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A Prayer to Sts. Joachim and Anna

Akathist Hymn to Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God

Kontakion 1

To the holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, forbears of Christ and elect among the human race, who gave birth to the holy Maiden of whom the Son of God was born in the flesh. Since you have great boldness before Christ our God and stand before His heavenly Throne, earnestly entreat Him that we may be delivered from all misfortune and thus may unceasingly cry aloud to you:

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Ikos 1

An angelic messenger was sent to you by God, O holy and righteous Ancestors of God, when you both expressed your sorrow — you Joachim in the wilderness, and you Anna in the garden — offering up supplication to God. Thus, the incorporeal one brought the joyful tidings that you would give birth to an all-blessed daughter in whom the whole human race would be blessed, and with the angel we also offer you joyful praise:

Rejoice, branches of the vine of life who blossomed forth holiness from the root of David.

Rejoice, for you gave birth to a daughter more blessed than all generations of men.

Rejoice, most honored forbears of the Incarnate Son of God.

Rejoice, most excellent disclosers of the mystery hidden from before time began.

Rejoice, closest relatives in the flesh to the Consolation of Israel.

Rejoice, blood relatives of the Redeemer Who was promised to the world.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 2

Seeing himself belittled by the high priest in the Temple of Jerusalem because of his lack of children, the holy Joachim was sorely distressed. In bitterness of soul he withdrew to his flocks in the wilderness. There he offered fervent supplication with tears, that the Lord would grant him to be called “father” by a child of his own. He therefore added fasting to prayer, and in the contrition of his heart cried aloud to God Almighty: Alleluia.

Ikos 2

Knowing the extent of her husband’s grief, the holy Anna wept bitterly in her house and prayed that the Lord would remove from her the reproach of barrenness. Rightfully remembering the patience of the righteous ones, we humbly cry out thus:

Rejoice, divinely chosen pair who gave birth to the one who would become the Mother of One of the Trinity.

Rejoice, for you brought forth an immaculate Mother for your Creator.

Rejoice, blessed pair who raised a daughter who is most blessed among women.

Rejoice, for God heard your petitions amid your barrenness.

Rejoice, for your tearful entreaties passed up to Heaven and reached the ear of the God of Israel.

Rejoice, for your temporal reproach has been transformed into eternal glory in Heaven and on earth.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 3

Filled with the power of God, the angel of the Lord appeared to the holy Joachim in the wilderness and spoke to him. “God has heard your prayer and has been pleased to grant you His grace. Behold, Anna your wife will conceive and bear you a daughter who will be the joy of the whole world.” Having said these things, the incorporeal one commanded Joachim to return to the Temple of Jerusalem. There he would find his spouse praying, that with her he might also chant the hymn of praise to the God of Israel: Alleluia.

Ikos 3

Having great sorrow in your heart, O holy Anna, you entered the garden of your home where your eye saw little chicks lying in a bird’s nest in a tree. You immediately added supplications to your prayers, that the Lord might permit you to become the mother of a child. And, lo, the angel of the Lord appeared and spoke to you. “Your prayer has been heard, your sighs have passed beyond the clouds and your tears have come before God. Behold, you will conceive and bear an all-blessed daughter in whom all the peoples of the earth will be blessed, and through whom salvation will be given to all the world. Her name will be Mary.” Mindful of these most angelic tidings, let us chant these things to the Ancestors of God:

Rejoice, for you were chosen for ineffable glory.

Rejoice, for you walked blamelessly in all the Commandments of the Lord.

Rejoice, for you received eternal consolation amid your fleeting sorrow.

Rejoice, for you were exalted beyond expectation by the Right Hand of God.

Rejoice, for you showed humility in your tribulation, and the Lord God remembered you.

Rejoice, for you were chosen to become the forbearers of the Son of God.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 4

Beset by a storm of doubt and perplexed by the angel’s tidings to him, the righteous Joachim immediately set out for the city of Jerusalem. There he found before the gates of the Temple the holy Anna, greatly glorifying the Lord. She declared to Joachim the joy of the angelic appearance and the prediction of childbirth. After Joachim had told his spouse of his own vision, he then cried with her to the Lord: Alleluia.

Ikos 4

When Anna’s relatives and friends heard of her all-glorious conceiving, they glorified the God of Israel. The divinely wise Anna promised the fruit of her womb to the service of God, and offered up fervent thanks to the Lord. In the same manner, earnestly singing the most glorious conception of the holy Maiden Mary, we say to her blessed parents:

Rejoice, joyous heralds announcing the Redeemer Who is come into the world.

Rejoice, grandparents of God Who in His mercy assumed our form.

