The Rosary: The Presentation


Candlemas is one of my favourite feasts. The following from the Catholic Encyclopedia shares a little bit of the history of the feast:

According to the Roman Missal the celebrant after Terce, in stole and cope of purple colour, standing at the epistle side of the altar, blesses the candles (which must be of beeswax). Having sung or recited the five orations prescribed, he sprinkles and incenses the candles. Then he distributes them to the clergy and laity, whilst the choir sings the canticle of Simeon, “Nunc dimittis”. The antiphon “Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel” is repeated after every verse, according to the medieval custom of singing the antiphons. During the procession which now follows, and at which all the partakers carry lighted candles in their hands, the choir sings the antiphon “Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion”, composed by St. John of Damascus, one of the few pieces which, text and music, have been borrowed by the Roman Church from the Greeks. The other antiphons are of Roman origin. The solemn procession represents the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple of Jerusalem. It forms an essential part of the liturgical services of the day, and must be held in every parochial church where the required ministers can be had. The procession is always kept on 2 February even when the office and Mass of the feast is transferred to 3 February. Before the reform of the Latin liturgy by St. Pius V (1568), in the churches north and west of the Alps this ceremony was more solemn. After the fifth oration a preface was sung. The “Adorna” was preceded by the antiphon “Ave Maria”. While now the procession is held inside the church, during the Middle Ages the clergy left the church and visited the cemetery surrounding it. Upon the return of the procession a priest, carrying an image of the Holy Child, met it at the door and entered the church with the clergy, who sang the canticle of Zachary, “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel”. At the conclusion, entering the sanctuary, the choir sang the responsory, “Gaude Maria Virgo” or the prose, “Inviolata” or some other antiphon in honour of the Blessed Virgin.

The mention of the pagan feast of the Lupercalia is because of the lamentable German Protestant “scholars” and their anti-Catholicism attempting to show that every Christian tradition handed down was really a pagan custom.

The Blessing of Candles has found its way into the Slavonic (at least) Orthodox practice. One source indicates that the Ukrainians may have brought it into the Orthodox Church (from Rome) and thence to the other Slav churches.  I remember being quite surprised at seeing the blessing of Candles in my OCA parish, but the west got the Feast from the East – at least some backwash is seen to happen as well.  The Russians also took bells and their blessings from the West.

Below I have woven in texts from the services of February 2nd in the Byzantine Rite – mostly from Vespers the night before.  When contemplating this Mystery while walking, I add an embolism like this:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, presented by thee in the Temple. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Fourth Joyous Mystery:
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the day of her Purification, presented the Child Jesus in the Temple, where holy Simeon, giving thanks to God, with great devotion received him into his arms.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Now let the heavenly gate be opened. God the Word, begotten beyond time from the Father, has been born from a Virgin, taking flesh, for as he is good he wishes to call back mortal nature and set it at the Father’s right hand.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Word uncircumscribed, above all being, who rides in glory on the heavenly thrones, Simeon takes into his arms and cries, ‘Now release me, according to thy word, my Saviour, the salvation and delight of the faithful’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When he saw thee, the Word begotten from the Father before the ages, as an infant, wondrous Simeon cried out, ‘I quake and tremble to hold thee in my hands, my Master. But, I beg thee, now release thy servant in peace, for thou art compassionate’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Today the holy Mother, who is higher than the Holy Place, has come to the Holy Place, revealing to the world the Maker of the world and the Giver of the law. Simeon the Elder took him in his arms and cried with veneration, ‘Now release thy servant. For I have seen thee, the Saviour of our souls’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Hail, full of grace, Virgin Mother of God, for from thee there dawned the Sun of righteousness, Christ our God, who enlightens those in darkness. Be glad too, righteous Elder, for thou receivest in thy embrace the Liberator of our souls, who grants us also resurrection.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Say, Simeon, whom dost thou carry in thy arms, as thou rejoicest in the temple? To whom dost thou cry and shout aloud, ‘Now I have been set free. For I have seen my Saviour’? ‘This is he who was born from a Virgin. This is the Word, God from God, incarnate for our sake and who saves mankind. Hail, Mary, &c.

Receive, Simeon, the One whom Moses in the dark cloud saw of old giving the Law on Sinai, now become a babe and subject to the Law. This is he who spoke through the Law. This is he who was told of in the Prophets, incarnate for our sake and who saves mankind.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come, let us too, with songs inspired, go to meet Christ. Let us receive him, whose salvation Simeon saw. This is he whom David proclaimed, and who spoke through the Prophets, was incarnate for our sake and who proclaims by the Law.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Let heaven’s gate be opened today. For he who is without beginning, the Word of the Father, taking a beginning in time, yet not abandoning his godhead, is being willingly brought into the temple of the law as a babe of forty days by a Virgin Mother, and the Elder receives him in his arms.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The servant cries to the Master, ‘Release me, for my eyes have seen thy salvation’. Thou hast come into the world to save the human race. Lord, glory be to thee! Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Holy Virgin, most admirable example and pattern of obedience, who didst present the Lord of the Temple in the Temple of God, obtain for us, of thy Blessed Son, that, with holy Simeon and devout Anna, we may praise and glorify Him forever. Amen.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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