Presentation of the Lord

Presentation of the Lord

The Catholic Church commemorates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2. Candlemas is another name for this feast. Three separate but connected historical occurrences in the lives of the Holy Family are remembered on this feast day.

It commemorates the day, precisely forty days after Jesus' birth when Mary and Joseph brought him to the Jerusalem temple. According to the Mosaic Law, they had to dedicate their firstborn son to God (Exodus 13). Furthermore, according to Leviticus 12:2–8, Mary had to undergo ceremonial purification forty days following childbirth. Making a sacrifice in the temple was part of the rite. According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph chose to offer "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons" as a sacrifice because they were poor and could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:22-24).

Mary, who was sinless from conception to birth, and Jesus, who was God, did not require purification or consecration to God; instead, they offered themselves in perfect obedience to God and the Law of Moses. Our current church calendar emphasizes the Presentation, but in former centuries, the Church focused on Mary's Purification.

Additionally, the feast day honors the meeting that took place in the temple between the Holy Family and the prophets Saint Simeon and Saint Anna. This is the third and last infant revelation that Jesus shared with the Israelite elders (the first one was with the Hebrew shepherds, the second with the Gentile kings).

Because of what Saint Simeon said when he saw the infant Jesus in the temple, today's feast is known as Candlemas: “For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). Jesus is the world's light, the Messiah who has come for everyone, not just Jews and Gentiles, or virtuous people and sinners.

The Church blesses candles on this feast day to be used all year round (a practice dating back at least to the seventh century). On this feast, families customarily bring their own candles to church to be blessed. As the Church calendar moves closer to Easter's brightness, the candles symbolize the reality that the light of the world is here and is entering a world that is currently dark.

Other Saints of the Day
Saint Feock
Saint Apronian
Saint Joan de Lestonnac
Saint Adalbald of Ostrevant
Saint Lawrence of Canterbury

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