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 a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. His many books include Sex in the Unreal City: The Demolition of the Western Mind, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a regular contributor to Chronicles, Crisis Magazine, The Claremont Review, Inside the Vatican Things, The Catholic Thing, and American Greatness. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy. He is a Roman Catholic and lives with his wife in New Hampshire. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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