It consists in going to Confession, receiving Communion, reciting five decades of the Rosary and meditating for a quarter of an hour on the mysteries of the Rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. The Confession may be made during the eight days preceding or following the first Saturday of each month, provided that Holy Communion be received in the state of grace. Should one forget to form the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it may be formed at the next Confession, occasion to go to confession being taken at the first opportunity.
|Congregation holding lit candles on Candlemas|
And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”Once the firstborn was presented to God, the parents redeemed, or bought back, the child. Joseph and Mary were poor, so they paid the price of a pair of pigeons. As the priest at the Mass I attended on Saturday explained, neither Jesus nor Mary were in need of any purification because they had no sin. So why would they follow this law?
Even though neither Jesus nor Mary needed purification, they submitted to the law to show obedience and humility, a lesson we all need to learn. The very first sin, committed even before man was created, was a sin of pride when Satan rose up in pride and arrogance and said "Non serviam" or "I will not serve." Pride is at the root of all sins, because when we sin we are rejecting God and saying we know better. One of the first acts we see in the life of Jesus is when he and his Blessed Mother, both completely free from sin, humbled themselves and submitted to the Law of God. They could have said that this law does not apply to them. But they did not pick and choose which laws to obey. They were not cafeteria believers. They gave their total obedience to every commandment of God.
Simeon with the Christ Child
When the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he [Simeon] took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
Simeon refers to Christ as the light of revelation to the Gentiles. Without Christ, we are in complete darkness. Truth and light can be found only in God. I have often thought that hell - which is the complete absence of God - must also be in complete darkness because God's light, which is the only light, is not there. Satan's way is to cover up truth and cast us all into darkness and confusion. God's way is to illumine our paths and show us the way of righteousness and truth.
St. Luke also tells us in this narrative that "The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him." Despite the miraculous conception of Jesus and the humble story of his birth in a manger, Joseph and Mary were still not totally aware of who this amazing child was and exactly what his purpose was. The reaction he garnered from others stunned even Joseph and Mary. We, too, even with the knowledge we have of our purpose as Christians, are not truly aware of all the mysterious ways in which God works in our lives and how He wishes to use us. And unless we are as completely obedient to Him as Joseph and Mary were, He will not be able to use us as fully as He would like, or maybe even not at all. Joseph and Mary were asked to do things that on the surface made no sense. Why was Mary made pregnant before she and Joseph married, thus subjecting Mary to death if it had become known? Why was the Christ Child born when they were so far away from home with no place to stay but a humble little manger? And both Anna and Simeon had lived their entire lives waiting for the Redeemer with no knowledge as to how this was to come about. They probably never thought for a moment that he would appear as a helpless baby of a poor couple coming to redeem Him at the temple.
God's ways often seem upside down and contradictory, but as He tells us in Isaiah 55:8 - "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." Ecclesiastes 12:13 boils it all down to this: "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man." We cannot be part of the True Light of the world unless we are one in mind and heart with Him, giving him all of our obedience and trust that He will never lead us astray.