Saturday, February 02, 2008
Purification of Mary and Presentation of Our Lord
Today is a principal feast of our Lord based on the Gospel account of the presentation of Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:22-40). The earliest name for this feast was Hypapante ("Meeting" in Greek). In the Christian East, this feast is therefore sometimes called the "Meeting of the Lord." The additional recognition of the feast as the Purification of the Virgin and also becoming known as Candlemas (ie, Luke 2:32) came later in the Roman Church.
In a prayer to the Lord on this feast, called the Kontakion, the Orthodox recognize God's blessing in the sanctification of the Virgin's womb which took place at the birth of Christ and the blessing of the hands of Simeon who held the Christ child in the Temple as he blessed God.
In our tradition we pray in the Collect of the Day to Almighty God to "grant that we may be presented to You with pure and clean hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord ..." An antiphon appointed for this day says, "We have thought on Your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of Your temple." (Psalm 48:9)