02 February 2013

Feast of the Purification of Mary




From The Liturgical Year:

“Take courage, O Zorobabel, saith the Lord; and take courage, O Jesus, the son of Josedec, the High Priest; and take courage, all ye people of the land; - for thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet one little while, and I will move the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I will move all nations; and the Desired of all nations shall come; and I will fill this House with glory. - Great shall be the glory of this House, more than of the first; and in this place I will give Peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Agg. ii. 5,7,8,10.]

The hour is come for the fulfilment of this prophecy. The Emmanuel has left Bethlehem; he has come among the people; he is about to take possession of his Temple, and the mere fact of his entering it, will straightways give it a glory, which is far above that of its predecessor. He will often visit it during his mortal life; but his coming to it to-day, carried as he is in Mary’s arms, is enough for the accomplishment of the promise, and all the shadows and figures of this Temple at once pale before the rays of the Sun of Truth and Justice. The blood of oxen and goats will, for a few years more, flow on its altar; but the Infant, who holds in his veins the Blood that is to redeem the world, is, at this moment, standing near that very Altar. Amidst the Priests who are there, and amidst the crowd of Israelites who are moving to and fro in the sacred building, there are a few faithful ones, who are in expectation of the Deliverer, and they know that the time of his manifestation is at hand;- but there is not one among them all, who knows, that at that very moment, this expected Messias is under the same roof with himself.

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All the Mysteries of the Man-God have this for their object - the purifying of our hearts. He sends his Angel, (that is, his Precursor,) before his face, that he may prepare his way; and we have heard this holy Prophet crying out to us, in his wilderness: Be humbled, O ye hills! and ye valleys, be ye filled up! - At length, he that is the Angel, the Sent, by excellence, comes in person, to make a Testament, or Covenant, with us. He comes to his Temple, and this Temple is our heart. But, he is like a refining fire, that takes away the dross of metals. He wishes to renew us, by purifying us; that thus we may be worthy to be offered to him, and with him, by a perfect sacrifice. We must, therefore, take care and not be satisfied with admiring these sublime Mysteries. We must hold this as a principle of our spiritual life - that the Mysteries brought before us, feast after feast, are intended to work in us the destruction of the old, and the creation of the new, man. We have been spending Christmas; we ought to have been born together with Jesus; this new Birth is now at its fortieth day. To-day, we must be offered by Mary, (who is, also, our Mother,) to the Divine Majesty, as Jesus was.

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The Greek Church and the Church of Milan count this Feast among those of our Lord; but the Church of Rome has always considered it as a Feast of the Blessed Virgin. It is true, it is our Saviour who is this day offered in the Temple; but this offering is the consequence of our Lady’s Purification. The most ancient of the Western Martyrologies and Calendars call it The Purification. The honour thus paid by the Church to the Mother, tends, in reality, to the greater glory of her Divine Son, for He is the Author and the End of all those prerogatives which we revere and honour in Mary.

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But, whilst humbly keeping within thyself the secrets of the Eternal Father, and mingled in the Throng of these Hebrew mothers - the holy Simeon advances towards thee, O Mary! Knowing that the Holy Ghost has revealed the mystery to him, thou affectionately placest in his hands the God of heaven and earth, who has come to be the Consolation of Israel. The holy Anna, too, approaches thee, and thou lovingly receivest her. Perhaps, in thy younger years, thou hadst received from her, in this very Temple, the affection and care of a second mother. Thy heart thrills with delight, at hearing these two venerable Saints extolling God's faithfulness to his promises, and the glory of thy Child, and the splendour of the Light which is now to be shed forth on all nations. The happiness of thus hearing the praises of the God, who is thy Child, fills thee with joy and thankfulness - but oh! what a sword of grief pierces thy heart, dear Mother, at the words of Simeon as he gives thee back thy Babe! Henceforth, thou must weep as often as thou lookest on Him. He is to be a sign of contradiction [St Luke 2:34], and the wounds men are to give him are to wound thy soul! The blood of victims like these, that are now being offered in the Temple, shall cease to flow, and be changed for the Blood of thy Jesus!

O Mother of Sorrows! we were the cause of all this. It was our sins, that changed thy joy into mourning. And yet, thou lovest us, because thy Jesus loves us! Love us now and for ever. Intercede for us with thy Son. Pray, that we may never lose the graces granted us during these forty happy days. These graces drew us to the Crib of thy Child, and thy affection for us encouraged to stay. We are resolved to maintain our position near this Jesus, following him through all the Mysteries which are now to succeed this of his Infancy. We are resolved to be faithful disciples of this dear Master, and follow him, as thou didst, even to the foot of that Cross. which was revealed to thee on this day.

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