We are approaching the end of the Christmas Season, which ends this coming Sunday with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We have all been given a clear and intimate inspiration in our souls by God at His coming to us as the babe in a manger. This inspiration has urged us to greater generosity and a closer union with Him. Promptly and generously we will follow this inspiration, this star, with the faith of the Magi. Faith will allow this inspiration to guide us on our journey and it will lead us to the One we too are seeking.
On this journey to find the One they were seeking, the Magi did not give up even when the star, this inspiration, had disappeared from sight. “We should follow their example and their perseverance, even when we are in interior darkness. This is a trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise of pure, naked faith.” (Divine Intimacy, #41, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)
“In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1: 6-7)
“The kings have a special meaning for us, too. Even though we already belong to the external church, an interior impulse nevertheless drove us out of the circle of inherited viewpoints and conventions. We knew God, but we felt that he desired to be sought and found by us in a new way. Therefore we wanted to open ourselves and sought for a star to show us the right way. And it arose for us in the grace of vocation. We followed it and found the divine infant. He stretched out his hand for our gifts. He wanted the pure gold of a heart detached from all earthly goods; the myrrh of a renunciation of all the happiness of this world in exchange for participation in the life and suffering of Jesus; the frankincense of a will that surrenders itself and strains upward to lose itself in the divine will. In return for these gifts, the divine child gave us himself.”
(The Hidden Life and Epiphany –from The Collected Works of Edith Stein: The Hidden Life, ICS Publications)
The three gifts of the Magi: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
As Secular Carmelites we make promises to “to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience” (OCDS Ritual). We can compare these three counsels with the gifts the Magi offered to Jesus on the Feast of the Epiphany.
We can offer the newborn King the gold of our obedience, the frankincense of poverty and the mysterious myrrh of chastity.
Precious gold represents the offering of our most precious treasure – our will.
The frankincense of poverty is our complete trust in God. The burning of this incense carries our prayers heavenward. Our trust rises to His throne as a sweet perfume.
The myrrh of chastity redirects our natural affections into supernatural love, a love that makes us die to all that is purely human. Myrrh had been known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It had been used to treat wounds, bruises and swelling. The myrrh of chastity can be used now to heal the wounds of hearts and help to turn hearts back to God.
The Feast of the Epiphany would be a good time to renew our commitment to the promises we have made to tend toward the evangelical counsels and to ask for the grace to manifest Christ to others in the world with more fidelity than ever before.
The Hidden Life and Epiphany is a short reflection on the Feast of the Epiphany by St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.