Campbell's Covered Bridge, Gowensville, South Carolina

Follow Sunlit Uplands by E-Mail

Showing posts with label Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Show all posts

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord



HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

St. Peter's Basilica
Thursday, 2 February 2012



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 40 days after the birth of Jesus, shows us Mary and Joseph who, in obedience to the Law of Moses, go to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer the child, their first born son, to the Lord and to redeem him through a sacrifice (cf. Lk 2:22-24). It is one of the cases in which liturgical time reflects historical time, because today actually marks 40 days after the Solemnity of the Birth of the Lord. The theme of Christ the Light, that is a feature of the cycle of the Christmas festivities and culminates in the Solemnity of the Epiphany, is taken up again and extended in today’s feast.

The ritual act of Jesus’ parents, which takes place in the humble, hidden manner characteristic of the Incarnation of the Son of God, finds a unique welcome in the elderly Simeon and the Prophetess Anna. By divine inspiration they recognize the baby as the Messiah foretold by the prophets. In the meeting of the elderly Simeon and Mary, a young mother, the Old and New Testaments converge in a wonderful way in the thanksgiving for the gift of the Light which shone in the darkness and prevented it from prevailing: Christ the Lord, the light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel (cf. Lk 2:32).

The Day of Consecrated Life is celebrated on the day on which the Church commemorates the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. In fact this Gospel episode to which we are referring is a significant icon of the gift of one’s life by those who are called to present anew in the Church and in the world, through the evangelical counsels, the characteristics of Jesus, virgin, poor and obedient, the Consecrated of the Father. In today’s feast we therefore celebrate the mystery of consecration: the consecration of Christ, the consecration of Mary, the consecration of those who place themselves in the sequela of Jesus for love of the Kingdom of God.

According to the insight of Bl. John Paul II, who celebrated for the first time in 1997 the Day dedicated to consecrated life, it establishes specific goals. First, it seeks to respond to the need to give praise and thanks to the Lord for the gift of this state of life which belongs to the sanctity of the Church. Today, the prayer of the entire Community is dedicated to every consecrated person, giving thanks to God the Father, giver of every good, for the gift of this vocation, and once again invoking him with faith. Moreover, this occasion offers the opportunity to appreciate increasingly the testimony of those who have chosen to follow Christ through the practice of the evangelical counsels by promoting understanding and appreciation of the consecrated life within the People of God. Finally, the World Day for Consecrated Life is meant, above all for you, dear brothers and sisters who have embraced this state in the Church, to be a precious occasion to renew your commitment and rekindle the feelings that inspired and continue to inspire the gift of yourselves to the Lord. Let us do this today, this is the commitment you are called to realize every day of your life.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical CouncilI announced — as you know — the Year of Faith, which will begin this October. All the faithful, and in a special way the members of Institutes of Consecrated Life, have welcomed this initiative as a gift, and I hope that they will live the Year of Faith as a favourable time for interior renewal, of which there is always need, with a deepening of the essential values and needs of their own consecration. In the Year of Faith you, who have welcomed the call to follow Christ more closely through the profession of the evangelical counsels, are invited to increasingly deepen your relationship with God. The evangelical counsels, accepted as an authentic rule of life, strengthen faith, hope and charity, which unite one to God. This profound closeness to the Lord, which must be the priority and characteristic point of your existence, will lead you toward a renewed adherence to Him and will have a positive influence on your special presence and on the form of your apostolate among the People of God, through the contribution of your charisms, in fidelity to the Magisterium, to be witnesses of faith and grace, credible witnesses for the Church and the world today.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, with the means it deems appropriate, will suggest guidelines and will do its utmost to encourage this Year of Faith to be, for all of you, a year of renewal and of fidelity so that all consecrated men and women may enthusiastically engage in the New Evangelization. As I extend my cordial greetings to the Prefect of the Dicastery, Archbishop João Braz de Aviz — whom I wish to include among those I will create Cardinals in the next Consistory — I gladly take this joyful occasion to thank him and his co-workers for the precious service they render to the Holy See and to the entire Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, I also thank each one of you for having wished to participate in this Liturgy, which, also thanks to your presence, is distinguished by a special atmosphere of devotion and recollection. I wish you every good on the journey of your religious Families, as well as for your formation and your apostolate. May the Virgin Mary, disciple, servant and Mother of the Lord, obtain from the Lord Jesus that “all who have received the gift of following him in the consecrated life may be enabled to bear witness to that gift by their transfigured lives, as they joyfully make their way with all their brothers and sisters towards our heavenly homeland and the light which will never grow dim” (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, n. 112). Amen.



Friday, February 2, 2018

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord



By Martha Long

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (also known as the Purification of Our Lady and Candlemas) is one of my favorite feasts. The feast, filled with references to light, reminds us once again that Our Lord is the Light of the World. Simeon and Anna both had spent their lives praying and waiting for the Messiah. They hoped for the chance to see Him and they were ready to meet Him. This child stood out among all the children brought to the Temple that day. They recognized that light in the child presented to them. Immediately, Simeon burst out with the beautiful prayer, the Nunc Dimittis, which the Church recites each night in Compline, “Now you may dismiss Thy servant in peace O Lord, according to Thy word: For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared in the sight of all peoples: A light to reveal Thee to the nations and the glory of Thy people Israel.” I love these words.

But Simeon’s words did not end there. He went on to tell Our Lady that because of her Son, her heart would be pierced by a sword. How hard this must have been for her. First, she rejoiced because Simeon’s prayer reminded her of the greatness of her infant Son. But then her joy was turned to sorrow – as so often happens in this vail of tears.

The passage below is from a sermon the feast by St. Sophronius and is found in the Office for this feast.
“Let us receive the light whose brilliance is eternal. In honour of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.

Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendour of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.

The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.  The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.

The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendour, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendour.

Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which he prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.
By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in his honour.”
In paintings of this event, the temple is usually represented in some manner – by a church building or perhaps a canopy and altar. The figures of Simeon and Anna (both in old age) and Our Lady and St. Joseph are always present. The Infant Christ is the central focus, sometimes already in the arms of Simeon. In other paintings Our Lady is shown extending her hands in gesture of offering as she presents the child to Simeon. The exchange is symbolic of the encounter between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Simeon represents the unbroken chain of inspired prophets who awaited the coming of the promise of salvation. He is the last watchman of Israel and in looking for the dawn he sets his eyes on the true Light. St. Joseph often holds the turtledoves for the sacrifice (either in his hands or sometimes in a basket).