And He Shall Purify by Anthony Esolen

ILLUMINATIONS

And He Shall Purify

The devoutly Christian and once-popular novelist Taylor Caldwell, in A Pillar of Iron, her historical novel on the life of Cicero, imagined that the great orator's Semitic friend, the famous actor Roscius, left Rome and his riches to return to Palestine, to live an ascetic life and to wait for the long-expected Messiah. He took the name of Simeon, she says. That name echoes the Hebrew word for hearing.

Saint Luke tells us that the old man Simeon was "waiting for the consolation of Israel," and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He prayed that God would not dismiss him from the world until he should see with his own eyes the salvation prepared for all the peoples, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel. Did he expect that it would be a grown man, coming to the Temple to worship? Someone who would engage him in conversation? A teacher whose words he could treasure?

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Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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