Tell us Simeon, who is it you bear in your arms and bring into the temple so joyfully?
To whom do you say: "Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, because my eyes have seen my Saviour"? Behold the Child born of the Virgin! Behold the Word, God of God! O Lord who for our sake were incarnate and saved mankind, to You we bow in worship!"
Well, here it is, Friday again. I don't have much for you today, except "Happy Feast Day". Last night I went to Vespers for the Feast of the Presentation. This commemorates the presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple, and the fact that the Creator of all subjected himself to the law. The beautiful Canticle of Simeon, which we sing each time at vespers, became even more lovely last night,
Now you may let your servant go in peace, Master, as you said you would. For my eyes have seen the salvation you prepared for all people: a light to enlighten the nations and to give glory to your people, Israel.
During vespers we sing many psalms, and because of this feast the readings from the old testament were Exodus 13:1-17, Isaias 6:1-12, and Isaias 19, 1-21. This is followed by other prayers and antiphons. The duration is approximately one hour.
Here is an example of one of the prayers from last evenings Vespers:
"The One who comes forth from the Father in all eternity, and from a Virgin's womb in time, is carried to the Temple by his Mother all-pure. The Lawmaker of Mount Sinai, submitting to the Law, is presented to the elderly and holy Simeon, to whom it had been revealed that he would see Christ the Lord. When Simeon received Him in his arms, he leaped for joy and said: "This is God, One in eternity with the Father, the Saviour of our souls!"
After Vespers, the congregation gets anointed with blessed oil, on our foreheads and hands, then shares in blessed bread and wine (This is not the Eucharist, just blessed gifts). By doing this we ask Our Lord to sanctify our thoughts (head) and works (hands) and offer thanks for all the good gifts of material and spiritual comforts, as well as the blessing of our faith community. A truly wondrous way to end a day!
(This icon is from St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai. It dates from the 12th century.)
Labels: The eternal mysteries