Epiphany Amidst the Sipper Cups

Catherine Fournier

And so begins a new Year.

The solemn preparation period of Advent, (read: a busy time of housecleaning, cooking, baking and shopping interspersed with prayers, parties and pageants) and the joyous fulfillment of Christmas, (read: a happy, noisy time of phone calls, visitors, feasting, and millions of little pieces of wrapping paper), then leads into the period of discovery that is Epiphany.

And my patter of humourous asides screeches to a halt. What do we do in Epiphany? What does Epiphany mean for the domestic church? The Church tells us that the feast of Epiphany celebrates three events, all foretold in prophecy: the visit of the Magi, the baptism in the River Jordan, and the wedding feast at Cana.

The family is profoundly prophetic. Welcoming children into the family looks confidently to the future and expresses trust and hope in God. Raising children, teaching them, discipling them, bringing them to the sacraments, requires a vision of the future. This vision - hopes, dreams and expectations guides parents as they carry out the day-to-day duties of their vocation.

The gifts that the Magi brought to the newborn Christ, that the Holy Spirit gave to the Apostles, and that faith and grace gave to the saints are given to us as well. Bringing the Gospels to life in our families, using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, drawing on that faith and grace, is also prophetic, as Father Bob Papi explains in his essay "The Prophetic Vocation of the Christian Family."

How can the domestic church 'Think Eternally and Act Temporally' about Epiphany?

In the past two days, I've been in contact with two mothers, both with two small children. Both are in their twenties, from strong, practicing Catholic families. Both had been extremely active in ministries, studies and pro-life work, even after the birth of their first children. Both are suddenly feeling overwhelmed by winter, two small children, endless chores, and feelings of inadequacy. "I suppose this is some sort of weird penance" wrote one.

No, this is life in the domestic church. Of course, because it's all cluttered up with sipper cups, Pampers, laundry detergent, and little tiny pieces of Lego, it can be easier to see the domestic than the church. Often, the domestic is so pressing with its needs, so, so, present, that we lose sight of the church all together.

Epiphany, discovery of the divine Lord in our midst, happens in our homes when we discover the church in amidst the domestic. Celebrating the Three Kings, blessing your house and children, celebrating saint's days, using sacramentals, and other devotional objects like pictures, statues and icons all help discover and bring the church into view in our domestic church.

As always, this issue of Domestic-Church.Com will share lots of practical ways to celebrate, teach the children (see Fridge Art), and inform yourself about Church teaching (see Magisterium). (Stories) will share other family's experiences of Epiphany, both liturgical and private. We will also present resources and family activities to celebrate the communion of saints, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and review some books about the vocation of motherhood and what it means in day-to-day terms.

If you have a story or activity to share, please don't hesitate to Mail me, I'd love to hear from you.

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