Today is the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, marking forty days since Christmas Day and the end of the Christmas season. Also known as Candlemas, today’s Mass is preceded by the solemn blessing of the candles that are to be used in Catholic churches, save for the Paschal Candle, and in the homes of individual Catholics throughout the course of the next year. This is a glorious feast that should be celebrated with great joy.
First of all, Our Lady demonstrated once again on this day her extraordinary humility in fulfilling perfectly the precepts of the Mosaic Law even though she had not been defiled by the miraculous birth of her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our Lady submitted herself to the demands of the Mosaic Law concerning the ritual purification of a woman forty days after the birth of a male child by the sin-offering of two pigeons or turtle doves.
Yes, Our Lady, who was conceived without any stain of Original or Actual Sin, did as was required of all Jewish women despite the fact of her own sinlessness. Once again, you see, Our Lady is teaching us that we must humbly submit ourselves to God’s laws, which have been entrusted for all eternity by her own Divine Son to the Church He founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. This means that every Catholic must submit himself to of God’s laws and the traditions that have been handed down from the time of the Apostles. How lacking in humility are those, such as the conciliar revolutionaries, who believe that it is both desirable and necessary to modify what has been handed down to us in light of “modern” theology in order to suit the “needs” of “modern” man!
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., writing in The Liturgical Year, commented on Our Lady’s perfect obedience to God the Father:
The Forty Days of Mary’s Purification are now completed, and she must go up to the Temple, there to offer to God her Child Jesus. Before following the Son and his Mother in this their mysterious journey, let us spend our last few moments at Bethlehem, in lovingly pondering over the mysteries at which we are going to assist.
The Law commanded that a woman who had given birth to a son should not approach the Tabernacle for the term of forty days; after which time she was to offer a sacrifice for her purification. She was to offer up a lamb as a holocaust, and a turtle or dove as a sin-offering. But if she were poor, and could not provide a lamb, she was to offer in its stead a second turtle or dove.
By another ordinance of the Law, every first-born son was to be considered as belonging to God, and was to be redeemed by five sicle, each sicle weighing, according to the standard of the Temple twenty obols.
Mary was a Daughter of Israel–she had given birth to Jesus–he was her First-born Son. Could such a Mother and such a Son be included in the laws we have just quoted? Was it becoming that Mary should observe them?
If she considered the spirit of these legal enactments and why God required the ceremony of Purification, it was evident that she was not bound to them. They for whom these laws had been made were espoused to men; Mary was the chaste Spouse of the Holy Ghost, a Virgin in conceiving and a Virgin in giving birth to her Son; her purity had ever been spotless as that of the Angels; but it received an incalculable increase by her carrying the God of all sanctity in her womb, and bringing him into the world. Moreover, when she reflected upon her Child being the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all things, how could she suppose that he was to be submitted to the humiliation of being ransomed as a slave, whose life and person are not his own?
And yet the Holy Spirit revealed to Mary that she must comply with both these laws. She, the holy Mother of God, must go to the Temple like other Hebrew mothers, as though she had lost something which needed restoring by a legal sacrifice. He that is the Son of God and Son of Man must be treated in all things as though he were a servant and be ransomed in common with the poorest Jewish boy. Mary adores the will of God, and embraces it with her whole heart.
The Son of God was only to be made known to the world by gradual revelations. For thirty years he led a hidden life in the insignificant village of Nazareth; and during all that time men took him to be the son of Joseph. It was only in his thirtieth year that John the Baptist announced him, and then only in mysterious words to the Jews, who flocked to the Jordan, there to receive the Prophet to the baptism of penance. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ himself gave the next revelation the testimony of his wonderful works and miracles. Then came the humiliations of his Passion and Death, followed by glorious Resurrection which testified to the truth of his prophecies, proved the infinite merits of his Sacrifice, and in a word, proclaimed his Divinity. The earth had possessed its God and its Saviour for three and thirty years, and men, with a few exceptions, knew it not. The Shepherds of Bethlehem knew it; but they were not told, as were afterwards the Fishermen of Genesareth to go and preach the Word to the furthermost parts of the world. The Magi, too knew it; they came to Jerusalem and and spoke of it, and the City was in a commotion; but all was soon forgotten, and the Three Kings went back quietly to the East. These two events, which would, at a future day, be celebrated by the Church as events of most important interest to mankind, were lost upon the world, and the only ones that appreciated them were a few true Israelites, who had been living in expectation of a Messias who was to be poor and humble, and was to save the world. The majority of the Jews would not even listen to the Messias having been born; for Jesus was born at Bethlehem, and the Prophets had distinctly foretold that the Messias was to be called a Nazarene.
