Carry the Eternal Light of Jesus Christ
Carry the Eternal Light of Jesus Christ
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Sebastien Bourdon; circa 1644; Louvre Museum, Paris, France; https://commons.wikimedia.org
The angel-lights of Christmas morn,
Which shot across the sky,
Away they pass at Candlemas,
They sparkle and they die.
Comfort of earth is brief at best,
Although it be divine;
Like funeral lights for Christmas gone,
Old Simeon’ s tapers shine.
And then for eight long weeks and more,
We wait in twilight grey,
Till the High Candle sheds a beam
On Holy Saturday.
We wait along the penance-tide
Of solemn fast and prayer,
Whilst song is hushed, and lights grow dim,
In the sin-laden air.
And while the sword in Mary’s soul
Is driven home, we hide
In our own hearts, and count the wounds
Of passion and of pride.
And still, though Candlemas be spent
And alleluias o’er,
Mary is music in our need.
And Jesus light in store.
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Ambrogio Lorenzetti; 1342; Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy; https://commons.wikimedia.org
From a Sermon of Sophronius, Bishop of Jerusalem (AD 638)
In honor of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.
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.
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Jean Jouvenet; 1692; https://catholictradition.org
The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world.
Let all of us, beloved, 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 honour.
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple by Charles Le Brun; 1645; Detroit Institute of Art, United States; https://www.salvemariaregina.info
Imprimatur: Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York, 1893
Of this blessing, too, we have indications in the Old Testament. God Himself ordered a golden candlestick with seven lights to be set up in the tabernacle; and Solomon placed several, made of the finest gold, in the Temple. How much more, then, it behooves us to honor by the use of lights the presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, at Mass, and in other solemnities of the Church!
Besides all this, blessed candles when burning have a special significance for ourselves.
In the first place, they remind us that we ought to acquire the three divine virtues: faith which illuminates, hope which warms, and charity which inflames; for the candle gives light, warmth, and comfort.
Furthermore, they suggest to us Christian love of neighbor; for as the burning taper, while warming us to charity, wastes itself, so too should we enlighten our fellow-men by our good works, and at the same time spend ourselves by our deeds of charity and works of neighborly love for others.
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Guido Reni; 1575-1642;
As the flame of the candle, no matter how we hold it, always burns upward, so too should all our wishes and efforts be directed from the lower to the higher. Our thoughts should be in heaven.
Finally, a burning taper reminds us of the uncertainty and fleetness of human life; for when a candle is lighted it begins to waste, and steadily consumes itself, bearing a lively resemblance to human life: at the moment of our birth we began to die, and our life is gradually wasting away amid the din and struggle of life’s battle.
Candles are blessed mostly on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, or Candlemas Day, that we may be reminded that Christ is the Light for the enlightenment of the Gentiles, and that we should be children of light.
On that day there is a procession with lighted candles, to place more vividly before our memories the procession of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, together with holy Simeon and devout Anna, to the altar in the Temple, and to honor Mary who gave to us the Light of the world.
February 2 - Celebrating Candlemas - Carry the Eternal Light of Jesus Christ
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