Today, February 2, is the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also called Candlemas and is the last feast in the Christmastide cycle of the liturgy. According to the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, (Angelus Press, 2004) it is perhaps the oldest Marian feast. It commemorates our Blessed Mother’s obedience to the Mosaic Law by going to the Temple in Jerusalem and making the prescribed purification offerings forty days after the birth of her Child. Thus, Christmastide officially ends with an intimation of the purification to come in Lent.
Additionally, this feast celebrates the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, which is the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Traditionally, today’s Mass is preceded by the blessing and distribution of candles and a procession with the lighted candles. In the Prayers of Blessing, the Church prays, “O Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world, pour forth Thy blessing upon these candles and sanctify them with the light of Thy grace, and mercifully grant that as these lights enkindled with visible fire dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts illumined by invisible fire, that is, by the splendor of the Holy Ghost, may be free from every blindness due to vice, so that with clear sight our minds may discern what is pleasing to Thee and profitable to our salvation, so that after the darksome perils of this life we may deserve to attain to never-fading light.” Continue reading “Candlemas, The Feast of the Purification”