Friday, February 2, 2018

Candlemas


Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
&
Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

February 2nd


One of the things I miss most about teaching, is the rhythm of the school year.  Teachers are teased about their ever changing bulletin boards, but the reality is they are an excellent example of the ebb and flow of the school year.  There is always something to be putting away until next year, something to be doing right now, and something to be preparing for.  Working outside of a school system now, it is very easy to get stuck in a rut where every day is just a continuation of the previous; there is always work to do and what doesn't get done today will need to get done tomorrow.  My consolation, then, is that the Church gives us seasons and feasts to give rhythm and flow the the whole year.


Today, Candlemas, is one of my favorite feast days.  Two feast days, really.  In Jewish custom, not only did the first born male need to be purchased back from God with two turtledoves or two young pigeons, but a woman who had given birth was considered unclean, so purification was necessary.  Hence the two feast days.



The Gospel for today does a better job explaining:

Luke 2:22-40 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And inspired by the Spirit[a] he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to thy people Israel.”

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,

“Behold, this child is set for the fall[b] and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign that is spoken against
(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phan′u-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Because of Simeon's words about Jesus being the light to the gentiles, the Church has traditionally blessed the candles to be used during the coming year: Candlemas.

There was an excellent article written in 1942 by a Fr. John Bolen titled The Wax Candle in the Liturgy, and I highly recommend reading it.  Years ago, when we started making candles for our home use, we used paraffin wax.  It was cheap and easy to work with, but recently we have switched to 100% beeswax.  If you are looking for a reason to switch to beeswax candles, the interwebs will give you plenty of reasons.  I do not, however, dip all our candles.  We use tin molds to make both tapers and pillar candles.  In my mind, it is out of economy.  When we dip candles, you always have to have around 4 lbs of wax melted so that the candles don't get stumpy.  When we pour candles, we can use every last drop.

In the sense that we prepare candles before actual Candlemas, we started celebrating weeks ago!


This year, we made white candles, as well as colored candles for our Advent wreath.  The colors we choose were Violet and Rose.  I recommend dye flakes vs pigments.  They are easy to measure and mix, and don't clog the candles.



We then took the candles to Mass with us, and they were blessed!







 We had a wonderful dinner by candlelight, and enjoyed an evening remembering that Christ came into the world to be a light to all of us.


Everything does taste better by candle light....




 


The Nativity scene will be packed up tomorrow, as we close out Christmastide and we will start gathering everything to start Lent in a few weeks.  All the best from our family to your's.  May your evening be a blessed one, and the coming year be full of grace and peace.





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