Each year on February 2nd, the Church celebrates the 40th and last day of the Christmas Season. This Feastday has different names. Traditionally, it is more commonly referred to as Candlemas or as “The Feast of the Purification of our Lady.” Nowadays, it is more often referred to as “The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus.” In this lesson we will study and participate in the rich devotions for Candlemas and learn the history of today’s great Feast. We will cover the blessing of Candles done on this day, the spirituality of the Procession for Candlemas, and even learn why this feastday is the reason for the secular day called “Groundhog Day.”Preview This Lesson
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Ps. 47:10-11 We have received Your kindness, O Lord, within Your temple. As Your name, O God, is known to the ends of the earth, so also shall Your praise be voiced to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is just in all things. Ps. 47:2. Great is the Lord, and worthy of all praise in the city of our God, upon His holy mountain. V. Glory be …
Egeria, whose writings date from c. AD 380, attests to a Feast of the Presentation in the church at Jerusalem forty days after Christmas. In 542, Emperor Justinian introduced the feast to the entire Eastern Roman empire in thanksgiving for the end to a horrible pestilence afflicting Constantinople. Pope St. Gregory the Great (590 - 604) brought the Feast to Rome. Later, Pope Sergius (687 - 701) introduced the procession to the Candlemas service. The procession on this day is one of the most picturesque features of the Western Liturgy. The blessing of candles came into common use throughout the Western World in the 11th Century.
Symbolism in the Liturgy
The blessing of the candles (one of three principle blessings of the liturgical year, the others being that of the blessing of Palms on Palm Sunday and the blessing of Ashes on Ash Wednesday), is given by a priest vested in a cope. Standing at the epistle side of the altar, the priest chants 5 prayers before sprinkling the candles thrice with holy water. The candles are then incensed.
The symbolism of the candles is described by Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB, in his "Liturgical Year:"
The mystery of today's ceremony has frequently been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th century. According to Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by His conception or His birth, the spotless purity of His Blessed Mother. The same holy bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blessed Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is His Soul; the flame, which burns on top, is His divinity.
Next, the celebrant distributes the candles to the clergy and the laity whilst the choir sings the Nunc dimittis. As the faithful take the blessed candle from... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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