This weekend we are celebrating two special traditions after our Sunday Masses for those who would like to participate. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord was Thursday, February 2nd. That is the 40th Day of Christmas and was formerly known as Candlemas Day because candles that are used in devotions were blessed. The second is the traditional blessing of throats for the feast of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, whose feast day is Feb 3rd. Having just gotten over some variation of the cold/flu it is a timely moment for such blessings!
The connection with candles for the Presentation of the Lord comes from imagery of Jesus, who is the Light that has come into the world. When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, the presence of God entered the Temple, the Light of the world.
Because of that symbolism within the Church, candles are a sign of Christ. We have the Easter Candle which is a symbol of Jesus and the light of faith. At baptisms children receive a baptismal candle lit from the Easter Candle and parents make a promise on behalf of their children to help them keep this light of faith burning brightly. The Easter Candle is used at baptisms and funerals as a sign of the Lord’s presence.
In any Catholic Church throughout the world a sanctuary light is always kept burning. This solitary candle is a sign that Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. At St. Mary’s this candle is right next to the tabernacle. At Sacred Heart this candle is hanging from the ceiling right over the Altar. I personally love to go into the Church when that sole candle provides the only light, and spend some time with the Lord.
This feast day can also transform the way we pray part of the rosary. The fourth joyful mystery is the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. I like to use this decade to pray for people that are perhaps experiencing a time of darkness or are far from God. Since this mystery celebrates Jesus entering into the Temple, I will often pray for someone and ask Jesus to please enter their hearts and lives just like He entered the Temple in Jerusalem. If they are experiencing darkness, I will often pray this decade asking Jesus to enter their darkness with His light and bring them hope.
It is common for people to have a prayer space at home that has a Bible, images of Jesus and the Saints, a Rosary, and a candle that is lit during the time of prayer. Even if you forgot the candles you would like blessed this week, we do rain checks! Either Fr. Ginu or I are happy to bless them anytime, just grab us.
This coming week I will be gone for my annual priest retreat (Feb 6-12th). Say a prayer for me and I will pray for you! It is always so good to take this week of prayer to be refreshed and built up anew.