Friday 21st June 2024

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

The Quest Of The Magi And Our Own In 2019

January 11, 2019 Featured Today No Comments

By JAMES MONTI

How truly fitting it is that the celebration of the Epiphany, the visit of the Magi, should come at the beginning of January. For just as the Magi set out on a quest “into the unknown” to find and pay homage to a Newborn King they as yet knew not, scarcely imagining that their journey would lead them to an encounter with the God of the Universe Incarnate, so too, the beginning of a new year in January sets us on a quest into the unknown, none of us really knowing for sure what the year will bring. In this new year there is heightened anxiety as the Church finds herself in particularly uncertain and dangerous waters.
The journey of the Magi could be said to be the first great Christian pilgrimage, the prototype for the pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome, and Compostela over the centuries that followed. Acting under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, St. Matthew gives us just the bare essentials regarding these “wise men” and their expedition to find the Christ Child.
Clearly the star of Bethlehem caught their attention because it was somehow unprecedented, not like the other stars, but what was it that led them to recognize in the star a divine message announcing the birth of a new king of Israel? Did they find this star prophesied in some ancient text, now lost? And why would this have been of so much interest to them as Gentiles that they would set out on a quest to find this royal Infant and salute him with costly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
Were they all from the very same country or from different places, and if from different places, what led them to make the journey together? Did they perhaps individually discover the star and then meet the others along the way, deciding subsequently to proceed together? And were they indeed kings, even though St. Matthew does not mention this?
I personally believe that the tradition concerning the Magi as kings three in number deserves respect. Modern culture habitually assumes that nearly everything our forefathers believed was somehow fabricated, invented to fool credulous minds, but modern scientific and archaeological findings, such as those examining the most revered relics of Christendom, have increasingly vindicated the beliefs of our forebears. The Magi as they have been described and depicted for centuries can be found in a twelfth-century scriptural commentary, the Collectanea et Flores of Pseudo-Bede:
“They are the Magi who gave gifts to the Lord: the first is said to have been Melchior, old and gray, in a long beard and hair, clothed in a crimson tunic, and a black mantle, and shoes with mingled crimson and white handiwork, as well as a turban of varied composition; he offered gold to the Lord King. The second, with the name Gaspar, a beardless young man, ruddy, clothed in a black tunic, a red mantle, crimson shoes; with frankincense as a worthy oblation to God, he honored God. The third, black, entirely bearded, with the name Balthasar, having a red tunic, clothed in a white embroidered garment, with black shoes. By the myrrh he is professed the Son of Man going to die. But all of their clothes are Syrian” (text in Patrologia Latina, volume 94, column 541).
Even with a tradition as detailed as this, so much of the “why” and “how” of the journey of the Magi remains totally hidden in the mists of history. Like so much that is sacred, it is wrapped in wondrous mystery. But so is that other pilgrimage we are all making — the pilgrimage of our own lives toward the Heavenly Jerusalem.
In a fallen world, it was inevitable that the pilgrimage of the Magi would encounter evil along the way. This came when they were close to their destination, and in the holy city of Jerusalem, no less. For it was there that they came face to face with a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Herod the king, who feigned that he wanted to go worship the Christ Child when in fact he wanted to slaughter Him. The Magi at first took Herod at his word, but when they were later warned in a dream to steer clear of him, they changed their plans and “departed to their own country by another way” (Matt. 2:12).
In our own pilgrimage to eternity we also encounter evils that are ultimately the handiwork of Satan. Among the lessons to be learned from the recent scandal in the Church is just how extremely dangerous heresies are, for often enough they are the breeding ground of moral depravity.
The great twentieth-century Catholic writer Dom Anscar Vonier (1875-1938) observed, “Heresies . . . are each one a yawning abyss ready to swallow up the army of God” (The Spirit and the Bride, London, Burns, Oates and Washbourne, 1935, p. 161).
Explaining that “the hatred of heresy is the adoring love of God’s ever-blessed truth,” the English Oratorian Fr. Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) comments:
“I have another unpopular complaint to make. The old-fashioned hatred of heresy is becoming scarce. God is not habitually looked at as the sole truth; and so the existence of heresies no longer appalls the mind. It is assumed that God must do nothing painful, and His dominion must not allow itself to take the shape of an inconvenience or a trammel to the liberty of His creatures….What the many want they must have at last” (“Heaven and Hell,” in Fr. Frederick Faber, Spiritual Conferences, London, 1860, pp. 374, 372, respectively).
Modern heresies are driven by a desire to bring the spirit of the world into the Church, but this is a lethal error. For years now, the annual celebration of New Year’s Eve in New York’s Times Square has been marred by the playing of an all too famous pop song — just moments before the New Year begins — that exhorts the listener to imagine a world without God and without religion, in which the only thing to live for is the here and now. It presents this as a dream devoutly to be hoped for, a dream of secular salvation for the New Year — but it is fact a dream of Hell on Earth.
In an exhortation to his fellow English Catholics suffering imprisonment and death for their faith during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the Jesuit martyr St. Robert Southwell (1561-1595) warns that succumbing to the spirit of the world brings a fate worse than bodily incarceration:
“Greater darkness hath the world, which inveighs and blinds not only the eyes, but the hearts of men. Heavier chains and shackles doth the world lay on us, which do fetter and entangle our very souls. Far worse odor and stench doth the world breathe out, I mean, ribaldry, carnality, and all kind of brutish behavior” (An Epistle of Comfort to the Reverend Priests, and to the Honorable, Worshipful, and other of the Lay Sort restrained in Durance for the Catholic Faith, Paris, 1588, fol. 102v).
Having the courage to stand tall against the spirit of the world, to part company with the world just as the Magi turned away from Herod, is for a believing Catholic the only true path forward: “. . . for a Catholic, who has Christ for his auctor [author], the Apostles for his witness, all former saints for testimonies, how honorable it is to suffer in God’s quarrel” (St. Robert Southwell, in ibid., fol. 103r).
Upon learning that the high and the mighty of Jerusalem knew nothing of a Newborn King of the Jews, the Magi did not lose faith. And when at their journey’s end they discovered this Newborn King living in dire poverty and obscurity, they were not scandalized. Rather, they prostrated themselves before Him and went ahead with offering Him their most precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Our Lord said, “…blessed is he who takes no offense at me” (Matt. 11:6).
To all too many modern biblical scholars, the Infancy narratives are such a “scandal” that they tell us not to believe them. They seem “scandalized” that our Lady conceived virginally and remained a perpetual virgin, scandalized that God would set a special star in the sky to announce the birth of His Son, scandalized that He would summon wise men from afar with this star to come and worship His Son.

