Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Purification of the Blessed Virgin, Meeting of the Lord, Candlemas
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus. This feast commemorates three distinct but related historical events in the life of the Holy Family. It marks the day when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for the first time. The Mosaic Law required them to consecrate their firstborn son to God. Additionally, it required Mary to submit to ritual purification forty days after childbirth, which involved making a sacrificial offering in the temple.
This feast day also commemorates the encounter in the temple between the Holy Family and St. Simeon the prophet and St. Anna the prophetess, called the meeting of the Lord. This is the third and final infancy epiphany of Jesus.
Another name for this feast is Candlemas, because of the words of St. Simeon: “For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). Jesus is the Light of the World, so this is the day when the Church blesses candles for use throughout the year.
Candlemas also calls to mind the blessing and procession of palms, which will happen on Palm Sunday. Mass will begin with a procession from the back of the church, this time to greet the Lord fully grown into his role as King and God and sacrifice. The candles of Candlemas also foreshadow those of the Easter Vigil, when we celebrate Jesus rising from the darkness of death to shed his peaceful light on humanity. The Candlemas celebration calls us back to Christmas and forward to Easter.
Suggestions to celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord:
This week bring candles to Mass and ask Msgr. or Fr. Linn to bless your candles.
Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
Read Luke 2:22-35, the account of the presentation including the Canticle of Simeon.
Read this article to see the connection between Candlemas and Groundhog Day.
On February 2nd, a quaint tradition unfolds, known well to schoolchildren and adults alike. The fate of Spring hangs in the balance as a burrowing animal looks for its shadow. But where did this tradition come from?
Resources from: Oriens – A pilgrimage through Advent and Christmas by Fr. Joel Sember; Catholic Culture; The Catholic all Year by: Kendra Tierney