The story behind this celebration
+ On this day, the Church celebrates the feast of light, recalling that forty days after the birth of the Lord, Mary and Joseph took the Child to the temple in Jerusalem.
+ At this time of presentation and purification, the holy man Simeon recognized the infant Messiah and, taking the Child in his arms, proclaimed him to be the “light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel.”
+ The candles blessed on this day serve to remind us of Christ, the True Light, and the faith, hope, and love that illumine the Christian heart.
+ The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord was first celebrated in Jerusalem sometime before the year 400 and was first known as the “Feast of the Meeting.”
+ In 1997, Pope Saint John Paul II declared that the Feast of the Presentation would be celebrated as World Day of Consecrated Life, on which the Church prays for vocations to the religious life—including religious priests, brothers, and sisters—and celebrates the contributions of women and men religious in the life of the Church. To learn more, visit: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/world-day-for-consecrated-life.cfm
For prayer and reflection
“How good it is for us to hold the Lord “in our arms” (Lk 2:28), like Simeon. Not only in our heads and in our hearts but also “in our hands”, in all that we do: in prayer, at work, at the table, on the telephone, at school, with the poor, everywhere.”—Pope Francis
On this day, we also remember Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac. Following the death of her husband, she entered the Cistercian Order, but we later inspired by a vision of Our Lady which inspired Jeanne to dedicate her life to helping children. In time, she founded a new religious community— the Company of Mary—which had a special mission to support girls and women. Saint Jeanne died in 1640 and was canonized in 1949.
Almighty ever-living God,
we humbly implore your majesty
that, just as your Only Begotten Son
was presented on this day in the Temple
in the substance of our flesh,
so, by your grace,
we may be presented to you with minds made pure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.