Instead of Carnival! Prayers for Ukraine

Last Friday Pope Francis left the confines of the Vatican went straight to the Russian embassy and spent over a half-hour there and without further comment from either side. That’s highly unusual as he would have summoned the ambassador to his residence if he wanted to speak to him.

Reviewing Francis’ previous contacts with President Putin, there’s a history there that could possibly lead to further diplomacy. He asked for prayers for Ukraine and fasting on Ash Wednesday which is two days from now, but did not speak of Russia at all.

So, I forgo my usual post for Mardi Gras and Carnival down I Rio and New Orleans as I usually do two days before Lent begins and just follow Pope Francis’ request for prayers for the faith-filled peoples of Ukraine—most of whom are either Orthodox Christians not affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church or the Greek Catholic Church.

Appel of Our Holy Father

My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in Ukraine. Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up. Like me, many people all over the world are feeling anguish and concern. Once again the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests. I would like to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies. I pray that all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilizing coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.

And now I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting. I invite everyone to make next March 2nd, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.

~ Franciscus

And before you go, here’s the Ukrainian choir that appeared at the opening of Saturday Night Live! the other night. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFuo_mDeqDk&ab_channel=NowThisNews

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

About Presidents and security and . . . You never know . . .

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Next Monday is Presidents’ Day.  It’s always celebrated on the third Monday of February, but it originally was meant to mark George Washington’s birthday on the 22nd. It’s come to honor all presidents, past and present.

We’ve had some great ones, and some turkeys too, as some of us of various political persuasion will argue over several beers into the wee hours.

But our present times are difficult ones, with Covid 19 and trying to build back the economy.  We’re in the second year of Joe Biden’s presidency and also in an election year when every member of the House of Representatives is nervously trying to get reelected or retiring as well as half the Senate. So, that in itself, causes a great deal of insecurity, doesn’t it?  So, I’m going basically reprise what I wrote last year because I still sense there’s a lot of insecurity swirling around.

Some of us find some a level of security in the midst of insecurity. Some of us roll with the punches better than others. We plod along not sure what will happen next. The ones who will be OK are those who are prepared. Who are always ready for life to change on a dime.

“To be at ease is to be unsafe.”

             ~ John Henry Cardinal Newman

Back in the fall of 2008, I had gotten to know some homeless people. I admire and respect the ones I have met because they look out for each other.   My whole perspective on my own worries had completely changed as a result. It has led me to profound gratitude and real compassion. I thought long and hard what it would be like to be homeless. And then I realized there are going to be many more.

 Our economy is based on the premise that we should buy, buy, buy – sell, sell, sell. It is not a godly economy.   In my opinion, our present American society is not a healthy one. In order for our economy to work we are constantly prodded to buy stuff. And the more we buy, the deeper in debt we get.  It’s foolish. Insane, actually. But this pandemic has taught many of us a different way. In the first year, we had to stay home and find our entertainments in simpler ways.

It could be a great grace; some will find God and turn to the one only God and away from the false idols of a material way and turn to a more spiritual way of life. They will have the opportunity perhaps for the first time to find meaning and love and authentic relationships. They will come to understand what life is for. Many will find Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life.   Hopefully the uncertainty we’ve been through this past year will bring us and our nation to our senses.

What will happen next? To you? To your job? To your family?

We need to look for certainty and security on a deeper level.

It would seem that having a sense of the presence of God in our life will give us a foundation that is not so easily shaken by uncertainty. The scriptures present Jesus as the one who can quiet the storms of life (Matthew 8:23-27); He can be the Rock, the foundation on which our life is built.

Failing to accept life on life’s terms can cause anxiety and depression whereas hope takes the bite out of uncertainty. Through many years of learning to cope with manic-depressive disorder I have learned to keep going–no matter what. I call you, my reader, to the same faith and hope and love in every moment of your life. Only God can provide the security we need in uncertain times.

Jesus taught his disciples to accept uncertainty as something valuable. He told them “Take nothing on your journey but a walking stick — no food, no traveling bag, not a coin in purse” (Mark 6: 8-9). He wants his disciples to not place ultimate security in things (a warm tunic or some coins in your purse) but to find security in a well-lived, lifelong, open and trusting relationship with God.