The same Divine plan which had required that Mary should be espoused to Joseph, in order that her fruitful Virginity might not seem strange in the eyes of the people, now obliged her to come, like other Israelite mothers, to offer the sacrifice of Purification for the birth of the Son, whom she had conceived by the operation of the power of the Holy Ghost, but who was to be presented in the Temple as the Son of Mary, the Spouse of Joseph. Thus it is that Infinite Wisdom delights in showing that his thoughts are not our thoughts, and in disconcerting our notions; he claims the submissiveness of our confidence, until the time that he has fixed for withdrawing the veil, and showing himself to our astonished view.
The Divine Will was dear to Mary in this as in every circumstance of her life. The Holy Virgin knew that by seeking this external rite of Purification, she was in no wise risking the honour of her Child, or failing in the respect due to her own Virginity. She was in the Temple of Jerusalem what she was in the house of Nazareth, when she received the Archangel’s visit; she was the Handmaid of Lord. She obeyed the Law because she seemed to come under the Law. Her God and her Son submitted to the ransom as humbly as the poorest Hebrew would have to do; he had already obeyed the edict of the emperor Augustus in the general census; he was to be obedient even unto death, even to the death of the Cross. The Mother and the Child both humbled themselves in the Purification, and man’s pride received, on that day, one of the greatest lessons ever given it.
What a journey was this of Mary and Joseph, from Bethlehem to Jerusalem! The Divine Babe is in his Mother’s arms; she had him on her heart the whole way. Heaven and earth and all nature are sanctified by the gracious presence of their merciful Creator. Men look at this Mother as she passes along the road, with her sweet Jesus; some are struck with her appearance, others pass her by as not worth a look; but of the whole crowd, thee was not one that knew he had been so close to God who had come to save him.
Joseph is carrying the humble offering, which the Mother is to give to the Priest. They are too poor to buy a lamb; besides, their Jesus is the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. The Law required that a turtle or a dove should be offered in the lace of a lamb, when the mother was poor. Innocent birds! emblems of purity, fidelity and simplicity. Joseph has also provided the five sicles, the ransom to be given for the First-born Son–Mary’s only Son, who has vouchsafed to make us his brethren, and, by adopting our nature, to render us partakers of his.
At length the Holy Family enter Jerusalem. The name of this holy City signifies Vision of Peace; and Jesus comes to bring her Peace. Let us consider the names of the three places in which our Redeemer began, continued and ended his life on earth. He is conceived at Nazareth, which signifies a Flower; and Jesus is, as he tell us in the Canticle the Flower of the field and the Lily of the valley, by whose fragrance we are refreshed. He is born at Bethlehem, the House of Bread, for he is the nourishment of our souls. He dies on the Cross in Jerusalem, and by his Blood, he restores peace between heaven and earth, peace between men, peace within our own souls; and on this day of His Mother’s Purification, we shall find him giving us the pledge of this peace.
Whilst Mary, the living Ark of the Covenant, is ascending the steps which lead up to the Temple, carrying Jesus in her arms, let us be attentive to the mystery; one of the most celebrated of the prophecies is about to be accomplished in this Infant. We have already had the other predictions fulfilled, of his being conceived of a Virgin, and born in Bethlehem; today he shows us a further title to our adoration–he enters the Temple. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year)
Yes, this is the day the Infant Jesus was Presented in the Temple. Our Lady and Saint Joseph presented the Infant Jesus in the Temple so as to be offered to God before being “ransomed” back for a nominal price (several shekels). This is a foreshadowing of Our Lady’s standing valiantly by the foot of her Divine Son’s Cross on Good Friday, wherein He offered Himself up to the Father in Spirit and in Truth to ransom us from the blood-debt of sin incurred by the first Adam when he partook of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Even. Our Lady got her Divine Son back in her loving arms after Saint Joseph paid the “ransom” this day. She received His lifeless, dead Body back in her loving arms after He was taken down from the wood of the Cross. The Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple is indeed a prefiguring of the Sacrifice of the Cross and of Its unbloody re-presentation in the Mass.
