Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Candlemas Day) by Leonard Goffine, 1871
On this day the Church solemnly celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the obedience and humility both of Mary and her divine Son, who, though not subject to the law in regard to purification and presentation, yet subjected themselves to it. Hence this feast is called the Purification of the Virgin Mary. In common speech we call it also Candlemas, because on this day the candles required for the divine service are blessed and carried in procession.
What is the design of this custom?
1. It is to remind us that Jesus, the light of the world, was offered up to His heavenly Father, by Mary, in the temple at Jerusalem, where He was called by Simeon “a light for the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel.” 2. To remind us, also, of several important truths, to which the priest refers in the prayers at the blessings. Thus he prays that as the earthly light dispels the darkness of night, so Jesus, with the light of His divine doctrine, may clear away our spiritual blindness and ignorance, and lead us in the way of virtue; that as the Holy Ghost enlightened Simeon, so He may also enlighten us to acknowledge Jesus as the true light, to love Him and follow Him, to keep our hearts from the way of sin, and to guide them in the way of virtue, and to kindle them with the fire of holy love; finally, that God may preserve, in soul and body, those who use blessed candles with devotion, may hear their prayers, and grant them entrance into the kingdom of the eternal and ever-blessed light. Continue reading