How Can I Hold Thee?

Detail from Icon – Greece 2017

St. Luke 2: 22-40 describes the Feast of the Presentation of the Infant Jesus Into the Temple. (February 15/2)

When Jesus was forty days old, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph the Betrothed brought Christ to the temple, in order to fulfill the law and dedicate Him to God. 

The Orthodox Christian tradition of Churching a mother on her return to church with her child for a blessing, 40 days after the birth of the baby, comes from the Jewish rite observed in this feast. 

Sharing one of the many beautiful hymns for this Feast written by 9th Century female saint, St. Kassiani:

How can I hold Thee as a Child,
Thou, who holdest everything together?
How do I bring Thee to the temple,
Thou, who art beyond goodness?
How do I deliver Thee into the arms of the elder,
Thou, who sitteth in the bosom of the Father?
How dost Thou endure purification,
Thou, who purifieth the whole corrupt nature?”
So sayeth the Virgin, the temple, who containeth God –
Marveling at Thy great condescension, O Christ.

Since 450 AD, church candles are also blessed on this day, because of elder St. Simeon’s reference to Christ as a Light of revelation to the Gentiles. (Candlemas)

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