Thirdly, this is the day that the aged Simeon, whom most of his relatives probably thought was daft for spending all of his time in the Temple praying and praying and praying, beheld the Infant Jesus in his arms. Simeon knew that he would not die until he had laid his eyes on the Messiah and until he had behold Him in his very arms. The Canticle of Simeon, Nunc Dimmitis, is read every night by those who pray Compline:
Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Lk. 2:29-32)
Simeon never doubted that he would see the Messiah face to face before he died. He put his faith completely in God, never questioning how long that it might take for God to reveal Himself to him in the flesh. This should remind us once again that God is indeed faithful to His promises, which He keeps in His own good time. We must remain steadfast in prayer during our current difficulties, both temporally and ecclesiastically, trusting totally in the path that God has shown us will result in a certain period of peace, that is, the Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, never tiring through the years, always understanding that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ wants us to give Him all of our labors and sufferings through that same Immaculate Heart to bring about a victory so miraculous as to make the sorrows of the present day appear to lasted but for a moment.
Indeed, Simeon himself knew that the Child he beheld in his aged, weary arms was going to be opposed and contradicted by the forces of the worldly wise. It was in this vein that Simeon prophesied to Our Lady that a sword of sorrow would piece her own heart:
And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. (Lk. 2: 33-35)
Father Frederick Faber commented on this prophecy in his The Dolors of Mary/The Foot of the Cross:
Alas, poor Mother! her heart is all wounds, one opening into another, lifelong wounds, which, like the stigmata of the Saints, bleed, but never ulcerate. At least those who contradict Him shall learn at last to see the greatness of their error. They shall come back to Him like wanderers. They shall one day become themselves triumphs of His redeeming grace. Out of Him flow grace, and sweetness, and attraction and healing. His beauty, confessed at last, shall wind itself around them as a spell. Thus the grief of this contradiction may be endurable. But, no! the sword of Simeon, like the sword of the Cherubim that guards the entrance of the earthly paradise, “flames and turns every way.” Positus in ruinam multorum, set for the fall of many, their utter fall, their ruin, their irreparable ruin! Is Jesus to lose forever some of His own creatures? Nay, is He to drive them from Himself by the very brightness of His light, by the very heavenliness of His beauty? Are there to be souls for whim it would have been better had He never come? Oh, cruel thought, cruellest of all! For the more Mary mused upon the Passion, and the longer she had it all before her eyes, all the more avariciously she coveted souls, the more she hungered and thirsted after the harvest of the Passion, and became the Mother of sinners because she was the Mother of the Saviour, the Mother who gave Him away to death when she had possessed Him but forty days in Bethlehem. The countless multitudes of those who were to be saved were the nearest approach to an alleviation of her inconsolable sorrow. But even upon this semblance of a consolation she was not to lean. Oh, it was a fearful thought to think of her beautiful Child, that He was to be in some sense a destroyer. Not altogether a Saviour, but a law of life which was to be a sentence of death to some, nay, to many. Things had become very grave now between God and His world. Jesus would be a touchstone. Men must take their sides now, more definitely, for their return. The very greatness of this last long prophesied mercy made the rejection of it the more fatal and irretrievable. The salvation of men would now be in some respects more like that of the angels. Their probation was becoming more divine, and therefore more decisive. To reject Jesus was to be lost eternally, and yet the “Rejected of men” was one of the very names which Scripture gave Him. If any thing could been hard to Mary’s faith, it would have been that Jesus was to be the ruin of many souls; and faith’s heroic acceptance of this worshipful truth only made the edge of it keener, and the point sharper, to go down into her heart. (Father Frederick Faber, The Dolors of Mary/The Foot of the Cross, pp. 88-89.)
As we know, we should meditate on this First of the Seven Dolors of Our Lady every single day without fail. Our Lady would indeed experience sorrow on this day and on six others occasions (the Flight into Egypt, the Losing of the Child Jesus, the Way of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Pieta, the Burial of Jesus). Her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart suffered in perfect compassion with the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus during His Passion and Death. Our sins caused Our Lady to suffer unspeakable grief as she watched her Divine Son redeem us on the wood of the Holy Cross.
We kid ourselves, however, if we think that we do not continue to grieve her Immaculate Heart by our least sins today. We do. Just think of the image of her appearance at La Salette, France, on September 19, 1846, when Our Lady sat and wept over the such sins of her children as eating meat on Friday and working on Sunday. We deceive ourselves seriously if we think that our least venial sins do not cause new swords of sorrow to pierce Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, which is why we must console Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart with our acts of love, fidelity, and voluntary penances.