Rejoice, through your blessed daughter, you provided flesh for the Word of God.

Rejoice, for you called the Incarnate God your grandson.

Rejoice, worthy servants of the great mystery of piety.

Rejoice, most excellent means of God’s condescension to men.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 5

You were chosen to give birth in the flesh to the all-holy Birthgiver of God, the divinely radiant star who showed forth Christ God, the Sun of Righteousness. O most blessed Joachim and Anna, you have thereby received the enviable title of Ancestors of God. Upon her holy birth, Heaven and earth rejoiced and the entire human race was sanctified, crying to the God of Israel Who is wondrous in His saints: Alleluia.

Ikos 5

As parents, O righteous Joachim and Anna, you gazed tenderly at the Mother of the Creator, the holy Maiden Mary who was born of you, and you reverently ministered to her as the ark of God. We therefore beseech you not to turn away from us who fall down before you in prayer, but also attend to us who say:

Rejoice, for you were filled with radiant jubilation at the birth of the holy Maiden Mary.

Rejoice, for you were filled with delight at the sight of your most blessed daughter.

Rejoice, for you were moved to compunction at the sound of her voice.

Rejoice, for after these things, you were blessed by the high priest of God.

Rejoice, for you nurtured the unblemished ewe-lamb in your pious home.

Rejoice, for you received the Mother of the Lamb and Shepherd as your daughter.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 6

You were shown to be proclaimers of the wonders of God, O Saints, when you fulfilled your vow to God and with glory brought the three-year old holy Maiden Mary to the Temple of God, so that she might abide in the Holy of Holies. Because of these things, you hastened with joy to chant to the God of your fathers this glorification: Alleluia.

Ikos 6

The divine Maiden shone forth like the full moon at her honored entry into the Temple of the Lord, and the angels marveled at her beauty. Taking her from your hands, O holy Joachim and Anna, the high priest Zachariah led her into the Holy of Holies with honor, for she was truly the living ark of God, and he blessed you as is proper with such praises as these:

Rejoice, for you have given birth to the universal joy of the human race.

Rejoice, for you have nurtured the cause of the restoration of mankind.

Rejoice, for you brought the living ark of God to the Temple of the Lord.

Rejoice, for you gave your holy daughter to dwell in the Holy of Holies.

Rejoice, for you are revealed as the relatives of God Who will become incarnate.

Rejoice, for you conversed with the angels.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 7

Having fulfilled the desire of your soul and given your promise to God, O all-blessed Joachim, you departed this earthly life in holiness and righteousness, passing on to the Lord. We therefore ask you to petition Him that we also may be counted worthy to receive a peaceful and unashamed end, crying to Him: Alleluia.

Ikos 7

You led a new and God-pleasing life in your widowhood, O holy Anna, abiding in the Temple of God and ministering to your all-blessed daughter. For this reason, we praise you as a true and God-pleasing widow and the grandmother of Christ. With love we fervently honor you and your husband, Joachim the grandfather of God, and offer you such hymns as these:

Rejoice, just ones whose righteousness shines like the sun forever.

Rejoice, friends of the angels, who truly dwell with the saints in the presence of God.

Rejoice, for you stand near the Throne of Heaven.

Rejoice, for you have great boldness before Christ God.

Rejoice, adornment of the Church Triumphant in Heaven.

Rejoice, good support of the Church militant on earth.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 8

Holy and righteous Anna, having reached the end of your earthly journey in the arms of your holy daughter, the Birthgiver of God Mary, you slept the sleep of death and were transported to God with hope. Glorifying your holy dormition, we entreat you, O most honored grandmother of God: When we also begin to fall into the sleep of death, beseech Christ the Savior that our soul may part gently from our body and escape the power of the demons, that we may be granted eternal salvation and may cry to Him in the joy of the saints: Alleluia.

Ikos 8

The whole Christian world blesses you as is proper, O holy and righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna, and in prayer glorifies your honored names. The Church of Christ celebrates your memory with splendor and offers hymns of praise to you.

Rejoice, beacons who graciously illumine the darkness of our soul.

Rejoice, for you mercifully look down upon mortals from the heavenly heights of your glory.

Rejoice, for you ever pray with Mary the Birthgiver of God.

Rejoice, for you thereby move Christ God to great mercy.

Rejoice, for you save from all misfortune those who cherish the Faith and who love one another because of you.

Rejoice, for you deliver those who call on your help in prayer from a violent and sudden death.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 9

All the angels of God and the choirs of the saints of God in Heaven greet you, O holy and righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna, and on earth the generations of men praise you with prayerful hymns and cry to God in thanksgiving for your intercession: Alleluia.

