Reflection: Candlemass

January 26, 2024

On Friday, the 2nd of February, we will gather in the narthex before Mass, carrying candles. These will be blessed and lighted, and then we will process into the Church. And at the Gospel, we will hear the words that inspire this ceremony:

Now you dismiss your servant in peace,
According to your word, O Master.

For my eyes have seen your salvation
Which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples,
A light for revelation to the nations
And the glory of your people Israel.

This hymn is the Canticle of Simeon, which we sing at Compline each night. Simeon states that God may now dismiss him—allow him to die—because he has finally seen his savior with his own eyes. Each night, we make the same prayer, asking God to dismiss us in peace, either to our nightly rest or to the grave.

We often see articles with titles like “10 Movies to Watch Before You Die.” Part of the tragedy in people dying young, as we see it, is that they haven’t fully experienced life. But each of us has beheld God’s salvation, the “light of revelation to the nations” and the “glory of God’s people.” Christ has come. He has made us all present to him: in each other, clothed with the garments of baptism, in his inspired scriptures, and in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Christ told his disciples that “many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it” (Luke 10:24). And those words apply just as well to us in the Church today. We have seen, we have heard, we have tasted, and we have touched. We have been made members of Christ’s body, sharers in his divine nature. We have heard him speak to us in the Gospel and have been fed with his body, blood, soul, and divinity at his table. We should be able to go in peace–both throughout our daily life, and when God finally calls us to himself.

If we have seen and heard and tasted and touched God himself, what could possibly be lacking from our lives? What else could we desire to experience? Like Simeon, then, let us try to accept God’s will for us in everything, regardless of what it means for our lives. His light of revelation to us will far outshine everything else. And our experience of it will continue after we die.

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