For years now I have been calling us to repent of our sins of complacency and greed and idolatry and lust for power and preoccupation with hate and fear and violence that permeates our society. So often, I pray that God restore our beloved country to shining beacon on a hill we once was. My friend, Msgr. Ron Jameson, Rector of the Cathedral of St. Matthew on Washington, D.C. in his Christmas note shared a prayer from his friend Fr. Mike Ryan “from his heart” . . . 

May our prayer help bring our nation,

so deeply divided and wounded,

to a belief and a conviction

that the great gifts of our Founders are not spent or forgotten:

that the American Dream is still alive

and we are the ones who can make that dream come true.

I would only add . . ..

Please bless President Biden and all elected and government officials

that they would have the best interests of all of the people in mind and heart.

Let there be peace at home and peace throughout the world.  

For Yours, O God, is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.  

Amen!  

And now, before you go, here’s Pete Seeger and a Chorus singing “This Land is Your Land on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

True love transforms us ~in God’s love

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Flagler Beach Florida sunrise / bob traupman.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, EVERYONE!

We’ve been reflecting on St. Paul’s eloquent words about love from I Corinthians 13. And this is my final post on the subject.

Love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it does not seek its own interests,                                                                        it is not quick-tempered,                                                                                                                                                                   it does not brood over injury,                                                                                                                                                           it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

Romantic love wears off in a few months.  True love requires fidelity.  I often remember people I met briefly twenty or thirty years ago and I still have a place in my heart for them, even those who were adversaries.  And when I think of them I  believe my prayer is able to touch them even now, either living or dead.

We think often think we know all about love but Love is  an Art and a Discipline to be learned and acquired by trial and error.  Or perhaps unlearn what we have learned in abusive homes  or families and find people who can teach us well.  I am profoundly grateful for the people who allowed my soul to unfold and blossom because of their love.

When I taught high school seniors (51 years ago!) I had them read two books,  Erich Fromm’s Art of Loving and Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.  I still would recommend both books to anyone who wants to become a whole and healed human person.

Many of us keep focusing on finding the right object of our love.  Fromm–and Jesus– tell us that being a person who is capable of loving the stranger in the checkout line at the 7-11 or your sibling whose guts you can’t stand is the way we will learn to love.

Love is being free to love the one you’re with so you can be with the one you love.

It is just not possible to love some and hate others.  St. John says, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.”

Love is being able to see and respond to the loving energy of the universe and spread it around instead of trying to possess it for oneself.

Love is faithfully loving whomever God puts in our life at every turn of our life’s journey. A hard task sometimes. I know.

 St. Paul’s Ode to Love (1 Corinthians 13) is about the awesome love that transforms.

But many of us don’t know how to love in a way that transforms because we’re more interested in getting love than giving it.

So, let’s think about that for a moment.

Many young folks in our society have not experienced the love that transforms, even from their own parents or their spouses. Very often, their relationships center on their own needs, even when they’re “giving” to their significant other.

But in order to love in a transforming way, we have to be loved in a way that frees us.

So I ask you ~

Who are the people in your life who were able to recognize the YOU inside you? 

       Who-knew-who-you-were behind the mask you present to the world each day?

Who are the people who recognized-your-gifts and called-them-forth-from-the-deep-within-you?

       Who-drew-forth-the-goodness-they-saw-in-you when what you were presenting to the world you a self thought wasn’t very good at all?

That’s love that transforms! That heals.  That gets us going again.  That moves us down the road a bit.

At this moment I want to name one such person who has had an enormous influence on my life.  He is Father Eugene Walsh–God rest him.  We used to call him Gino. He was the rector of my seminary the year I was preparing for ordination. He was a Father-figure for me and a mentor; I learned most of what I know about the sacred liturgy from him.

I had the good fortunate to get on his short list to have him as my spiritual director.  He had a way of listening deeply below the level of my words.

I remember one night in his study.  We were sitting across from each  other in two easy chairs.  I was always intrigued that the wall behind him was bright orange with a large abstract painting on it.  I was struggling that night about whether I would proceed toward ordination.

