Responding to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Thomas Merton’s poem, which follows, reminds that the Mystery we celebrate today reveals itself in its wonder, in the transformation of our lives – in the way God’s self-gift helps our self-giving; his service prompting and enabling, encouraging, ours.

May our efforts, our achievements, – even the smoky ones – prove to be to his glory and our neighbour’s good.

The Candlemas Procession

Ad revelationem gentium

Look kindly, Jesus, where we come,
New Simeons, to kindle,
Each at Your infant sacrifice his own life’s candle.

And when Your flame turns into many tongues,
See how the One is multiplied, among us, hundreds!
And goes among the humble, and consoles our sinful kindred.

It is for this we come,
And, kneeling, each receive one flame:
Ad revelationem gentium.

Our lives, like candles, spell this simple symbol:
Weep like our bodily life, sweet work of bees,
Sweeten the world, with your slow sacrifice.
And this shall be our praise:
That by our glad expense, our Father’s will
Burned and consumed us for a parable.

Nor burn we now with brown and smoky flames, but bright
Until our sacrifice is done,
(By which not we, but You are known)
And then, returning to our Father, one by one,
Give back our lives like wise and waxen lights.

Poem: Merton, Thomas. The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton. New York: New Directions, 1977.
Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
Photo: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. St Mary’s church, Fernyhalgh, Ladywelle, Lancs.

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