Friday, 2 February 2007

The Presentation of the Lord

This lovely Feast recalls the Presentation, by Mary and Joseph, of their baby son Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem. Jewish law required that new parents present themsleves and their child for purification after birth and dedication to the Lord, and that they make a sacrifice offering: for poor people like Joseph and Mary this was two turtle-doves.

On that occasion, the aged prophet Simeon (who had been promised by God that he should not die before he saw the Messiah) took the child in his arms, and declared:

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant
depart in peace
according to thy word,
for my 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.
Because of Simeon's words, proclaiming the new-born Jesus to be the light of the nations, this has always been a Feast of light. By tradition, the candles to be used in the Church for the coming year are blessed, and carried in procession.

Light, of course, is a comfort. On a dark night, a light will show us the way home, and the light of Christ shines in our dark world to guide our steps and signal our safe refuge. But light also does something else; it shows things up. A car headlight on a country road will reveal the pits, cracks and debris that lie hidden. The light of Christ reveals to us ourselves, as we truly are, our strengths and weaknesses, our polish and our cracks. That light can also be a challenge, revealing to us how far we have yet to go, how incomplete and unwhole we are.
eAt all Masses in the Cathedral, we bless candles, and walk in procession (the photos show the 8.00am Mass, celebrated by Mgr Seamus O'Boyle, amnd the 1.05pm Mass celelbrated by Fr Slawomir Witon).

5 comments:

st columba said...

What is the story (purpose?) of the clock hanging under the arch in the first picture?

Ivo said...

http://www.westminstercathedral.org.uk/art/art_cathclock.html

Anonymous said...

Mosaic law required women to undergo ritual purification 40 days after the birth of a male, 60 after that of a female. Only the first-born male was presented at the Temple on the 40th day after birth and redeemed with a sacrificial offering.

John said...

The 5.30 p.m. Mass was a memorable occasion with splendid singing. Having 10 men made such a difference. The Agnus Dei was heavenly! And readers in evening dress ready for the grand Friends dinner! I love the antiphon text "Senex puerum" (the old man sees the child) and the haunting opening chant "Lumen ad revelationem"

st columba said...

Thank you, ivo, for the reference about the Cathedral clock. What a wonderful story.

Whenever I see a clock in a church, I am reminded always of the clock tower of Old Saint Mary's in San Francisco which has the inscription from Ecclesiastes:

"Son, observe the time and flee from evil." Not bad advice.