Skip to comments.[Feast of the] Presentation of the Lord
Posted on 02/01/2006 5:08:28 PM PST by Salvation
Presentation at the Temple
by Giovanni Bellini - 1460-64 - Tempera on wood
Galleria Querini Stampalia, Venice
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel."
The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord - From the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy
120. Until 1969, the ancient feast of the presentation of Our Lord, which is of Oriental origin, was known in the West as the feast of the Purification of Our Lady, and closed the Christmas season, forty days after the Lord's birth. This feast has for long been associated with many popular devotional exercises. The faithful:
121. Popular piety is sensitive to the providential and mysterious event that is the Conception and birth of new life. Christian mothers can easily identify with the maternity of Our Lady, the most pure Mother of the Head of the mystical Body - notwithstanding the notable differences in the Virgin's unique Conception and birth. These too are mothers in God's plan and are about to give birth to future members of the Church. From this intuition and a certain mimesis of the purification of Our Lady, the rite of purification after birth was developed, some of whose elements reflect negatively on birth.
The revised Rituale Romanum provides for the blessing of women both before and after birth, this latter only in cases where the mother could not participate at the baptism of her child.
It is a highly desirable thing for mothers and married couples to ask for these blessings which should be given in accord with the Church's prayer: in a communion of faith and charity in prayer so that pregnancy can be brought to term without difficulty (blessing before birth), and to give thanks to God for the gift of a child (blessing after birth).
122. In some local Churches, certain elements taken from the Gospel account of the Presentation of the Lord (Lk 2, 22-40), such as the obedience of Joseph and Mary to the Law of the Lord, the poverty of the holy spouses, the virginity of Our Lady, mark out the February 2 as a special feast for those at the service of the brethren in the various forms of consecrated life.
123. The feast of February 2 still retains a popular character. It is necessary, however, that such should reflect the true Christian significance of the feast. It would not be proper for popular piety in its celebration of this feast to overlook its Christological significance and concentrate exclusively on its Marian aspects. The fact that this feast should be "considered [...] a joint memorial of Son and Mother" would not support such an inversion. The candles kept by the faithful in their homes should be seen as a sign of Christ "the light of the world" and an expression of faith.
Children know how to play "bread on the water". Crumbs of bread tossed on the corner of small lake attracts fish. If the fish are fed repeatedly, the crumbs might eventually attract a big fish, suitable for the fly rod. From the point of view of the large fish that are eventually caught, the game of "bread on the water" turns out to be a terrible trick, not a game of charity. After all, they end up in the frying pan.
Sometimes "sacrificial giving" is not always what it appears to be. Occasionally, self-interest motivates external acts of charity. Hence, corporate sponsorship of civic events and the donation of sums of money to charities may only be "bread on the water," that is, forms of advertising or means to secure the goodwill of the community. "Bread on the water" donations may not be wrong at all or even offensive. The donations are often praiseworthy as a mutually beneficial business transaction. But strictly speaking, they are not acts of Christian charity.
The motives of giving and generosity are often mixed and difficult to untangle. A teacher may treat his students with candy, for example. But are the treats primarily acts of kindness or means of manipulating the affection of the children? Motivations are usually clarified and purified when an act of charity is put to the test. When the gift is accepted without an apparent payback, how does the benefactor respond?
Symbolic of their charity, Mary and Joseph present the child Jesus to the Lord in the Temple. As it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord." A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons are sacrificed to express Mary and Joseph's obedience to the law. The prophet Simeon, by the grace of God, recognizes the child as the Messiah. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he prophesies that the child will be the instrument of Israel's salvation. He adds that the child will be a "sign of contradiction" and promises, ominously, that "a sword [of sorrow] will pierce" the heart of Mary.
When Mary ritually presented her newborn Son in the Temple in Jerusalem, she did so in accordance with the Mosaic law. Aside from the turtle doves, there was no real cost to this symbolic act of obedience and charity. But the presentation of the Lord, certainly prefigured her sacrificial gift at the foot of the Cross. At the foot of the Cross, the sorrowful Mother reveals at once the quiet dignity of her love and the true sacrificial character of her charity. Her ritual offering of her child was accepted by God on Calvary. For Mary, the presentation of the Lord, offered in obedience to the Father, did not have a payback. It was an expression of love, a love that was tested and confirmed by the Cross.
The Cross was Mary's test of charity symbolically expressed during the Presentation of the Lord when Jesus was a child. She passed the test because her love was pure, not "bread on the water." Christian charity is disinterested love, love for the sake of God. Motivated by the love of God and following the example of Mary and her divine Son, Christians must learn to give of themselves without counting the cost or measuring the benefits.
The PRESENTATION of JESUS in the TEMPLE
the PURIFICATION, or CANDLEMAS
The law of God, given by Moses to the Jews, ordained that after childbirth a woman should continue for a certain time in a state which that law calls unclean, during which time she was not to appear in public. This term was of forty days following the birth of a son, and double that time for a daughter. When the term expired, the mother was to bring to the Temple a lamb and a young pigeon or turtle-dove, as an offering to God. These being sacrificed to Almighty God by the priest, she was cleansed of the legal impurity and reinstated in her former privileges. A dove was required of all as a sin-offering, whether rich or poor; but as the expense of a lamb might be too great for the poor, these were allowed to substitute for it a second dove. Such was the case, Scripture tells us, for the Holy Family. (Luke 2:24)
Our Saviour having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and His Blessed Mother remaining always a spotless virgin, it is evident that She was not subject to the law of purification, but devotion and zeal to honor God by every observance prescribed by His law, prompted Mary to perform this act of religion.
