Thursday, January 30, 2014

February 2: Candlemas

With February 2, the Church celebrates the end of the Christmas season. In the Jewish tradition, women were considered "unclean" after childbirth, and 40 days after giving birth to a son (80 days for a daughter), the family traveled to Jerusalem to undergo the purification ceremony. The Jews also offered their first-born son to God 40 days after his birth, and then "bought" him back with either a pure white lamb, or 2 turtle doves for those who were poor. In accordance with tradition, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem; even though Our Lady did not need to be purified because of her Immaculate Conception and the miraculous birth of Our Lord, and even though Our Lord, being God himself, did not need to be offered or re-bought.
For Catholics, this is an amazing tradition. It is known as "Candlemas", because this is one of the handful of Masses at which candles are an integral part. Candles are used to symbolize Jesus: the wax is His body, the wick is His soul, and the flame is His Divine nature. Before the Mass, there is a ceremony to bless them, and then a procession (sometimes outside the Church if temperatures and weather conditions allow) in honor of Our Lady.
We have those candles you put in your windows during Christmastime, and it would be great to have a candlelight dinner and otherwise incorporate candles during the day. We won't be having the candlelight dinner this year, because it's Super Bowl Sunday :( However, hopefully the weather lets me get to Church, so that I can participate in the procession!