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Monday, February 2, 2004

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Presentation of the Lord

Malachi 3:1-4
Hebrews 2:14-18
Psalm 24
Luke 2:22-40

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the nightly prayer for life and death

"Now, Master, You can dismiss Your servant in peace." —Luke 2:29

Priests and religious have been led by the Spirit and the Church to commit themselves to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily. Simeon's canticle (see Lk 2:29-32) is always prayed as part of the Night Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. As a priest for almost thirty years, I have prayed Simeon's canticle over 10,000 consecutive nights.

Of the 10,000 times I have prayed this prayer, one time stands out. After receiving a call that my father was close to death, I prayed: "Now, Master, You can dismiss Your servant in peace; You have fulfilled Your word. For my eyes have witnessed Your saving Deed displayed for all the peoples to see: a revealing Light to the Gentiles, the Glory of Your people Israel" (Lk 2:29-32). I prayed that my father would die in peace, for he had seen God's salvation and light. Before the night was over, my father died.

The Lord used this special time when I prayed Simeon's canticle to help me appreciate how privileged I am to pray this prayer daily. One night I will pray this prayer for the last time on earth. It will be the time for me to die in peace. I pray that the many times I pray this prayer will result in my seeing Jesus as my Salvation, Light, and Glory (Lk 2:30, 32).

You don't have to be a priest or religious to pray Simeon's canticle nightly. Isn't it wonderful to be ready to die at any time? That is the assumption of this prayer. Ask the Lord whether He would give you the privilege of praying Simeon's canticle nightly. Then pray accordingly.

Prayer:  Father, on this Candlemas Day, make me the light of the world as I have never been before (see Mt 5:14).

Promise:  "Suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord Whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts." —Mal 3:1

Praise:  Praise Jesus, "a revealing Light to the Gentiles" (Lk 2:32).

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Richard Walling, July 18, 2003

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 24, 2003