Of a sudden, he  came over to me, hugged me and whispered in my ear my name ~ Bob ~ and I heard it resonate for the longest time His voice found me ~ some place deep within and called me forth.

I can still hear him calling me–as I write.  At that moment, his deep, resonating love ~ transformed me.  Affirmed me, confirmed me.  (I hope to write one day about my priesthood and my bipolar journey and tell the story of this wonderful man and the many others who influenced and shaped my life over the years; there are many; and I am grateful to each and every one.)

But more than any other person, there is Jesus; I try to be like him.  He was so human.  He teaches me how to be a human being, above all.  To be a simple, decent, human being.  And to be human, most of all, is to be capable of loving and receiving love.  The same was true of Father Walsh.

And that’s what I’ve always taught:  Sin is the refusal Of love, the refusal Tlove, the refusal to grow and the refusal to give thanks.

So ask yourself:  Who are the people who really knew who you were on the inside, accepted you as you are–the good and the bad–and called you forth to be the best person you could be?

Why don’t you reflect on this  through the day — while you’re driving, sitting on the john  or doing the dishes.  Give thanks for them.  And maybe give them a call.  Not an email; a phone call.

And finally, I’m thinking of a married couple  who celebrated 67 Valentine’s Days together and I  still talk with her years after her husband passed and she cared for him with years of Alzheimer’s disease. And maybe you, this day, are thinking of someone close to you, perhaps your own spouse, whom you have lost and still preciously remember this Valentine’s day.

Beloved,

let us love one another because love is of God;

everyone who is begotten of God has knowledge of God.  

No one has ever seen God.

Yet if we love one another

God dwells in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.  (1 Jn 4:7, 12)

Dear Friends, see if you can make this prayer er your own ~

Good and gracious God,

You are the One most of all who has loved me into wholeness,

who is calling me forth to be the best person I can be,

calling me not so much to want to be loved as to love.

I thank you for sending people into my life who, even for a brief moment,

have touched me deep within and helped to transform me into a more deeply loving person.

Help me always to be a person who is capable of transforming love.

And now, before you go, here’s a hymn based on St. Paul’s Ode to Love: Click Here.  It’s soft and lovely, so be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.  And if you’d like to know a bit about St. Valentine (who was bumped from the new liturgical calendar) . . .

St. Valentine, (died 3rd century, Rome; feast day February 14), name of one or two legendary Christian martyrs whose lives seem to be historically based. Although the Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize St. Valentine as a saint of the church, he was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 because of the lack of reliable information about him. He is the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers.

By some accounts, St. Valentine was a Roman priest and physician who suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Christians by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus about 270. He was buried on the Via Flaminia, and Pope Julius I reportedly built a basilica over his grave. Other narratives identify him as the bishop of TerniItaly, who was martyred, apparently also in Rome, and whose relics were later taken to Terni. It is possible these are different versions of the same original account and refer to only one person.

According to legend, St. Valentine signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and healed from blindness. Another common legend states that he defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war.

Valentine’s Day as a lovers’ festival dates at least from the 14th century. Encycopaedia Britannica

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer  

And here is the entire text of St. Paul’s Ode to Love (I Cor. 13)  Savor each line and see how you measure up. . . .

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;

if I have all faith so as to move mountains

but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast

but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous,

Love is not pompous, it is not inflated,

it is not rude,

it does not seek its own interests,

it is not quick-tempered,

it does not brood over injury,

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

endures all things.

Love never fails.

So faith, hope, love remain, these three;

but the greatest of these is love.

     I Corinthians 13

What is Love? (or the Man from Tennessee)

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Dear Friends and Lovers everywhere,

I had a delightful conversation with these two good people from Tennessee a few summers ago while I was living in St. Augustine.  They were sitting on the curb behind the Village Inn Restaurant.  The conversation began with a polite reprimand to the dude for throwing a cigarette butt on the ground. (Actually, I don’t think you call a young man from Tennessee a dude, do you?)  I care for the planet that supports my every step and I try my best to show respect and reverence to her and gently persuade others to do the same.

