Saint of the Day ~ February 2

FEAST of the PRESENTATION of the LORD (Candlemas)

Today, the Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord, a liturgical Feastday which may seem slightly out of place, in that we are reflecting upon this event found in Sacred Scripture during Ordinary Time, only two weeks before Lent itself begins. However, history bears out the importance which this Feastday held in the liturgical practices of the early Church.

At the end of the fourth century, a woman named Etheria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journal which she wrote during her spiritual journey, and which was discovered in 1887, gives an unprecedented glimpse of liturgical life which existed in the holy city.

Among the celebrations she describes is the Epiphany (January 6), a day which was originally set aside in the Eastern Church in observance of the Birth of Christ, and the gala procession in honor of our Lord’s Presentation in the Temple 40 days later on February 15.

This Feast emphasizes Jesus’ first appearance in the Temple more than Mary’s purification. The observance spread throughout the Western Church in the fifth and sixth centuries. Because the Church in the West celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25th, the Presentation was moved to February 2nd, 40 days after Christmas.

At the beginning of the eighth century, Pope Sergius I inaugurated a candlelight procession. At the end of the same century, the blessing and distribution of candles, which continues to this day, became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name – Candlemas, symbolizing Christ as the Light of the world and the Glory of His people, for He enters His Temple for the first time in the loving and tender arms of His Mother Mary.

The ceremony itself commemorates the words spoken by Simeon, “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Luke 2:32).

We celebrate this liturgical Feastday on February 2.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for the Presentation of the Lord)

“All-powerful Father, Christ Your Son became man for us and was presented in the temple. May He free our hearts from sin and bring us into Your Presence.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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