Beautiful Gifts

But their hermeneutic of doubt is itself a myth. A new generation of faithful Catholic Scripture scholars is supplanting these skeptics and reaffirming the veracity of the Gospels.
It is worth noting that the Holy Family does not refuse the costly gifts of the Magi nor do they rebuke them for their presentation. The idea that Christ refuses to have anything precious or magnificent built, sung, painted, sculpted, sewn, or molten in His honor because He lived in poverty needs to be consigned to the trash bin of history.
Our Lord’s birth in the poorest of surroundings doesn’t mean that He is merely “one of us” and wants to be treated as such. It does testify that He wants to draw us into the closest communion with Him by sharing in our human condition, and that He has come to serve, in humility, for our salvation. But His birth in a lowly manger also affirms how infinitely He transcends everything created — that He is so infinitely above all He has made that by comparison, gold is scarcely better than hay as His bed and princes scarcely better than barnyard animals as His attendants.
Yet like a father who gladly receives the best of what His child is able to give Him as a present, our Lord welcomes our strivings to offer Him the most excellent and beautiful gifts we have to offer.
With a star as their guide, the Magi would have had to rely upon the cover of darkness, the coming of the night, to see their way forward, to see and follow the star. Is our journey forward in life any different? Does not the hand of the Lord steer us under the cover of darkness, directly forward into an uncertain future of unforeseen events? But He steers us with the same loving hand with which He upheld St. Peter when he began to sink into the water (Matt. 14:31).
God sees what we cannot see, for as Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890) observed, “He knows what He is about” (Meditations and Devotions of the Late Cardinal Newman, New York, Longmans, Green and Co., 1903, p. 302). So let us trust in God’s plan for the new year: Procedamus in pace.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Catechism

Today . . .

Doctors urge U.S. medical groups to ‘immediately stop’ transgender treatments on children

Top medical groups and physicians have signed a “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration that expresses “serious concerns” about the treatment of minors who are uncomfortable with their biological sex, one advocate told EWTN News this week.  Jill Simons, the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, told “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol on Thursday that the medical group has been “sounding the alarm” after the recently leaked files from the World Professional Association of Transgender Health in which…Continue Reading

Pedophile advocacy group praises Germany’s new law softening punishment for child pornography

(LifeSiteNews) — In 2010, Jan Flesichhauer and Wiebke Hollersen penned a chilling essay for Der Spiegel titled “How the Left Took Things Too Far.” “One of the goals of the German 1968 movement was the sexual liberation of children,” they wrote. “For some, this meant overcoming all sexual inhibitions, creating a climate in which even pedophilia was considered progressive.”   That climate involved discussions about whether sex with children might be healthy for the children and musings that this could…Continue Reading

Here’s Harrison Butker’s Full Speech Celebrating Pro-Life Christian Values

Some sports stars make headlines for drug abuse or acts of violence, but one football player is taking heat for publicly promoting Christian values. On Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered the commencement at the Catholic Benedictine College, encouraging young graduates to stand firm in their faith and live out authentic Christian virtues. Now, the National Football League (NFL) is playing defense and condemning Butker’s speech as offensive. The NFL’s senior vice president and top diversity, equity,…Continue Reading

DeSantis declares Florida ‘will not comply’ with Biden rule forcing ‘gender identity’ on schools

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Florida “will not comply” with the Biden administration’s recently finalized rule forcing widespread recognition and accommodation of LGBT “identities” on the American education system, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis declared. In February, President Joe Biden’s U.S. Department of Education submitted to the U.S. Office of Management & Budget its finalized Title IX rule. Late last month, the administration published the rule, which expands the federal

U.S. birth and fertility rates drop to record lows, according to CDC report

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 26, 2024 / 16:45 pm Provisional data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week showed that the fertility rate in the United States hit a record low and the total number of births in the country was the lowest it’s been in decades.  According to the report, slightly fewer than 3.6 million babies were born in 2023, or 54.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15 through…Continue Reading

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)