by Sr Fidelis
A Light of Revelation
We celebrated one of my most favorite feasts this past weekend. February 2nd — the Presentation. There is so much rich symbolism in the liturgy! The Feast celebrates the presenting of the Child Jesus in the Temple by his parents forty days after his birth, in fulfillment of the Jewish Law. The aged Simeon, a righteous man, was led by the Holy Spirit to the Temple that day, and it had been revealed to him that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Simeon took the child in his arms and prayed the following:
Dismiss your servant in peace, O Lord, according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples; a light of revelation to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel. (Luke 2: 29-32) This canticle is known as the “Nunc Dimittis”, for the first words of Simeon’s prayer, “Now dismiss.…”
We find this Scripture used throughout the Feast, but perhaps the most joyful, is during the procession with candles at the beginning of the Liturgy. As the True Light was presented that day in the Temple, we offer our candles, symbol of that Light, as we enter the Church. The candles that will be used liturgically throughout the coming year are blessed at this time.Listen to this simple,joyous chant. The refrain, “Lumen” is interspersed with Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis prayer. We’re reminded that we chant the Nunc Dimittis every evening at the conclusion of Compline, before we’re “dismissed in peace”.
Simeon is such an example to us! He received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, and he spent his later years waiting in expectation ’til that promise came to fruition.
(Russian Icon of the Presentation – circa 1500)