darkness for what they do, what they say and what they intend.
So it becomes all the more important for the children of the light to remain in the light or those children will fail to see that manifestation of the difference and many will become children of the darkness. This past week, a major catholic magazine published online it’s hard to find magazines that are hard copy anymore, but published online in article. I believe the title was something to the effect: will the catholic church ever recover? Something to that effect and the gist of the article was to trace the decline in the number of practicing catholics, basically from the 60s to the present, and ask that question and while i’m not looking to be absolutely precise and by the way. This is looking just at our own country, our own nation, though parallels exist worldwide, it’s notable that, prior to the revolution of the 1960s, it was pretty much the exception. When baptized catholics did not go to church, we didn’t have a hundred percent never have, but it was the exception and if you’re as old as i am or older, you can remember that pretty much everyone you knew who was catholic was going to church. We even knew which mass time they went and where they sat right, i mean my family had its seat, and so i understand that you sort of stake your territory and uh, but that’s that’s. How nearly universal was the practice of the faith and if you happen to know somebody that didn’t go to church at all or infrequently it was a scandal.
You might not say anything but it’s like oh, that that family’s in trouble whatever. But then we get to the revolution in the 60s, a revolution in the world and in the institutional church and massive numbers of priests and religious falling away from their vocations. Massive changes and substantial loss in the number of catholics practicing coming out of that 70, 75 and then each successive decade. We find a gradual loss percentage wise. The number of catholics going to mass 75 to 70 to 60 to 50 to 40 to 30., and then we get to 2019, which is pre covered, so no excuse for kovid and in 2019, statistically about 20 percent in this country of baptized, catholics were going to Church regularly that’s far better than much of western europe, but it’s still not good and nothing like it was pre revolutionary days. Twenty percent now we’re at five percent. Five percent of baptized catholics are even going to mass and that’s. Why the article asked the question? Will the catholic church ever recover and i don’t know, but let me say this first of all, i do not blame the faithful entirely for what has been happening for the revolution in the church that discouraged so many from the practice of the faith to all the Modernist changes and to what has happened in the last several months almost a year. Now, with this covid matter, i mean let’s face it. We were locked out of our churches and we moved to the parking lot, but there were many dioceses where they did not even allow that was forbidden to have mass anywhere anywhere.
So without the mass available at all and in many places still, the obligation to attend mass is lifted and, in many parishes, still it’s common to have only one mass on sunday with very limited seating, i’ve heard of two just this weekend, two local parishes not immediately Local but local, in which they have one sunday mass, a maximum of 150 may attend, and you have to sign up. You have to give your health information. You have to give your contact tracing information and you still may not get in and no more than 150. In a parish community that should be serving one to two thousand even have the opportunity to go to mass. So will we recover not under these circumstances, the broader church will not here’s the good news, you’re part of that five percent you’re here and i’m, not saying that to build up your ego or mine, but it’s the reality you’re part of the five percent, and if That number goes down and it may to four or three or two or one so that only one out of 100 baptized catholics in this country are practicing the faith, i’m, confident you’re still going to be in that one percent, no matter how low it goes, because You get it, god has graced you with the grace of faith, steadfastness determination and everything else it takes under all these circumstances. Church parking lot coveted, no covet whatever to know that it is the right thing to do.
We owe god the weekly sacrifice of the mass. We owe that to him. He does not need it. We owe him that we owe him the sacrifice of the mass sunday after sunday after sunday, holy day after holy day. We owe that to god, and he does so much for us in return to keep us strong as children of the light he keeps that life alive in us, because if that light goes out, then we are one of the children of darkness. He keeps that life strong with his grace and he illuminates our minds because one of the big differences between the children of the darkness and the light there are many, including supernatural life itself – is the illumination of the mind versus a darkening of the mind. God, especially if he intends to act in a dramatic way, often actually withdraws his grace from the children of darkness so that they stumble in ever darker darkness without realizing it. And we see that and they will think that they are prevailing for a time. And we don’t know if that will be days weeks, months years or generations we don’t know, but if we remain faithful to religion, we are promised by our lord and he never fails in his promises to keep us strong in his grace to keep the grace of Our baptism alive and strong to keep us strong when we are sorely tested, as we have been and will be, and to give us the light of illumination so that we can see clearly not only matters of faith but have even correct use of our reason.
Because don’t we look around and we see what’s happening and we get it, and we wonder why aren’t others getting it. Why don’t? They see it because they’re stumbling in the dark, they’re, allied with other children of the darkness and so long as they continue that path. The darkness will get darker and darker and darker so stay the course. We all stay the course, regardless of what’s coming always walk as a child of the light.