Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Catholic Nook: Candlemas

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Annnndddd, we're back with another installment of the Catholic Nook! I've missed writing these posts, it's one of my favorite segments on the blog. I meant to write a few during Advent and was just too busy with other things. Pleased to be with you again, gentle reader. *beams*

Yesterday, I was brainstorming about topics, and it struck me that we are approaching February 2nd, an important day on the Church calendar. I just love the name, Candlemas! I mean, did you ever? Anything with a "mas" at the end is going to endear itself to me. So, what is Candlemas?

It is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, which we all know and love as the 4th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Since the fourth century, the Church has celebrated this feast on the fortieth day following the Nativity.

On this day, Jesus was brought to the Temple as an infant, in accordance with Jewish law. This is where Mary met up with Simeon, who prophesied that her heart would be "pierced by a sword." Obviously, for Mary, this was a very emotional visit. We don't know what Mary said to Simeon, if anything, but one would imagine that her heart and mind were awhirl with thoughts of what the future held for her son. This is also the day that the Church observes the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, another indication of Mary's obedience to the laws of her faith which bid her to ritually cleanse herself 40 days after giving birth.

In the liturgy, this days includes the blessing of candles that will be used throughout the year, and subsequently a candlelit procession through the darkened church, representing the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple in Jerusalem. As the procession makes its way through the church, the Canticle of Simeon is sung:

"Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." (Luke 2:29-32).

Every year my parish makes available for a minor donation beeswax taper candles that were blessed on Candlemas. I have bought some, and hoarde them in my bedside table for "when we need them." When might that be? The Apocalypse? I don't know, but it makes me feel safer having a stockpile of these candles. In fact, I should buy some more this year, I think we're down to only four. February 2nd is a Sunday this year, and I'm anxious to see the liturgy in action since I don't recall being present at a Mass on this day before. The procession may not happen at every parish, I'm reading, but I would think we would all see the blessing of the candles. Let's compare notes next week, shall we. :)

Does your parish offer blessed candles for home use after Candlemas each year? Leave me a comment!

4 comments:

  1. I didn't comment before because I honestly wasn't sure what our parish did for Candlemas, as we're still pretty new here. :) However, I'm delighted to report that there were blessed candles distributed to everyone before Mass! We lite them for the entrance procession and the initial prayers of the Mass, and then extinguished them, leaving, of course, lots of candle left to take home. They're beeswax, too, so they smell WONDERFUL!

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    1. Oh AWESOME! No procession at our parish, but our priest did bless candles and have some for a small donation to purchase after Mass. He also had a nice homily on The Presentation and Christ as the Light of the World. It was also Scout Sunday, and so that made Mass a bit longer already, so that may be why he axed the procession.

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  2. We didn't do anything for Candlemas that I am aware of. Unless it happened on Saturday. But I had candles going ALL day over the weekend. So we celebrated in house. We did have blessings of the throat and I met another mom who is married to an atheist! As we were filing out of the pews for the blessing, she asked me if she could ask me a personal question. You know me, of course! I am more intrigued by what you'd ask! She asked if my husband was Catholic. When I told her he is quite the opposite, she rushed for pen and paper and was shocked that the woman she'd been sitting with (and the same woman who watched the boys when I cantored) is of the same family situation! So there's that lovely event to recount! <3

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    1. *love* the blessing of the throats! Anne and I got ours blessed. I'm hoping that Henry will get his blessed in school today, since he rushed off to a Scouts event at the parish center after Mass without his blessing. And what a lovely story!

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