Ikos 9

Our eloquence does not suffice to praise you fittingly, O holy forbears of Christ. Yet, knowing that you are merciful, we trust that you will not reject our inadequate praises. Rather, be fervent intercessors and advocates for us before the Lord, fulfilling the deficiency of our soul with your holy supplication, that we may cry to you this hymn of thanksgiving:

Rejoice, mediators who win for us the joy and eternal glory we desire.

Rejoice, fervent advocates before the Lord who acquire temporal and eternal blessings for us.

Rejoice, by your intercession, you preserve the faithful from deadly pestilence.

Rejoice, by your supplication, you dispel deadly plagues.

Rejoice, by your mediation, you cause earthquakes and violent storms to cease and you restore calm.

Rejoice, for amid all tribulation and misfortune, you hasten to our aid.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 10

Holy and righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna, you have shown yourselves to be beneficial helpers of those who desire salvation of soul and diligently strive for this. O holy forebears, you are the guardians of monks and nuns, and you likewise offer supplication to God for all the faithful. For this cause, in thanksgiving to Christ the King of Glory, Who has glorified you throughout the world, all people may cry out: Alleluia.

Ikos 10

With the bulwark of your prayers, O holy and righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna, preserve and protect us from the temptations of the diabolical one that seeks the destruction of our soul. We know that your petition before the face of Christ our God, your Grandson according to the flesh, is able to accomplish much. Never cease to make supplication to Him in behalf of all who lovingly honor you and cry aloud:

Rejoice, fruitful olive trees pouring forth the oil of the mercy of God upon us in abundance.

Rejoice, cypress trees of excellent foliage who turn the burning heat of our passions into the stillness of dispassion.

Rejoice, purple and fine linen of which the tabernacle of God’s dwelling place was wrought.

Rejoice, turtle doves mated for life, who brought forth the immaculate dove.

Rejoice, for you reign eternally with your daughter, the Queen of all.

Rejoice, for you celebrate with her in splendor in her heavenly mansion in Zion on high.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 11

Mercifully accept our hymns of praise and do not deprive us of your compassion, O holy Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God. We are unworthy of your holy intercession because of our sins. Knowing that you are good and full of pity, however, we implore you to grant us mediation and to help us cleanse ourselves from defilement of sin through repentance. Thus, in purity of heart we may chant to our Creator the hymn of praise: Alleluia.

Ikos 11

Brethren, let us recognize the holy Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna, as two radiant candles which lit the universal lamp. Mercifully illumined with the brightness of their heavenly glory, let us endeavor to become worthy by singing to them such words as these:

Rejoice, for you were counted worthy to raise her who is beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim.

Rejoice, for you were resplendent with heavenly brightness.

Rejoice, for you were filled with the sweet fragrance of the Spirit.

Rejoice, for you bear to God the incense of your prayers for the whole Christian world.

Rejoice, for you ever stand before the Throne of Christ with Mary the God-bearer and John the Baptist.

Rejoice, for we fall before you and honor the power of God in you.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 12

Holy Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna, ask the Lord to grant us divine grace and mercy, forgiveness of sins and correction of life. Never cease to entreat the countenance of Almighty God in our behalf, for you have acquired great boldness before Him. Falling down before you with fervor for this purpose, we beseech you as our true intercessors and helpers, and with real compunction we cry to the Creator of all: Alleluia.

Ikos 12

Singing of the great might of your intercession before God, O righteous Joachim and Anna, we sing also the praises of His all-immaculate Mother who was born of you. In our zeal we offer you these right-fitting praises:

Rejoice, for you are glorified from the East even to the West.

Rejoice, our protectors whose vigilance in intercession is never-waning.

Rejoice, for you grant your gracious help to every Christian soul.

Rejoice, most excellent healers who attend to those in pain and sorrow.

Rejoice, for you fulfill the entreaties and petitions of the pious.

Rejoice, most diligent and pleasing mediators who obtain for us temporal and eternal good things.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Kontakion 13

Holy and righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna, we entreat you with zeal and love, falling down before the footstool of your feet. We ask that you beseech the Lord God to deliver us from the everlasting damnation prepared for sinners. Saved therefore by the loving-kindness of our God and aided by your holy prayers, we may sing in thanksgiving to Him the angelic hymn: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

(Repeat Kontakion 13 three times.)

Kontakion 1 (repeated)

To the holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, forbears of Christ and elect among the human race, who gave birth to the holy Maiden of whom the Son of God was born in the flesh. Since you have great boldness before Christ our God and stand before His heavenly Throne, earnestly entreat Him that we may be delivered from all misfortune and thus may unceasingly cry aloud to you:

Rejoice, O holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

Ikos 1 (repeated)

An angelic messenger was sent to you by God, O holy and righteous Ancestors of God, when you both expressed your sorrow — you Joachim in the wilderness, and you Anna in the garden — offering up supplication to God. Thus, the incorporeal one brought the joyful tidings that you would give birth to an all-blessed daughter in whom the whole human race would be blessed, and with the angel we also offer you joyful praise:

Rejoice, branches of the vine of life who blossomed forth holiness from the root of David.

Rejoice, for you gave birth to a daughter more blessed than all generations of men.

Rejoice, most honored forbears of the Incarnate Son of God.

Rejoice, most excellent disclosers of the mystery hidden from before time began.

Rejoice, closest relatives in the flesh to the Consolation of Israel.

Rejoice, blood relatives of the Redeemer Who was promised to the world.

Rejoice, holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, Ancestors of God.

A Prayer

Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna, your distress and reproach were overcome by the Almighty God, and thereby the Savior of the world came into the world through your holy daughter, Mary. Your prayers were abundantly answered by our merciful God Who rewards patience, humility and compunction. We praise you for your faith and for your commitment to prayer, and we implore your compassion upon our lack of fruitfulness in the Christian virtues. Holy and righteous Joachim and Anna, teach us to be living temples of the grace of God, so that we also may devote ourselves to holiness and bring forth treasures which are pleasing to Him. Growing older with each passing day, we ask your guidance that we might reach a peaceful end on this earth and thereby be united with you forever in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

Courtesy of here.  An akathist is a traditional prayer in the Orthodox Church which is addressed to one of the Persons of the Trinity, or to a saint.  “Joachim” and “Anna” or “Anne” are the names traditionally attributed to the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Today is their feast day.

Will the Real Apostolic Succession Please Stand Up? Recognition of Lineages

We’ve discussed Apostolic Succession in general, and we’ve seen how it came to exit even outside established churches, while still remaining valid.  As with most things in life, however, it’s more complicated than it seems at first.  That’s what I want to discuss in this post.

For the churches that claim Apostolic Succession, there are two interrelated but distinct issues regarding valid clerical lineage, the internal and external.  The internal issue is whether the men (and for some churches, women) whom the church in question chooses to serve as bishops (and secondarily, priests and deacons) are in fact validly ordained in that church’s lineage.  In the vast majority of cases, this is a non-issue.  All churches claiming Apostolic succession have some form or other of training and “quality control”* system for would-be clerics.  There are lengthy periods of training (usually in a seminary), advanced degree requirements, various types of screening and vetting, and so on.  Thus, an existing bishop doesn’t ordain just anyone as bishop, priest, or deacon.  Furthermore, a minimum of three bishops is required to ordain another bishop (usually, many more than three are involved) as an extra level of caution in making sure the lineage is valid.  That is, even if one or two of the bishops are somehow not in a legitimate line of succession, there are enough others involved that there is almost complete certainty of Apostolic Succession being passed on to the new bishop.

The external issue with Apostolic Succession is which purported Apostolic lineages in other churches a given church recognizes.  This is where it gets interesting, and sometimes complex.

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Wandering Bishops

Rene Vilatte, wandering bishop par excellance

We discussed the validity and liceity of the Sacraments, particularly Holy Orders, last time, noting that a church may recognize lineages of Apostolic Succession of bishops as having valid Holy Orders despite that lineage being outside that particular church.  In short, the Church may recognize a man as a “real” bishop even if he was ordained irregularly.  One way this can occur is though schism, pure and simple.  That is, a bishop goes rogue and breaks away from the Church, then ordains as many men as he sees fit.  Since the bishop was validly ordained in the Church, these ordinations he performs, though illicit and carrying the penalty of automatic excommunication for both the bishop himself and those he ordains, are valid.  The men he ordains, in short, are real bishops, full stop.

We saw back here, though, that while some lineages indeed arose through schism (or in some cases, it would be better to say they were maintained despite schism), there are many small independent groups that were formed by individuals with their own ideas about how a sacramental church should be.  Often there was no formal schism, and the founders of these groups sought out ordination to gain legitimate Apostolic Succession.  How did they manage this?  Through the phenomenon, mentioned but not described previously in this series, of wandering bishops.

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When is a Sacrament not a Sacrament? Validity and Liceity

In the process of looking at Apostolic Succession, we’ve looked at some of the (occasionally complex) terminology involved, and we’ve looked a bit at the major churches that claim Apostolic Succession.  I want to look next at how the various churches recognize–or refuse to recognize–these claims.  In order to do that, though, I’m going to have to talk a little bit about sacramental theology.

