Monday, February 2, 2009

The Presentation as an Eschatological Feast

The Eucharist is of Itself the pledge of future glory (pignus futuræ gloriæ), as Aquinas sings in his O sacrum convivium; and especially so on this feast of Candlemas - the Traditional Postcommunion begging through Mary's prayers that God "make the most holy mysteries... both a present and a future remedy" (sacrosancta mysteria... et præsens nobis remedium esse facias et futurum), since the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, the meeting of God with God, is the figure of our own high calling to be brought, pure and spotless, purged of all rust and dross, into the hall of heaven, to be forever with the Lord.  This is, after all, the import of the Collect, summary of the healthful doctrine set before us this whole day through at Office and Mass:
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, Majestatem tuam suppliciter exoramus: ut, sicut Unigenitus Filius tuus hodierna die cum nostræ carnis substantia in templo est præsentatus; ita nos facias purificatis tibi mentibus præsentari.  Per...

(Almighty everlasting God, bowing low we humbly pray Thy Majesty: that, as Thine Onlybegotten Son this day in the substance of our flesh in the temple was presented, so may Thou make us with purified minds to be presented unto Thee.  Through...)
The Traditional prayers of blessing over the candles corroborate this: "being worthily inflamed with the holy fire of Thy most sweet charity, may we deserve to be presented in the holy temple of Thy glory" (2nd prayer), "that after the dark perils of this world, we may deserve to arrive at the never-failing light" (3rd prayer).

What else, after all, is the import of our carrying lighted candles, other than that, our lamps held high, we may come nigh unto God, both now in ritual and in deed, and one day body and soul?  What else the import of our being given a candle at our very Baptism, and adjured to keep alight the flame of faith all our lives, whatever darkening blasts threaten?

Our passage to heaven and our God is a purgatory: God grant it be speedy, that we may gaze upon His beauty, not as now in a glass darkly, even though it be in sacred mysteries, but face to Face.

No comments: