Ad Te Levávi Ánimam Meam

To Thee have I lifted up my soul (Introit – 1st Sunday of Advent)

Archive for the ‘blessed virgin mary’ Category

Purification, Presentation, and the Churching of Women

Posted by james0235 on February 2, 2010

Today, the 40th day after Christmas, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This Feast has a very solid biblical foundation:

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

(Luke 2:22-24)

On the 40th day after giving birth the Blessed Virgin Mary visited the temple to offer a sacrifice in accordance with the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:1-8). She didn’t offer this sacrifice because she was actually made unclean by the birth of Christ but rather it was in order to fulfill “the prescriptions of the law of the Lord” (Luke 2:39). In imitation of this event in the 4th century the Church instituted the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be celebrated on the 40th day after Christamas, February 2nd, every year.

This Feast had 3 emphases:

The Purification of the Blessed Virgin (Leviticus 12:7),

The Presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22),

and the recognition of Christ as the light to the Gentiles by the prophet Simeon (Luke 2:29-32)

In the revisions to the liturgy following the 2nd Vatican Council this feast was renamed the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The Purification of the Blessed Virgin and the recognition of Christ as the light to the Gentiles (represented by the  blessing of candles which are then carried in procession before the Mass) seem to have been de-emphasized slighltly while the Presentation of Christ in the Temple has been emphasized. But, all of these aspects of the Feast are still quite evident in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.

In addition to the Mass we see these aspects of the Feast also displayed in the devotions of the Church. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is the 4th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Simeon’s proclamation of Christ as the light to the Gentiles (Luke 2:29-32), known as the Nunc Dimittis or the Canticle of Simeon, – is prayed every night in the Liturgy of the Hours in the Office of Compline (Night Prayer). And the idea of a ritual purification after childbirth can still be seen, albeit quite rarely, in a very beautiful ceremony known as the Churching of Women.

The Churching of Women is performed soon after childbirth. Ideally it was given as soon as a woman was able to return to Church for the first time – which does not necessarily mean the following Sunday. Remember that the care of infants does excuse one from the obligation to attend Mass (CCC 2181). The Churching, also called the Blessing of a Mother after Childbirth in the Roman Ritualone of the Liturgical books of the Roman Rite, was both a blessing given to a new mother and it was an opportunity for the new mother to give thanks to God for the birth of her child. While it is not actually a ritual purification – the Church does not teach that childbirth makes a woman ritually unclean – it is inspired by the purification rituals that the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord commemorates.

The beautiful prayers of the Churching of Women can be found here.

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Ave Regina Caelorum

Posted by james0235 on February 2, 2010

Beginning at Compline on the Feast of the Purification (also known as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or Candlemas) the seasonal Marian Antiphon changes from the Alma Redemptoris to the Ave Regina Caelorum. This Antiphon is used until the Triduum.

Ave, Regina Caelorum,

Ave, Domina Angelorum:

Salve, radix, salve, porta

Ex qua mundo lux est orta:

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,

Super omnes speciosa,

Vale, o valde decora,

Et pro nobis Christum exora.

Hail, O Queen of Heaven enthroned.

Hail, by angels mistress owned.

Root of Jesse, Gate of Morn

Whence the world’s true light was born:

Glorious Virgin, Joy to thee,

Loveliest whom in heaven they see;

Fairest thou, where all are fair,

Plead with Christ our souls to spare.

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Novena to the Immaculate Conception

Posted by james0235 on November 30, 2009

Today begins the Novena to the Immaculate Conception. These 9 days of prayer conclude on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This feast is a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States as it is our patronal feast day.

There are many different versions of the Novena out there. EWTN has a particularly nice page devoted to it.

This year I am using the Novena found in the Midwest Theological Forum / Our Sunday Visitor Daily Roman Missal.

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Alma Redemptoris

Posted by james0235 on November 29, 2009

Beginning at 1st Vespers of Advent the Seasonal Marian Antiphon changes from the Salve Regina to the Alma Redemptoris.

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Posted by james0235 on July 16, 2008

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
as we do honour the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of Carmel.

Your word filled her heart
and inspired her actions,
making her constant in prayer with the Apostles,
and, through her share in our salvation,
constituting her the spiritual mother of all mankind.
She watches unceasingly with a mother’s loving care
over the brethren of her Son,
and lights us along our pilgrim way
to the Mount of your Glory,
our beacon of comfort,
and the embodiment or all our hopes
as members of the Church.
Now, with all the saints and angels,
we praise you forever:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

(Preface of Our Lady of Mount Carmel I, Carmelite Missal)

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