Not only do the first days of February begin a little differently this year, it seems the whole month is a little off. We begin with the Fortieth Day of Christmas and we end with Leap Day. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord marks the Fortieth day after the Birth of Jesus, when He is presented to God at the Temple. Like at the Easter Vigil, those coming to Mass will be given tapers as they arrive. As Mass begins, those tapers will be lighted and we will honor the feast day with the words of the Church, “Dear brothers and sisters, forty days have passed since we celebrated the joyful feast of the Nativity of the Lord. Today is the blessed day when Jesus was presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph.” The candles will be blessed. In that light, we too, will be holding the Light of the world given to us at our Baptism. In that Light, we too, will be illumined by His glow and warmed by His salvation. In that Light, we too, will be called more deeply to offer His Light to the darkness and desperation of our times.
From the beginning, the Church has seen this feast as a celebration of Light. The high priest, Simeon, proclaims that his eyes can finally see. He is no longer in the darkness of waiting because the light of the Messiah’s face is directly before him. He declares that the Baby Mary and Joseph are presenting is Light for his own eyes, Light for the Gentiles, and Light for the people of Israel. As God wells up in Simeon, Simeon takes us forward to Holy Week, the Triduum, and Easter. He tells Mary, without regard for his own personal interest or being sensitive to her present happiness, that “you yourself a sword shall pierce (your heart).” In other words, whatever her Son goes through, so will she (The Sacred Heart & The Immaculate Heart). Anna, the prophetess, declares the same. She who was in the Temple night and day discerns the moment of Jesus coming for the very first time to the Temple, to be the fulfillment of our hope and source of all enlightenment. All the sacrifices made and all the prayers prayed in that Temple come to fulfillment in God being presented to us in our own flesh. Because light is such a central theme of this feast, the Church has traditionally blessed the candles She uses throughout the Church year on this day – thus the name, Candlemas Day is given.
Then beginning next weekend, the 9th onward, I will be away for my final IPF (Institute of Priestly Formation) session at Mundelein Seminary and then immediately meeting for spiritual direction. So, with Fr. Bearer being away this coming week and me the next week and a half, we will get back just in time to celebrate our annual Night of Giving for our school. If there’s any way you can help with the giving, please let us know.
lucis et pacis, fr. bline