I have long envied the various mommy bloggers who post about the different celebrations they do in their home for feast days of saints and other liturgical events. I have always thought that I could never get it together enough to do something like this. First of all, I usually don’t know a feast day is coming until I read it on one of their blogs! And then it’s too late! But…the other day I was going through some links in my bookmarks and came across the website Catholic Culture. They have a month by month liturgical calendar that not only lists each feast day but gives recipes, prayers and activities for them as well. A light bulb went off in my little tiny sleep deprived brain – I could use this as a resource to plan one or two things a month to do with the kids! Ding, ding, ding!!
So, the obvious for this month is Ash Wednesday but other than that, trying to be kid friendly, Candlemas caught my eye. The Presentation of our Lord Jesus – 4th Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. This is the day that Mary and Joseph, following Jewish law, took Jesus to be presented at the temple. For 40 days after Jesus’ birth, Mary was not allowed to enter the temple or “partake of things sacred”. Ironic huh? The living temple of the Messiah, God himself, was not allowed to partake of things sacred. But after the 40 days they were required to present him at the temple along with a sacrifice.
So the candles in Candlemas represent the light of the world entering into the darkness – the true light. Simeon calls Jesus “a light for enlightening the Gentiles”. Pope John Paul II referring to this verse:
'Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 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" (Lk 2:29-32)wrote in the Presentation Prefigures the Cross:
In the mysterious encounter between Simeon and Mary, the Old and New Testaments are joined. Together the ageing prophet and the young mother give thanks for this Light which has kept the darkness from prevailing. It is the Light which shines in the heart of human life: Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of his people
And he goes on to speak of the fate the Jesus will suffer for us and how Mary too will suffer as her soul is pierced by a sword. John Paul II goes on to say:
The hymns of
have now faded and the cross of Bethlehem Golgothacan already be glimpsed; this happens in the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered.
That just gives me chills all over – it is so beautiful!I think that this is just a beautiful feast day full of symbolism and lessons that we can all try to live out each day. My family celebrated this feast day on Saturday night with some of the ideas I got from Alice Gunther on CatholicMom.com as well as a few of my own twists.
It was the kids as well as my sister, mom, dad and grandparents. We started out with a little ceremony. Big Bear carried the gold candles - gold for a king and the candles of course symbolize the light of the world. Me Too carried a little Jesus doll - his swaddling clothes were missing so it was a naked baby Jesus, oh well! - and placed the candles and Jesus on the table. The table was draped in a black tablecloth. This symbolized the darkness that existed in the world before Jesus, the light, came into it. The table was decorated with candles - tea light and floating candles. The water that the floating candles sat in can symbolize all kinds of things - purity, baptism, life giving water - pick what you like best! Deacon Grampy blessed the candles for us and we said the prayer to Mary that I have at the end of this post. To eat were pretzels symbolizing Simeon's arms which held the Messiah that he had waited so long to see as well as prayer. There were toothpicks in cheese (I didnt have anything else to stick the toothpicks in and cheese is yummy - it doesn't really have any meaning!) to symbolize the sword that would pierce Mary's soul. The black tablecloth was also symbolic of Anna who was a widow. And draped on our hutch were turtledoves which Mary and Joseph brought as an offering to the temple. In Mexico they celebrate Candlemas with tamales but I couldn't find any so we had taquitos and in France they have strawberry and cream crepes but I didn't want to make those so we had strawberry cream pie!Here are some pictures! It was a great evening!
O Blessed Mother of God, who went up to the Temple city according to the law with your offering of little white doves, pray for me that I too may keep the law and be pure in heart like you.
Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation.