Candlemas and the feast of the presentation

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Candlemas and the feast of the presentation of the Lord are two titles of the same day. Candlemas gets name from the custom of blessing the years church candles on the feast of the presentation, the practice that emphasizes Christ as the light of the world. Sadly though the splendor of this feast has lost something due to candles being replaced by the electric light bulb(among other things…). While today the lighting of the candles draws a symbolic message, in the past that message was emphasized by the omnipresence of those candles as they were an integral part of everyday life. With that candles daily familiarity, one can see the aged Simeon and Anna as both a vigilant and devoted light that has long waited for that light of Christ. Sure, an electric light post can serve as a sentinel for an awaited one but it is simply switched on and off. With that candle holding vigil though, it is transformed over time; just as Simeon and Anna where throughout their vigil. In that lengthy vigil, one can appreciate the wisdom they have gained throughout their life that allows them to recognize Jesus as salvation. Votive candles are light in the presence od a saints statue, to signify prayers to that saint. Their passage of time was a devotion and a vigil, combined with the enlightenment of wisdom. With Mary the passage of time is measured in the 40-days she is absent from that temple. The reason is described in the Laws of Moses, but it also can be described as her journey; that journey begins a new segment when she renters that temple.40-days are often times of trials, and of changes. Hers is a faith rekindled with new meaning. A light carried in her heart and womb has now been made visible through the birth of her Son. For Christ , he enters that temple as the light of that temple to be presented to those he has come to save. He processes from that temple as the new temple not built of stone or through the hands of man. He is that light that keeps people from stumbling. For Simeon and Anna, is it difficult to recognize them in a votive candle that symbolizes a perpetual prayer. For Mary, a candle relit and rededicated for a new Journey? For Christ a candle carried to prevent one from stumbling in the dark. Its light passed about perpetually so that its guidance might never be lost to that darkness. Vigilance is needed to keep that candle flame alit, and they must be attended to. Much more symbolic of a prayerful act than changing a bulb or battery. I would imagine when candles were the source of light for most people, each time a candle was light or seen burning, one could imagine a specific portion of this feast of the presentation. The candles visibly illustrate that passage of time. One or two can give a flicker of light as a guide, a hundred can illuminate a cathedral, and that flame can indeed be eternal as it is passed from one to another. They are not a simple flick of a switch.

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