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!