The Presentation of the Lord - February 2, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord which we celebrate this weekend is a feast that seems to bring us back to Christmastime! This Feast used to be called the Purification of Mary, remembering an ancient rite when women went to the Temple to be prayed over after childbirth.
A number of years ago the Church changed this feast from a Feast of Mary, the Purification, to a Feast of the Lord, The Presentation. This feast commemorates how Jesus, as a baby, was presented to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. This presentation finds its complete and perfect fulfillment in the mystery of the passion, death and Resurrection of the Lord. It is also called the Feast of Encounter because the New Testament, represented by the baby Jesus, encountered the Old Testament, represented by Simeon and Anna. In the Gospel today we see an encounter of the Holy Family with Simeon and Anna. In this passage, Simeon extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel and to all men and predicts that Mary will play a crucial and sacrificial role in her Son’s redemptive work by sharing in her Son’s sufferings.
What does this Feast mean to us for our everyday lives?
First, let us realize that every Holy Mass in which we participate is our own presentation. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our Baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people, consecrated to God, and that we are obliged to lead holy lives.
Second, we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to recognize the presence of Jesus in ourselves and in others. All those who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, become instruments whom the Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to others. The Holy Spirit employs ordinary men and women of faith as His instruments to bear witness to Christ, his ideals and teachings just as he used Simeon and Anna. Therefore, let us be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us to recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord with us and in others.
Finally, from this encounter comes the great Canticle of Simeon which is recited in the Liturgy of the Hours, the Breviary, each Night Prayer. This is said by priest and religious, as well as by lay people. It is a great prayer to say prior to going to sleep.
The Antiphon each night is “Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.”
The Canticle is “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”
For those who would like to pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day there are two options. The One Volume, Christian Prayer, is a great way to start. It comes with a guide, or one can be purchased at any religious goods store, and will get you on your way to centering your day in prayer. Or you can purchase a four volume set, which contains all of the hours along with what is known as The Office of Readings with many beautiful passages from the writings of the Saints!
This Feast reminds us, too, that there is a connection between the interior light that is Christ, and the call of all believers to shine forth that light to the world in our words and actions. We do this, first and foremost, by nurturing our own faith! Increasing in prayer, studying Scripture, and studying the faith help us to this. Then, once we are strengthened in our faith, we can shine forth that light of Christ to the world. This is ALL of us. Not just priests, religious men and women, and deacons. Bringing the light of Christ to the world is an obligation of all God’s faithful! Let the light shine forth!
Last Sunday the world was in shock as news spread of the tragic death of basketball great Kobe Bryant, his 13 year-old daughter, and the others who died in the helicopter crash. What has amazed me is how many people last Sunday and throughout the week have recalled how Bryant gave much credit to his Catholic faith for seeing him through the bad times and strengthening his marriage and family.
Kobe grew up in Philadelphia, was raised Catholic, and as a youth lived for a while in Italy. He and his wife Vanessa were married in the Catholic Church and raised their children Catholic. We have heard reports this past week how he attended Sunday Mass and sometimes even daily Mass.
Last Sunday, two hours before he boarded the helicopter for that ill-fated helicopter flight, Kobe Bryant prayed before the 7AM Mass at his parish church, Our Lady Queen of the Angels, in Newport Beach, California.
We don't know what Kobe prayed in the stillness of that morning, but at Mass each week he prayed as we all do at each Mass, "Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy." Kobe's life is testimony that he meant the words of his prayer, and that his prayers were answered.
As a public figure, Kobe had to deal with some difficult moments in his life out in the public’s eyes and scrutiny. This week we are seeing many stories talking about those difficult times and quoting him as saying “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.” My friends may his legacy be that in good times and in difficult times we will all turn to our faith in God and receive God’s mercy, as Kobe did!
A Special Word of Gratitude from Archbishop Blair…Archbishop Blair wrote me the other day and expressed his “heartfelt gratitude to the parishioners of Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish for their generous response” to the 2019 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. This past year our parish donated $228,532.00 to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal Sharing the Joy of the Gospel for Generations. How impressive your generosity is and how amazing it is to know that almost 10 million dollars was raised this past year to support the ministries, the charities, and so many local organizations who make a difference in the lives of thousands of our brothers and sisters in need through the Appeal. Thank you for your commitment to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal in addition to your amazing and extraordinary commitment to our Parish Family, and thank you for seeing that through our generosity to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal we are serving Christ himself through the many ministries, charities, and spiritual works that benefit from our generosity.
Job Opening…unfortunately the new Facility Coordinator for our parish has resigned as she was offered full-time employment elsewhere. THIS MEANS WE ARE HIRING. The Facility Coordinator is responsible for welcoming groups and organizations who utilize the school facilities from 5PM until 9PM Monday through Thursday as needed. If there are no events taking place on a particular evening then there are no hours. A schedule will be provided the week prior. The primary purpose is to have someone at the door of our facility to welcome those coming to programs, events, and meetings. This person will be responsible to ensure the people are directed to the proper room for their function. This person is also the point person in case of an emergency. If you are interested in learning more please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is envisioned that some light duties might be required in addition to welcoming and opening the facility.