Presentation of Our Lord
Work schedules, electric clocks and watches, printed calendars, modern astronomy and geography, and the ease of modern travel and relocation are wonderful things. All of these increase our capacity to work and live efficiently. However, they come at a great cost. Time and activity are measured in ever shrinking intervals. Our lives are dissected every which way. We lose a sense of place and time. Our identity gets smeared amidst the frenetic activity of life.
I have nostalgia for a time I never knew. When our lives were measured by the slow and steady pace of the seasons. When sunup and sundown were the only times of the day. When the appearance of the full moon was a time of reverence.
Our Scriptures and the sacramental and liturgical core of our faith were formed in such a time. Easter is still celebrated according to the changing date of the spring equinox. In Europe, there are still bonfires lit on the feast of the birth of John the Baptist. The days get darker from his birth until Christmas comes when the days start getting longer after the winter solstice. Christ is honored by the very rhythm of our days.
For four quarters of the calendar also have minor feast days at what are called “cross quarters”. These are the feasts that are roughly six weeks after and six weeks before major events in the liturgical calendar. All Saints Day and its evening vigil is one of those feasts. Candlemas is another.
As silly as Groundhog Day may seem, it owes its origin to these cross quarter feasts. All throughout northern Europe, different ethnic groups found ways to mark this point in the calendar. For many cultures, the tradition was to eat pancakes on this day, supposedly to represent the sun that would be getting higher and higher in the sky. Fairly important for northern countries closer to the arctic circle.
The Presentation of the Lord celebrates Christ the light of the world. We hear Simeon proclaim him “the light of revelation to the world!” This is the day that a church would take delivery of candles that were prepared in the winter from the wax harvested the previous summer. What a beautiful deadline for a beekeeper! Ceremonies for blessing these candles became part of the ritual of the feast. This year we are blessed to have this feast day on a Sunday and therefore we can have more people participate in the blessing of the candles.
Not only the candles used in the liturgy are to be blessed. The custom is to bring the candles you would use at home, especially a “storm candle” one that was always lit during a storm to ask for protection from lightening, rain, and wind.
At all the masses of the weekend of February 2, we will bless candles. Please bring a special candle from home to be blessed at the mass you attend. Place them on the table prepared in the sanctuary for them. We will also have candles made of beeswax available for those who would like to purchase a candle like we use on the altar. This simple but beautiful ritual goes a long way to restoring a sense of natural time, the divine time that only God can give us.
At the conclusion of all the masses for the weekend, Msgr. Mak and the deacons will offer the blessing of the throats in anticipation of the feast of St. Blaise, Monday, February 3, 2020.