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We are now in the Season of Epiphany. That church season runs from January 6 – the day of Epiphany (holiday) – to Ash Wednesday. This year Ash Wednesday comes on March 2, and marks the beginning of Lent. (And just as an aside, the season of Epiphanytide can last anywhere from four to nine weeks; it all depends on when Easter falls in any given year.)
The one certainty is that Epiphanytide runs from January 6 to the Tuesday just before Ash Wednesday. (And that “Tuesday before” is called Mardi Gras, discussed below.) So with Ash Wednesday – illustrated at right – coming on March 2, that means Easter Sunday comes this year on April 17. Note also that Easter is not just one day; it’s also another season, the Season of Easter. That liturgical season lasts 50 days, this year from April 17 to June 5, 2022. (Easter Season ends on Pentecost Sunday, which comes from the Latin word for “50.”)
And speaking of Mardi Gras, that holiday – just before the start of Lent – is a prime example of the church calendar’s cycle of “feasting and fasting.” (See On Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent – 2020, “In other words, the Christian pilgrimage consists of both fasting and feasting.”) In further words, by reading and studying the Bible on a regular basis, the good Christian can both relish the good things that come along in life, and get through the challenging parts as well.
Then too, “Mardi Gras” – the day – is also known as Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday. (The term “Mardi Gras” comes from the French words for Fat Tuesday.*) And the terms “Mardi Gras,” Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday all refer to the “practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual Lenten sacrifices and fasting of the Lenten season.”
Or as it has come to mean in some circles today, Mardi Gras translates to a chance to engage in certain debauchery – like “showing skin for beads” – or in other words, “Let’s Party!!”
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The Season of Epiphany – also known as Epiphanytide – is a kind of interlude between the end of the 12 DAYS of Christmas and the beginning of Lent. Epiphany Season begins with a celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, and ends with the Feast of the Transfiguration. (When “Jesus’ identity as the Son of God is dramatically revealed…”)
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And speaking of dramatic revelations, that could include some challenging parts of life today…
Lately I’ve been looking at “this time last year,” mostly because those “last years” have involved a lot of political turmoil, not to mention various stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. (You know, the one that started back in 2020? “The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March 2020.”)
Which pretty much squares which my calculations, that we are now past the 96th full week of the pandemic, or 24 full months.* But that’s not the only thing we have to worry about, as noted in last year’s post on Epiphany.
I noted that last January 6 (2021), we again celebrated the feast of The Epiphany. But we also went through what was supposed to be a routine political event: The day Congress (was supposed to) Count Electoral Votes. (As that count affected the November 2020 presidential election, “a whole ‘nother story entirely.”) So last year’s Epiphany was yet another “like no other” holiday in American history. (Continuing a concept in line with 2020 – A Christmas like no other?)
But back to the subject of Epiphany, the “feast day that celebrates the revelation (theophany) of God incarnate as Jesus Christ.” Yet another name for January 6 is Three Kings’ Day:
The observance [Epiphany] was a general celebration of the manifestation of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. It included the commemoration of his birth; the visit of the Magi [and] all of Jesus’ childhood events, up to and including his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee. [E.A.]
I put some links in the notes; deep background on the various feast days. Like January 1 being known by various names including National Hangover Day and the day we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. (But since we today are more squeamish, “modern calendars often list it as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.”) Or more information on January 6 being known as “Three Kings Day,” when the three “Magi” came to visit the infant Jesus. (And a note that in its original sense, Magi referred to “followers of Zoroaster,” and comes from the root word for “magic.”)
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Meanwhile – and speaking of Will I REALLY live to 120 – I just published a book with that title back in 2021. It’s about a bet that I made with myself, about maybe living to 120, like Moses, with “eye undimmed and vigor unabated.” (Deuteronomy 34:7.) Some chapters deal with a really old ancestor of mine, William Bradford, who lived to the equivalent of 140.* He came over on the Mayflower and served as governor of Plymouth Colony for some 30 years. He also studied Hebrew in his old age, because he wanted to read the Old Testament in it original language.
