This week we honor saints whose names should be a little more familiar, for they were rather local. Monday, January 4, is the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be canonized. After the death of her husband, she converted to the Catholic faith and founded the Sisters of Charity for the education of youth. She spent some time in Western Pennsylvania before settling in Emmitsburg, Maryland, very near the seminary I attended.
Tuesday, January 5 is the feast of St. John Neumann, a priest of the Redemptorist order to came to this country from his native Bohemia. After serving in the Pittsburgh area, including time as pastor of St. Philomena Parish when it was in the Strip District, St. John Neumann was named Bishop of Philadelphia.
We move a little further away on Wednesday, January 6, though we stay in North America. St. André Bessette, a member of the Holy Cross Brothers, was instrumental in forming St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. Despite his own chronic illness, Brother André was known to have healing powers and came to be called “The Miracle Man of Montreal.”
Those feasts can remind us of the importance of today’s feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. The star which led the Magi to Bethlehem was a sign that Christ had come for people of all nations. The holiness we see in our own saints, as well as in many of the people we see every Sunday in our own church, tells us that Christ is with us here and now. The Nativity of the Lord happened long ago and far away, but Christ is present to us today in the Eucharist and in every part of our lives. So as we celebrate Epiphany today, we see the opportunity to make our own land holy by our dedication to Christ. May today’s celebration, the second major feast of the Christmas season, fill your hearts with the joy of Christ Incarnate.