Pastor's Corner 020214

posted Feb 12, 2014, 11:20 AM by Music Director

         We celebrate today the Feast of the Presentation, when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the Jewish law requiring the dedication of all first-born males to God. (Exodus 13:2, 12)  This was to occur after a 40-day (there’s that number again!) period of purification for mothers who (ironically) were considered unclean after giving birth (see Leviticus 12).  This is why we celebrate the feast on February 2, 40 days after Christmas.  It usually falls on a weekday, but this year we are blessed to have it fall on Sunday, and so it replaces the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Because of the pious Simeon’s blessing over the child as a “revealing light to the Gentiles,” the Church has chosen this feast as the day to bless candles for liturgical use, since candles symbolize Christ, the Light of the Word.  That’s why this feast is sometimes called “Candlemas Day.”  

            The most important of these symbols is the Paschal or Easter Candle, the large candle that is decorated and lit for the first time at the Easter Vigil.  Throughout the year this candle, when lit, reminds us that the Risen Christ is the Light that guides us through the darkness of sin and death to everlasting life.  For this reason it is displayed prominently in the Sanctuary next to the Ambo (pulpit) from Easter Sunday-Pentecost and near the casket at funerals.  At all other times, it stands near the Baptismal Font.  At baptisms a small candle is lit from the Paschal Candle and handed to the newly baptized (or a parent or Godparent) to remind them that those who are baptized are called to live in and follow the light of Christ throughout their lives.

            Altar Candles originally served a practical purpose of providing light for those gathered to celebrate the Eucharist.  They later took on a symbolic function, serving as a sign that Christ our Light is present to us on the altar in the Eucharist.  Liturgical law stipulates that for the celebration of Mass there must be at least 2 lit candles.  However, it is important to note that their placement is flexible.  They can be positioned on or near the altar, on the same or opposite side.  Their number is increased to 4 or even 6 for solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and when a bishop presides at Mass. 

Processional Candles lead the parade of ministers at the beginning of a liturgy to remind us that we are a pilgrim people, called to follow the light of Jesus in all we say and do.  Votive Candles symbolize our reliance on Jesus, the light of the world, Mary His Mother, or a particular saint to help us with some special need.  The Sanctuary Lamp is a candle that signals the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the Body of Christ our Light, inside the tabernacle.  When the Eucharist is not present, such as on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the Sanctuary Lamp is extinguished.

Today is also “Super Bowl Sunday.”  Enjoy the game, and may the best team win.  Speaking of which, now that the Winter Olympics are about to begin…


(and Flyers and Sixers, too!)


In His Love,

Fr. Mike