The aged Simeon’s prophecy that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ would be “set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel” is a direct rejoinder to the heresy of Universal Salvation propagandized by the late Hans Urs von Balthasar, a mentor of the retired Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. As a commentary in the Douay-Rheims Bible notes:
Christ came for the salvation of all men; but here Simeon prophesies what would come to pass, that many through their own wilful blindness and obstinacy would not believe in Christ, nor receive his doctrine, which therefore would be ruin to them: but to others a resurrection, by their believing in him, and obeying his commandments.
This well-put truth of Catholic doctrine demonstrates clearly and unequivocally that the belief that all men, whether baptized or unbaptized, are saved is a heresy. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ wants to extend His ineffable Mercy to all men. It is not so that all men will seek out that Mercy, which is why Our Lady grieved at the moment her Divine Son’s dead Body was placed in her arms as It was taken down from the Cross. She knew that her Son had died in vain for so many obstinate souls. We must pray that we will seek out Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Mercy frequentlyas it is administered to us by the words and actions of an alter Christus in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance. We must, as Saint Paul exhorted in his Epistle to the Philippians, work out our salvation in “fear and in trembling” (cf. Philippians 2: 12)
If, though, we take seriously the words of Simeon uttered to Our Lady and Saint Joseph, then we will come to understand that we have been called by virtue of our Baptism to join with Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as a Sign of Contradiction in the midst of the world in which God has known from all eternity we would be alive to work out our salvation as members of His true Church, the Catholic Church. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is opposed to this very day by all manner of evil forces within the world. His truths are being undermined by many of those who hold authority in the counterfeit church of conciliarism. We must be willing to run whatever risks are necessary to contradict the defenders of Modernity’s war against the Incarnation and the entirety of Deposit of Faith. We must also be willing to contradict the defenders of Modernism‘s war against the Deposit of Faith that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ gave to the Apostles to be handed down without one iota of change. We must eschew every scintilla of human respect to be faithful to the perennial teaching of the Church without any hint of compromise with the ethos of conciliarism or its ravenous wolves who masquerade as “shepherds.”
Why can’t doctrine or its formulation or expression change?
Because there is no change in God.
Consider these words from the Epistle of Saint James:
Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. (James 1: 17)
Simeon’s reference in the Nunc Dimmitis to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ being “a light to the revelation of the Gentiles” is responsible for the blessing of candles before Mass this day. As Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is indeed the Light of the World, He is symbolized by the lighting of blessed candles, which must be used in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and are used in the Sacrament of Baptism and in the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. A candle must be lit when a priest is administering Holy Communion during a sick call. The red Vigil Lamp that is situated near Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Real Presence in a tabernacle symbolizes the bright, burning nature of the love of Love Incarnate, Love Crucified and Resurrected, that burns for us so brightly in the Eucharist. The Light of the World means to warm us with His bright radiance, helping us to find our way back to Him through His true Church by persevering until our dying breaths in states of sanctifying grace.
Blessed candles are made of beeswax, the purity of which symbolizes Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s flesh, born of the purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The wick symbolizes Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s soul. The flame represents Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Sacred Divinity. The blessed candles we receive today are meant to remind us that we must bear the Light of the World to others, that we must be so cleansed by the frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance and the worthy reception of Holy Communion that others will see in us the Light of Christ at all times, certainly in times of difficulties and crosses, but perhaps even more importantly in the ordinary circumstances of daily living when the temptations are many to surrender to selfishness and prideful impatience. We are called to be the Light of Christ in our lives even as we know that we will be opposed for our efforts to bear Him into an unbelieving world and to bear Him in the midst of an ecclesiastical situation where so many Catholics really do not know Who He is or what He has deposited to be taught until His Second Coming in glory without any change or modification.
The Holy Family awaits us today, as they do every day, in Holy Mass. If at all possible in this time of apostasy and betrayal, Catholics should make every effort to get ourselves to the offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition this great feast day as it is offered at the hands of a true bishop or a true priest who makes no concessions to conciliarismi or to the nonexistent “legitimacy” of its false shepherds. How wonderful this is to contemplate. Our Blessed Mother herself, who was foretold by Simeon that a Sword of Sorrow would pierce her own heart, told us that her Divine Son wanted to institute devotion to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as a “last remedy” for sinful men. As we pray our Rosaries of reparation today, therefore, we need to meditate upon how we have offended the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus by means of our sins, asking for all the graces that are necessary to offend these matchless hearts of love no more and to make amends for our sins and those of the whole world.
