Blessed Virgin Mary: February 2013 Archives

Akathist to Our Lady of Lourdes

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The Akathist to Our Lady of Lourdes is the work of a faithful servant of the Mother of God belonging to the Ukrainian Church. Traditionally, the Akathist is prayed standing throughout in front of an image of the Mother of God.

Akathist to Our Lady of Lourdes

Kontakion 1

To you, our Champion Leader and Mother of Christ our God, do we, your children, sing a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for your appearance and miracles that you continue to send down on us as showers of Divine Grace at Lourdes. As through the waters of Baptism we were made new in Christ, so through the waters that gushed forth from the grotto of your appearance we are enlivened by the Grace of God, as we sing:

Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Life-giving
Springs!

Ikos 1

At Lourdes, you appeared as a new Forerunner, O Most Holy Mother of God, telling us to make straight the way of the Lord Jesus and washing us in the miraculous laver of the waters that you caused to pour out upon us. You anoint us with it, have us drink it, and transform us thereby, making us fertile in faith, good works and communion with God in Christ, as we sing:

Rejoice, new Noah, through whom the Holy Spirit moves over the waters of regeneration!
Rejoice, New Elias, causing the clouds to drop saving Waters on the parched earth of our hearts!
Rejoice, New Moses, sending refreshing drink from the dry rock!
Rejoice, New Baptist and Forerunner, for you call all to repentance in the water of heavenly unction!
Rejoice, for you invite us to a feast where the thirst of all is quenched!
Rejoice, for as our loving Mother, you wash away the dirt of our sins!
Rejoice, for you anoint us with the Gift of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, for you gladden our hearts by turning our sorrows into gladness!
Rejoice, for as at Cana in Galilee, the Lord Jesus grants your entreaties on our behalf!
Rejoice, for you came to remind us to do all He tells us!
Rejoice, for you teach us to pray for the living springs that God will cause to rise up within us!
Rejoice, for your love for us is like the trickling of droplets from the mountains that fall into the River of Life, leading to the Divine Ocean!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 2

O Most Holy Mother of God, you appeared to your servant, Bernadette, in a grotto and asked her to return there fifteen times. Like St Andrew of old, only she could see your miraculous and light- filled manifestation, singing the praises of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Everyone who saw the Divine transformation in the face of your servant, however, could plainly see who it was that she beheld, and they all cried:
Alleluia!

Ikos 2

You are a Mountain Uncut, O Virgin Mother, from Whom came the Cornerstone! You are the densely wooded Mount Thaeman from whom the Prophet announced the coming of the Messiah. Through your prayers and intercession, make soft the hardness of our hearts, so that we may sing:

Rejoice, Holy Mountain, pointing the way to Heaven!
Rejoice, O Rock Unquarried!
Rejoice, Hilltop in which God Himself is pleased to dwell!
Rejoice, High Place, leading all to your Son!
Rejoice, Marble Throne on which the Lord Jesus sits as King!
Rejoice, densely wooded fulfillment of prophecy, revealed in the gentle breeze!
Rejoice, for you come to soften the hardness of our hearts!
Rejoice, for you attune our spiritual hearing to the Voice of God!
Rejoice, for you write the Laws of God on the stone tablets of our spirits!
Rejoice, for you dash our sins on the rocks!
Rejoice, for you have power to move the mountain of our unbelief!
Rejoice, for, like Moses, you came down from the Lord's Mountain to crush idols!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 3

You appeared to your servant, Bernadette, in a robe of white, with a white veil, girdled with a blue sash, O Holy Mother of God. Roses shined at your feet and you held a prayer cord with gold chain on your arm on which we say your Psalter, your Rule of Prayer, revealed to a monk of the Thebaid long ago. As we meditate on the mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of your Son, in union with you, we sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 3

The Angel Gabriel of old appeared to you to announce that you would become the Mother of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus. As the Mother of God, you are the Mother of His Body that is the Church and so nurture us all on the Milk of His Grace. Singing the Angelic hymn of your praise, we glorify Christ singing:

Rejoice, who said, 'May it be so according to your word!'
Rejoice, whose soul magnifies the Lord!
Rejoice, who gave birth to Christ at Bethlehem!
Rejoice, whose soul was pierced with a sword of sorrow!
Rejoice, for your Son teaches in the Temple!
Rejoice, for He is the Son of the Father, in Whom He is well-pleased!
Rejoice, for your Son agonizes over our salvation in the Garden!
Rejoice, for He accepts the Cup of suffering through scourging, mocking and carrying His Cross!
Rejoice, for from the Wounded Side of your Crucified Son flows Blood and Water!
Rejoice, for your Son has risen from the dead and ascended to the Right Hand of the Father!
Rejoice, for He sends into the world the Comforter, the Spirit of Peace!
Rejoice for He has taken you into His Kingdom and has crowned you as our Holy
Protection!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 4

After repeated entreaties from your servant Bernadette, you revealed your name to her saying, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Not understanding what this meant, your servant joyfully repeated this so as to remember to tell the priest, who at first refused to believe in your appearance to her. Upon hearing the poor and simple girl repeat this name, the priest humbly cried: Alleluia!

Ikos 4

O Most Immaculate Mother of God, the Holy Spirit sanctified you at the moment of your Conception in the womb of your mother, Saint Anne. Not even a shadow of an imperfection dared approach her who was to serve in the dread mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, as deigned by God, the Father of Lights. Praising your holy parents, Joachim and Anne, we sing:

Rejoice, Ever-Immaculate Virgin Mary!
Rejoice, Most Immaculate Mother of God the Word!
Rejoice, Ever Pure Vessel into which the Bread of Heaven deigned to make His abode!
Rejoice, for a great Sign appeared in Heaven!
Rejoice, for you are the Woman clothed with the Sun!
Rejoice, for the Lord crowns you with stars!
Rejoice, for the moon is at your feet!
Rejoice, for you have crushed the head of the serpent of old!
Rejoice, for the Rod of Jesse has conquered him!
Rejoice, Holy Temple of the Spirit!
Rejoice, for you are highly favoured by God!
Rejoice, for you held in your arms Him Who holds the universe!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 5

O Holy Virgin Mother, you bade your servant, Bernadette, to "Go, drink and wash in the fountain." As she searched for the spot, she soon found a spring flowing from the same rock in which you appeared. Although the people thought her a fool, they soon came to acknowledge your servant to be a fool for Christ's Sake, and yours, singing: Alleluia!

Ikos 5

You also invite us to come, drink and wash in the fountain of your miraculous water, O Mother of God. Ailments are cured, sight is restored, cancers are healed and souls rancid with the stench of great sinfulness are washed clean in your source of heavenly refreshment. And what can we ever do or say to thank you for all your love for us? Accept our cries of wonder and gratitude, as we sing:

Rejoice, Holy Physician, applying needful remedies for all our ailments!
Rejoice, for you cure the blind!
Rejoice, for those in sin have seen a great Light!
Rejoice, for the despairing obtain new hope!
Rejoice, for those stricken with cancers are made whole!
Rejoice, for sinful stains are washed away!
Rejoice, for with you nothing is impossible!
Rejoice, for we hurry at your command to "Come, drink and wash!"
Rejoice, for we come to you to fill the empty vessels of our souls!
Rejoice, for your Son forgives us our sins!
Rejoice, for you forbid us to worry, but command us to pray!
Rejoice, for demons are seized with dread at the flowing Rivers of Grace!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 6

You asked your servant, Bernadette, O Most Holy Theotokos, to have a chapel built where you appeared to her. Weeping tears of compunction, she held a lit candle in her hand as a sign of her enduring faith and trust in your intercession as she prayed and joyfully praised you. Favouring the praise that comes from God, rather than that that comes from people, she set out courageously on her mission, crying: Alleluia!

