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From the Pastor 01/28/18

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Friday, February 2
This Feast occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas Day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in the liturgy.

Before the revision of the General Roman Calendar this marked the end of the Christmas season. The reformed calendar has designated that the Sunday after Epiphany, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, is the end of the Christmas season. This feast in the Ordinary Form is no longer referred to as the “Purification of Mary” but the “Presentation of the Lord.”

The feast was first observed in the Eastern Church as “The Encounter.” In the sixth century, it began to be observed in the West: in Rome with a more penitential character and in Gaul (France) with solemn blessings and processions of candles, popularly known as “Candlemas.” The Presentation of the Lord concludes the celebration of the Nativity and with the offerings of the Virgin Mother and the prophecy of Simeon, the events now point toward Easter.

In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another ‘epiphany’ celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or ‘Candlemas,’ was of great importance.

This feast has long been associated with many popular devotional exercises. The faithful: gladly participate in the processions commemorating the Lord’s entry into the Temple in Jerusalem and His encounter with God, whose house He had come to for the first time, and then with Simeon and Anna. Such processions, which in the West had taken the place of licentious pagan events, always had a penitential character, and were later identified with the blessing of candles which were carried in procession in honor of Christ, ‘the light to enlighten the Gentiles’ (Lk. 2:32).

Popular piety is sensitive to the providential and mysterious event that is the conception and birth of new life. Christian mothers can easily identify with the maternity of Our Lady, the most pure Mother of the Head of the mystical Body — notwithstanding the notable differences in the Virgin’s unique conception and birth.

The feast of February 2 still retains a popular character. It is necessary, however, that such should reflect the true Christian significance of the feast. It would not be proper for popular piety in its celebration of this feast to overlook its Christological significance and concentrate exclusively on its Marian aspects. The fact that this feast should be ‘considered a joint memorial of Son and Mother’ would not support such an inversion. The candles kept by the faithful in their homes should be seen as a sign of Christ ‘the light of the world’ and an expression of faith.

The tradition of carrying candles on Candlemas Day, February 2, can be traced back as far as the fifth century. Bringing the candle into the home is a sign that Christ is with you in your everyday life. Having blessed candles in your home is a great sacramental. If you are sick and the priest or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is coming to your home to bring you Holy Communion, you can have the candle lighted to greet Jesus coming to be with you. This was a practice that was very common years ago. It certainly would be nice to see it come back. I remember my younger years as a priest at St. Dominic’s in Youngstown, many times the older people would indeed greet me at the door with a lighted candle. Many would say, “Welcome Jesus, Welcome Father.” Truly a wonderful pious practice. But blessed candles can be used in time of storms and dangerous weather conditions. Candles can be used when the family prays together, and especially on days when the family celebrates the baptism date of your children. There are lots of ways to use blessed home candles.

So on Candlemas Day we will bless several hundred home-use candles for you to take home. The suggested offering for a box of two blessed candles will be $10, and will be available on February 2 at all the entrances of the Church.

For someone who can sew and would like a nice little ministry for the parish,I have just the thing for you. We are looking for someone to make the small baptismal bibs that we give to our newly baptized children. They are easy to make and the person who is moving out of this ministry is willing to help direct anyone who is interested in taking up the ministry. Please contact the Parish Office if interested.

A blessed week to all,

Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor