Today we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord. Imagine that Jesus’ parents are bringing him to the Temple to offer their child, their special child, to God. It was a Jewish ritual and it was important for them to do. They knew that Jesus, of all children, really did not need to be presented; he had come directly from God. But just as he did not require a baptism from John, his cousin, his parents did what was expected. This presentation would have been done eight days after his birth. lAnd we know the story of Simeon and Anna’s declarations about what a blessing this child would be for the whole world. It can put a lump in your throat because we know about the end of his earthly life and all that will happen to fulfill Simeon’s prophetic words to Mary, his mother.
Today also we celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life. According to the Ordo 2021-2022, “The purpose of [this] day is ‘to help the entire Church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels’ as well as ‘to be a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervour which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord’ (Saint John Paul II, 1997).”
It is wonderful that today’s celebrations are intertwined. When I made my 40-day silent retreat as a novice, I prayed with the Gospel story of the Presentation of the Lord. In spiritual direction, I exclaimed how in my prayer I started to dance with Simeon and Anna, Mary and Joseph. My spiritual director said, “You are a true charismatic.” I really did not know what that meant then. I know now. How wonderful, more than 37 years later, I can still feel the joy of that contemplative moment of prayer. Each year when we hear this Gospel passage read, I can return to my retreat grace and want to dance for the gift of my vocation. I am able to renew my commitment and rekindle the initial fervour of those early days of offering my whole self to God and to the people of God. I totally recommend consecrated life if you are feeling a nudge in its direction. It is a life full of surprises and delight!
Pat Carter, CSJ is a disciple, a teacher and an advocate for the poor. She has been a Sister of St. Joseph for more than half of her life and loves to use words to inspire faith and laughter. She is a cantor at her parish of St. Jerome’s in Sault Ste. Marie.