Feb 2 – Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
This feast celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts. In many Western liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season.
This feast is also known by other traditional names including Candelmas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. Prior to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Candlemas marked the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season.
The Western term ‘Candlemas’ (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on Feb 2 (forty days after Christmas) blessed beeswax candles with an aspergilium (liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water) for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home.
Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasized in favour of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.
“…go in peace…”
Today, we celebrate the Presentation of The Lord. Or, more familiar to me as the 4th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. The original rosary had three sets of mysteries instead of the four we have now. So 1/15 of the original rosary was dedicated to meditate on this particular mystery. I’m thinking here, this seems important, even at 1/20 (including Luminous Mysteries) it is pretty important. Why so?
I think firstly, there is so much to unpack here that this event in the life of the Holy Family of Nazareth can probably be used for an entire retreat or series of talks.
There is the Jewish practice of making an offering for the firstborn son, telling us that Joseph and Mary were devout Jews who observed the Law well. There is Simeon and Anna, who were themselves very devout, so much so that they recognised the Messiah via divine revelation. They also proceeded to inform Joseph and Mary, and others around, that there were some amazing things about to take place. Very notably here, we reflect on the revelation that there is to be some pain involved for Mary (a sword shall also pierce your heart). Not quite what you want to hear when bringing a newborn to the temple. Anna was right of course. Then there is the Canticle of Simeon, which the Church uses in the Divine Office night prayer or compline.
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
I found it interesting that the Church uses this Canticle of Simeon as a night prayer. The simple explanation is that we have been waiting to meet the Messiah, and now that we have, we can retire in peace, like Simeon. So have we met enough of Jesus during our day, that we may retire in peace? Maybe it is something we can think about when we lay our heads to rest. Where today, did I meet the Messiah? We can spend some time to ponder, (like Mary), and hopefully it doesn’t keep us up at night. But if it does, then maybe we didn’t have enough ‘Jesus’ during our day, that we may retire in peace.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Daryl De Payva)
Prayer: Dear Lord, may we recognise you in our lives. Especially in our busyness. Grant me the grace to recognise the little moments where you are reaching out to me, so that I may meet you daily.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for my day and for all my encounters with you. Thank you for constantly reaching out to meet me, that I may be better off after the encounter!