Not to be confused with Groundhog’s Day, February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas Day. Formerly this was known as the Feast of the Purification of Mary, since this was the day Mary was presented in the temple for purification, 40 days after she gave birth. This is a little home ceremony for this feast.
Candlemas falls during Ordinary Time. The day is also called the Presentation of the Child in the Temple, or the feast of Candlemas. On this day each member of the family should receive his or her own blessed candle to be lighted on birthdays, baptismal anniversaries, first Holy Communion, and in sickness. This is another appropriate occasion to invite friends to a home ceremony.
The family, who with lighted candles goes in spirit to the Temple with our Lady, will learn a wonderful lesson of her humility. When Mary went to offer her first-born Son, Joseph carried the offering of the poor, two turtle-doves, symbols of purity and fidelity. According to Jewish law, one would be offered as a holocaust and the other for a sin offering. The Book of Leviticus reads: The priest shall make atonement for her sin, and thus she will be made clean. Actually Mary, the God-bearer, was not subject to such a rite — no "purification" was necessary after a virginal giving birth to Christ. Nevertheless in her humility she observed the Law.
As the Holy Family enter the Temple, the aged Simeon and Anna, called by the Holy Spirit, wait to see the Child. It had been promised to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Savior. Mary, the living "Ark of the Covenant," guided by the same Spirit, welcomes the saintly old man and puts the Salvation of the world into his arms. "Now," he says, "Thou dost dismiss Thy servant in peace, O Lord, because mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel."
The blessing of candles, which takes place on this feast, is one of the three principal popular blessings conferred by the Church. Ashes and palms are the other two. The father/leader of a family begins the home ceremony by gathering the family in candlelight around the crib for a last time.
Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light that enlightens every man who comes into the world, pour forth Thy blessing upon these candles; sanctify them by the light of Thy grace and mercifully grant that as candles by their visible light scatter the darkness of night, so too our hearts, burning with invisible fire, may be freed from all blindness of sin. With the eyes of our soul purified by Thy Light, may we discern those things that art pleasing to Thee and helpful to us, so that having finished the darksome journey of this life, we may come to never-fading joys through Thee, O Jesus Christ, Savior of the world. In perfect Trinity Thou livest and reignest God forever.
Evening prayers follow the blessing.
With the family and friends we usually have a candlelight procession from the dining room through the halls to the living room. There a Simeon of ten in a borrowed white Jewish prayer cap awaits Mary with her doll, wrapped in swaddling clothes to symbolize Baby Jesus, and a young Joseph carrying a cage with two pigeons made from modeling clay. In candlelight Simeon takes the child and prays his canticle. Then he blesses Joseph and Mary and adds: "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Then the Antiphon, "It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord," is sung or said in unison. A family could easily make its own prayer to the Queen of Heaven, asking that the graces of Forty Days remain with them for the year.
There is a prayer by Abbot Gueranger which we like for Candlemas:
O Blessed Mother, the sword is already in your heart. You foreknow the future of the Fruit of your womb. May our fidelity in following Him through the coming mysteries of His public life bring some alleviations to the sorrows of your maternal heart.
Activity Source: Christmas to Candlemas in a Catholic Home by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota
During the Ordinary Time, the Church celebrates the fullness of the mystery of the Lord Jesus. The people of God offer praise by celebrating the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Sunday is the original Christian Feast Day, following the tradition handed down from Apostolic times, for this way the day of the Lord’s Resurrection.
Today’s Christian communities continue this tradition by celebrating every Sunday as the day of the risen Lord. (Source: ORDO)
Here are some resources that might help the faithful in learning more about this liturgical season, as well as practical advice to get the most out of the Ordinary Time.
The Advent Season
Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year. While it expresses the deep longing of all humanity for God, it celebrates the three-fold coming of the Lord: remembering the events that surrounded the Lord’s coming long ago, celebrating his coming among us today, and looking forward to his final coming in glory.
