Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus

Stained-glass from St Francis Cathedral, Baker City, crafted in 1923
It’s been 40 days since Christmas, and on this day, February 2nd,  two special ceremonies are remembered. The first and the most popular is the presentation of Jesus to Simeon in the temple, followed by his circumcision. The other ceremony is the one that all mothers who gave birth to a son had to perform, precisely 40 days after the birth of their baby boy. Under Mosaic Law, a woman who had given birth was considered ritually unclean for 40 days, at which time she was to present herself to the priests and offer sacrifice - her “purification”. Up until 1969, the liturgical calendar still commemorated the Purification of Mary, and then the emphasis turned to the Presentation of Jesus.
At the beginning of the 8th century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession. At the end of the same century, the blessing and distribution of candles became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name “Candlemas Day.” Up to a few years ago, in my native Malta, all the pastors of parish churches used to con-celebrate a Mass with the Bishop, during which Mass, they would offer the Bishop a candle, usually artistically decorated. Only recently the custom was changed slightly whereby the pastors would offer, along with the candle, a food basket or a monetary donation to be distributed to the needy and poor of the diocese.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Father Julian. We appreciate your informative posts.