Although not a Holy Day of Obligation, this great feast summarizes the humility of Our Lady, the silent obedience of Saint Joseph, the patience of Simeon, the offering of the Son to Father as a foreshadowing of Calvary, and our own obligation to present Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Him Crucified to everyone we encounter no matter what it might cost us. It cost Our Lady Seven Swords of Sorrow to be thrust through her Immaculate Heart as her Divine Son lived His life on earth and then ransomed us from the power of sin and eternal death. We should consider it an honor and a singularly unmerited privilege to have some share in the work of the redemption of souls, starting with our own.
Dom Prosper Gueranger provided us a wonderful summary of the marvelous events that close the Christmas season today as we prepare to enter into the desert of Lent in eleven days from now:
The Holy Spirit has led us to the Temple, as he did Simeon. There we see the Virgin-Mother, offering at the Altar her Son, who is the Son of God. We are filled with admiration at this fidelity of the Child and his Mother to the Law; and we feel in our hearts a desire also to be presented to our Creator, who will accept our homage as he accepted that offered him to his Divine Son. Let us at once put ourselves in those same holy dispositions, which filled the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The salvation of the world has this day gained ground; let the work of our individual sanctification also advance. From this feast forward, the mystery of the Infant-God will no longer be put before us by the Church as the special object of our devotion; the sweet season of Christmas will, in a few hours, have left us, and we shall have to follow Jesus in his combats against our enemies. Let us keep close to our dear King. Let us ever keep Simeon’s spirit, and follow our Redeemer, walking in his footsteps, who is our Light. Let us love this Light and merit, by our fidelity in using it, that it may unceasingly shine upon us. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year.)
The Divine Office for today's great feast, which marks the end of the Christmas season, contains a selection from that sermons of Saint Augustine of Hippo that elaborated on these themes:
In old time it was written: And of Zion shall it not be said This and that man was born in her, and the Highest Himself shall establish her? Blessed be the omnipotence of Him That was born! Blessed the glory of Him That came from heaven to earth! While yet He was borne in His Mother's womb, He was saluted by John the Baptist; He was presented in the temple, and recognised by that famous, ancient, and glorious worthy, the old man Simeon. As soon as he knew Him he worshipped Him, and said Lord, now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation.
He lingered in the world to see the birth of Him Who made the world. The old man knew the Child, and in that Child became a child himself, for in the love wherewith he regarded the Father of all, he felt his own years to be but as of yesterday. The old man Simeon bore the new-born Christ, and all the while, Christ was the old man's Lord. It had been told him by the Lord that he should not taste of death before he had seen the birth of the Lord's Christ. Now Christ is born, and all the old man's wishes on earth are fulfilled. He That came to a decrepit world.
He wished not to remain long in the world, but he longed to see Christ in the world, singing with the Prophet, and saying: Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation. Ps. lxxxiv. 8. And now at last, that ye may know that the cause of his joy was that this prayer was granted, he saith: Now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. The Prophets have sung that the Maker of heaven and earth would converse on earth with men an angel hath declared that the Creator of flesh and spirit would come in the flesh, the unborn John, yet in the womb, hath saluted the unborn Saviour yet in the womb. The old man Simeon hath seen God, a little Child. (From the Sermons of Saint Augustine, Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
May it be the case that Our Lady, who presented her Divine Son, in the Temple this day of her own Purification, will present us before her Divine Son at the moment of our Particular Judgments after a lifelong effort to cooperate with the graces that flow forth from her hands to bear a witness to her Son as He has revealed Himself through His true Church, praying as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit.
Our Lady said to Saint Dominic de Guzman in the year 1208, “One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, I will save the world.”
May it be our privilege to be presented by Our Lady herself to her Divine Son at the moment of our Particular Judgments as her children who were faithful to her Most Holy Rosary and clothed with the mantle of her Brown Scapular during our lives and the hour of our deaths!
A blessed Feast day of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary to you all.
