The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which we celebrate today, is a feast day often overlooked by many Catholics. The Presentaton of the Lord in the Temple to Simeon is found in the Gospel of Luke 2:22-40. It is, however, significant in the life of the Blessed Mother as well as Christ and the Church. There are three facts most Catholics do not know about this precious and important feast day celebration.
1.) It is called Candlemas: This is an amazing truth about this day a large portion of Catholics are missing out on because they are unaware. The Feast of the Presentation is the day in the Church when candles are traditionally blessed. These candles are later kept and families or individuals can use them during severe storms, serious illnesses, a particularly difficult time, or even after dusk on All Soul’s Day. Do you see how much you may be missing out on by being unaware of the significance of this day?
The candles should, according to tradition, be made of beeswax (although substitutes can be accepted if beeswax candles are unavailable). The beeswax candles hold a special significance for their purity.
During especially severe or dangerous storms, the candles can be lit and the gorgeous prayer can be said which is: “Jesus Christ a King of Glory has come in Peace. God became man, and the Word was made flesh. Christ was born of a Virgin. Christ suffered. Christ was crucified. Christ died. Christ rose from the dead. Christ ascended into Heaven. Christ conquers. Christ reigns. Christ commands.May Christ protect us from all storms and lightning. Christ went through their midst in Peace, and the Word was made Flesh. Christ is with us with Mary. Flee you enemy spirits because the Lion of the Generation of Juda, the Root David, has won. Holy God! Holy Powerful God! Holy Immortal God! Have mercy on us. Amen.”
Isn’t that just lovely?
2.) The Early Church celebrated it on February 14: The feast was celebrated on February 14 in the Early Church. It was later changed to February 2, and no it was not changed because of Valentine’s Day. It was changed to be celebrated on February 2 by the Western Church in the 5th and 6th centuries to correlate with Christmas because the Western Church celebrated Christmas on December 25. The 40 days would fall on February 2, as opposed to February 14.
3.) It is a celebration of the purification of the Blessed Mother: This day is focused on the Lord Jesus, as with all the events and encounters with the Blessed Mother. However, the significance of this in her life is not to be overlooked either. According to the Mosaic Law, in Leviticus 12:2-8, the woman was to present herself to the temple for a ritualistic cleansing 40 days after giving birth to a child.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites: when a woman has conceived and gives birth to a boy, she shall be unclean for seven days, with the same uncleanness as to her menstrual period. On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy’s foreskin shall be circumcised, and then she shall spend thirty-three days more in becoming purified of her blood; she shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary till the days of her purification are fulfilled. If she gives birth to a girl, for fourteen days she shall be as unclean as to her menstrual, after which she shall spend sixty-six days in becoming purified of her blood. When the days of her purification for a son or for a daughter are fulfilled, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the meeting tent a yearling lamb for a holocaust and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. The priest shall offer them up before the Lord to make atonement for her, and thus she will be clean again after her flow of blood. Such is the law for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl child.” (Lev. 12:1-7)
Although the Blessed Mother Mary had no need to be cleansed from her sin because of her purity, she obeyed the Law and what the Lord had given to Moses. She obeyed God, as she did in all things in her life, even when it seemed unnecessary. Jesus Christ was God and was perfect, holy, divine, and sinless. Mary was the new Eve, the tabernacle of the Living God, preserved from sin, and the mother of the holy of holies. However, the law was fulfilled for both of them as an act of obedience and not that of necessity. We can learn a lot from this previous feast day that most Catholics ignore and do not understand.