Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Meeting of Our Lord

I enjoy studying the Orthodox prayer book The Festal Menaion (1). A former student recommended the book for the beauty of the prayers' language. I quoted from the book in my January 12, 2013 post, concerning Christ's baptismal waters. This year, because of illness, I neglected to study again the services for the Theophany of Our Lord (January 6). But this weekend I've been studying the services for The Meeting of Our Lord (February 2).

I love how the prayers, tones, and canticles bring together images from the scriptures in (to me) interesting and meaningful ways. Here are several from today's services (pages 406-434):

"Simeon received in his embrace the Word uncircumscribed and supreme in being, who is borne on high in glory upon heavenly thrones; and he cried aloud: ‘Now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, O Saviour, salvation and delight of the faithful….'...

"The Ancient of Days, who in times past gave Moses the Law on Sinai, appears this day as a babe. As Maker of the Law He fulfils the Law, and according to the law He is brought into the temple and given over to the Elder. Simeon the righteous receives Him, and beholding the fulfilment of the divine ordinance now brought to pass, rejoicing he cries aloud; ‘Mine eyes have seen the mystery hidden from the ages, made manifest in these latter days, the Light that disperses the dark folly of the Gentiles without faith and the Glory of the newly-chosen Israel...'...

"Today He who once gave the Law to Moses on Sinai submits Himself to the ordinances of the Law, in his compassion becoming for our sakes as we are. Now the God of purity as a holy child has opened a pure womb, and as God He is brought as an offering to Himself setting us free from the curse of the law and granting light to our souls...

"Him whom the Ministers at the Liturgy on high entreat with trembling, Simeon has now received below in his earthly arms, and he proclaims the union of the Godhead with mankind. Seeing the heavenly God as mortal man, he makes ready to withdraw from earthly things, and raises his cry in joy: ‘Glory to tree, O Lord, who hast revealed to those in darkness the Light that knows no evening.’….

"The Creator of heaven and earth is carried today by holy Simeon the Elder in his arms: and he said in the Holy Spirit: ‘Now am I set free, for I have beheld my Saviour…’...

"He who is borne on high by the cherubim and praised in hymns by the seraphim, is brought today according to the law into the holy temple and rests in the arms of the Elder as on a throne. From Joseph he receives gifts fitting for God: a pair of doves, symbol of the spotless Church and of the newly-chosen people of the Gentiles; and two young pigeons, for He is the originator of the two Covenants, both Old and New....

"In a figure Isaiah saw God upon a throne, lifted up on high and borne in triumph by angels of glory; and he cried: ‘Woe is me! For I have seen beforehand God made flesh, Lord of the light that knows no evening and King of Peace.’ The aged servant of God, seeing before him the Word held in the arms of His Mother understood that this was the Glory made manifest of old to the Prophet... ‘Isaiah was cleansed by receiving the coal from the seraphim’, cried the old man to the Mother of God. ‘Thou does fill me with light as thou doest entrust to me, with they hands as with tongs, Him whom thou holdest...’

"Mary, thou art the mystic Tongs, who has conceived in thy womb Christ the live Coal.... O God, who wast before all things began, of Thine own will Thou hast become man and art carried, a child forty days old, into the temple... Illuminate my soul and the light of my senses that I may see Thee in purity; and I will proclaim that Thou art God…"


1. Translated by Mother Mary of the Orthodox Monastery of the Veil of the Mother of God, Bussy-en-Othe, France, and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware of the University of Oxford. Published in South Canaan, PA by St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1998.

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