Sunday, May 8, 2011

Angels Who Say He is Alive

"Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him, in the midst of you, as you also know: This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell, as it was impossible that he should be holden by it."

"Ye men, brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David; that he died, and was buried; and his sepulchre is with us to this present day. Whereas therefore he was a prophet, and knew that God hath sworn to him with an oath, that of the fruit of his loins one should sit upon his throne. Foreseeing this, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. For neither was he left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised again, whereof all we are witnesses. Being exalted therefore by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath poured forth this which you see and hear. (Acts of the Apostles 2:22-24, 29-33, DRB)

"Yea and certain women also of our company affrighted us, who before it was light, were at the sepulchre, and not finding his body, came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, who say that he is alive." (Gospel According to St. Luke 24:22,23, DRB)

‎"Foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but manifested in the last times for you, who through him are faithful in God, who raised him up from the dead, and hath given him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God." (1 Epistle of St. Peter 1:20, 21, DRB)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Look, Listen, Learn: A Reflection of the Passion of Our Lord

What do we become aware of when we hear of Our Lord's Passion? We witness His agony in the Garden; a moment of solitude and isolation from the world, a moment of deep communal prayer between Him and His Father. We witness His pain - no, I would say 'pain' does not truly convey what is happening. Rather, we witness His anguish - that total, all encompassing moment of soul-wrenching awareness of what awaits Him. We hear His plea, and then His acceptance of what must come...and we see the blood that trickles from His pores - a mere drop of precious blood compared to the amount that will be shed soon. Our Lord is afraid - because we have made Him afraid.

How strange was that feeling, to be afraid of His children? How frightening was that moment when as He prepared Himself for what came next? When we listen to the suffering of Christ in the garden, we should be afraid too - we have made our God afraid.

Then we witness something new, something He knows must come. This moment should shock us, it should frighten us to our souls - and we should never lose that terror at any moment during what happens next. A man approaches - a man so well known, so intimate to Him as much as we are so intimately known to Him. And this man comes forth and kisses Him, and it is done.

It so quick, so brief. God was betrayed by man. The Man was handed over by a man. We handed over Our Lord to death to be dealt by us. We are the ones who are guilty of this. So quick and brief, but the results so great they will be felt forever.

God betrayed by man.

Now we are in the whirlwind - things happen so fast yet every detail is clear as crystal. He is beaten and mocked - given a crown of thorns to wear which is in truth a crown of all the foul thoughts and guilty consciences we cannot bear to face ourselves - a great cloak thrown over His shoulders, a cloak of responsibility we don't want to bear. Shackles of sin that should be ours are bound to His wrists. All the things we cannot - no, will not - carry are passed off to another.

Our Lord's "trial" is decided before He is even brought into the room. Back and forth He sent, before hands are washed and He is given over - for the final time - to us. He has been placed in our hands - but He has willed it to be so. So Our Lord is forced to carry the method of His punishment to His place of death. We are so cruel a people that the injustice is laid even here. He must be forced to carry His own method of death to that horrible place - and He must be forced to display Himself to all - as if it will be a lesson to those who follow Him. Indeed it is, but not the one we sought to deliver.

Now Our Lord - so brutalized by our hands that when we look at Him, it is almost impossible to believe that this is the Man from the garden - trudges the great path to Calvary where awaits His death. Does He find any comfort or solace along the way? Little, perhaps, in the face of His sorrowful Mother and the Magdalene, in the weeping faces of the women who meet Him. Perhaps, just maybe, in the aid of the Cyrenian, conscripted to help.

But this is over in an instant, and soon the jeers and beatings are relieved only to be replaced by the removal of His garments - denied even the dignity of clothing in His final moments. Soon Our Lord is lain upon that terrible piece of wood, and His hands and feet are pierced. Metal is the material used to pierce, but it is our own sins that are driven into His flesh. Sin is what keeps Him on that terrible construction of torture and death.