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
From The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God
The Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple
596. The sacred humanity of Christ belonged to the eternal Father not only because it was created like other beings, but it was his special property by virtue of the hypostatic union with the Person of the Word, for this Person of the Word, being his onlybegotten Son, was engendered of his substance, true God of true God. Nevertheless the eternal Father had decreed that his Son be presented to Him in the temple in mysterious compliance with the law of which Christ our Lord was the end (Rom. 10:4). It was established for no other purpose than the just men of the Old Testament perpetually sanctify and offer to the Lord their firstborn sons (Ex. 13:2) in the hope that one thus presented would prove to be the Son of God and a Child of the Mother of the expected Messiah. According to our way of thinking His Majesty acted like men who are apt to repeat and enjoy over and over again a thing which has caused them enjoyment, for though the Father understood and knew all things in his infinite wisdom, He sought pleasure in the offering of the incarnate Word, who by so many titles already belonged to Him.
597. This will of the eternal Father, which was the same as that of his Son insofar as He was God, was known to the Mother of life and of the human nature of the Word, for She saw that all his interior actions were in unison with the will of his eternal Father. Full of this holy science the great Princess passed the night before his Presentation in the temple in divine colloquies. Speaking to the Father She said: “My Lord and God most high, Father of my Lord, a festive day for heaven and earth shall that be in which I shall bring and offer to Thee in thy holy temple the living Host, who is at the same time the Treasure of thy divinity. Rich, O my Lord and God, is this oblation, and in return for it Thou canst well pour forth thy mercies upon the human race, pardoning the sinners who have turned from the straight path, consoling the afflicted, helping the needy, enriching the poor, succoring the weak, enlightening the blind, and meeting those who have strayed away. This is, my Lord, what I ask of thee in offering to Thee thy Onlybegotten, who by thy merciful condescension is also my Son. If Thou hast given Him to me as God, I return Him to Thee as God and man. His value is infinite, and what I ask of Thee is much less. Rich do I return to thy holy temple from which I departed poor, and my soul shall magnify Thee forever because thy divine right hand has shown itself so generous and powerful toward me.”
598. The next morning, the Sun of heaven being now ready to issue from his purest dawning, the Virgin Mary, on whose arms He reclined, and being about to rise up in full view of the world, the heavenly Lady, having prepared the turtledoves and two candles, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and went with St. Joseph from their lodging to the temple. The holy Angels, who had come with them from Bethlehem, again formed in procession in corporeal and most beautiful forms, just as has been said concerning the journey of the preceding day (589). On this occasion however the holy spirits added many other hymns of the sweetest and most entrancing harmony in honor of the Infant God, which were heard only by most pure Mary. Besides the ten thousand Angels who had formed the procession on the previous day, innumerable others descended from heaven, who accompanied by those who bore the shields of the Holy Name of Jesus formed the guard of honor of the incarnate Word on the occasion of his Presentation; however, these were not in corporeal shapes, and only the heavenly Princess perceived their presence. Having arrived at the temple gate, the Blessed Mother was filled with new and exalted sentiments of devotion. Joining the other women, She bowed and knelt to adore the Lord in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23) in his holy temple, and She presented Herself before His most high and magnificent Majesty with his Son upon her arms. Immediately She was immersed in an intellectual vision of the most holy Trinity, and She heard a voice issuing from the eternal Father saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mt. 3:17). St. Joseph, the most fortunate of men, felt at the same time a new sweetness of the Holy Ghost which filled him with joy and divine light.
599. The high priest Simeon, who was full of years and entirely venerable, moved by the Holy Ghost as explained in the preceding chapter, also entered the temple at that time (Lk. 2:27). Approaching the place where the Queen stood with the infant Jesus in her arms, he saw both Mother and Child enveloped in splendor and glory. The prophetess Anne, who as the Evangelist says had come at the same hour (Ib. 38), also saw the Mother with her Infant surrounded by this wonderful light. Full of celestial joy they approached the Queen of heaven, and the priest received the infant Jesus from her arms upon his hands. Raising his eyes to heaven he offered Him up to the eternal Father, pronouncing at the same time those words so full of mysteries: Now dost thou dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace, because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Lk. 2:29-32). It was as if he had said: Now, Lord, Thou shalt release me from the bondage of this mortal body and let me go free and in peace, for until now I have been detained in it by the hope of seeing thy promises fulfilled and by the desire of seeing thy Onlybegotten in the flesh. Now that my eyes have seen thy salvation, thy Onlybegotten made man, joined to our nature in order to give it eternal salvation according to the intention and eternal decree of thy infinite wisdom and mercy, I shall enjoy true and secure peace. Now, O Lord, Thou hast prepared and placed before all mortals the Light of the world, so all those may enjoy Him who shall love Him, and so all may gain salvation by the light which shall enlighten every man who cometh into this world (Jn. 1:9); for He is the light which is to be revealed to the Gentiles for the glory of his chosen people of Israel.
