Dear St. Mary's Family,
Our common life together as a Christian community is ordered and given meaning within the liturgical calendar of the Church. First it’s Advent, a season of waiting and expectation, then the joyful Twelve Days of Christmas celebrating the birth of Christ. The calendar then continues with the Wise Men and the Baptism of Jesus and the season of Epiphany. In the old days, the Christmas cycled formally ended on Candlemas, which is forty days after Christmas on February 2nd.
St. Luke tells us that on the first Candlemas, the Holy Family brought Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to present him to the Lord as was the custom under the Old Covenant. Also, it was the moment of Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth. Simeon, an aged and devout man, came into the Temple and when Joseph and Mary brought in the child Jesus, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying the words we now pray at Evening Prayer and Compline called the Nunc Dimittis:
Lord, you now have set your servant free to go in peace as you have promised; for these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, whom you have prepared for all the world to see: a Light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)
Candlemas was first celebrated as a feast of the church in Jerusalem in the fourth century. Pope Sergius (d. 701) appears to have introduced the practice of a procession with lighted candles on this date, which we will observe together at 6:00pm this Friday, February 2nd, 2018. The solemn procession represents the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple of Jerusalem.
Another custom associated with this feast is the practice whereby the priest blesses candles for use throughout the year, and in particular, candles to be used by the faithful in their homes. You are invited, therefore, to bring candles with you to church on Friday to have them blessed for devotional use in your home. Any candle will do.
See you in church!
Fr. Charles Everson works as a banker by day and a priest by night. His love for music and liturgy led him to a suburban parish as a simple chorister, and as of late, to St. Mary's as a priest. He feels called to share the love of Jesus Christ with a broken world in desperate need of hope and reconciliation.