|Ave, ave verum corpus natum
De Maria virgine
Vere passum immolatum
In cruce pro homine
Cuius latus perforatum
Unda fluxit et sanguine
Esto nobis praegustatum
In mortis examine.
O Iesu dulcis, O Iesu pie,
|Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
having truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
from whose pierced side
water and blood flowed:
Be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death!
O sweet Jesus, O holy Jesus,
This ancient Solemnity of the second century commemorates the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul, the founders of the diocese of Rome. This is a day of grand celebration in Rome complete with fireworks. http://www.nola.com/travel/index.ssf/2013/06/romans_celebrate_the_feast_of.html
May we ponder the words of Saint Augustine whose homily for this Solemnity unfolds for us why thus should be a day of grand celebration.
“Both apostles share the same feast day – for these two were one and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostle’s blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their suffering, their preaching and their confession of faith.”
On this day when we confess the apostolicity of the faith, we also join our prayers to those Christians who today confess their faith in the face of the threat of death. Our thought turn to Meriam Ibrahim. In an insightful article by Professor Gabriel Said Reynolds , a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame, he states:
‘We all can learn from the example of Meriam Ibrahim. After her conviction in May, Meriam was given three days to embrace Islam and save her life. This would have been an easy choice to make, but Meriam refused, declaring: “I am a Christian and I will remain a Christian.” Those who wonder whether heroic—and saintly—courage still exists can look to her.’
On this Sunday we confess our faith in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church and pledge our prayer and support for those whose lives are threatened and those who are tortured and martyred for that confession.
O God, who on the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul
give us the noble and holy joy of this day,
grant, we pray, that your Church
may in all things follow the teaching
of those through whom she received
the beginnings of right religion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, sometimes called Candlemas, the day on which the church blesses candles, concludes our Christmas Feast. In the diary of Egeria, a fourth century Spanish pilgrim, we see what she saw, the Feast “observed with special magnificence”. In Jerusalem. they gathered at the place of the Resurrection and celebrated the Feast of the Presentation with the same solemnity of Easter.
The Feast has captured for generations the artistic imagination of Christians in both art and music. Candles are blessed, and an ancient hymn is sung, Adorna Thalamum, an invitation for us to prepare our hearts, as Simeon did, to be a bridal chamber for Christ, the world’s savior. Here is a splendid translation by Kathleen Pluth which has these verses:
Let Zion’s bridal-room be clothed:
He comes, her Lord and her Betrothed.
Let man and woman, by faith’s light,
Their vigil keep throughout the night.
His parents to the temple bring
The Temple as an offering
The righteousness of law He chose
Though to the law He nothing owes.
Please read the rest, as it is delightul and our congregation sang it to the tune of Jesu, Dulcis Memoria.
Monsignor Mark Lane has a beautiful post on his blog on the Presentation of the Lord in art. As you look at the blog post, be sure to click the artworks he is showing. They will then be enlarged and you can examine them in detail.
What does this Feast mean for us, besides a particularly beautiful liturgy? Guerric of Igny (die 1157) ranks with Bernard of Clairvaux, Aelred of Rievaulx and William of Saint Thierry as one of the “four evangelists of Citeaux.” “Guerric of Igny, Liturgical Sermons, Book I,” Cistercian Publications, .
From a thousand years ago, Guerric’s stunning words speak to us:
“Could anyone hold up a lighted candle in his hands on this day without at once remembering that old man who on this same day took up in his arms Jesus, God’s Word, clothe in flesh like a candle-flame clothed in wax, and affirmed him to be the Light which would be a beacon for the Gentiles.”
Inspired by this Medieval sermon, may we like Simeon embrace God’s Wisdom incarnate in Jesus to be a lamp in the heart through living faith; to be a lamp in the hand through works of charity; to be a lamp of the lips through edifying speech, and thus shine not only before men but before God himself through pure intention of heart.