600. Most holy Mary and St. Joseph heard this canticle of Simeon, wondering at the exalted revelation it contained. The Evangelist calls them in this place the parents of the divine Infant (Lk. 2:27), for such they were in the estimation of the people who were present at this event. Simeon proceeded to turn his attention toward the most holy Mother of the infant Jesus, saying to Her (Ib. 34-5): Behold this Child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. Thus spoke St. Simeon, and being a priest he gave his blessing to the happy parents of the Child. Then also the prophetess Anne acknowledged the incarnate Word, and full of the Holy Ghost she spoke of the mysteries of the Messiah to many who were expecting the redemption of Israel. By these two saintly old people public testimony of the coming of the Redeemer was given to the world.
601. At the moment when the priest Simeon mentioned the sword and the sign of contradiction, which were prophetical of the Passion and Death of the Lord, the Child bowed his head; in so doing, and by many interior acts of obedience, He ratified the prophecy of the priest and accepted it as the sentence of the eternal Father pronounced by his minister. All this the loving Mother noticed and understood; She presently began to feel the sorrow predicted by Simeon, and thus in advance was She wounded by the sword of which She had thus been warned. As in a clear mirror She was made to see all the mysteries included in this prophecy: How her most holy Son was to be the rock of scandal (Is. 8:14; I Peter 2:8), the perdition of the unbelievers, and life for the faithful; the downfall of the Synagogue and the raising up of the Church in the gentile world (Mt. 21:43); She saw the triumph He was to gain over the demons and over death (Col. 2:15), but also that it would cost Him so much, namely his outrageous sufferings of the cross; the contradiction which the infant Jesus would have to suffer in Himself and in his Church (Jn. 15:20) by such a great multitude and number of reprobate souls; and also the excellence of the predestined souls. Most holy Mary knew it all, and in the joy and sorrow of her most pure soul, excited by the prophecies of Simeon and these hidden mysteries, She performed heroic acts of virtue. All these sayings and happenings were indelibly impressed upon her memory, and of all She understood and experienced She forgot not the least point. At all times She looked upon her most holy Son with such a living sorrow as we, mere human creatures with hearts so full of ingratitude, shall never be able to feel. The holy spouse St. Joseph was by these prophecies also made to see many of the mysteries of the Redemption and the labors and sufferings of the most sweet Jesus. But the Lord did not reveal them to him so copiously and expressly as they were known and penetrated by his heavenly Spouse, because there were different reasons for revealing them to him, and the Saint would not have to witness them during his life.
602. The ceremony of the Presentation thus being over, the great Lady kissed the hand of the priest and again asked his blessing. The same She did also to Anne, her former teacher, for her dignity as Mother of God, the highest possible to angels or men, did not prevent Her from these acts of deepest humility. Then in the company of St. Joseph her spouse and the fourteen thousand Angels in procession She returned with the Infant God to her lodging. As I shall relate farther on (606, 609) they remained for some days in Jerusalem in order to satisfy their devotion, and during that time She spoke a few times with the priest about the mysteries of the Redemption and the prophecies mentioned above. Although the words of the most prudent Virgin Mother were few, measured and reserved, they were also so weighty and full of wisdom that they filled the priest with wonder and excited in him the most exalted and sweet sentiments of joy in his soul. The same happened also to the prophetess Anne. Both of them died in the Lord a few days afterwards. The Holy Family lodged at the expense of Simeon. During these days the Queen frequented the temple, and in it She was visited with many favors and consolations in recompense for the sorrow caused by the prophecies of the priest. In order to heighten their sweetness her most holy Son spoke to Her on one of these days, saying: “My dearest Mother and my Dove, dry thy tears and let thy purest Heart be expanded, since it is the will of my Father that I accept the death of the cross. I desire Thee to be my companion in my labors and sufferings. I long to undergo them for souls, who are the works of my hands (Eph. 2:10), made according to my image and likeness, in order to make them partakers of my reign and of eternal life in triumph over my enemies (Col. 2:15). This is what Thou thyself dost desire in union with Me.”
