With Purified Hearts

After the days of [Mary’s] purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried [the child Jesus] to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord.

Luke 2:22-23

In August of 1733, Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) composed this Mass (streaming, download) to celebrate “our noblest Princess Elector´s happily accomplished delivery.” The reference is to Maria Josepha, Princess Elector of Saxony and Queen of Poland, known for her private devotion to and public affirmation of the Catholic faith in a Protest country.

For many of us, the heat of August tends to drive out thoughts of frosty February. In this case, Zelenka chose to congratulate the Princess and her child by hearkening back to today’s feast.

Candlemas marks the end of the Christmas cycle, a series of winter holy days reminding us to turn toward the Light that is shining upon our physical and spiritual darkness.

In her Purification, our Lady, who is “full of grace,” acknowledges God as the source of her unparalleled purity. In his Presentation, the Son of God allows his incarnate self to be offered in sacrifice to his eternal Begetter.

As for those of us laboring under the bondage of the old man (Eph. 4:22), let us pray today:

Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty, that as Thine only begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so Thou wouldst cause us too with purified hearts to be presented unto Thee.

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