Thursday, February 02, 2006

Candlemas - The Feast of the Presentation

Belarusian Icon of the Feast of the Presentation

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty that, as Thy Only-Begotten Son was presented this day in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto Thee with purified souls, by the same, Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A homily of St. Ambrose of Milan (from Matins of the Feast):

And behold, there was man in Jerusalam, whose name was Simeon ; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. The birth of the Lord is attested not only by Angels, Prophets and shepherds, but also by elders and just men. Every age, and both sexes, as well as the wonders of the events themselves, are here present to strengthen our faith. A virgin conceiveth, a barren woman beareth, a dumb man speaketh, Elisabeth prophesieth, the wise man worshippeth, the unborn child leapeth, the widow praiseth, and the just man waiteth.

Well is he called just, who looked not for favour for himself but for consolation for his people. He desired to be set free from the bondage of this frail body, but he waited to see the Promised One ; for he knew that blest are the eyes that see him. Then took he Him up in his arms, and blest God, and said: Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word. Behold a just man, confined in the weary prison of the body, desiring to depart, and to begin to be with Christ. For it is far better to depart and be with Christ.

Whosoever will depart and be with Christ, let him come into the temple. Yea, let him come, as to Jerusalem, and wait for the Lord's Christ. Let him take hold on the Word of God, let him embrace the same with good works, as it were with arms of faith. Then let him depart in peace, for he who hath seen Life, shall not see death. Behold how the Lord's birth doth overflow with abounding grace for all, and prophecy was not denied except to the unbelieving. Behold, Simeon prophesieth that the Lord Jesus Christ is come for the fall and rising of many. Yea, he shall separate the just from the unjust by their deserts. And according as our work shall be, so shall the true and righteous Judge command us to be punished or rewarded.

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples. To be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of Thy people Israel.

(Don't forget to get your candles blessed today!)

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