He is raised up and presented for us to see, and we stand their to witness what we have spent the last day working for. His agony is displayed for us to see, and then that horrible cry is sent forth to the heavens: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" Oh how terrible that cry is - how it rends the heart and strikes so deep in our soul. We cannot understand death well, but suffering we understand so much. Can we now see what our work has wrought? All we have done has culminated in this moment, and we cannot say we did not want it. If we hadn't, would we have done the works we have done?

We look around and see He finds no comfort on that cross. He is alone, in a way we can never fully comprehend. He looks for His friends, but what does He find? Nothing, but the dust kicked up by their flight. But He does find His Mother, her heart rent by her grief; He sees the Magdalene, that poor, broken figure curled at the foot of the cross; and John, there with the Blessed Mother, unsure what to do but care for His Lord's mother, and share in the soul-shattering grief. There, we stand and witness a marvel - we see that Our Lord does not cry out to His mother for help; He does not demand John to take Him down. We witness the giving nature of Our Lord, and He speaks words that are both to us and not to us. In His final moments, He makes sure His mother is taken care of, giving her over to John and - yes, amazingly so - to us. The woman who has no other child save Him is now given a multitude of children in which to nurture.

He cares for His own, even in such utter agony. And finally, with a final word, it is finished. He gives up the Spirit, and dies.

And there is moment of silence - the kind of silence that comes only from God - where we are alone, all others removed. We stand there on the mount of Calvary, and stare at the sight of Our Lord dead on the cross. We stare at the pierced limbs, the marks of scourging, the bruises and welts that cover His body, the torn flesh of His brow. We take in and see what has just happened, and the enormity of what has been done. The silence is...immense and soul-crushing. The sounds and noise of the Passion had filled our ears the entire time, and for the first time we hear nothing.

And maybe, just maybe, in that silence we choose to listen and allow ourselves to hear, to see, to understand - if just for a moment, and in that moment we weep.

We weep true sorrow.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

Fr. Richard is old.

He's just an old man who's whole life has been dedicated to the Church and to God, to doing what he needs to do to nourish and nurture the flock that has been entrusted to him. He is stubborn and rude, but never ambivalent to his calling. Sometimes he smells like sweet pickles (my mom say he's pickling his body for canonization, but I always thought the smell of sanctity was roses).

Fr. Richard never gives a bad homily, is hawk-eyed when it comes to Holy Communion, witty and eloquent when he needs to be, sharp and to the point when he has to be. Sometimes he is very hard to like, but never hard to love. Which is why when Holy Thursday comes around and I see this old priest on his knees washing the feet of 12 men from the parish, I am in awe.

There is a humility when he scoots down the line and pours the water over your feet that overtakes you, an awe that fills your soul when he takes the towel and dries you. He's old, as I said, and being on the hard floor hurts him - you can see it in his face. He gets frustrated when his alb gets caught around his feet, but he never mutters or says a thing. He refuses any help offer to him by others, moving and washing all by himself. He is intent and focused on what he is doing.

I see Christ when I see Fr. Richard wash the feet of men, and I am humbled.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Don't Hold onto the Old Man, the World

"The man who enters [this church] is bound to see drunkards, misers, tricksters, gamblers, adulterers, fornicators, people wearing amulets, assiduous clients of sorcerers, astrologers. He must be warned that the same crowd that press into the churches on Christian festivals also fill the theaters on pagan holidays...

"Wherever the towering mass of the theater is erected, there the foundations of Christian virtue is undermined, and while this insane expenditure gives to the sponsors a glorious result, men mock at the works of mercy....

"It is only charity that distinguishes the children of God from the children of the Devil. They all make the sign of the cross, answer 'Amen' and sing Alleluia, they all go to church and build up the walls of the basilicas....

"Take away the barriers afforded by the laws! Men's brazen capacity to do harm, their urge to self-indulgence would rage to the full. No king in his kingdom, no general with his husband with his wife, no father with his son, could hope to stop, by any threat or punishment, the license that would follow the sheer sweet taste of sinning....

"Give me a man in love, he knows what I mean. Give me one who yearns; give me on who is hungry; give me one who is far away in this desert, who is thirsty and sighs for the spring of the Eternal Country. Give me that sort of man; he knows what I mean. But if I speak to a cold man, he just doesn't know what I am talking about....