On that note – and following in Bradford‘s footsteps – I myself just started studying Hebrew. (At the age of 70.) Part of the studies include a 36-chapter set of “Wondrium” videos, Learn Biblical Hebrew. Another part is my recent purchase of the Learning Biblical Hebrew Workbook, shown below. And in the very beginning of that workbook there is this caveat: “Allow yourself space to fail … regardless of the number of errors you made in the process. If you are like our students, you may complete entire exercises without getting one problem fully correct.”
Which is pretty much what I said in comparing Bible study to “transcendent” meditation:
[T]he would-be meditator might want to give himself permission to make mistakes. “You will make them anyway and will be much more comfortable – and get along better with this exercise – if you give yourself permission in advance.” [T]he meditator [or Bible student] should treat himself as a “much-loved child … trying to keep walking on a narrow side-walk.”
Which is a far cry from the “get it right or go straight to hell” method of Bible study that some so-called Christians seem to promote. That’s also a far cry from how Jesus wanted us to read the Bible: With an open mind. (Luke 24:45: “Then He [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”) The result of such an approach? A good Christian reading the Bible with an open mind can both “transcend the painful, negative aspects of life,” and live with a serene inner peace. In other words, a life of joy and love, along with a “zest, a fervor and gusto in life.” All of which is a pretty tall order, so it’s time to get back to work.
Here’s wishing you a happy and prosperous Season of Epiphany!
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This post was “gleaned” from past posts, including “Gleaning” on the Epiphany – 2021, along with – from 2016 – Epiphany, circumcision, and “3 wise guys,” and in 2017, To Epiphany – “and BEYOND,” followed by Happy Epiphany – 2018. See also Epiphany marks end of Christmas season, beginning of Mardi Gras, for an update from St. Frances Cabrini Church. See also Epiphany season – Wikipedia.
Re: Fat Tuesday. “Mardi” is French for Tuesday, and “gras” can mean fatty, oily or greasy. Example: “des cheveux gras” means greasy hair. French-English dictionary | English translation | Reverso.
Re: The term Mardi Gras coming to mean “Let’s party.” See The “Overlooked Apostle,” Ruth and Mardi Gras, from February 2017. Which included this:
The French term for Fat Tuesday is Mardi Gras, and Mardi Gras is now a generic term for “Let’s Party!!” Or as Wikipedia put it, “Popular practices on Mardi Gras include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, debauchery, etc.” That “debauchery, etc.” has come to include “showing skin for beads” as part of an “alcohol-fueled, nudity-filled bacchanal.”
Re: The COVID pandemic. Wikipedia further noted that as of 10 January 2022, the pandemic had caused more than 307 million cases and 5.49 million deaths” – five and a half million deaths – “making it one of the deadliest in history.”
Re: Full weeks of COVID. See On St. Philip and St. James – May, 2020. There I explained that to me, the pandemic hit full swing – the “stuff really hit the fan” – on Thursday, March 12. “That’s when the ACC basketball tournament got cancelled, and March Madness and college baseball were called off… So my definition of the ‘First Full Week of the Covid-19 Pandemic’ has it starting on Sunday, March 15 and ending on Saturday the 21st,” 2020.
Re: Living to 120. The full title is Will I REALLY live to 120?: On Turning 70 in 2021 – and Still Thinking “The Best is Yet to Come.” (Written and published under my Nom De Plume, “James B. Ford.”) You can read more about it in the post, For a book version.
Re: William Bradford living to the equivalent of 140. He died at 67, when the average life expectancy was almost half that, or 36 years. That works out to a 1.86 factor, so multiplying today’s average life expectancy – say 75 years – leads to 140 years being the equivalent of Bradford’s living to 67.
The full cites to the Hebrew instruction are Learning Biblical Hebrew Workbook: A Graded Reader with Exercise, and Learn Biblical Hebrew – Understanding Sacred Hebrew | Wondrium. Also, the “allow yourself to fail” quote is at page ix, “Introduction: How to use this workbook.”
Re: “Permission to make mistakes.” See The Bible as “transcendent” meditation, from May 2014.
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