A sacrament, in the words of the Baltimore Catechism, is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace“.  The churches claiming to have Apostolic Succession have (with a few nuances in one or two cases) retained the sacraments as part of their worship and practice.  The number is traditionally set at seven:  Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (or Communion), Confession (or Reconciliation), Matrimony, Holy Orders (ordination of a man as deacon, priest, or bishop), and Anointing of the Sick (or Extreme Unction).

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Church, Churches, and Church History: Index

Recently I’ve been posting on Apostolic Succession and church history in general.  I thought about putting those posts under “Religious Miscellany“; but those posts are more general in nature, and cover religions other than Christianity.  I decided it would be worthwhile to add a new index for such posts, which are more specifically about Christianity, the Church, and church history.  Therefore, though I’ve written quite a lot about religion here over the years, this will be my most focused and specific index on religious matters.  Enjoy!

Apostolic Succession

Interlude: Complicated Ecclesiastical Terminology

More Terminology:  Churches

Names, Revisited

When is a Sacrament not a Sacrament? Validity and Liceity

Wandering Bishops

Will the Real Apostolic Succession Please Stand Up? Recognition of Lineages

 

More Terminology: Churches

In the previous post, I discussed and defined the relevant terminology in discussing Apostolic Succession for those churches that claim it.  In passing, I reeled off a list of the  major churches that do claim to maintain Apostolic Succession.  I am aware that many of them may be obscure, perhaps even unheard of, to the average American.  Thus, I want to take a very brief look at these churches.  Remember, the criterion is that they all claim valid Apostolic Succession.  Additionally, all of them maintain the Seven Sacraments in one way or another (though there are subtle differences which I won’t go into here).

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Interlude: Complicated Ecclesiastical Terminology

My last post was on the topic of Apostolic Succession.  Over the years I’ve written a lot about theology and such; but I haven’t really written that much about specific churches or church structure.  It occurred to me while writing the earlier post on Apostolic Succession that it’s more “inside baseball” than average.  That is, it assumes a knowledge of a lot of terminology–or at least, it will over the course of coming posts–that might be familiar to Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, or others, but not so much to the public at large.  Even many members of the aforementioned groups may have only a fuzzy idea of the meaning of some of them.  Therefore, I decided to take a short interlude with a post serving mainly to define terms that I have used or will use in writing on this topic.

The terms I’m going to discuss are broadly applicable to the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, the churches of the Anglican Communion (the American branch of which is known as the Protestant Episcopal Church), the Old Catholic communion of churches, the Polish National Catholic Church, and some smaller splinter groups.  In some cases, the terms vary slightly in actual use depending on many factors, or from church to church, and there are any number of exceptions, subtleties, and special cases.  My main goal here is to familiarize my readers with terminology necessary for understanding this series of posts without getting too bogged down in minutia.  Thus, if there are any seeming errors or omissions in what I write here, it’s probably either an omission to save space, or a deliberate decision to omit excruciating details about special cases.  If I have made in true errors, though, I do welcome correction.

Finally, I’m not putting this “glossary”, as it were, into alphabetical or any specific order, aside perhaps from the more specific or lower-level to the more general or  higher-level concepts.  If I had a larger number of terms, I’d worry more about organization; but with the relatively small number I want to deal with here, it shouldn’t be an issue.

All right then!  On with the informal glossary!

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Apostolic Succession

I shared my post about the Gospel of Thomas to a Facebook group, and one of the members suggested I do a post about Apostolic Succession.  I’d never thought to do that, frankly; but it does tie in with some of the things I’ve written about here.  Moreover, Apostolic Succession is something of which many non-Catholics and non-Orthodox may have never heard.  Even  many Catholics and Orthodox may have only fuzzy ideas of the concept, despite its extreme importance to their respective churches.  Thus, since it’s a legitimate topic, I think I will indeed discuss it here.

In any church or religious organization–or any organization at all, for that matter–two of the most fundamental questions are “Who’s in charge” and “Why are they in charge?”  No human organization can lack some type of leadership.  Even among hunter-gatherer tribes that have little structure, there will almost always be one or two older men or women who are the informal leaders of any group endeavor.  They may not “call the shots”, but they get things done, leading by example and by the respect in which they’re held.  Heck, get a group of friends together for poker night or Superbowl Sunday or a road trip, and it’s easy to see that a few of them are actually organizing and getting things done with the others following their lead.  True anarchy is impossible–someone is always in charge, however informally.

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A Chant for Saints Cyril and Methodius, Patron Saints of Europe

Not only is this St. Valentine’s Day, but it is their feast day, too.

For the Feast of the Presentation

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas.