‘A light to lighten the Gentiles’ (Luke 2:32)


The start of February and the arrival of Candlesmas was an important occasion in my student days at StChad’s College,Durham.  The whole place was on a high with excitement, because we had our College Candlemas ball on the nearest convenient Friday. The whole place was decorated, everyone was dressed up to the nines and you danced the night away.


It wasn’t as popular as the ball, but we also kept the Feast of Candlemas in the college chapel.  There I learnt that it was called Candlemas in memory of it being the day when candles were traditionally brought to church to be blessed for the coming year.  The feast remembers how Jesus was taken, as a newly born child, to be presented in theTemple, atJerusalem. An old priest named Simeon, who had longed to see the coming messiah, took Jesus in his arms, blessed Him and spoke of how He would be a light to shine upon all people.


Our then assistant college chaplain, a retired priest called the Rev’d Colin Ryland, always presided beautifully on this occasion, since he had something of Simeon about him.  Like Simeon he had served God for many years and was content to continue in whatever way he could.  He was very popular with students, since he had a good sense of humour, was very kind, extremely patient and dispensed wise advice when asked.  In no way did he ever try to be one of us and he certainly didn’t change his convictions in a search for popularity.


We live in a very youth centred world, which sometimes means that we neglect the wisdom that may come with age.  Simeon recognized Christ when others didn’t and age didn’t stop my old chaplain from having a highly successful youth ministry.  A good church and a happy society need both the hopes and ambitions of the young and the experiences of those who are older. They also ought to be united in following the light of Christ to guide them forward.

Father Michael

Posted By: valerie

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