The Feast of the Presentation

The Feast of the Presentation falls every year on February 2nd.  Also known as Candlemas, it commemorates Mary and Joseph’s fulfillment of the ritual consecration of the firstborn child to the Lord (Ex 13:12).  During the presentation, they were met by the righteous man, Simeon, who had been awaiting the Messiah as “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord” (Luke 2:26).  Simeon proclaimed:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

-Luke 2:29-32
This prayer, now known as the Nunc Dimittis, is proclaimed as part of the Compline (Night Prayer) of the Liturgy of the Hours – the daily prayers of the Universal Church.  Priests, religious, consecrated and lay men and women throughout the world pray this prayer daily.
It is fitting, then, that the day of the presentation is also now celebrated as the World Day for Consecrated Life.  On the feast where we celebrate the consecration of the Christ Child to the Lord, we also celebrate the consecration of men and women to Christ.  Every year, consecrated men and women in the Holy Land gather together to celebrate their consecration and reflect on what it means to also be a light for the world.
The Franciscans who act as custodians for the holy sites also take part in these celebrations. As caretakers of the sites visited by Christian pilgrims from all over the world, they truly live out their call to be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” .