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There has been an abundance of gift giving in the past six weeks. A box of soy candles, gourmet coffee, and seriously warm slippers offset the questionable functionality of Jingle Bells Spreader Knives (set of four) and a three-tiny-shovels-supporting-a-sunflower clock. Each gift personally selected just for me from those who care.

Everything is a gift if we think about it. We are not entitled to much of anything. For anyone who is, has or will face financial, medical or personal loss, being graced by the gifts of others can be the link to finding happiness in challenging times. Those days or years of uncertainty, staving off hopelessness, praying for a light at the end of the tunnel deepen our gratefulness to those who brought a moment of delight. And we become aware that, beyond the rules of etiquette, we want to thank the giver for their gift.

That is what Mary and Joseph did in accordance with their religious customs and, more likely, from the desire of their hearts. They came to thank God for His gift of a wondrous baby boy, the light of their lives.

But the one who was clearly illuminated by Mary’s baby was that holy man, Simeon. He knew, in a way only Mary knew before him, that the spirit of God was there in his arms. For decades he and the Chosen People had longed and prayed, yearning for the God With Us to come. The power and intensity of the Holy Child, warm and swaddled against the flesh of his arms, made Simeon’s joy boundless! And the temple echoed his elation.

Simeon held against his chest the promised gift from God of God Himself, the arrival of The Light into the world. A gift to rouse a flame in every soul, a gift beyond personal possession.

Some gifts are meant to be shared, others warm us, and all deepen our gratitude. And then there are those rare gifts that are so perfect that our delight cannot be contained, and we shout and gasp elated as tears of joy stream down our cheeks.

Yeah, Simeon probably cried too.

Candlemas is the celebration of the coming of The Light into the world. In Poland, the candles brought from home to be blessed at church are decorated with symbols and ribbons (comparable to Hispanic Milagros crosses). In Poland, the custom is to let a blessed candle burn all night before an icon of Our Lady who, when the world still had forests, was relied upon to keep the wolves away during the cold nights of winter.

Now, our "wolves" tend to be of a different sort. But the pious burning of a blessed candle, with prayers offered to Our Lady, still might help keep these wolves at bay (

Read more reflections and prayers by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB, at Morning Rose Prayer Garden, on Patheos Catholic channel.


Copyright 2013 Margaret Rose Realy