Ikos 6

"The Lady of the Grotto has ordered me to tell the priests that she wishes a chapel built at Massabieille!" cried your servant. "She is a very beautiful Lady who appeared to me on the rock." Not yet knowing your name, Bernadette could not tell the priest who asked her. Praising thy great spiritual beauty, we join with her in acclaiming you, singing:

Rejoice, Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rejoice, Mother of His Church!
Rejoice, Virgin before, during and after His Birth!
Rejoice, Mother of God the Word!
Rejoice, Most Immaculate Theotokos!
Rejoice, Queen of heaven and earth!
Rejoice, our Holy Protection!
Rejoice, our Defender!
Rejoice, Jar of the Heavenly Manna!
Rejoice, Ark of the New Covenant!
Rejoice, who prays ceaselessly for the salvation of our souls!
Rejoice, the Joy of all our Joys!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 7

Your servant, Bernadette endured many calumnies from those who refused to
acknowledge the presence of the Mother of Christ among them. She rejoiced at having been found worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ and your name, O Most Holy Mother of God! Pray for us that we may also be found worthy to bear reproach for the sake of our Lord Jesus, as we sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 7

As Christ sent His Apostles into the world, so too did you send your servant, Bernadette,and those that would follow her to witness to repentance and prayer, O Holy Mother of God. Intercede for us that we may have the grace to bear God in our bodies and perform the works of light and children of the light so that people may see and glorify God in Heaven, as we sing:

Rejoice, for these things have not been revealed to the wise of this world, but to children!
Rejoice, for Christ bids the little children to come to Him!
Rejoice, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven!
Rejoice, for blessed are those when men say all manner of evil about them for the sake of Christ and yours!
Rejoice, for great is their reward in Heaven!
Rejoice, for so were the Prophets and Apostles treated!
Rejoice, for no student is greater than his Master!
Rejoice, for there is much suffering in the world!
Rejoice, for Christ has overcome the world!
Rejoice, you promise to make us happy not in this world, but in the next!
Rejoice, for we run to our reward with the feet of athletes!
Rejoice, for who may separate us from the love of God in Christ?
Rejoice, O Radiant Foundation All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 8

More and more people came to the Grotto to see your servant, Bernadette. Although you were invisible to their eyes, it was enough for all to see your Light shining on her innocent face, in the fullness of heavenly joy and happiness. Intercede for us, O Most Holy Mother of God, that we may also bear the imprint of your heavenly Light and Peace, bringing your blessing to everyone we meet and to every place we visit, singing:
Alleluia!

Ikos 8

"Acquire the Spirit of Peace, and a thousand souls will be converted around you!" cry the Saints. And where better to acquire it, if not from the Spouse of the Holy Spirit? May your miraculous water from Lourdes be to us a true inner anointing so that the waters quietly running within us may moisten the spiritual dryness of the world, as we sing:

Rejoice, leading us to Lourdes as to another Mount Tabor to see your Son transfigured!
Rejoice, for it is good for us to be at the Grotto!
Rejoice, for we desire our souls to be tents in which your Son and you might dwell!
Rejoice, for you restore calmness to the turbulent waves of our lives!
Rejoice, for you bid the storms besetting us, "Peace, be still!"
Rejoice, for we ask you to save us as we sink in our disbelief!
Rejoice, for your Radiance outshines that of the sun!
Rejoice, for in your brightness all is made clear!
Rejoice, for you dispel our gloom with the beams of your joyful mercy!
Rejoice, for you lift our spirits on high!
Rejoice, for you anoint us with water as with the Oil of Gladness!
Rejoice, for you cool our passions and satisfy our spiritual thirst!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 9

A rosebush hung from the grotto of your apparitions at Lourdes, Mother of God, a fitting tribute heralding the presence of the Rose of Sharon! Its thorns remind us of the pain and suffering we have in this life, while its aromatic flower signify the joys of heaven that we obtain through your intercession and guidance, as we always sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 9

You are the New Staff of Aaron, O Lady of the Grotto, that budded forth the Author of Life, Christ our Saviour. You are the King's Daughter who is led into His Chambers and all your beauty is within. We praise your fruitfulness and cry:

Rejoice, Enclosed Garden of Mystical Delights!
Rejoice, O Flower of Sharon, perfuming all with heavenly myrrh!
Rejoice, O Lily of the Valley, anointing us with the grace of holiness!
Rejoice, O wondrous Rose, in which the Divine Word became Flesh!
Rejoice, O Marigold, filling our poverty with holy virtues!
Rejoice, Violet of Modesty, handmaid of the Lord!
Rejoice, Snowdrop of Holy Purity!
Rejoice, Holy Lavender, drying the effluvium of our sins!
Rejoice, Divine Thistle, nourishing us with the Milk of Divine Grace!
Rejoice, Sacred Hyacinth, knitting our lives to conform to your Son's commands!
Rejoice, Sweet Bee Balm, leading us to the land of Milk and Honey!
Rejoice, Morning Glory, our Mantle of Protection!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 10

You appeared one final time to your servant, Bernadette, on your feast of the Protection of Mount Carmel, O Mother of God, thereby showing yourself to be a constant source of protection to her and all of us throughout our lives. Cover us with your Mantle always and may we ever live beneath its protecting wings, singing: Alleluia!

