Lights and Shadows
by a Marian Sister of Santa Rosa
Mary and Joseph went up the temple to pray,
And for the life of God’s newborn son to pay.
A ransom from death for us sinners, unrepentant,
Two turtle doves for His own life are there presented.
Simeon sings of the swords that are yet to pierce
The Heart of Our Lady—blades merciless and fierce.
Anna proclaims, “The Messiah has come at last!”
The blood shall be smeared on the doors of our souls
That the destroyer may not our lives grasp.
See the little turtle doves, innocent and sweet,
Cooing and at being sold, turning the other cheek.
Behold how their lives are twin tokens of Father’s love-
As God the Father hands over to save our souls His dearest loves:
His Son and His Jericho Rose—His purest doves.
In Ramah soon, a cry will be heard, as never heard ‘fore nor since
As Mary and Joseph make haste to protect the Blessed Sacrament.
The light of the star that three Magi led from their treasures’ to paupers’ tent,
To the Light of the Gentiles, heaven-sent
(Hush…hear the rip of fabric—the veil of the Holy of Holies is rent…)
Led too, did it not, to death of these Holy Innocents;
And see now, foreshadowed, the tragedy high
Of crucified Innocence.
Let all mortal flesh be silent and stand in wondered loss
For cast by the Light of Nations—lo! The shadow of the cross ...
This holy feast of the Purification of Our Lady and the Presentation of Our Lord (affectionately called Candelaria, “Candelmas”) with its beauteous candlelit procession and whimsical chants is a favorite of many of the faithful—including many of the Sisters! This feast has an uplifting, joyous spirit, full of gratitude towards Christ for His revelation to the Gentiles and rejoicing in the possession of the promised Messiah, Light of Nations: “Lumen Gentium”
In the light of these endearing elements however, a shadow is cast: this feast is the last sweet kiss from Christ’s infant lips before we turn our faces towards Jerusalem in Septuagesima and prepare to enter with earnest into Our Lord’s redemptive suffering and death in Lent and Holy Week. Even in the mysteries here commemorated, we find thorns amid this festal rose: Our Lady’s first sorrow, and the prophecy of more; the neglect of those in the temple of the good news proclaim by Simeon and Anna; the poverty of the Holy Family, bringing as they did the offering of the poor—a pair of turtle doves.
A blessed Candelmas to all, and may Our Lady keep you under her mantle and present you with love to Our Lord.
"Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty,
that as Thine only begotten Son was this day presented in the temple
in substance of our flesh, so Thou wouldst cause us, too, with purified hearts
to be presented unto Thee. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord."
- Collect for the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary