Sunday, February 1, 2009


(Image of "Presentation of Christ in the Temple" by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1342) from Wikipedia "Candlemas" entry)

One web site I enjoy on a regular basis is that of Father Bosco Peters, an Anglican priest in New Zealand. His Liturgy site is informative and very cool, and I've learned a great deal from his materials and posts.

Fr. Bosco reminds us that Candlemas is celebrated tomorrow, February 2 (it's already tomorrow in New Zealand but I didn't want to wait until then to post). Candlemas is more commonly known as "The Purification of Christ in the Temple" or "The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin." You can read Fr. Bosco's post by clicking here: Candlemas.

The Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We read the events of this Holy Day in the second chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Luke, starting at the 22nd verse: (ESV translation)

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant [4] depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. [5] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

Fr. Bosco states, "The festival [of Candlemas] can be seen as a final farewell facing Christmas, and a turning to the walk towards the cross. This fits with the seasonal weather changes within nature." Wikipedia states, "Some Christians observe the practice of leaving Christmas decorations up until Candlemas." (That's a lovely excuse for anyone who may still have their Christmas things up. Ours came down on Epiphany.)

Wikipedia also tells us a little something about the title "Candlemas": "Traditionally the Western term "Candlemas" (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on 2 February blessed beeswax candles with an aspergilium for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home."

As candles are one of my favorite things on earth, you know that Candlemas mus be on the top of my list. And it is. I may not have candles blessed tomorrow, but I shall burn a few tomorrow to mark Jesus' Presentation in the temple and the speaking of the Scriptural prayer called the Nunc Dimittis -- Simeon's speech upon seeing the infant Christ. The Nunc Dimittis is used in both Anglican and Catholic liturgies in the Vespers (evening) service.

So a blessed Candlemas to all of you. If you happen to light a candle tomorrow, pray for someone who needs the healing power of God. I will if you do.

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