Ikos 10

Your mantle of Holy Protection was prefigured in the Cloak of Elias the Prophet, O Lady of the Grotto. He it was who established a chapel in honour of the "Messiah to come" on Mount Carmel, the fruitful Mountain that prefigured your coming. His mantle was rent in two as he ascended on fiery chariots to heaven and came to rest on Eliseus, his disciple. May we always find comfort and help in your mantle of Protection, as we sing:

Rejoice, Garment without seam!
Rejoice, Robe of salvation!
Rejoice, Mantle of protection!
Rejoice, who, like Elias, brings us to heaven with the two-part cloak!
Rejoice, covering us with the wings of Divine Grace!
Rejoice, our defender in the day of battle!
Rejoice, for your Grotto has become another Mount Carmel!
Rejoice, for in it we find the Sword of the Spirit and the Helmet of Salvation!
Rejoice, for you turn away the darts of the evil one cast against us!
Rejoice, you are a fruitful Vine on which grew the Cluster of Grapes exuding the Mystic Wine!
Rejoice, for the Oil of Divine Grace is poured over us as over the beard and down to the edges of the garments of Aaron!
Rejoice, for we are invincible under the covert of the wings of your Protection!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 11

Your servant, Bernadette, witnessed to your visitation all the days of her life, O Mother of God. She suffered greatly in both body and soul. She drew her strength from her prayer to you and her close union with your Son, remembering always your promise that she would not be happy in this life, but in the next. We also ask for the grace to be happy with you in the Kingdom of your Son, crying: Alleluia!

Ikos 11

"You will not allow your Holy One to see corruption!" sang the Psalmist. The body of your servant, Bernadette, is still incorrupt, bearing silent witness, even now, to the transfiguring power of the rays of Grace emanating from your hands, O Holy Mother of God, as we exclaim:

Rejoice, bestowing on us the Gifts of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, sanctifying us in His Grace!
Rejoice, Vessel through which the Comforter pours on us His deifying power!
Rejoice, for your Grotto at Lourdes has become another Mount Tabor!
Rejoice, for you are a Cloud in which we see Christ, the Word of God!
Rejoice, for your Radiance fills the earth!
Rejoice, Rainbow of the New Covenant, heralding an enduring Testament of
Reconciliation!
Rejoice, for we are transfigured in Christ Who took flesh from you!
Rejoice, for we participate in His Body in Holy Communion!
Rejoice, for, through you, we shall be as gods!
Rejoice, God has made us a little lower than the Angels!
Rejoice, for, in you, we have become partakers in the Divinity of Christ!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 12

O Most Holy Theotokos and Lady of the Grotto! Pilgrims from the far corners of the earth attend your Shrine and come to drink and wash at the New Siloam at which they find health in both body and soul. Anoint us also with your miraculous waters and may we become bedewed with the heavenly moisture that dries out the effluvium of our sinfulness and sorrows, as we sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 12

May the drinking and anointing of your holy and miraculous water at Lourdes, O Lady of the Grotto, make us fruitful in Christ, helping us imitate the Wise Virgins who presented themselves to the Bridegroom, when He came unexpectedly, with lamps filled with good Oil. May we prepare all our lives to greet Him when he comes, singing:

Rejoice, our Good Defense at the awful judgment Seat of Christ!
Rejoice, for you are a New Jacob's Ladder, leading us to Heaven!
Rejoice, for you are a Mountain which we climb to meet God!
Rejoice, for you rain down on the earth the waters of Divine Grace!
Rejoice, for you wash away our sins, though they be as scarlet!
Rejoice, for you make our souls as white as snow!
Rejoice, for you are a Good Mother to all your children!
Rejoice, for you help us stand upright in the life in Christ!
Rejoice, for you hold us by the hand as our constant Guide!
Rejoice, for you protect us from all dangers and temptations!
Rejoice, for you indicate to us the Divine Sun of salvation!
Rejoice, for you are the Star of the Sea!
Rejoice, O Radiant Fountain All Immaculate, bedewing our souls with Lifegiving
Springs!

