2 Feb 2019

2nd February 2019 - Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas)

"Lord, now you let your servant go in peace,
your word has been fulfilled:
My own eyes have seen the salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel"

On February 2, the Church in the west celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas. 

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. It is the day candles are incensed and blessed with holy water and later distributed to clergy and laity — a custom going back to the 11th century. Newly blessed candles from Candlemas will be used tomorrow for the Blessing of the Throats on the feast of St. Blaise. The light from blessed candles represents Jesus Christ, the Light of the World — “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of thy people, Israel,” as Simeon prayed when he took Jesus in his arms in the temple. 


Candlemas 
(1849) - Bl John Henry Newman

THE Angel-lights of Christmas morn,
Which shot across the sky,
Away they pass at Candlemas,
They sparkle and they die.

Comfort of earth is brief at best,
Although it be divine;
Like funeral lights for Christmas gone,
Old Simeon’s tapers shine.

And then for eight long weeks and more,
We wait in twilight grey,
Till the high candle sheds a beam
On Holy Saturday.

We wait along the penance-tide
Of solemn fast and prayer;
While song is hush’d, and lights grow dim
In the sin-laden air. {280}

And while the sword in Mary’s soul
Is driven home, we hide
In our own hearts, and count the wounds
Of passion and of pride.

And still, though Candlemas be spent
And Alleluias o’er,
Mary is music in our need,
And Jesus light in store.

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