Blessed Candles

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Blessed Candles

Imprimatur: Michael Augustine,
Archbishop of New York, 1893

Of this blessing, too, we have indications in the Old Testament. God Himself ordered a golden candlestick with seven lights to be set up in the tabernacle; and Solomon placed several, made of the finest gold, in the Temple. How much more, then, it behooves us to honor by the use of lights the presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, at Mass, and in other solemnities of the Church!

Besides all this, blessed candles when burning have a special significance for ourselves. In the first place, they remind us that we ought to acquire the three divine virtues: faith which illuminates, hope which warms, and charity which inflames; for the candle gives light, warmth, and comfort. Furthermore, they suggest to us Christian love of neighbor; for as the burning taper, while warming us to charity, wastes itself, so too should we enlighten our fellow-men by our good works, and at the same time spend ourselves by our deeds of charity and works of neighborly love for others. As the flame of the candle, no matter how we hold it, always burns upward, so too should all our wishes and efforts be directed from the lower to the higher. Our thoughts should be in heaven. Finally, a burning taper reminds us of the uncertainty and fleetness of human life; for when a candle is lighted it begins to waste, and steadily consumes itself, bearing a lively resemblance to human life: at the moment of our birth we began to die, and our life is gradually wasting away amid the din and struggle of life’s battle.

Candles are blessed mostly on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, or Candlemas Day, that we may be reminded that Christ is the Light for the enlightenment of the Gentiles, and that we should be children of light.

On that day there is a procession with lighted candles, to place more vividly before our memories the procession of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, together with holy Simeon and devout Anna, to the altar in the Temple, and to honor Mary who gave to us the Light of the world. Blessed candles are used at Baptism and at the death-bed.

Saint Bridgid

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Saint Bridgid

Abbess and Patroness of Ireland

Next to the glorious Saint Patrick, Saint Bridgid, whom we may regard as his spiritual daughter in Christ, has ever been held in singular veneration in Ireland. She was born about the year 453, at Fochard in Ulster. During her infancy, her pious father saw in a vision men clothed in white garments pouring a sacred unguent on her head, thus prefiguring her future sanctity. While still very young, Bridgid consecrated her life to God, bestowed everything at her disposal on the poor, and was the edification of all who knew her.

Saint Bridgid was very beautiful, and fearing that efforts might be made to induce her to break the vow by which she had bound herself to God, she prayed that she might become ugly and deformed. Her prayer was heard, for her eye became swollen, and her whole countenance so changed that she was allowed to follow her vocation in peace, and marriage with her was no more thought of. When about twenty years old, our Saint made known to the nephew and disciple of Saint Patrick, Saint Mel, her intention to live only for Jesus Christ, and he consented to receive her sacred vows. On the appointed day, the solemn ceremony of her profession was performed according to the manner introduced by Saint Patrick, the bishop offering up many prayers, and investing Bridgid with a snow-white habit, and a cloak of the same color. While she bowed her head on this occasion to receive the veil, a miracle of a singularly striking and impressive nature occurred: The section of the wooden platform adjoining the altar on which she knelt, recovered its original vitality and put on all its former verdure, retaining it for a long time afterwards. At the same moment Bridgid’s eye was healed, and she became beautiful once again. Continue reading

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

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The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
(the Purification, or Candlemas)

The law of God, given by Moses to the Jews, ordained that after childbirth a woman should continue for a certain time in a state which that law calls unclean, during which time she was not to appear in public. This term was of forty days following the birth of a son, and double that time for a daughter. When the term expired, the mother was to bring to the Temple a lamb and a young pigeon or turtle-dove, as an offering to God. These being sacrificed to Almighty God by the priest, she was cleansed of the legal impurity and reinstated in her former privileges. A dove was required of all as a sin-offering, whether rich or poor; but as the expense of a lamb might be too great for the poor, these were allowed to substitute for it a second dove. Such was the case, Scripture tells us, for the Holy Family. (Luke 2:24)

Our Saviour having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and His Blessed Mother remaining always a spotless virgin, it is evident that She was not subject to the law of purification, but devotion and zeal to honor God by every observance prescribed by His law, prompted Mary to perform this act of religion.
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