Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus! Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
The month of February will draw to a formal close the Christmas Season, concluding on February 2 with Candlemas, historically known as both the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The East traditionally has considered this day a Feast of the Lord, whereas Rome has deemed it a Feast of Our Lady. The reason being it was a consequence of Our Lady having to observe the ritual purification rites that caused the offering of the two doves to be made on behalf of the Lord. Neither, of course, had to follow the rituals, for neither had sin. Yet, their humility shines forth by their faithful observance of these rituals even though they were of no use or meaning to them. Quite an example to us, who often lament doing things that we consider beneath our dignity. Quite an example to the world and the Church that often looks down upon ritual as unneeded or in constant need of reform. This is not the example that Our Lord or Our Lady provide to us on this Feast of Candlemas!
On this day, candles are traditionally blessed in reference to the Canticle of Simeon that says that Christ is a light of revelation to the Gentiles. Simeon uttered these words when Mary and Joseph brought the child to the Temple on the fortieth day after His birth to complete the rituals. Candlemas is the fortieth day after Christmas and thus the day that we commemorate this important event.
These candles are blessed at the beginning of Mass. This is one of three blessings of this type, the other two being that of the Ashes on Ash Wednesday and the Palm on Palm Sunday. You are welcome to bring candles to be blessed at the evening Mass. They should be brought up to the Communion no later than ten minutes before the beginning of Mass, organized in some sort of box with your name on them. They will be set next to the altar for the blessing. The blessing of the candles is followed by a procession symbolizing Christ’s procession to the Temple for the ritual offerings. The candle that the celebrant will use was a gift to us from one of the brothers of the Little Oratory in London, who hand-painted the candle with various Christian symbols of this feast. You will find a picture later in this newsletter. Following the procession, Mass will continue as usual.
Please be sure to join us for Mass on this important feast to bring to a close the important feasts of Christmas.