"You are surprised the world is losing its grip? That the world is grown old? Don't hold onto the old man, the world; don't refuse to regain your youth in Christ, Who says to you: 'The world is passing away; the world is losing its grip, the world is short of breath. Don't fear, they youth shall be renewed as an eagle.'" ~ St. Augustine of Hippo

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Come, follow me!"

"I am often asked, especially by young people, why I became a priest. Maybe some of you would like to ask the same question. Let me try briefly to reply.

"I must begin saying that it is impossible to explain entirely, for it remains a mystery, even to myself. How does one explain the ways of God? Yet, I know that at a certain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what He had said to thousands before me: "Come, follow me!" There was a clear sense that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nor was it just an idea of my own. Christ was calling me to serve Him as a priest.

"And you can probably tell, I am deeply grateful to God for my vocation to the priesthood. Nothing means more to me or gives me greater joy than to celebrate the Mass each day and to serve God's people in the Church. That has been true since the day of my ordination as a priest. Nothing has ever changed it, not even becoming Pope." ~ His Holiness Pope Venerable John Paul II, Los Angeles (Sept. 15, 1987)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pilgrimages I Hope to Make Before I Die

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem:

The Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, La Salette, France:

The Tomb of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Écône, Valais, Switzerland:

The Hill of Crosses, Šiauliai, Lithuania:

The Sanctuary and Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Lourdes, France:

Maybe one day.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Behold the Cross, Horrible & Beautiful

There are pictures I have seen of saints, popes,, religious, lay men and women contemplating and adoring the crucifix. I never understood how someone could just stare at a crucifix for minutes, even hours on end. Then a while ago, I caught myself doing something I have in reality been doing for a very long time: contemplating the crucifix.

I found myself staring down at the St. Benedict cross around my neck and thinking about Our Blessed Lord, and I realized: the crucifix is a paradoxical image. It is the most horrible and most beautiful image we can gaze upon in the world. In it, we witness the greatest act of love the world has ever know, and on it we witness the most horrible act that man could ever commit. Our Lord gave Himself over to us, and we killed Our Lord on the cross - all so that we could live.

This is the greatest act of love that was done by a Man, and this Man is my God. He is your God. And He is the God of every man, woman, child that breathes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

There is a Man on the Cross I cannot take down

There is a Man on the Cross I cannot take down.

In the Reconciliation Chapel where I take Confession, there is a giant crucifix that dominates the room. The crucifix was commissioned in Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany, in 1930 and was originally in St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows, the old seat of the bishop. It is nearly life size, the cross made of wood and the corpus of Christ is bronze. It is a beautiful work.

The crucifix is a beautiful thing to contemplate, and often I stare at it while I wait to confess. I stare at His face, His pierced side, but more often than not I find myself staring at His feet. I don't know why. I find feet the most disgusting part of the human body, but I find myself drawn to the feet of Christ. They are beautiful and painful at the same time. I try and imagine the pain of having my feet pierced with nails, and sometimes it becomes so real the tops and soles of my own feet ache in pain.

Sometimes I stare at my Lord, hanging there on the cross for me. He has been on that cross for near 2,000 years now. He hangs there with His arms open, beckoning all to witness His sacrifice. He holds them open, displaying His wounds, naked and suffering so we can witness what we have done to Him. And He holds His arms open wide, waiting for us to take Him down.

I often think about taking Him down, when I stare at that cross. I imagine Him falling into my arms, how heavy His body is weighed down with the sins of the world. I realize how weak I am, unable to hold Him up, His blood running over me and staining my clothes and the ground. I cannot hold Him up, and I cannot take Him down. I cannot take Him down because I am the one who keeps Him up there. Every confession I loosen the nails that hold Him up there, but every sin I commit drives them deeper. I am the source of His suffering, and His continual pain.

I love this Man Whom I crucify. I love Him because He loves me enough to bear the pain I inflict upon Him. I love Him because He bears the weight I cannot, and takes the punishment that is meant for me. I pray one day will come I will be able to take those nails out completely, and He can come down from that Cross. But that day is not today.

