The Epiphany of Lord Jesus
Revelations of the Christ
One of the oldest Christian feasts is the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout history, this particular celebration highlighted many different things. The word 'epiphany' comes from a verb in the Greek language that means 'to reveal'. All of the celebrations and events that revolve around the epiphany relate to the revelations that Christ has given to man. In most countries, this celebration takes place during the Sunday that falls between January 2nd and 8th. Traditionally, the date is January 6th, but traditions have transferred the date over the years. Like many of the traditional feasts, this celebration began in the east and gradually spread to the west. Originally, it celebrated four specific, different events including Christ's baptism, His first miracle, the wise men's visit, and the nativity of Christ. Each of these events is considered to be a revelation of God to man. During the baptism, the Holy Spirit comes down and God's voice is heard saying that Jesus is His son. During the first miracle, the changing of the water into wine at the wedding reveals Christ as divine. When Christ was born, angels bear witness to the birth and shepherds and others that represent Israel and its people bow before the newborn. When the wise men visit, Christ's divinity is even further revealed.
The Ascension of Our Lord
The Ascension of Our Lord, occurred 40 days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. The ascension is the final act in the redemption story that Christ began when He died on Good Friday. On the day the Ascension of Our Lord is celebrated, Christ rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven as witnessed by of His apostles. The action of the ascension is so important to Christian beliefs that it has been placed into many of the Christian statements and creeds that affirm the basic beliefs of the religion as a whole. Denying the ascension is a huge departure from the fundamental teachings of the Christian church as a whole. Christ's physical ascension into Heaven helps humans carry hope that their own entrance into Heaven will be one of both glorified body and soul. In redeeming the world, Christ offers both salvation to souls as well as an eventual restoration of the material world as it first appeared before the initial sin of man in the Garden of Eden.
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is often called the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ today. This celebration dates back to the 13th century, but it actually celebrates something much older: the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Some Lutheran and Anglican churches commemorate this particular holy day as well. The celebration itself does not highlight a particular event the life of Christ, but rather it celebrates the actually Body of Christ as it is consecrated during Mass. Corpus Christi is held on the Thursday after the Trinity Sunday, though some churches choose to move it to the following Sunday. Celebrating the holy day on Thursday associates it closer to the Last Supper. This feast first appeared on Christian calendars because of petitions that ran through the churches in the 13th century. Today is it one of the well-known Catholic holy days.
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
The Feast of Saint Peter and Paul, Apostles, celebrate the two of the greatest apostles. This celebration takes place on June 29 and honors the men whose martyrdom helped to establish the dominance of the Church at Rome. This solemnity has an ancient origin and the date was selected based on the anniversary of the apostles' deaths or the transfer of their relics. The celebration is a holy day of obligation in England, but not in the United States and Canada. This particular feast also marks the end of the Apostles Fast in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is a recommended day of attendance for many Christian faiths.