Friday, January 6, 2012

Epiphany in Rome

My plane landed early at Fiumicino. The ordeal of travel ended fairly easily after that, as the driver sent to bring me to the Paulist Residence at Santa Susanna quickly made it into the City through streets empty of rush-hour traffic on this chilly, beautiful, holiday morning. Tired and out-of-sorts from lack of sleep and hungry from the long flight, I shut out the light (on this the great festival of light!) and went to bed, not really sleeping but at least at ease. Then I awoke to the mundane business of trying to figure out where to go for my first class this coming Monday - and to the happy announcement that there will be a Consistory here in Rome next month, at which (among others) Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York will be created a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church.
At home in the US, the Epiphany is increasingly little-noted. It hardly helps that in recent decades we have been relocating it to Sunday - liturgically comparable, I suppose, to the curious practice of so many of our once-serious secular holidays now being moved for convenience to Mondays. In many public paces in the US, the decorations are down already and "the holidays" are unambiguously over. In many homes, however, a kind of folk-memory persists that keeps the Christmas Tree up and the lights on until January 6, whether with or without much consciousness of the original significance of the 6th. At least here, La Befana still comes bringing gifts. As long as her generosity perdures, Epiphany will endure!

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