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the Holy Ghost &
Veni Creator
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Thoughts for the Week


Sexagesima Sunday

Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk 
February 2018

 Why The Purification in The Temple?

by Fr. Leonard Goffine


Jesus was brought to the temple that He might be offered to God, who had commanded the Jews to offer their first-born sons to Him in grateful commemoration of the destroying Angel having spared their first-born at the departure from Egypt, when all the first-born of the Egyptians were slain (Exodus 12). These children had to be redeemed afterwards by certain gifts (Exodus 13). This was done on the fortieth day; for according to the law the mother's impurity lasted for this length of time after the birth of a boy, after which she went to the Temple, and in order to be declared purified, made her offering of purification (Lev. 12).


Was Mary subject to this law of purification?


No, for she had not, like other mothers, conceived in sin, but she placed herself with her divine Child among sinners and fulfilled the law by which these were bound. "Nothing", says St. Bernard, "was impure in her conception, nothing impure in her birth". Yet, she did this to give us an example of obedience and true humility, for she interiorly thought little of herself and wished externally to be so regarded. This law of the Jews was given to encourage them to gratitude for the preservation of the first-born of their ancestors from the hands of the destroying Angel (Exodus 12). Mary did not offer a lamb but a pair of doves because she was poor, and was not ashamed to appear as such before the world.


From this practice we still retain the reality of the Churching of women.


In the Jewish law (Lev. 12) women for forty days after the birth of a boy, and for eighty after that of a girl, were regarded as unclean and kept out of the Temple, and required, at the end of that time, to bring a lamb as a holocaust, and a dove as a propitiatory sacrifice to the Temple, and be pronounced pure by the prayer of the Priest. This law does not apply to Christian women, because the Church has abolished the Jewish ceremonies: but the Church, nevertheless, permits them to remain absent from Church for six weeks, or so long as circumstances may require, after the birth of a child, in order to take care of their health. The Church desires that at the end of this time the mother, following Mary's example, should resort to the Church to obtain the blessing of the Priest, thank God for her delivery, offer the child to God, praying with the Priest for the grace to bring up her offspring in sanctity and piety. This comprises the Churching of women, which is a very old and praiseworthy custom and should not be neglected.