The Mother answered: “O my sweetest Love and Son of my womb, if my accompanying Thee shall include not only the privilege of witnessing and pitying thy sufferings but also of dying with Thee, so much the greater shall be my relief, for it shall be a greater suffering for me to live while seeing Thee die.” In these exercises of love and compassion She passed some days until St. Joseph was advised to flee into Egypt, as I shall relate in the following chapter.
INSTRUCTION GIVEN TO ME BY THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY
603. My daughter, the doctrine and example contained in the foregoing chapter should teach thee to strive after constancy and expansion of thy heart by which thou mayest prepare thyself to accept blessings and adversity, the sweet and the bitter, with equanimity. O dearest soul, how narrow and unwilling is the human heart in that which is contrary and distasteful to its earthly inclinations! How it chafes in labors! How impatiently it meets them! How insufferable it deems all that is contrary to its desires! How persistently it forgets that its Teacher and Master has first accepted sufferings, and has honored and sanctified them in his own Person (I Peter 2:21)! It is a great shame, yea a great boldness, on the part of the faithful to abhor suffering even after my most holy Son suffered for them, and when so many of the saints before his death were led to embrace the cross solely by the hope that Christ would once suffer upon it, though they would never live to see it. And if this lack of correspondence is so base in others, consider well, my dearest, how vile it would be in thee, who dost show thyself so anxious to attain the friendship and grace of the Most High, to merit the name of a spouse and friend of God, to belong entirely to Him and He to thee, to be my disciple and have me for thy Teacher, and to follow and imitate me as a faithful daughter her Mother. All this must not result in mere sentiment and empty words, or oft-repeated exclamations of Lord, Lord (Mt. 7:21); and when the occasion of tasting the chalice and the cross of suffering is at hand, thou must not turn away in sorrow and affliction from the sufferings by which the sincerity of a loving and affectionate heart must be tried.
604. All this would be denying in thy actions what thou dost profess in thy words, and it would be a swerving from the path of eternal life, for thou canst not follow Christ if thou dost refuse to embrace the cross and rejoice in it (Mk. 8:34), nor shalt thou find me by any other way. If creatures fail thee, if temptation or trouble assail thee, if the sorrows of death encompass thee (Ps. 17:5), thou must in no way be disturbed or disheartened, since nothing displeases my most holy Son or me more than placing a hindrance or misapplying the grace given by Him for thy defense. By misusing it and receiving it in vain (II Cor. 6:1) thou dost yield great victory to the demon, who glories much in having disturbed or subjected any soul who calls itself a disciple of Christ and of me; and having once brought thee to default in small things he shall soon oppress thee in greater ones. Confide then in the protection of the Most High and press onward, trusting in me. Whenever tribulation comes over thee, full of this trust fervently exclaim (Ps. 26:1): “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? He is my Helper, why should I hesitate? I have a Mother, Mistress, Queen and Lady who shall assist me and take care of me in my affliction.”
605. In this security seek to preserve interior peace, and keep forever in thy view my works and my footsteps for thy imitation. Remember the sorrow which pierced my heart at the prophecies of Simeon, and how I remained in peace and tranquility without any sign of disturbance, though my heart and soul were transfixed by a sword of pain. In every event I took occasion to glorify and reverence the admirable wisdom of the Most High. If transitory labors and sufferings are accepted with joy and serenity of heart they spiritualize the creature, elevate him, and furnish him with a divine insight by which the soul begins to esteem affliction at its proper value, and soon finds consolation and the blessings of mortification and freedom from disorderly passions. This is the teaching of the school of the Redeemer, hidden from the inhabitants of Babylon and lovers of vanity (Mt. 11:25). I desire thee also to imitate me in respecting the priests and ministers of the Lord, who in the new law hold a much higher dignity than in the old, since the divine Word has now united Himself with human nature and become the eternal High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech (Ps. 109:4). Listen to their words and instructions as God requires, whose place they take. Consider the power and authority given them in the Gospels, where it is said (Lk. 10:16): Who heareth you, heareth Me; who obeys you, obeys Me. Strive after the perfection they teach thee. Ponder and meditate without intermission upon what my most holy Son suffered, so thy soul may be a participant in his sorrows. Let the pious memory of his sufferings engender in thee such a disgust and abhorrence of all earthly pleasures that thou despise and forget all that is visible, and instead follow the Author of eternal life (Mt. 19:27)