Sunday, February 02, 2014

Candlemas Day: The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“The Feast of Candlemas, which derives its origin from the local observance of Jerusalem, marks the end of the feasts included in the Christmas cycle of the Liturgy. It is perhaps the most ancient festival of our Lady. It commemorates not only the obedience of the Blessed Virgin to the Mosaic Law in going to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of her Child and making the accustomed offerings, but also the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, and the meeting of the Infant Jesus with the old man Simeon -- the Occursus Domini, as the feast was anciently termed. This is the principal theme of the liturgy on this day: Jesus is taken to the Temple 'to present Him to the Lord.' So the Lord comes to His Temple, and is met by the aged Simeon with joy and recognition.

"The procession on this day is one of the most picturesque features of the Western Liturgy. The blessing and distribution of candles, to be carried lighted in procession, precedes the Mass today -- a symbolic presentation of the truth proclaimed in the Canticle of Simeon: our Lord is the 'Light for the revelation of the Gentiles.' The anthems sung during this procession, eastern in origin, will express the joy and gladness of this happy festival, and the honor and praise we give to our blessed Lady and her Divine Son by its devout observance."

Prayers from the Blessing of the Candles preceding the Procession:

First Prayer

Let us pray. -- O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, Who has created all things out of nothing, and by Thy command hast caused this liquid to become perfect wax by the labor of bees: and this day didst fulfill the petition of the righteous man Simeon: we humbly entreat Thee, that by the invocation of Thy most holy name and through the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, whose feast is today devoutly observed, and by the prayers of all Thy Saints, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless + and sanctify + these candles for the service of men and for the health of their bodies and souls, whether on land or sea: and that Thou wouldst hear from Thy holy heaven and from the throne of Thy Majesty the voice of this Thy people, who desire to carry them in their hands in Thy honor, and to praise Thee with hymns; and that Thou wouldst be propitious to all that call upon Thee, whom Thou hast redeemed with the precious Blood of Thy Son: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

R./ Amen

Second Prayer

Let us pray. -- O almighty and everlasting God, Who this day didst present Thine only-begotten Son in Thy holy temple to be received in the arms of holy Simeon: we humbly entreat Thy clemency, that Thoyu wouldst vouchsafe to bless +, ad sanctify +, and to kindle with the light of Thy heavenly benediction these candles, which we Thy servants desire to receive and to carry lighted in honor of Thy name: that,, by worthily offering them to Thee our Lord God, we may be inflamed with the holy fire of thy most sweet charity, and deserve to be presented in the holy temple of Thy glory. Through the same our Lord.

R./ Amen

Third Prayer

Let us pray. -- O Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light Who enlightenest every man that cometh into this world: pour forth Thy blessing + upon these candles, and sanctify + them with the light of Thy grace, and mercifully grant, that as these lights, enkingled with visible fire, dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts illumined by invisible fire, that is, by the splendor of the Holy Ghost, may be free from every blindness due to vice: so that with clear sight our minds may discern what is pleasing to Thee and profitable to our salvation; so that after the darksome perils of this life we may deserve to attain to never fading light: Through Thee, O Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, Who in the perfect Trinity, livest and reignest, God, world without end.

R./ Amen

Fourth Prayer Let us pray -- O almighty and everlasting God, Who by Thy servant Moses didst command the purest oil to be prepared for lamps to burn continually before Thee: vouchsafe to pour forth the grace of Thy blessing + upon these candles: that they may so afford us light outwardly, that by Thy gift the light of Thy Spirit may never be wanting inwardly to our minds. Through our Lord ... in the unity of the same Holy Ghost.

R./ Amen

Fifth Prayer

Let us pray. -- O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst appear among men in the substance of our flesh and this day wast presented by Thy parents in the temple: Whom the venerable and aged Simeon, his mind flooded by the light of Thy Spirit, recognized, received into his arms, and blessed: mercifully grant, that the grace of the same Holy Spirit may enlighten and teach us to recognize Thee truly and faithfully love Thee: Who with God the Father in the unity of the same Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end.

R./ Amen

[Credits: The Roman Catholic Daily Missal - 1962 (Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 2004)]