- Monday, 02 February 2009 09:53
Lord, now Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for my eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou has prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Thy people Israel.
Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech Thy majesty, that as Thine only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so too Thou would grant us to be presented unto Thee with purified souls.
The blessings of candles, symbolic of Christ the Light to all peoples, is observed on this feast is a poignant reminder that the great feast of the Incarnation of our Lord and Savior means something as it fails to reduce God-becoming man to sentiment or ethics. Taken by the faithful to their homes, the blessed candles are a reminder that Jesus Christ is indeed “Light from Light, True God from True God.”
The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple emphasizes in yet a more radical way the manifestation of the Christ child at Epiphany celebrated a few weeks ago. This feast, like the Christmas-Epiphany cycle, proclaims Jesus as Lumen gentium (the Light of the world). He is the true foundation of our lives. At the singing of the Canticle of Simeon (see above) the Church puts on our lips the words of Scripture instructing us that Jesus is “The light for the revelation of the Gentiles: and for the glory of Thy people Israel.”
In a nutshell, the Church says of the observance of the feast of the Presentation:
The feast of February 2 still retains a popular character. It is necessary, however, that such should reflect the true Christian significance of the feast. It would not be proper for popular piety in its celebration of this feast to overlook its Christological significance and concentrate exclusively on its Marian aspects. The fact that this feast should be “considered […] a joint memorial of Son and Mother” would not support such an inversion. The candles kept by the faithful in their homes should be seen as a sign of Christ “the light of the world” and an expression of faith. (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, 123)