Besides the law which obliged the mother to purify herself, there was another which required that the first-born son be offered to God, and that after his presentation the child be ransomed with a certain sum of money, and specific sacrifices offered on the occasion. Mary complied exactly with all these ordinances. She obeyed not only in the essential points of the law, but had strict regard to all the circumstances. On the day of Her purification She walked several miles to Jerusalem, with the worlds Redeemer in Her arms. She waited for the priest at the gate of the Temple, made Her offerings of thanksgiving and expiation, and with the most profound humility, adoration and thanksgiving, presented Her divine Son, by the hands of the priest, to His Eternal Father. She then redeemed Him with five shekels, as the law appoints, and received Him back again as a sacred charge committed to Her special care, until the Father would again demand Him for the full accomplishment of mans redemption.
The ceremony of this day closed in a third mystery the meeting in the Temple of the holy prophets Simeon and Anne with the Divine Infant and His parents. Saint Simeon, on that occasion, received into his arms the object of all his desires and sighs, and praised God for the happiness of beholding the much-longed-for Messiah. He foretold to Mary Her martyrdom of sorrow, and that Jesus would bring redemption to those who would accept it on the terms it was offered, but a heavy judgment on all who would obstinately reject it. Mary, hearing this terrible prediction, courageously and sweetly committed all to Gods holy Will. Simeon, having beheld Our Saviour, exclaimed: Now Thou canst dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, in peace, according to Thy word, because mine eyes have seen Thy salvation. The aged prophetess Anne, who had served God with great fervor during her long widowhood, also had the happiness of recognizing and adoring the Redeemer of the world. This feast is called Candlemas, because the Church blesses the candles to be borne in the procession of the day.
Reflection. Let us strive to imitate the humility of the ever-blessed Mother of God, remembering that humility is the path which leads to lasting peace and brings us closer to God, who gives His grace to the humble.
Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butlers Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments.
Nice. I didn't know the Latin Church celebrated this feast. In Orthodoxy it is a very major feast. It is also a practice at least in the Greek Church that a mother and newborn present themselves to the priest forty days after the birth for the presentation of the child to God and the purification of the mother. Between birth and day 40, both the child and the mother stay home and do not go to church.
**that a mother and newborn present themselves to the priest forty days after the birth for the presentation of the child to God and the purification of the mother.**
I don't think this is widely practiced in the Latin Church, but I think it would be a wonderful ritual for all concerned.
Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Feast of the Day Ping List.
PRESENTATION OF THE LORD ping.
Thanks for bumping the thread.
The Solemn Mass with Pope Benedict will be on EWTN today:
Thursday February 2, 2006 11:30 AM LIVE (eastern)
Thursday February 2, 2006 9:00 PM ENCORE
Also, this was in EWTN's Q&A a couple days ago:
Simeon's prophecy and Mary's role
Question from John on 1/30/2006:
Dear Fr. Lewis,
I have a question about the prophecy of Simeon, particularly on how it relates to Mary's role. Luke 2:34 (DRV) And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted. 2:35. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.
From the way that Simon said this, it seems that we could understand that "thoughts may be revealed" as a result of: a) the child: i.e. what Jesus will do
b) the fact that Mary's soul will be pierced by a sword
c) both a and b
Is it correct to lean toward (c), that the "thoughts will be revealed" primarily because of Jesus's action, and that they will also be revealed by Mary's role? It seems that this supports the belief that Mary's role is joined with Jesus.
By the way, in the King James Version, most of verse 35 is in a parentheseis, as it seems that those translators were trying to force an interpretation of only choice (a) above.
Thank you so much for your work in this forum.
Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 1/30/2006:
Dear John, You are a great exegete. Wonderful! I have read this text all my life and simply speaking interpreted the verses about the thoughts of many as the effect of Jesus' preaching and suffering and death. His contemporaries and all the whole world since then have had thoughts about Jesus, good and profitable thoughts as well as contrary ones. God bless you. Fr. Bob Levis
SOLEMN MASS: PRESENTATION OF OUR LORD & WORLD DAY FOR CONSECRATED LIFE, WITH POPE BENEDICT XVI, VATICAN BASILICA, ROMA LIVE (2 HOURS)
Thursday February 2, 2006 11:30 AM LIVE
Thursday February 2, 2006 9:00 PM ENCORE
A Song for Simeon
Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.
Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have given and taken honour and ease.
There never went any rejected from my door.
Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children's children
When the time of sorrow is come?
They will take to the goat's path, and the fox's home,
Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.
Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel's consolation
To one who has eighty years and no tomorrow.
According to thy word.
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints' stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.
~T. S. Eliot, 1928
One of my favorite poems. I can just imagine Old Simeon waiting and waiting, and finally the day longed for arrived. This painting shows Simeon's interior joy, and his feet show his direction toward God, "Lettest now Thy servant depart in peace." Here is the Babe, the most perfect offering ever offered in the Temple. I love reciting the Nunc dimittis at the end of the day, when all our strivings distract us from the Light of Christ, at the fading light, we can re-train our gaze back to God.
Did you know how much I love TS Elliot...but somehow I had missed that poem. Thank you for sharing.
No, I didn't know. I just pinged you because your poetry moves me and reminds me a bit of Eliot.
That's why! He's been very, very influential in how I think about poetry. I fell in love with his stuff when I was a teen, and I know it has influenced the way I play with words. How very perceptive of you to pick up on it. Or better yet, how happy I am that it shows at least a little!
And I thank you for thinking of me. That poem is going into my "favorite by Elliot list."
Wow. T.S. Eliot goes to the heart of things . . . as usual.
Good find! Thanks for posting the question and answer.
I would say that it could also relate the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary around the world. (thoughts revealed)
Thanks for posting those times.
Thanks for posting the poem of T. S. Elliot. Truly beautiful.