Monday, February 2, 2009

Feast Day: the Presentation in the Temple


It is the solemnity, the remembrance of when Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the Temple, and presented him there as offering and thanksgiving to God. It is the mystery we meditate upon for the fourth decade of the rosary.

This is an interesting feast to me, there is so much here. It is also known as Candlemas, as traditionally candles are blessed at the Mass of this day. I think that connection is due to Christ being the light of the world and thus candles are a literal reminder and link for us of that (but that's just me). But this is the day when Mary bundled up her sweet baby, her miracle, and took him to the Temple, alongside Joseph. It was a duty and possibly a hassle, but she did it and I can only wonder if she did it with that sense of pride and joy in this perfect little baby boy, or with a pause in her step, not sure what this would mean?
The Presentation in the Temply, by Fra Angelico

February is the month of the Holy Family. And in fact, we are taught that this feast is a bridge, from the feast of Christmas to the penance of Lent. From the birth to the death of Christ. It is a foreshadowing. His baby swaddling is often depicted very much like the wrapping found in the tomb (which really gets to the mom in me, it's jarring, every time I see it..as it should be, sigh). It is forty days after his birth (no insignificant number that). It leads us into the beginning of lent, later this month. And just so we all can understand the symbolism, we are given Anna and Simeon speaking to Mary: prophecy.

Simeon praises that "my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel."

And Anna tells Mary that "a sword shall too pierce your heart."


So, my goodness, what a day. I am pretty sure that Mary held that sweet swaddled baby boy very tight and kissed him on his head. But even so, she said "fiat" and knew, that she would love and follow this boy, no matter where it led. This was her son.
The Presentation, by Bellini 1460-1464

So, enjoy this feast today. Much to think about. Go read Margaret, she, as usual says it much better than I can! As a mother of dear boys especially, it feels close sometimes. So, I will light a candle, say a prayer of thanksgiving and the strength to also say 'fiat.' I think I will also kiss the heads on each son that I can find today.
Icon of the Presentation by St. Andrei Rublev

Collect:

All-powerful Father,
Christ Your Son became man for us
and was presented in the temple.
May he free our hearts from sin
and bring us into your presence.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen

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