Kontakion 13

O Most Holy Theotokos, Lady of the Grotto! Accept from us this hymn of praise and thanksgiving to you for your constant Motherly care for us, your children. And as at Lourdes you brought great consola tions to us through your miraculous streams of holy water, so always intercede for us as we take refuge in you. Ever sprinkle and bedew us with these lifegiving droplets and we will always sing of your glory and invoke your aid, O Lady of the Grotto, crying: Alleluia (Kontakion 13 is read three times).

Ikos 1 and Kontakion 1 are repeated here.

Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes

May your Holy Water that flows from your miraculous Grotto at Lourdes, O Virgin
Mother, be for us who partake of it and who are anointed by it, a pledge of your constant intercession for and assistance to us! May it be a constant reminder to us of our calling as followers of Christ that we received in the waters of our Baptism. And may it serve to enlighten our spiritual eyes, bring health to body and soul, and strengthen us always. With you, may we always glorify your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, together with His Father, Who is without beginning, and His Most Holy and Good and Lifegiving Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages! Amen!

The Human Face of Divine Mercy

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The painting (1488) is by Bartolomeo di Giovanni and was commissioned for the Hospital of the Innocents in Florence. The six-sided altar at the centre of the composition points to the Sixth Day Sacrifice of the Cross. There is fire burning on the altar, a sign of the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Virgin Mary's gesture indicates that she is offering the Infant Christ and participating in His sacrifice. Simeon's gesture is one of acceptance; he is an image of the Eternal Father. Saint Joseph holds the turtle doves in his cloak; Joseph was chosen by God to veil the mystery. Anna, entering the painting at the extreme left, holds the lighted candle of her faith and hope as she witnesses the arrival in the temple of the long-awaited Priest and Victim, the Consolation of Israel.

The Face of a Little Child

In today's splendid Introit we sing that we have received Mercy "in the midst of the temple" (Ps 47:10). At the heart of today's mystery shines the face of a little Child, the human face of Divine Mercy. The four other figures in today's Gospel -- Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna -- are held in His gaze. In a homily for January 1, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI spoke tenderly of the Face of the Infant Christ. "God's Face took on a human face, letting itself be seen and recognized in the Son of the Virgin Mary, who for this reason we venerate with the loftiest title of Mother of God. She, who had preserved in her heart the secret of the divine motherhood, was the first to see the face of God made man in the small fruit of her womb."

Today we meet the gaze of the Infant Christ, "made like His brethren in every respect" (Heb 2:17) and, looking into His eyes, we see that He is already our "merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people" (Heb 2:17).

The Presentation of Christ Our Priest

Today in the midst of the temple the Father presents His Christ, our Priest, to us; and today the Father presents us to Christ our Priest. Of ourselves we have nothing to present; we can but receive Christ and allow ourselves to become an offering in His hands. "We have received your Mercy, O God, in the midst of your temple" (Ps 47:10).

The Infant Christ, presented to us as our Priest, presents us, in turn, to the Father. It is fitting that the symbol of the Infant Christ should be the living flame that crowns our candles. This Child has a Heart of fire, and so the prophet says, "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire . . . and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord" (Mal 3:2-3).

The Infant Priest and Victim

Today is the World Day for Consecrated Life. Consider the images that the liturgy sets before us: a flame that burns, consuming the wax that holds it aloft; a Child with the all-embracing gaze of the "Ancient of Days" (Dn 7:13); an Infant who is already Priest and Victim.

Identification with Christ the Victim

One consecrated in the monastic life is a taper offered to the consuming flame of love. One so consecrated has eyes only for the gaze of Christ, revealing a Heart that is all fire. One consecrated is presented and handed over to Christ the Priest. One consecrated is inescapably destined for the altar of sacrifice, for identification with Christ the Victim. Monastic life cannot be anything less than this, nor can it be anything more. This is why the Apostle says, "I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Rom 12:1).

The Woman Wrapped in Silence

Each of the four figures surrounding the Infant Christ in the temple is an icon of consecrated life, beginning with his all-holy Virgin Mother. How does today's Gospel present her? She is a woman wrapped in silence. Even when addressed by Simeon, she remains silent. Her silence is an intensity of listening. She is silent so as to take in Simeon's song of praise, silent so as to capture his mysterious prophecy of soul-piercing sorrow and hold it in her Immaculate Heart. She is silent because today her eyes say everything, eyes fixed on the face of the Infant Christ, eyes illumined by the brightness of his gaze.

Wordlessly, Mary offers herself to the living flame of love. She is the bride of the Canticle of whom it is said, "Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil" (Ct 4:1). Consecrated life in all its forms, and monastic life in particular, begins in the silence of Mary that, already in the temple, consents to the sacrifice of her Lamb and to the place that will be hers beside the altar of the Cross.

Joseph and the Divine Desires

Turning to Saint Joseph, what do we see? Joseph shares Mary's silence. Silence is the expression of their communion in a tender and chaste love, a love that is ready for sacrifice. Joseph listens with Mary. Saint Joseph is the first to enter deeply into the silence of the Virgin. It is his way of loving her. It is his way of trusting her beyond words.

Saint Joseph: Tenderly Focused on the Face of Christ

The silence of Saint Joseph becomes for all consecrated persons a way of loving, a way of trusting, a way of pushing back the frontiers of hope. I recall what Pope Benedict XVI said concerning the silence of Saint Joseph. "The silence of Saint Joseph," said the Holy Father, "is an attitude of total availability to the divine desires. . . . He stands beside the Church today, silent, listening, tenderly focused on the face of Christ in all his members." Consecrated life is just that: availability to the desires of God, a listening silence, and a way of focusing tenderly on the face of Christ in all his members.

The Old Priest Sings

Saint Simeon represents the ancient priesthood disappearing into the light of Christ, our "merciful and faithful high priest before God" (Heb 2:17). Simeon is the old priest pointing to the new. He speaks; he sings his praise; he utters prophecy. Saint Simeon models the vocation of every priest charged in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the calling down of the Holy Ghost over altar, bread, wine, and people. Simeon has a particular relationship with the Holy Ghost. Three times in as many verses Saint Luke emphasizes the mystical synergy of Simeon and the Holy Ghost: "The Holy Ghost was upon him. . . " (Lk 2:25); "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Ghost. . . . ; (Lk 2:26); "He came in the Spirit into the temple"; (Lk 2:27). In the Holy Spirit, Simeon contemplates the face of the Infant Christ; in the Holy Spirit he raises his voice in prophecy and in thanksgiving. In all of this Simeon shows us the characteristic traits of the new priesthood called to serve in the Holy Spirit.

Anna of the Face of God

Finally, there is Anna the prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel whose name means "Face of God." The widow Anna has made the temple her home. Abiding day and night in adoration, she emerges from the recesses of the temple only to give thanks to God and speak of the Child. Drawn into the light of the face of Christ she cannot but praise and immediately publish the good news "to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Lk 2:38).

Anna of the Face of God models the vocation of every consecrated woman called to be at once fully contemplative and fully apostolic. The old woman's encounter with the Infant Christ energizes and rejuvenates her. In some way, Anna is the first apostle sent out by the Holy Spirit. Before Mary Magdalene and before the twelve, Anna announces Christ. She is compelled to speak but does so out of an "adoring silence." She appears in the temple to publish the long-awaited arrival of Mercy, and in her eyes shines the light of his Face. Mercy in the flesh was passed like a living flame from the arms of Mary and Joseph into the arms of Simeon and, then, undoubtedly into the embrace of holy Anna. "We have received your Mercy, O God, in the midst of your temple" (Ps 47:10).

The Consuming Fire of the Most Holy Eucharist

We, who welcome Mercy in the midst of the temple, are compelled to present ourselves to Mercy at the altar, to give ourselves back to Mercy, to give ourselves up to Mercy, to surrender to Mercy's sweet, purifying flame. "Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:28-29).

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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