What is this festival?
This 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
Mary, or the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. It is also called
Candlemas, because before Mass on this day the candles used
divine service are blessed and carried in procession.
Why are the candles blessed on this day and carried in
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.
With what intention are candles blessed?
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.
The Introit 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.
COLLECT 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'.
(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.
EXPLANATION 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
GOSPEL (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.
Why was Jesus brought into the temple of
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.)
How soon after birth was this offering to be
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.)
Was Mary subject to this law of
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 among children."
Why did Mary comply with the law of
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
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
Why did not Mary offer a lamb as did the rich,
(Lev. XII. 6). but merely, like the poor, a pair of
Because she 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.
How did it come to pass that Simeon met the Saviour in the
Because he 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 Him.
See how God
rewards those who sincerely love and serve Him, giving Himself to
them to be known always more and more!
Why was Simeon ready to die when he had held Jesus in his
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
Why did Simeon call Jesus a light for the revelation of
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.)
PRAYER 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. Amen.
INSTRUCTION ON CHURCHING
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.
PRAYER 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.