Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We are CHRIST-BEARERS: Thoughts on the Mystery of the Feast of the Purification

Holy Church puts a burning candle into our hand on the feast of the Purification. In this way she appoints us to the task of being Christ-bearers, to bear Christ in our soul and in our will.

We bear Christ in our soul, i.e., in our thoughts, judgments, and principles of actions. We know that we are filled with the light and spirit of Christ. Therefore, we view life no more with the eyes of the earthly-minded, merely natural man, but with the eyes of Jesus. We look at great and little events in world history, as well as in our daily lives, no longer from an external viewpoint, but from within, that is, in their relationship to the will of God, or as manifestations of His wisdom, power, and love. We see everywhere and everything, with the eyes of Jesus, the hand of the ever-active Father. We look beyond the outer appearances and contingencies of things beyond the trials and tempests of life, and we direct our gaze upwards to the Father and to His eternally benevolent activity, to his designs and decrees. He and His plans become for us, just as they were for Christ, the primary reality, the hidden meaning of all things and all happenings - the true reality. With the eyes of Jesus, we look out beyond the present to the future world; we stand honestly and faithfully by the principles of the beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit, the patient, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for holiness, the clean of heart, those who suffer persecution in the cause of the right (cf. Mt. 5:3). We are glad and lighthearted, because we believe that a rich reward awaits us in heaven. There is an eternity, and there is justice. Everyone will receive what he deserves. Before every decision, we will ask ourselves: "How is a man the better for it, if he gains the whole world at the cost of losing his own soul?" (Mt. 16:26); we will live according to the principle, "Only one thing is necessary" (Lk. 10:42). Thus do we bear Christ as the light in our soul.

We bear Christ in our will, in our heart, in our deeds and omissions, in our life. We live for Him, mindful of the word, the example, and the living union with us, of Him who lives and works in us as head of his members. "Nothing is beyond my powers, thanks to the strength God gives me" (Phil. 4:13). He works in me; He upholds and permeates me with His power. We live for Him and bear Him in our hearts with the holy passion of a glowing, enthusiastic love. On the strength of this love, we joyfully offer our sacrifices and troubles; we overcome the force of sin and of evil passions. We live for Him with a steadfast trust in His love, in His guidance, in His government of, and operations in us. In the face of every task, we say with St. Peter: "Master,...at Your word" (Lk. 5:5).

It is our vocation to be apostles of Christ, each after his own fashion. This is what the candle which we carry in our hand on Candlemas means for us. We have so much to give!

If only we ourselves were upright, true Christians! Here we have been found wanting! Our Christianity is so often a Christianity of anxiety, doubts, fear, and slavish attachment to formulas and methods. There is so great a lack of freedom, so much narrowness and restraint! We are Christians of learning, rules, formulas, activity, calculations, anxiety and pedantry; Christians of accounts and records. There are all too few Christians with glowing hearts, with great, compelling, kindling ideas, with a burning passion for Christ; too few Christians of the stature of St. Paul. "So may the peace of Christ... reign in your hearts. May all the wealth of Christ's inspiration (the Gospel) have its shrine among you: now there will psalms... and hymns, and spiritual music, as you sing with gratitude in your hearts to God" (Col. 3:15, 16). This thankful psalm-singing, jubilant Christianity has become unfamiliar to us!
PRAYER: Send down upon me, O Lord, Your light and Your truth, so that they might direct me to Your holy mountain and lead me into Your dwelling. Amen.

CANDLEMAS! We are going on a pilgrimage, light in hand, with Mary to the temple. We are bearing Christ in our souls by FAITH, Christ in our hearts by CHARITY, Christ in our deeds by our SURRENDER to His commands, to His Will, to His decrees. We are going, hand in hand, with Mary, the Church, toward the temple of the heavenly Jerusalem. The Church leads us safely and wisely. Our Christ, our LIGHT, is waiting for us in heaven, in His full splendor. There we shall forever give thanks and rejoice: "My own eyes have seen that saving power of Yours" (Tract).

SOURCE: Baur, Rt. Rev. Benedict, OSB. Saints of the Missal, Volume I. Missouri, B. Herder Book Co., 1958.


From the Pieta prayer book, a prayer to be said while burning a blessed candle during storms and troubles:

Jesus Christ a King of Glory has come in Peace.
God became man,
and the Word was made flesh.
Christ was born of a Virgin.
Christ suffered.
Christ was crucified.
Christ died.
Christ rose from the dead.
Christ ascended into Heaven.
Christ conquers.
Christ reigns.
Christ commands.

May Christ protect us from all storms and lightning.
Christ went through their midst in Peace,
and the Word was made Flesh.
Christ is with us with Mary.
Flee you enemy spirits because the Lion of the Generation of Juda, the Root David, has won.
Holy God!
Holy Powerful God!
Holy Immortal God!
Have mercy on us. Amen.

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