1. Happy Feast of the Epiphany!
From my reflections this morning: why those three gifts of the magi? The foremost is recognition of Christ’s three roles as King, Priest, and Sacrifice, as elaborated on in the famous song.
But there’s something else as well which becomes clear when we consider that these are gifts offered to Christ. The three gifts are also images of means by which to honor Him; gifts that we are to offer Him.
Gold is the mark of majesty and ornamentation; acts that glorify the name of Christ. This would be things like great kings or artists or, more generally, the practice of virtue and a well-lived life. Your Charlemagne, your Columbus, your Dante, your Palestrina, and just the common life well-lived.
Frankincense is the incense of worship, and so it speaks of piety, prayer, the religious life; priests and religious, the Sacraments and daily prayer. Your St. Therese, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Benedict, and so on.
And Myrrh, of course, is the bitter funeral scent; martyrdom, sacrifice, and suffering. Your St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Stephen, St. Thomas More, and so on, as well as the daily abasements and sufferings offered up to God.
Of course, Christians are expected to offer all three, as the magi did, though in different measure. St. Louis, for instance, is best known for his heroic deeds and service to his people, but also offered continual prayer and acts of piety, as well as suffering the disappointing failures of his two Crusading efforts and the humiliation of being captured.
2. And speaking of which, here’s a really good version of We Three Kings:
3. I’m not the person to give reflections on the passing of Pope Benedict XVI. As has often been said over the past week, he was one of the few civilized minds left on the field of old Christendom. Queen Elizabeth II was another one. In fact, I remember seeing an article, long ago (back when he was still Pope) calling them the only two adults on the world stage. Rather fitting, in a sad way, that they should both go to their reward the same year.
Now it’s up to us in the Church militant, like children left as orphans before their time, to grow up fast and take up the mantles left to us.
I prayed for his soul when I first heard the news of his death. From now on, I will ask for his intercession.
Pope Benedict XVI, pray for us orphans of Christendom!
4. “How do you know there is such a thing as objective truth?”
By perceiving realities external to myself. For instance, you have your opinion, and I have my opinion. Your opinion is not determined by my perception of it, nor do I have any control over it. That you hold your opinion, or at least claim to, stands to me as an objective truth.
Since we thus know that reality exists outside of ourselves and independent of ourselves, and that this reality has a nature of its own independent of us, we have a standard by which to judge our understanding of it, and thus there is objective truth.
More to the point, if you deny the objectivity of truth, or that we can know the truth, then you have just admitted you have nothing worthwhile to offer and so really should just shut up and not waste our time.
5. This week felt like I was just dragging myself through the days. I am so relieved it’s the weekend. So, shorter Flotsam this time.