One of the things that depresses me is how so many Feast days fly by without much recognition from me. Of course, the Liturgy of the Hours gives me some unique prayers to say, but aside from that, it often feels like just another day.
Not that I want my year to be filled with all the emotional highs of Christmas and Easter – that would just be spiritual gluttony. But there is some frustration in just seeing all this culture sitting there and falling by the wayside.
Anyhow, today was the Feast of the Presentation of The Lord – or Candlemas, which commemorates the occasion when, (if my math is correct) 41 days after His birth, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him at the Temple in accordance with Mosaic Law. It’s really the last liturgical ‘piece’ of all the celebrations leading up to and following Christmas. The significance of that birth in the manger starts to fall into sharper relief, as per Simeon’s prophecy to Mary:
Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2: 34-35)
“a sword will pierce through your own soul” is about as blunt as you can get when it comes to letting you know what to expect when you sign up. “God and sinners reconciled” seemed so easy when we were all belting out Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. But we’ll suffer for it, Mary suffered for it, and He suffers for it. Dying to our old selves in order to be reborn does involve the, y’know, “dying” part.
For us Catholics, the events of Candlemas correspond to the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. Even with that soul-piercing sword looming over us, this is a joyful occasion. The man who has something worth suffering for has more to be joyful over than one who does not. Infinitely more blessed than any of us was Jesus when He hung upon the Cross.