Category Archives: Holy Family

Feb 2 – Candlemas


-by Br Nicodemus Thomas, OP

“Whether it is a candlelit meal at a fancy restaurant, a birthday celebration with a candle-topped cake, or the procession of the paschal candle at the Easter Vigil, candles are a clear sign of solemnity. We usually sense something different, even quasi-religious, on the occasions that candles are used—think, for another instance, of candles lit at the vigils of societal tragedies and untimely deaths. Suffice to say, candles are objects with rich, religious symbolism.

To understand the religious symbolism of candles, we must first recognize the natural qualities present in candles. There are three qualities of candles we immediately observe: their light, their flame, and their total consumption. By briefly examining these three qualities, we will grasp more deeply the way candles symbolize Christ.

The most obvious characteristic of a candle is its light. In fact, its original purpose was just that—to provide light. We have a foundational desire to know and this desire drives us to seek the light of truth, especially since sight is the most obvious way to knowledge. In the Christian realm, this is no less true. In fact, Christ says as much. He claims to be, “the light of the world” (John 8:12). Through his presence in our souls by faith, he illumines the darkness of our minds so that we may begin to see him as he is (c.f., 1 John 3:2).

A candle, by its flame, is also able to represent love. We draw in this symbolism explicitly when we pray “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of thy love…” A candle’s flame can remind believers of the flame of charity present in their hearts. This is one reason the Church gives candles to the newly baptized and why we all carry candles during the Easter Vigil; the flame represents the work of God in our souls. While we may not see God clearly in this life, the flame of charity allows us to cherish God’s presence in our souls.

Finally, in order to produce the light and flame the candle must be consumed. Our Lord, in shining the light of faith in our intellects and kindling the fire of charity into our hearts, was himself consumed in his humanity—he died that we might have life. It would be easy to think that this occurred only at the Cross. However, we see from the very beginning of his earthly life that he was destined to be a sacrificial lamb. In a similar way, the light that Christ shines in our minds and the fire of charity that sets our souls aflame should consume us, such that we can say with Saint Paul: “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

Yesterday, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is no coincidence that this same feast day is called “Candlemas.” The first appearance of the Lord in the Temple is commemorated by the blessing of pillars of wax—wax that will later be used to remind us of Christ’s presence in other temples: the tabernacle of the Church and in the depths of our heart.”

Love & He is the Light!!!!
Matthew

Joseph & Mary: a love affair, ite ad Joseph


-“San José con el Niño”, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. circa 1660 and circa 1675, oil on canvas, H: 107 cm (1.1 yd); W: 85 cm (2.7 ft), Museum of Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid, Spain


-by Br Maximilian Maria Jaskowak, OP

“A few years ago, my father “was a young man, strong, virile, athletic, handsome, chaste, and disciplined; the kind of man one sees sometimes shepherding sheep, or piloting a plane, or working at a carpenter’s bench.” Even today, he is something of a renaissance man; a bonafide Leonardo da Vinci, precocious as a child and equally adept as an adult. Now he is “in the evening of life,” but I remember a time when he was yet in “its morning, bubbling over with energy, strength, and controlled passion.” I remember a time when—though I did not understand it then—he was “on fire with love.”

In both my mother and father, “there were youth, beauty, and promise.” They were two youths who, “before they knew the beauty of the one and the handsome strength of the other, willed to surrender these things for” the good of their children. Not two years after exchanging vows, they gave birth to a boy, a stubborn but silent fellow. Another child soon followed. He, too, was a boy, with red on the head and a lion in the heart. The next two arrived, accompanied with two pink cribs and four rosy cheeks. Leaning over the cribs, then, were youth and youth, the charming image of a radiant mother and a proud father: hand-in-hand, gazing into the eyes of their created love.

Years passed, almost twelve full, when a crib returned. A blue-eyed, dimpled face smile illuminated the home once again. With that winsome look of a child, the flames of love were renewed, and my mother and father recovered something of their youth, beauty, and promise. In fact, the elation of new life transformed us all.

After the birth of this little one, my father bubbled over with energy, strength, and controlled passion. I witnessed the vigor of youth return. I witnessed the joy of fatherhood.

When I consider the image of St. Joseph, the foster father of Our Lord, I envision this same energy, strength, and controlled passion. In fact, I am particularly fond of paintings and statues portraying St. Joseph as young and on fire with love. The quotations employed above (concerning my father) were originally written by Archbishop Fulton Sheen in honor of the young and promising St. Joseph. Sheen argued for the fittingness (or reasonableness) of such an ascription in his book The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God:

How much more beautiful Mary and Joseph become when we see in their lives what might be called the first Divine Romance! No human heart is moved by the love of the old for the young; but who is not moved by the love of the young for the young, when their bond is the Ancient of Days, Who is God? In both Mary and Joseph, there were youth, beauty, and promise. God loves cascading cataracts and bellowing waterfalls, but He loves them better, not when they overflow and drown His flowers, but when they are harnessed and bridled to light a city and to slake the thirst of a child. In Joseph and Mary, we do not find one controlled waterfall and one dried-up lake but rather two youths who, before they knew the beauty of the one and the handsome strength of the other, willed to surrender these things for Jesus.