Advent is a season of devout and joyful expectation. Its four Sundays (with its actual length determined by the weekday of Christmas) highlight our desire and longing for peace, justice and unity. The third Sunday of Advent is called "Gaudete" Sunday (from the first word of the Latin Entrance Antiphon for this day, meaning "Rejoice") and the liturgical color may be rose instead of purple. This is the Church's way of further heightening our expectation as we draw ever nearer the Solemnity of Christmas.
- Find Advent events, resources, programs, and devotions for individuals, families, and ministries as we prepare our hearts for the coming of our Saviour. Visit catholicyyc.ca/advent
A talk given at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church on December 6, on the occasion of the Calgary Regional Meeting of the Catholic Women’s League
Many of you are aware that today is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, because this morning, your children or your grandchildren woke up and found that he had come to visit them in the night, leaving candy, money, and little toys in their shoes.
Today is also Monday of the second week of Advent, which means that we are preparing for the coming of Christ, re-presented at Mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with the reciting or singing of the Christmas Proclamation at midnight, and the placing of an image of the Baby Jesus in a creche near the Altar.
The character of Santa Claus is based upon the legend of St. Nicholas, especially his generosity toward children and the poor, and of course we have all played the role of Santa Claus to make sure that the children we love and the poor in our neighbourhood are well looked after at Christmas time.
There are a great many other legends about St. Nicholas that remind us of his generosity and his special kindness toward children. Some of us may have forgotten that he was a real person - he was the Bishop of Myra, which at that time was a small town in Greece - today, it’s a small town in Turkey, and it was recently renamed - it’s called Demre - St. Nicholas was present at the First Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD.
We know whose birth we celebrate at Christmas because St. Nicholas helped to give us these words and was influential in adding them to the Nicene Creed:
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
These words were added in response to the teachings of the heretical Bishop, Arius, who denied that Christ was God, saying He was inferior to the Father. St. Nicholas was a follower of St. Athanasius, who was The Church's champion against Arianism, and by their combined efforts, the heresy was condemned at the Council of Nicea in 325.
In AD 325 Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, the very first ecumenical council. More than 300 bishops came from all over the Christian world to debate the nature of the Holy Trinity. It was one of the early church’s most intense theological questions. Arius, from Egypt, was teaching that Jesus the Son was not equal to God the Father. Arius forcefully argued his position at length. The bishops listened respectfully.
As Arius vigorously continued, Nicholas became more and more agitated. Finally, he could no longer bear what he believed was essential being attacked. The outraged Nicholas got up, crossed the room, and slapped Arius across the face! The bishops were shocked. It was unbelievable that a bishop would lose control and be so hotheaded in such a solemn assembly. They brought Nicholas to Constantine. Constantine said even though it was illegal for anyone to strike another in his presence, in this case, the bishops themselves must determine the punishment.
The bishops stripped Nicholas of his bishop’s garments, chained him, and threw him into jail. That would keep Nicholas away from the meeting. When the Council ended a final decision would be made about his future.
Nicholas was ashamed and prayed for forgiveness, though he did not waver in his belief. During the night, Jesus and Mary his Mother, appeared, asking, “Why are you in jail?” “Because of my love for you,” Nicholas replied. Jesus then gave the Book of the Gospels to Nicholas. Mary gave him an omophorion, so Nicholas would again be dressed as a bishop. Now at peace, Nicholas studied the Scriptures for the rest of the night.
When the jailer came in the morning, he found the chains loose on the floor and Nicholas dressed in bishop’s robes, quietly reading the Scriptures. When Constantine was told of this, the emperor asked that Nicholas be freed. Nicholas was then fully reinstated as the Bishop of Myra.
The Council of Nicaea agreed with Nicholas’ views, deciding the question against Arius. The work of the Council produced the Nicene Creed which to this day many Christians repeat weekly when they stand to say what they believe.
Read more ...
Holy Week is the week which precedes the great Feast of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday: it includes the last days of Lent and the beginning of the Easter Triduum. During Holy Week, the Church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ in the last days of his life on earth, beginning with his messianic entrance into Jerusalem. (ORDO)
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of preparation before the feast of Easter. In the Roman Rite, the celebration of Mass has particular traditions that make it look much different than a typical Sunday Mass. Many of these traditions are centuries old, having roots in the early Church, based on the events that occur in the Gospel passages. The differences are meant to enrich our celebration of Jesus’ Passion, immersing us into the events in a unique way to help our souls ponder the beauty and riches of the Paschal mystery.
THE SACRED PASCHAL TRIDUUM
Through his Paschal Mystery, the Lord Jesus redeemed the human race and gave perfect glory to the Father. By dying, Christ destroyed our death; by rising, he restored our life. For this reason, the Easter Triduum, when we celebrate the suffering, Death and Resurrection of our Lord, is the high point of the Liturgical Year. The Easter Solemnity is to the year what Sunday is to the week.
Paschal Feast: The Church of God fasts on God Friday and Holy Saturday to honour the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare to share more deeply in the joy of his resurrection. Good Friday is a universal day of fasting and abstinence from meat.
Holy Saturday & Easter Vigil
On Holy Saturday, the people of God remain in prayer and fasting at the tomb of the Lord, meditating on his sufferings, death, and descent to the dead. Throughout this day the faithful are invited to continue the solemn paschal fast which they began on Good Friday. During the Vigil Service, a night of prayer which looks forward to the celebration of the Lord's resurrection, mourning will give way to the joys of Eastertide, which we will celebrate for the next fifty days.
The month of November provides a special opportunity to remember and pray for our beloved dead. On Friday, November 1st we celebrate All Saints’ Day. In our churches, we have memorial books where the names of those dear to us are recorded and remembered. With this in mind, let me write to you about the importance of All Souls’ Day on November 2nd.
On All Saints Day, we honor the Church in Heaven and on All Souls Day, we commemorate the Church in Purgatory—the deceased faithful who are on their way to Heaven. Their present period of purification will infallibly end with their vision of God and union with the other saints. This, then, is not a day of mourning. We rejoice because our faithful departed have been judged worthy to be with God.
As early as the seventh century, certain monastic communities had specific days for commemorating the dead of their community. This practice spread, and by the ninth century it had become a commemoration of all the dead. In 998 St. Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, France, established that in his communities the commemoration of the faithful departed was to be celebrated on November 2nd.
In the fifteenth century, the custom arose in Spain of celebrating three Masses for the deceased on November 2nd and this custom prevailed throughout Spain, Portugal, and Spanish America.
Then in 1915, Pope Benedict XV—aware of the great number of deaths during World War I, which was then raging—extended to the entire Latin Church the privilege of celebrating three Masses for the deceased on this day.
Throughout the month of November, we can remember the Purgatorial Church with special prayers and visits to cemeteries. By so doing, we can actively live out the Collect for All Souls’ Day, when the Church prays:
Listen kindly to our prayers, O Lord,
and, as our faith in your Son,
raised from the dead, is deepened,
so may our hope of resurrection for your
departed servants also find new strength.
This month also affords us to pray for a holy death for ourselves, so that we too may one day be numbered among the Saints.
Father Jonathan Gibson
Diocesan Spiritual Advisor
This free course from the Liturgical Institute (Mundelein, IL) introduces the theological and pastoral dimensions of the sacred liturgy. Specifically, it uncovers the spiritual reality of every liturgical celebration, considers the ritual medium employed by liturgical celebrations, and examines the various sacramental signs and symbols that contribute to a liturgical rite, such as objects, actions, words, time, ministers, music, and architecture.
This is a self-paced online course, decide when you start and when you finish. Sign up here.
Instructor Christopher Cartens.