WDTPRS: Presentation – “the substance of our flesh”

Forty days (there’s that number again) out from the Feast of the Nativity we come to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, called also the Purification of Mary as well as the Feast of Meeting by some of our Eastern brethren.   Today is also called “Candlemas”, for we bless candles and light them against the darkness.  And today is and even called YPOPANTI AD SANCTAM MARIAM!

As I wrote quite a while ago, we discern in the Gospels an interesting pattern. The Second Person empties Himself of glory and becomes incarnate of the Virgin Mary. The eternal Word becomes a speechless child. He is lain upon the wood of the crib. He is pierced with metal and He sheds His Blood for our sake. The Incarnate Word Jesus Christ empties Himself of glory and enters His Passion. He stands mute before Pilate and the soliders. He is lain upon the wood of the Cross. He is pieced with metal and sheds His Blood for our sake. In each case He is bound to the Temple, first in His Presentation, finally when the lambs (which foreshadow Him) are being slaughtered in the Temple. All of this is for our sake.

Today’s Collect was in the 1962 Missal and is based on one in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary amidst the prayers “in purificatione sanctae Mariae” on the date iiii Nonas Februarias (read 2 February).

In the Gelasian it goes like this:

Deus, qui in hodierna die unigenitus tuus in nostra carne quam adsumpsit pro nobis in templo est praesentatus, praesta, ut quem redemptorem nostrum laeti suscipimus, uenientem quoque iudicem securi videamus: …

When you go to your church for Candlemas, you might be privileged to hear this:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
maiestatem tuam supplices exoramus,
ut, sicut unigenitus Filius tuus
hodierna die cum nostrae carnis substantia
in templo est praesentatus,
ita nos facias purificatis tibi mentibus praesentari.

Almighty and everlasting God,
we humbly beseech Your majesty,
that, just as Your only-begotten Son
was on this day in the substance of our flesh,
presented in the temple,
so too You may cause us, once our minds have been purified,
to be presented unto You.

Here is a great version from the …

1559 Book of Common Prayer

(the first version ever brought to North American by the settlers at Jamestown):
Almyghtye and everlastyng God,
we humbly beseche thy Majestie,
that as thy onelye begotten sonne
was this day presented in the Temple
in the substaunce of our fleshe;
so graunte that we maie bee presented unto thee with pure and cleare myndes;

How does the version in Latin compare with what you usually hear in churches these days?

All-powerful Father,
Christ your Son became man for us
and was presented in the temple.
May he free our hearts from sin
and bring us into your presence

What will we hear eventually?

Almighty ever-living God,
we humbly implore your majesty
that, just as your Only Begotten Son
was presented on this day in the Temple
in the substance of our flesh,
so, by your grace,
we may be presented to you with minds made pure

You decide.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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4 Responses to WDTPRS: Presentation – “the substance of our flesh”

  1. NoTambourines says:

    I’m amazed ICEL ’73 even obliterated the verbal parallelism and the reciprocity between Jesus’ being presented in the temple and, as the literal translation preserves it, that “so too You may cause us, once our minds have been purified, to be presented unto You.”

  2. Supertradmum says:

    The prayers in the 1962 Missal for the Blessing of the Candles and the Procession are so beautiful. The hymns to Mary reveal a sensitivity to her bringing the Light into the world. In addition, the hours in the Monastic Diurnal seem superior to any other versions.

    Father Z, the prayer you have given us from the EF and from Massachusetts emphasize purity of heart and mind. Without that, as you know, we cannot be holy. The words from the Oremus in the Procession partly state, “that they (the blessed candles) may so afford us light outwardly, that by Thy gift the light of Thy Spirit may never be wanting to our minds.” So, this echoes your translation of the prayer, “once our minds have been purified.” All of this is so profound. Why do the translators water down this great and sublime call to purity, to become like the Baby Jesus, as much as possible? Why?

  3. ReginaMarie says:

    This Feast is also known in the East as the Encounter of Our Lord & Savior with Simeon & Anna. Candles will be bless at tonight’s Divine Liturgy for use in Church & at home throughout the liturgical year.

  4. acardnal says:

    We had about 20 people as usual at this morning’s Mass in the OF and Father distributed small candles (like we use at the Easter Vigil) to everyone. They were lit. Father then said the appropriate prayers from the Missal and processed in to begin Mass. Many were a bit surprised at “all this candle stuff” but he explained it during his homily. He also connected it with his time in seminary in Rome and the Mass at St. Peter’s with the Pope. He said that the priests and religious renew their vows during that Mass. It was very nice.