Candlemass and the Feast of Mary’s purification

Candlemas-DayThere were two articles recently written to describe a certain reverence by Christians and Catholics towards scripture in general and the Old Testament in particular. In my own particular attitude, I tend to be a bit hasty about the historicity of certain rituals in the church, including the Old Testament.

There occurred two interesting events in the church’s calendar which obviously occur infrequently. On Sunday, February the 2nd, the church celebrated the Feast of Mary’s purification, which coincided with Candlemass days. This was a day when, traditionally, candles used by the church for the following year were blessed in one bulk. At the same time, candles for use in individual homes were also blessed and distributed. The idea behind this particular ritual is the spreading of light into the darkness, what the prophet Malachi calls the light to all the gentiles.

It is a very symbolic ritual and reflects the belief of the church that the messenger Christ represented by candlelight is ready to be spread throughout the world. The candles we utilize during liturgies are not just an antiquated precursor of a civilization before electric lights. Really the use of candles in addition has added theological significance.

Just to reinforce this assertion, the Feast of St Blaze follows the very next day on which occurs the Blessing of throats, a blessing conveyed by the crossing of two candles, significance indeed.

It behooves us therefore, to give more than passing thought to some of the religious articles we commonly take for granted.