Lately after doing my penance in front of that crucifix, I kiss the feet of Our Lord. I do this because it is the very least I can do. Because there is a Man on the Cross I cannot take down.

Friday, February 25, 2011

If He Rose at All

"Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

"It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

"The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that - pierced - died, withered, paused, and then regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

"Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

"The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

"And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

"Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance." ~ John Updike

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cathedra Petri

"And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?

"Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven." (Gospel According to St. Matthew 16:13-19)

"Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The "power of the keys" designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: "Feed my sheep." The power to "bind and loose" connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom." ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church (553)

"He left you this sweet key of obedience; for as you know He left His vicar, the Christ, on earth, whom you are all obliged to obey until death, and whoever is outside His obedience is in a state of damnation." ~ St. Catherine of Siena, "Dialogue, Treatise on Obedience"

“I decided to consult the chair of Peter, where that faith is found exalted by the lips of an Apostle; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once you received the garment of Christ. I follow no leader save Christ, so I enter into communion with your beatitude, that is, with the chair of Peter for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built!" ~ St. Jerome, “Le Lettere,” I, 15,1-2"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Truly, Really, and Substantially

"Receiving the Eucharist means adoring Him whom we receive. Only in this way do we become one with Him, and are given, as it were, a foretaste of the beauty of the heavenly liturgy. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself." ~ His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, "Sacarmentum Caritatis"

"Unless we believe and see Jesus in the appearance of bread on the altar, we will not be able to see him in the distressing disguise of the poor." ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

"In describing Christ’s presence in this sacrament the Council of Trent used three adverbs. Jesus is present in the Eucharist “truly, really, and substantially”. (Denzinger-Schönmetzer 1651) These three adverbs are the keys that open the door to Catholic teaching and exclude contrary views, which are to be rejected." ~ His Eminence Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ

"Recognize in this bread what hung on the cross, and in this chalice what flowed from His side... whatever was in many and varied ways announced beforehand in the sacrifices of the Old Testament pertains to this one sacrifice which is revealed in the New Testament." ~ St. Augustine of Hippo, "Sermon 3,2; A.D. 410"

"Rabbi, where are you staying?" Each day the Church responds: Christ is present in the Eucharist, in the sacrament of His death and resurrection. In and through the Eucharist, you acknowledge the dwelling-place of the Living God in human history. For the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Love which conquers death. It is the Sacrament of the Covenant, pure Gift of Love for the reconciliation of all humanity. It is the gift of the Real Presence of Jesus The Redeemer, in the bread which is His Body given up for us, in the wine which is His Blood poured out for all. Thanks to the Eucharist, constantly renewed among all peoples of the world, Christ continues to build His church: He brings us together in praise and thanksgiving for salvation, in the communion which only infinite love can forge. Our worldwide gathering now takes on its fullest meaning, through the celebration of the Mass. Dear young friends, may your presence here mean a true commitment in faith! For Christ is now answering your own question and the questions of all those who seek the Living God. He answers by offering an invitation: This is My Body, take It and eat. To the Father He entrusts His supreme desire: that all those whom He loves may be one in the same communion." ~ His Holiness Pope Venerable John Paul II, "Homily for World Youth Day in Paris, France, August 24, 1997"

"Words cannot express the perfection of his adoration. If Saint John leaped in the womb at the approach of Mary, what feelings must have coursed through Joseph during those six months when he had at his side and under his very eyes the hidden God! If the father of Origen used to kiss his child during the night and adore the Holy Spirit living within Him, can we doubt that Joseph must often have adored Jesus hidden in the pure tabernacle of Mary? How fervent that adoration must have been: My Lord and my God, behold your servant! No one can describe the adoration of this noble soul. He saw nothing, yet he believed; his faith had to pierce the virginal veil of Mary. So likewise with you! Under the veil of the Sacred Species your faith must see our Lord. Ask St. Joseph for his Lively, constant faith." ~ St. Peter Julian Eymard

"He is The Bread sown in the virgin, leavened in the Flesh, molded in His Passion, baked in the furnace of the Sepulchre, placed in the Churches, and set upon the Altars, which daily supplies Heavenly Food to the faithful." ~ St. Peter Chrysologus

Monday, February 7, 2011

Who would not love this Wounded Heart?

