Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple on this day. The Holy Spirit had revealed to the just and devout Simeon that he should not die before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. In the temple the old man glimpsed Jesus in Mary's arms and blessed God, knowing that at last he had seen the Savior, "a light of revelation to the Gentiles and a glory of Thy people Israel."
But only after the Savior's Passion and Crucifixion would the light win for men the final victory over bodily and spiritual death. Simeon therefore said to Mary, the co-redeemer of mankind, "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:35). May we, too, after having shared the redemptive sufferings of Christ attain the final grace of presentation in the holy temple of God's glory.
(from a Missal introduction to today's Mass)
While the pagan secularists are out celebrating a couple of rodents, be they in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania or Wiarton, Ontario, we Catholics are blest to know that the groundhog is but a beautiful creature of God, it is not a god that can predict anything. Even in jest, it is a mockery of the One True God and His First Commandment - to even joke that an animal can predict the weather, other than by its Creator growing it a longer coat.
Today is Candlemas, the official end of the Christmas Season according to ancient tradition. The Christmas cycle ends today, the last singing of the Alma Redemptoris Mater after Lauds is this morning,
This feast - solemnity recalls the day when our Blessed Mother - Mary being a Jewess and forty days after giving birth to her first-born Son, the Messiah; presented herself in the Temple as Orthodox Jewish women still do today for a mikvah, or Purification. In the Roman Missal of 1962, they actually changed the name to the Presentation of the Lord, which it is of course. Prior to that, it was the Purification of Mary. Common folk, not liturgists, called it Candlemas because, "we bless candles" as Father Zed says, and we receive blest candles and take them home. Father Hunwicke has some thoughts on this and how "purification" does not fit with our modern sensibilities of a woman being, "unclean."
In the great Responsory to the Antiphons during the Procession, we sing, repeatedly after each verse:
After the days of Mary 's purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord
Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph went up to Jerusalem "according to the law of Moses." They followed the Law, they loved, the Law. They did not mock the Law, they did not feel that the Law kept them from grace. They were not "rigid." They were not "hiding" anything.
A few weeks ago, right after Epiphany and for the first time, the Creche and Christmas Tree in St. Peter's Square were removed. It was then, after all, "Ordinary Time." As I sit and write this, the Christmas Tree, (cut ourselves in early December and left outside until the 23rd) is still alit. It actually has new growth, never losing its water supply and tricked in to thinking it was Spring, it is only now starting to drop a few needles. The house is still decorated with the manger and holly and boxwood and pine. Fox and I will still use our Christmas mugs for this mornings coffee. Tonight, for Vespers followed by Holy Mass, it will be lit for the last time until next Christmas, the Lord willing.
Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.Here is an old poem giving insight into the beautiful tradition when our ancestors would mark the changing of time and seasons and think of simpler things, and God.
To re-adorn the house. Refrain