Lord, now you let your servant go in peace,
your word has been fulfilled:
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.
Nunc Dimittis (Canticle of Simeon; Luke 2:29-32)
Presentation of the Lord and the Purification of Mary, the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. On this day, in accordance with Jewish Law, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the Temple. This day, forty days after the birth of Christ, ends the season of the Nativity. It also marks the ritual Purification of Mary, again in accordance with the Law of that time. According to Jewish custom, those who encountered a mystery (that is, birth or death), were forbidden to worship in the temple for forty days. At the conclusion of that time, the Holy Family returned to the Temple to present the Christ Child to the Lord.
As recorded by Luke:
22When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
33The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own heart too."
36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2: 22-40)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Simeon’s words, and the words of the prophetess Anna, are even less understandable to Mary and Joseph, but at once, the bittersweet nature of her role, as Mother of the Lord, becomes abundantly clear. Not only will she experience the joy of raising a God-given child, but will also experience the pain and agony of his suffering and death, as if her own heart were being pierced. This moment, like all the Mysteries of the Rosary, demonstrates the inextricable connection between the Blessed Mother and the Christ—the joy and redemption of the Incarnation, tied to the fatality and suffering of the human body. In short, the Blessed Virgin experiences both the joy of life and the sorrow of death while standing in the temple, observing the Law. In presenting her first-born son at the temple, Mary also acknowledges that He came from God, and must return to God, a gracious and selfless act of sacrifice, foreshadowing the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross thirty-three years later.
While still in His mother’s arms, the life of Jesus unfolds to the meeting of the two Testaments. He is light and revelation to the nations, the splendor of the chosen people. St. Joseph must be present and also participate in the rite of offering prescribed by the law.
This episode is perpetuated in the Church. As we recite the Hail Marys of this decade, it is beautiful to observe the joyful hopes of the perennial reflowering of the promises of priests, of men and women who cooperate in great numbers in the Kingdom of God.
Here also are the young students of the seminaries of religious houses, of mission students’ hostels and of the Catholic universities, those other young plants of a future lay apostolate, whose growth in numbers, in spite of the difficulties and setbacks of the present hour, harassed even by persecutions in many nations, never ceases to be a comforting sight which evokes words of admiration and joy.
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
Year 2: Day 33 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Lives of obedience and humility.
Requested Intentions: For a brother who is struggling financially, for a son who is struggling academically (B); For financial security for a friend (C); Success in business; familial happiness and health (J); Health and recovery of a sister (I); Development of a chaste relationship pleasing to the Lord (E); Successful surgery of mother; delivery of daughters’ babies (L); For a friend suffering with depression (M); For a friend entering religious life (R); Success of a parish men’s retreat (H); For a mother who is grieving; for the soul of a dearly departed son (M); Reconciliation of a marriage (M); End to grief after death of son (B&C); End to grief (S); Successful marriage (N); For an RCIA candidate struggling with financial and family stressors (O); Freedom from anxiety regarding medical procedure (J); Return home of an ill mother, peace and financial security (J); Restoration of a marriage; family peace (N); Freedom from persecution (A); For a friend struggling with medical problems and surgery (L); Financial blessings (D); For the success of a project (T); Improved financial stability (A); Improved relationship with business partner (A); For employment (N); Reconciliation of a workplace relationship (R); Healing of son, cousin, and friend (L); Healing of a husband from cancer, end to medical problems (T); Freedom from persecution (E); Successful employment (R); Healing of a father following stroke (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."