Week of February 2, 2014

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  In older understandings of the liturgical year, today’s feast, forty days after Christmas, brought the celebration of the Nativity to a formal conclusion.

Previously, this day was known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and focused on Mary’s observance of the Jewish legal requirements for purification after childbearing.  That perspective is gone and today the feast celebrates another manifestation of Jesus.

In the Eastern church, where the feast was first observed, it was known as “The Encounter” or “The Meeting.”  Simeon, a just and pious man, and Anna, who was faithful and devout, encountered Jesus and were humble enough to recognize him as the Messiah.  In her reflection in Celebration, Patricia Sanchez suggests,

“As we celebrate this feast, let us present ourselves to God, as Jesus did. Offering all we are, all we have and all we will become; let us, like Jesus, be willing to go forth from this place determined to be a source of light and healing in an often dark, broken world.  Let us grow strong and wise, knowing that the favor of God rests upon us (Luke 2:40).”

Recently a parishioner, George Kiefer, came to talk to me about his wife Patricia.  She is one of the people we have been praying for at mass on Sunday when the deacon prays for the sick in our parish.  Her health has worsened and doctors don’t have a solution.  George asked for parishioners to pray for a miracle for Patricia that she be healed mentally and physically.  He suggested we pray for the intercession of Chaplain Emil Kapaun, a priest of the Wichita Diocese who served as an army chaplain during the Korean War.

After his regiment fell into an ambush and disaster Fr. Kapaun stayed behind with the wounded instead of joining in the retreat.  Time and again the gentle priest risked his life to keep the enemy from finishing off wounded Americans on the battlefield.  Kapaun stole food to keep others alive before his own death from pneumonia after about six months as a prisoner.  The Diocese of Wichita is promoting his cause for canonization.  One of the things looked for in this cause are miracles that happen because of intercessory prayer to Fr. Kapaun.

George would like us to pray this intercessory prayer to Fr. Kapaun asking for a miracle for Patricia.  I told George there are other people in the parish who would like a miracle too.  He responded that we can pray for them, too.  He is just asking us to include Patricia in those prayers.  So, below is a prayer for intercession for Patricia and others who are sick and would like our prayers.

Fr. Kapaun gave glory to God by following his call to the priesthood and serving the people of Kansas and those in the military.

Fr. Kapaun, I ask your intercession  not only for these needs for (add Patricia’s name and the name of anyone else needing our prayer for a miracle) which I mention now…but that I too may follow your example of service to God and my neighbor.

For the gifts of courage in battle and perseverance of faith, we give you thanks O Lord.

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