is this festival?
T is the festival
on which the Church venerates the humility and obedience of Mary
who, though not subject to the law of Moses, which required purification
and presentation in the temple, yet subjected herself to it. From
this comes the name Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or
the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. It is also called Candlemas,
because before Mass on this day the candles used in divine service
are blessed and carried in procession.
are the candles blessed on this day and carried in procession?
of the presentation of Jesus to His Heavenly Father on this day,
when the aged Simeon called Him: A light to the revelation of
the Gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel, (Luke II.
32.) and to remind us that, like the five wise virgins, we should
go to meet Christ with the light of faith and good works.
what intention are candles blessed?
With the intention
of obtaining from God by their pious use and the prayers of those
who devoutly carry them, health of body and soul; that our hearts,
through the doctrine of Jesus and the grace of the Holy Ghost,
may be interiorly enlightened; and that the fire of the love of
God may be kindled in our hearts, purify them from all remains
of sin, and make us partakers in the joyous light of heaven, which
will never be extinguished.
of the Mass is: We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst
of Thy temple: according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise,
unto the ends of the earth: Thy right hand is full of justice.
Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised: in the city
of our God, in His holy mountain. (Ps. XLVII.) Glory etc.
Almighty, everliving God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty, that
as Thine only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple
in the substance of our flesh; so we also may, with purified hearts,
be presented unto Thee. Thro'. etc.
EPISTLE (Malach. III. 1-4.) Thus Saith The Lord God: Behold,
I send my Angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face.
And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the Angel of the testament,
whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold, he cometh,
saith the Lord of hosts, and who shall be able to think of the
day of his coming, and who shall stand to see him? For he is like
a refining fire, and like the fuller's herb: and he shall sit
refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons
of Levi, and shall refine them as gold and as silver: and they
shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice
of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as the days of
old, and the ancient years: saith the Lord Almighty.
The angel or messenger who shall prepare the way for the Lord,
is John the Baptist, (Matt. XI. 10.) and the long desired
Ruler and Messiah is Christ, who on this day comes into his temple.
He is called the Angel of the testament, because He has arranged
between God and man a new and far more excellent covenant than
God had made with the Jews; inasmuch as He has given to the Christians
not merely temporal but eternal good. This Angel of the testament,
Christ, came the first time in all the humility of a little child
into the temple, but His second coming at the end of the world
will be terrible. The prophet likens Him to a fire which purifies
the gold, and to that herb with which cloth is whitened in the
fuller's machine; under which figures he alludes to the severity
of judgment, with which Christ will judge the just and the unjust.
Pure as refined gold, and as the white linen (corporal) on which
the Body of Christ is laid in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass,
must be the heart of those who receive Christ in the blessed Sacrament,
or seek worthily to offer the holy Sacrifice with the priest.
(Luke II. 22-32.) At that time, After the days of Mary's purification,
according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried
Jesus to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written
in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called
holy to the Lord. And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is
written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two
young pigeons. And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem named
Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation
of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received
an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before
he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit
into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus,
to do for him according to the custom of the law: he also took
him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now thou dost dismiss
thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word, in peace: Because
my eyes have seen thy salvation: which thou hast prepared before
the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles,
and the glory of thy people Israel.
was Jesus brought into the temple of Jerusalem?
That He might
be offered to God, who had commanded the Jews to offer their first-born
sons to Him in grateful commemoration of the destroying angel
having spared their first-born at the departure from Egypt, when
all the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain. (Exodus XII. 12.)
These children had to be redeemed afterwards by certain gifts.
(Exodus XIII. 13.)
soon after birth was this offering to be made?
On the fortieth
day; for according to the law the mother's impurity lasted for
this length of time after the birth of a boy, after which she
went to the temple, and in order to be declared purified, made
her offering of purification. (Lev. XII.)
Mary subject to this law of purification?
No, for she
had not, like other mothers, conceived in sin, and, therefore,
did not need purification; but she placed herself with her divine
Child among sinners and fulfilled the law by which these were
bound. "Nothing", says St. Bernard, "was impure
in her conception, nothing impure in her birth; there was nothing
to be cleansed, for the Child itself was the origin of all purity,
and came into the world to purify it from sin. Truly, O happy
Virgin, thou wast not in need of purification, but thou wouldst
pass as a woman among women, as thy Son also passed for a child
did Mary comply with the law of purification?
