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State Chaplin 2017 - 2018

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

February 2018  

As I sit down to write this article, it is February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. We commemorate the day on which Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple; it was the time when Simeon took the Child into his arms and “blessed God, saying:

‘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 the sight of all the peoples:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and glory for your people Israel.’” (Luke 2:28-32)

The Mosaic law considered a woman to be ritually unclean for forty days after the birth of a child. Being ritually unclean meant it was impossible for that woman to touch any sacred object or to enter the temple area. At the end of forty days, she would make a burnt offering of a lamb and offer a turtledove in atonement for sin, and thus be ritually purified in order to be able to enter the temple again. Those who could not afford a lamb were permitted to offer a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, which is what Mary and Joseph bring.

 Of course, Mary had no sin for which to make atonement. However, she and Joseph still remained obedient to the law, which stipulated that these offerings must be made.

 Whenever the Feast of the Presentation comes around, and whenever I reflect on this scene while praying the Rosary (the fourth Joyful Mystery), I always seem to focus on the fact that this extraordinary event unfolded in the context of ordinary (!) people being faithful to the law of the Lord. The encounter of Jesus, Mary and Joseph with Simeon and Anna in the temple was not something the Holy Family went looking for; they were just being obedient to God’s law.

Sometimes, people think they have to go looking for a “mountain top” experience in order to have a meaningful encounter with God. They think of spiritual experience as something very separate from the experiences of day-to-day life. People may not necessarily think very much of God when they are focusing on their work or whatever other activity is occupying them. Then, when they go to Mass or begin their personal prayer, they go into “spiritual mode.”

Not that I’m against mountain top experiences––I’m all for them!––but in the process of integrating our spiritual life completely into the rest of our life, we have to overcome the tendency to compartmentalize. There should be no divorce between spirituality and the other areas of our life. The fact is, it is precisely in the context of our daily living that God desires us to encounter Him!

In our work, in our leisure, in our quiet time, in our activities––whatever we are doing, God is offering us an opportunity to meet Him and to enter into deeper loving union with Him. Imagine how many of these opportunities we miss if we think of spirituality as an isolated part of our life! Like Mary and Joseph, we ought to discover that God comes to us in the ordinary moments of each day. If we are attentive, we will surely receive Him and be transformed.

Vivat Jesus!

Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire

State Chaplain