As a writer, I am interested in people’s stories.  And the conversation became quite up close and personal quite quickly.  They told me a bit of each of their stories.  About their work and school and families.  The young lady was still in high school.  They were thinking about getting married.  I was quite impressed with these young folks.  Salt of the earth folks. 

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.  So, what is LOVE?  I’m interweaving two threads into today’s blog –  the themes What is Love? and What is Life? The two provide the tapestry of a life well-lived.  If we seek life and love every day – if we choose to turn away from hateful words and thoughts and the cruel deeds that spouses and jilted lovers throw at each other in cruel text messaging, we will find both.  Love and Life.

There’s all kinds of love, you know.  There’s romance that is the kind that pervades the soaps, People and InTouch magazines.  There’s erotic love.  There’s brotherly (or sisterly) love, the love of friends, neighborly love.  And there’s sacrificial love. That’s the kind that Jesus has for us and those who serve others. There’s conditional and unconditional love.  There’s love that isn’t love at all.  

Remember Erich Fromm whom I referenced his little book The Art of Loving last week? Here are a couple of quotes of his that you might find interesting . . . .

Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’                                                                                          Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.’

In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.

Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others.

And so, I offer you a practical suggestion so that make your own meaning.

At day’s end, reflect on the positive things — even the tiny little things in a chaotic, insane day.  Where was the LOVE?  Where was the LIFE?  

Take a moment.  Reflect on your day.  Pick two incidents, however fleeting, however small that you might have missed at the time.  Savor them for a moment as you get ready for bed. 

Those are the moments in which God is speaking to you!  

Be ready to receive into your life and your heart the little moments of LIFE and LOVE that do happen even in on the craziest or most depressing day. 

It is not the destination that is important; life and love happen on the way!

And . . . God bless you, my two young friends from Tennessee. It was an honor and a joy to talk with you.   Maybe you’re married now ~ to each other or to somebody else.  But I hope you finished high school.  Have a wonderful life — both of you and each of you. 

Before you go , if you’ve got a ramblin’ boy in your life or in your soul,  here’s Dave Loggin’s famous song about the Man from Tennessee  ~“Please Come to Boston”~ with beautiful images to carry your soul away, if just for a moment on love’s nostalgia and grace.  Have a great day!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Jilted lovers ~ or Joyous love?

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mesa verde national park of southern colorado / march 2008 / bob traupman. 

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Our society finds it quite acceptable for people to hop into one relationship after another or just satisfy their needs by”hooking up”.

How many times have young people thought that this was the person of their dreams and been dumped by a rude text message–or done the dumping themselves?

How many marriages have ended when one spouse showed up in the kitchen and announced, “I want a divorce!”  No discussion.  No attempt to work out problems.  No mercy.  No forgiveness.   It’s over.  Done.

And what happens is that we may add one unsuccessful relationship on top of another.  As a result, our heart can become more and more wounded. And less and less trusting, less and less capable of loving .  . . unless we somehow find a way to believe again, to hope again.

So, let’s take a deeper look at the truth and the transforming power of St. Paul’s words in I Cor. 13 we’re reflecting on in this series “What is Love?”

LOVE . . .

. . .  it is not rude,                                                                                                                                                                                  

it does not seek its own interests,

it is not quick-tempered,                                                                                                                                                        

 it  does not brood over injury,

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

it bears all things.                                                                                                                                                

believes all things,                                                                                                                                          

hopes all things.                                                                                                                                                  

endures all things.

Love never fails.

We just have to learn to love anyway.

At least, that’s what St. Paul is getting at “Love does not brood over injuries.”

In the Art of Loving, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm’s classic book written in 1956, consider his statement that will blow most of us out of the water:

“Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person:  it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love.  If a person loves only one person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment  or an enlarged egotism . . . If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world; I love life.  If I can say to somebody else, “I love you,” I must be able to say”I love in you everybody.   I love through you the world, I love in you also myself”~ p. 39.)

This is, of course, the heart of Jesus’ message, but many, if not most of us who say we’re his followers still don’t get it.

 As tech opportunities for “communication” proliferate the less we truly communicate.  We communicate more and more on a superficial level.  You can’t really know someone through texting or on Facebook or in an email.  A person can present a false persona. The only real way to communicate with someone is to be in their presence using all our senses.

We need to learn, once again how to come to true intimacy–the coming together of two or more persons who have the courage to open themselves to the transformative power of love.

If you are one who seeks that, I’m with you.   That’s what my writing is about.

Good and gracious God,

we ask you to heal the hearts that are broken.

Help us to see even in the midst of our brokenness the depth of Your Love for us.

Give us the courage and strength to stop destructive patterns that lead only to more pain.

May we take the risk to open our hearts once more.

Give us hope, Lord.

Instead of seeking to find our true love,

let us simply become persons who love —

. . . whomever we’re with,

. . . to grow in our capacity to love

so that we can reach out to the whole world

as You do at every moment,

in every time and place.

To You, God of our understanding,

we give You praise, now and forever.

AMEN!

Now I suggest you take a second look at that tree weathering the mountaintop at 8000 feet.  It has been jilted by the weather.  But it still stands nobly and proudly — broken, gnarled and twisted; it’s a fine lesson for us of the meaning of life.

And here is the entire text of St. Paul’s Ode to Love (I Corinthians 13) once again.   Savor each phrase and see how you measure up. . . .

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.   And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains  but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous. Love is not pompous, it is not inflated,it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered,  does not brood over injury,it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  So faith, hope love remain, these, but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13

Now before you go, here’s a music video for you. Click Here.

With Love, 

Bob Traupman 

Contemplative Writer

St. Paul’s Ode to Love ~ How do we measure up?

Many of us are thinking of our Valentine’s these days — our lovers,  intend-eds, spouses, classmates, mothers and also spouses remembering their deceased loved ones, even ~ or maybe especially during this pandemic. And maybe because of it, we won’t be able to visit them!

Hallmark would encourage us to “send the very best.”   And marketeers would like to get their greedy fingers on our credit cards for this one-day holiday, wouldn’t they? I don’t have a TV but I was in a doctor’s office some time ago and saw a commercial for edible ‘floral’ arrangements’ that looked awfully tempting.

And later I stopped by the Post Office and as I was standing in line, I noticed this young black dude posting dozens of what looked like small pink cards and dropping them one by one in the mail bin. I went over to him and teased, “Are you sending those to all of your Valentines?” He turned around toward me and grinned, “I wish! he said.

But let’s go a little deeper here. What is true love, really?

I’ve officiated at the marriages of many young couples during my years as a priest who have chosen  St. Paul’s Ode to Love for their wedding Mass.

It has  to be one of the most glorious pieces of prose of all time.

Take the time to take it in and see how you measure up. In I Corinthians 13 the great apostle writes to us . . . .

. . . . If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love,

I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;

if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient,

love is kind.

It is not jealous,

Love is not pompous,

it is not inflated,

it is not rude,

it does not seek its own interests,

it is not quick-tempered,

it does not brood over injury,

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

endures all things.

Love never fails.

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.

~ I Corinthians 13

Dearest God,

You are Love itself.

We give you thanks for the people in our lives who have loved-us-into-the-Persons-we-have-become.

We rejoice in them and remember them in love.

But so many of us are wounded because we have not experienced the parental love that would allow us to know how to love.

Help us take your apostle Paul’s words to heart that we may truly know the true meaning of love.

May we have a heart open to all persons, all of life, all of the universe.

To You Lord, be glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen!

Before  you go, take a moment to listen to Bette Midler’s “The Rose”. Click here. It’s a song  I’ve always favored ~ one of my generation. I think it sets the tone for what I want to say here.   Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen and have a great day!  It’s a song I’ve always attributed to Our Lady.

 I’ll be publishing three more Valentine’s blogs trying to unpack the meaning of St. Paul’s Ode to Love next week until Valentine’s Day Monday, the 14 of February.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A Light for the Nations ~ and me and you too!

IMG_1605The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple ~ February 2, 2022

I’ve always loved this feast day.  It marks the old conclusion of the Christmas season—forty days after Christmas.  The second reason is that it also marked the anniversary of my AA sobriety.

So, today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today’s liturgy. This is known as a “Christmas feast” since it points back to the Solemnity of Christmas. Some Catholics practice the tradition of keeping out the Nativity crèche or other Christmas decorations until this feast.

If possible, the liturgy begins with a procession, or at least, the priest goes to the entrance of the church as he does on Palm Sunday, and address the congregation with these words:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Forty days have passed since the joyful feast of the Nativity of the Lord.

Today is the blessed day when Jesus was presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph.

Outwardly, he was coming to fulfill the Law,

but in reality he was coming to meet his believing people.

Prompted by the Holy Spirit,

Simeon and Anna came to the Temple.

Enlightened by the same Spirit,

They recognized the Lord

and confessed him with exultation.

And then the priest blesses the candles to be used at the altar for the coming year and the ones the people will carry in procession with these words:

O God, true light, who create light eternal,

Spreading far and wide,

pour into the hearts of your faithful

the brilliance of perpetual light,

so that all who are brightened in your holy temple

by the splendor of these candles

may happily reach the light of your glory.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

And then the people follow the priest into the church carrying their lighted candles.

The Readings
Today’s first reading gives us an important insight to understand the mystery of the Lord’s Presentation in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, according to the Mosaic Law. The text, taken from the Prophet Malachi says, ‘I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord who you seek’ (Mal 3:1). From all the Gospels, we know that it is the Precursor, St John the Baptist who was born six months before Jesus, that God sent him to prepare His way. Putting these evangelical facts together, we can better understand the words of the prophet Malachi. The Lord God promised that He would send a Precursor to prepare His way. Since there is only six months between the birth of St John the Baptist and Jesus it’s  clear that the prophecy meant that suddenly after the Precursor, the Lord Himself will come. So, soon after the Baptist’s birth, God entered His temple. Jesus’ presentation signifies God’s entrance to His temple. The God-made-man entered His temple, presenting Himself to those who were really searching for Him.

Then there are these words from Malachi that struck me because of my AA recovery:

For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver.

It also reminds me of Jesus’ later purification of the Temple itself, driving out the money changers with whips and cords.

Today’s Gospel introduces us to different people and events that in themselves provide other lessons and themes for further reflection. First of all, Mary and Joseph respect the Mosaic Law by offering the sacrifice prescribed for the poor: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Simeon and Anna were two venerable elderly people dedicated to prayer and fasting and so their strong religious spirit rendered them able to recognize the Messiah.  Those who pray and offer penance, like Simeon and Anna, are open to the breath of the Spirit. They know how to recognize the Lord in the circumstances in which He manifests Himself because they possess an ample interior vision, and they have learned how to love with the heart of the One whose very name is Charity.

At the end of the Gospel Simeon’s prophecy of Mary’s sufferings is emphasized. Saint Pope John Paul II taught that, ‘Simeon’s words seem like a second Annunciation to Mary, for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely, in misunderstanding and sorrow.’

The old man Simeon was—and is—a wonderful model as man of devotion for his time and ours. I’m going to let the Gospel text speak for itself:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. 
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go 
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
—and you yourself a sword will pierce—
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

And now my prayer . . .

Dearest Lady,

Mother of Jesus,

You and Joseph took Jesus back home and raised him

with all the love in your hearts.

But you must have pondered Simeon’s prophecy,

or did you just keep on trusting?

Dearest Mary, Mother of us all,

there are so, so many mothers today who have swords of sorrow

that have pierced their hearts.

Children dying from famine,

Refugee mothers fleeing from war-torn countries,

Single mothers trying to make ends meet,

Women caught in sweat shops or prostitution rings,

Pregnant women not knowing what to do,

and so many other desperate situations.

Mary, we come to you on this Feast Day as always

Asking for your intercession for our troubled world.

We ask this as always in your Son’s name.

Amen.

The prayer of Simeon’s is sung or recited at in the church’s Night Prayer throughout the world.

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go 
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

Quit fitting, don’t you think?

And here’s the Canticle of Simeon in song. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are the Mass Readings for today. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

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