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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Ordinary Time: February 2


Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus, and is also known as Candlemas day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today's liturgy.


Presentation of the Lord


The feast was first observed in the Eastern Church as "The Encounter." In the sixth century, it began to be observed in the West: in Rome with a more penitential character and in Gaul (France) with solemn blessings and processions of candles, popularly known as "Candlemas." The Presentation of the Lord concludes the celebration of the Nativity, and with the offerings of the Virgin Mother and the prophecy of Simeon, the events now point toward Easter.

"In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another 'epiphany' celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence, the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages, this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or 'Candlemas,' was of great importance.


"The specific liturgy of this Candlemas feast, the blessing of candles, is not as widely celebrated as it should be, except, of course, whenever February 2 falls on a Sunday, and, thus, takes precedence. There are two ways of celebrating the ceremony, either the Procession, which begins at a 'gathering place' outside the church, or the Solemn Entrance, celebrated within the church."

­ From Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2013-02-02

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