She did this
to give us an example of obedience and true humility, for she
interiorly thought little of herself and wished externally to
be so regarded; to teach us to thank God for the favors He has
shown to our ancestors, for the law of the Jews was given to encourage
them to gratitude for the preservation of the first-born of their
ancestors from the hands of the destroying angel; (Exodus XII.
12.) and in order not to scandalize, by being regardless of this
law, those who did not know that she was not required to observe
Learn, O Christian,
from Mary's example to be truly humble and obedient, to be grateful
to God for the benefits which your ancestors and parents have
received, and to be on your guard never to give scandal, by failing
to observe the commandments of God and His Church.
not Mary offer a lamb as did the rich, (Lev. XII. 6).
but merely, like the poor, a pair of doves?
was poor, and was not ashamed to appear as such before the world.
Mary loved humility and the poverty connected with it. Be not
ashamed, therefore, if thou art poor, love poverty the more; but
if rich, be poor in spirit, and love the poor and distressed.
did it come to pass that Simeon met the Saviour in the temple?
was a pious and faithful servant of God, it had been promised
him that he should not die, until he had seen the Saviour. When
Jesus was brought into the temple, Simeon was inspired by God
to go there also, and when he found Jesus there, he by divine
inspiration knew Him to be the Messiah, and gave testimony of
See how God
rewards those who sincerely love and serve Him, giving Himself
to them to be known always more and more!
was Simeon ready to die when he had held Jesus in his arms?
wish was fulfilled; for since he had not only seen with his own
eyes, but had held in his arms the Desired of all nations, for
whom the patriarchs had so vainly longed, what more could he wish
than to leave this miserable world, and commend his spirit into
the hands of his Saviour?
did Simeon call Jesus a light for the revelation of the Gentiles?
had come into the world as the true light, (John I. 9) which was
to free the Gentiles from the darkness of superstition and idolatry,
and from the blindness and slavery of Satan, as well as to conduct
the Jews out of the bondage of the Mosaic Law into the liberty
of the children of God. (Gal. IV. 31.)
Heavenly Father! look down from Thy throne of mercy upon the face
of Thy Anointed in whom Thou art well pleased. Behold, He is this
day offered to Thee in the temple for the sins of His brethren.
Let this offering please Thee, and move Thee to have compassion
on us sinners. In consideration of His humility and obedience,
forgive us our pride and disobedience, and grant us, that purified
by His blood, we may one day, having like Simeon departed this
life in peace, behold Thee as the eternal Light which shall never
be extinguished in the temple of Thy glory, be presented to Thee
by Mary, our beloved Mother, and love and praise Thee forever.
In the Jewish
law (Lev. XII.) women for forty days after the birth of
a boy, and for eighty after that of a girl, were regarded as unclean
and kept out of the temple, and required, at the end of that time,
to bring a lamb as a holocaust, and a dove as a propitiatory sacrifice
to the temple, and be pronounced pure by the prayer of the priest.
This law does not, it is true, apply to Christian women, because
the Church has abolished the Jewish ceremonies: but the Church,
nevertheless, permits them to remain absent from church for six
weeks, or so long as circumstances may require, after the birth
of a child, in order to take care of their health. This should
be remembered by husbands, who should see that their wives have
the necessary quiet and attendance which nature requires for recovery
after the birth of a child. The Church desires that at the end
of this time the mother, following Mary's example, should resort
to the church to obtain the blessing of the priest, thank God
for her delivery, offer the child to God, praying with the priest
for the grace to bring up her offspring in sanctity and piety.
This comprises the Churching of women, which is a very old and
praiseworthy custom and should not be neglected. This practice
was not instituted to prevent their being harmed by the devil,
by malicious persons, or by ghosts, and it would be not only a
foolish fear, but a superstition to be condemned, if one were
to suppose that a woman were liable to harm if she should go abroad
before she were churched. The delicate health of women and of
children is generally owing to their having injured themselves
by want of proper care and attention.
Almighty and beneficent God! who didst impose upon our mother
Eve, in punishment for her sin, that she should give birth to
her children in pain: I offer to Thee all the pains which I have
thus suffered in atonement for my sins, and thank Thee, that I
have safely brought a child into the-" world, whom I now
offer to Thee, according to the example of the Mother of Thine
only-begotten Son, for Thy holy service, whom I shall zealously
endeavor to educate for Thy honor. Give me but this grace through
the intercession and merits of this most blessed Mother. Bless
me and my child, and grant, that we may here live in accordance
with Thy divine will, and receive eternal salvation. Through Christ,
our Lord, &c. Amen.