Voices ever ancient, ever new. The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas.

“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38)

In commenting on these verses from today’s Mass Readings, Saint Bede the Venerable writes:

“In a mystical sense Anna stands for the church, which in this present world is as it were widowed by the death of her Spouse. Even the number of the years of her widowhood designates the time in which the church, continuing on in the body, sojourns afar from her Lord. Seven times twelve make eighty-four. And seven relates to the full course of this world, which was wrought in seven days. But twelve belongs to the completeness of the apostolic teachings. Whoever, therefore, whether the universal church or anyone of the faithful, devotes the whole course of life to apostolic labors, is praised as serving the Lord for eighty-four years.

The period of seven years during which she lived with her husband is in accord with the time of the Lord’s incarnation. For as I have said, the completeness of time is to be expressed by the number seven. Here because of the special quality of the Lord’s majesty, the simple number of seven years expresses, in sign of its perfection, the time in which he taught while clothed in the flesh. It also favors the mysteries of the church that Anna is interpreted as the Lord’s grace, that she is the daughter of Phanuel, who is called the face of the Lord, and descended from the tribe of Ashur, that is, blessed with children.” (Exposition on the Gospel of Luke, 2)

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that the newness of the Nativity in the flesh
of your Only Begotten Son may set us free,
for ancient servitude holds us bound
beneath the yoke of sin.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!