Art and Reflection for Candlemass

From the Office of Reading for Today, Candlemass, February 2nd: a sermon by Saint Sophronius, bishop, Patriarch of Jerusalem, died AD 638

After our mediation given yesterday on the art for today’s feast, I give you some more thoughts. Yesterday had a greater emphasis on the narrative of the Presentation of the Lord, today we think about the Light of the World and how we also call the feast, Candlemas. Here is a passage from today’s Office of Readings which emphasizes the aspect of calling today Candlemas. The pictures I have chosen are by Guido Reni (17th century) and Tintoretto (16th century), both Italian. Candlemas is a tradition in the Roman Rite.

 Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendour of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.In honour of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.
  The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.
  The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.
guido_reni_029
  The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendour, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendour.
  Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which he prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.
  By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in his honour.
tintorettocandlemass
I encourage all to read the Office of Readings (Matins) as part of your daily prayer if you can. It is a wonderful treasury.

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