If St. Joseph was young at the time of the Nativity, consider the joy he must have brought the Christ Child on account of his spirited embrace, merry disposition, and vitality. Can you imagine the privilege and delight that was his: to play with the Incarnate Word, who cooed and laughed in the manger?

If St. Joseph was young at the time of his romance with the Immaculate Virgin, consider the elevation of his power and promise. Consider the wondrous grace given to him from God in order to renounce paternity of the flesh for the paternity of the spirit. Consider the exceptional love that he would have had for this woman and child, set aflame in the morning of life. Can you imagine yourself wed to the Mother of God, she who was and is the fairest among women—the most stunning, elegant, and attractive woman of time immemorial?

St. Joseph, like my father, was once a young man full of youth, beauty, and promise. Go now and learn from him.”

Love,
Matthew

Feb 2 – Candlemas, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord


-Présentation de Jésus au Temple (the Presentation in the Temple), Sébastien Bourdon, ~1644

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, I come to You and beg You, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to purify my soul.

MEDITATION

Today’s Feast, which marks the end of the Christmas season [in the old liturgical calendar], is a feast both of Jesus and of Mary: of Jesus, because He is presented by His Mother in the Temple forty days after His birth, according to the requirements of the law; of Mary, because she submits herself to the rite of purification.

The liturgy celebrates, primarily, the entrance for the first time of the Infant Jesus into the Temple: “Behold the Lord, the Ruler, cometh into His holy Temple: rejoice and be glad, O Sion, and hasten to meet your God” (Roman Breviary). Let us, too, go to meet Him, emulating the holy sentiments of the old Simeon who “came by the Spirit into the Temple” (Gospel: Luke 2:22-32), and filled with joy, received the Divine Child into his arms.

In order to celebrate this event more fittingly, the Church today blesses candles and gives them to us; with burning tapers, we enter the Temple in procession. The lighted candle is a symbol of the Christian life, of the faith and grace which should shine in our soul. It is also the image of Christ, the light of the world, “a light to the revelation of the Gentiles,” according to Simeon’s canticle. The lighted candle reminds us that we must always bear Christ in us, the source of our life, the author of faith and grace. By His grace, Jesus Himself disposes us to go to meet Him with livelier faith and greater love. May our meeting with Him today be particularly intimate and sanctifying!

Jesus is taken to the Temple to be offered to the Father, although, being God, He was not subject to the prescriptions of the Jewish law as were the other firstborn of the Hebrews. He is the Victim who will be immolated for the salvation of the world. His presentation in the Temple is, so to speak, the offertory of His life; the sacrifice will be consummated later, on Calvary. Let us offer ourselves with Jesus.

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus, You went to the Temple to offer Yourself. Who offered You? The Virgin Mary, who has never had, and never will have, an equal. You were offered by Mary who, through the mouth of Wisdom, was called by Your Father the ‘all-beautiful, all-fair.’ To whom were You offered? To God, the infinite Being, sublime in His creation, fruitful in His heritage, unfathomable in His designs, gracious and sweet in His love. What did she offer? She offered You, the eternal Word, substance of the divine essence, Son of the Most High, the Lawgiver of the universe, You, who have been called by so many great and beautiful names: O Key of David, O King of nations, O Emmanuel!

“What do You teach me, O Lord, offering Yourself thus in the Temple? You show me respect for the law by Your willingness to observe it. You teach me adoration, for You offered Yourself to the Father, not as His equal, which You really were, but as man. Here You have given me a model of the respect which I owe to Your law, not only to the Ten Commandments, but also to my Holy Rule and Constitutions. This law is all sweetness and delight for me, but I make it bitter when I do not renounce myself, for then, instead of my bearing it sweetly, the law is obliged to bear me” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).

O Jesus, through the hands of Mary, I wish to offer myself today with You to the eternal Father. But You are a pure, holy, and immaculate Host, while I am defiled with misery, and sin. O Mary, my Mother, you were willing to be purified, although you were free from the slightest shadow of imperfection; purify, I beseech you, my poor soul, so that it may be less unworthy to be offered to the Father along with Jesus, who is your Son as well as His. O Virgin most pure, lead me along the way of a serious, and thorough purification; accompany me yourself, so that my weakness will not make me faint because of the roughness of the road.”

Love,
Matthew