"This, therefore, seems to us to be the most suitable ideal: that devotion to the Sacred Heart - which, we are grieved to say, has suffered somewhat in the estimation of some persons, - now reflourish daily more and more. Let it be esteemed by all as an excellent and acceptable form of true piety, which in our times, especially because of the norms laid down in the Second Vatican Council, must be rendered to Christ Jesus, 'the king and center of all hearts, who is the head of the body the Church... the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things he may have first place.'" ~ His Holiness Pope Paul VI, "Investigabiles Divitas Christi"

"Who is there who would not love this wounded Heart? Who would not love, in return, Him who loves so much?" ~ St. Bonaventure

"We therefore urge all Our children in Christ, both those who are already accustomed to drink the saving waters flowing from the Heart of the Redeemer and, more especially those who look on from a distance like hesitant spectators, to eagerly embrace this devotion. Let them carefully consider, as We have said, that it is a question of a devotion which has long been powerful in the Church and is solidly founded on the Gospel narrative. It received clear support from tradition and the Sacred Liturgy and has been frequently and generously praised by the Roman Pontiffs themselves. These were not satisfied with establishing a Feast in honor of the Most Sacred Heart of the Redeemer and extending it to the Universal Church; they were also responsible for the solemn acts of dedication which consecrated the whole human race to the same Sacred Heart." ~ His Holiness Pope Venerable Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas"

With the Eucharist, Heaven Comes Down to Earth

"St John Mary Vianney liked to tell his parishioners: "Come to communion.... It is true that you are not worthy of it, but you need it". With the knowledge of being inadequate because of sin, but needful of nourishing ourselves with the love that the Lord offers us in the Eucharistic sacrament, let us renew this evening our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We must not take this faith for granted! Today we run the risk of secularization creeping into the Church too. It can be translated into formal and empty Eucharistic worship, into celebrations lacking that heartfelt participation that is expressed in veneration and in respect for the liturgy. The temptation to reduce prayer to superficial, hasty moments, letting ourselves be overpowered by earthly activities and concerns, is always strong. When, in a little while, we recite the Our Father, the prayer par excellence, we will say: "Give us this day our daily bread", thinking of course of the bread of each day for us and for all peoples. But this request contains something deeper. The Greek word epioúsios, that we translate as "daily", could also allude to the "super-stantial" bread, the bread "of the world to come". Some Fathers of the Church saw this as a reference to the Eucharist, the bread of eternal life, the new world, that is already given to us in Holy Mass, so that from this moment the future world may begin within us. With the Eucharist, therefore, Heaven comes down to earth, the future of God enters the present and it is as though time were embraced by divine eternity." ~ His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, "Homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi, 2009"

"This means that universality is an essential feature of Christian worship. It is the worship of an open heaven. It is never just an event in the life of a community that finds itself in a particular place. No, to celebrate the Eucharist means to enter into the openness of a glorification of God that embraces both heaven and earth, an openness effected by the Cross and Resurrection. Christian liturgy is never just an event organized by a particular group or set of people or even by a particular local Church. Mankind’s movement toward Christ meets Christ’s movement toward men. He wants to unite mankind and bring about the one Church, the one divine assembly, of all men. Everything, then, comes together: the horizontal and the vertical, the uniqueness of God and the unity of mankind, the communion of all who worship in spirit and in truth." ~ His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), "The Spirit of the Liturgy"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Kindly Light of Truth

"It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that 'kindly light' wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost. Great writers and communicators of his stature and integrity are needed in the Church today, and it is my hope that devotion to him will inspire many to follow in his footsteps.” ~ His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI "Address to the Bishops of England and Wales"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The True Light Has Come

"Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor 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 splendor, 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 splendor.

"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 honor." ~ St. Sophronius of Jerusalem, Patriarch and Church Father

The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

"And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord: As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord: And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons: And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was in him.

"And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, He also took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,

"Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. 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; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.

"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years; who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom; and the grace of God was in him." (The Gospel According to St. Luke 2:22-40)