The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

THE PURIFICATION OF SAINT MARY THE VIRGIN

Presentation_of_Christ_in_the_Temple

Presentation of Christ in the Temple, from the Sherbrooke Missal, National Library of Wales

THE COLLECT

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

FOR THE EPISTLE

Malachi 3:1-5

BEHOLD, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple; even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgement, and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

THE GOSPEL

St. Luke 2:22-40

AND when the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice, according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons. And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also;) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity: and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years; which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.

LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace : according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen : thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared : before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles : and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Quam dilecta!

O HOW amiable are thy dwellings : thou Lord of hosts!
2. My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord : my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.
3. Yea, the sparrow hath found her an house, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young : even thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
4. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house : they will be alway praising thee.
5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee : in whose heart are thy ways.
6. Who going through the vale of misery use it for a well : and the pools are filled with water.
7. They will go from strength to strength : and unto the God of gods appeareth every one of them in Sion.
8. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer : hearken, O God of Jacob.
9. Behold, O God our defender : and look upon the face of thine Anointed.
10. For one day in thy courts : is better than a thousand.
11. I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God : than to dwell in the tents of ungodliness.
12. For the Lord God is a light and defence : the Lord will give grace and worship, and no good thing shall he withhold from them that live a godly life.
13. O Lord God of hosts : blessed is the man that putteth his trust in thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


THE PURIFICATION, COMMONLY CALLED CANDLEMAS-DAY

from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Ed., 1894

THE law of God, given by Moses to the Jews, ordained that a woman, after childbirth, should continue for a certain time in a state which that law calls unclean, during which she was not to appear in public, nor presume to touch anything consecrated to God. This term was of forty days upon the birth of a son, and double that time for a daughter. On the expiration of the term, the mother .vas to bring to the door of the tabernacle, or Temple, a lamb and a young pigeon, or turtle-dove, as an offering to God. These being sacrificed to Almighty God by the priest, the woman was cleansed of the legal impurity and reinstated in her former privileges.

A young pigeon, or turtle-dove, by way of a sin-offering, was required of all, whether rich or poor; but as the expense of a lamb might be too great for persons in poor circumstances, they were allowed to substitute for it a second dove.

Our Saviour having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and His blessed Mother remaining always a spotless virgin, it is evident that she did not come under the law; but as the world was, as yet, ignorant of her miraculous conception, she submitted with great punctuality and exactness to every humbling circumstance which the law required. Devotion and mal to honor God, by every observance prescribed by His law, prompted Mary to perform this act of religion, though evidently exempt from the precept. Being poor herself, she made the offering appointed for the poor; but; however mean in itself, it was made with a perfect heart, which is what God chiefly regards in all that is offered to Him. Besides the law which obliged the mother to purify herself, there was another which ordered that the first-born son should be offered to God, and that, after its presentation, the child should be ransomed with a certain sum of money, and peculiar sacrifices offered on the occasion.

Mary complies exactly with all these ordinances. She obeys not only in the essential points of the law, but has strict regard to all the circumstances. She remains forty days at home; she denies herself, all this time, the liberty of entering the Temple; she partakes not of things sacred; and on the day of her purification she walks several miles to Jerusalem, with the world’s Redeemer in her arms. She waits for the priest at the gate of the Temple, makes her offerings of thanksgiving and expiation, presents her divine Son by the hands of the priest to His Eternal Father, with the most profound humility, adoration, and thanksgiving. She then redeems Him with five shekels, as the law appoints, and receives Him back again as a sacred charge committed to her special care, till the Father shall again demand Him for the full accomplishment of man’s redemption.

The ceremony of this day was closed by a third mystery—the meeting in the Temple of the holy persons Simeon and Anne with Jesus and His parents. Holy Simeon, on that occasion, received into his arms the object of all his desires and sighs, and praised God for being blessed with the happiness of beholding the so-much-longed-for Messias. Re foretold to Mary her martyrdom of sorrow, and that Jesus brought redemption to those who would accept of it on the terms it was offered them; but a heavy judgment on all infidels who should obstinately reject it, and on Christians, also, whose lives were a contradiction to His holy maxims and example. Mary, hearing this terrible prediction, did not answer one word, felt no agitation of mind from the present, no dread for the future; but courageously and sweetly committed all to God’s holy will. Anne, also, the prophetess, who in her widowhood served God with great fervor, had the happiness to acknowledge and adore in this great mystery the Redeemer of the world. Simeon, having beheld Our Saviour, exclaimed: “Now dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, because my eyes have seen Thy salvation.”

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 abiding peace and brings us near to the consolations of God.