CANDLEMASS-GROUND HOG DAY
Genesis, Chapter 50, Verse 16-19
16 So they sent to Joseph and said: “Before your father died, he gave us these instructions: 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: Please forgive the criminal wrongdoing of your brothers, who treated you harmfully.’ So now please forgive the crime that we, the servants of the God of your father, committed.” When they said this to him, Joseph broke into tears. 18 Then his brothers also proceeded to fling themselves down before him and said, “We are your slaves!” 19 But Joseph replied to them: “Do not FEAR. Can I take the place of God?
So, Joseph now had his brothers within his power to crush them and he did not. No, Joseph wept and made peace with his brothers knowing the intent of God is that all men be free in mind, body and spirit.
Joseph knew that only free men can sow their gifts before God and that “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:7-8) You cannot give what you do not own; therefore, each must be free to give back to God; Joseph is the precursor of Christ who fulfills the gospel of abundance proclaim by our loving God. Here Joseph was able to find the peace that only God can give by sincerely wanting God’s will. Joseph found this peace only by trusting and having courage to live entirely by God’s way.
Until 1969, the ancient feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, which is of Oriental origin, was known in the West as the feast of the Purification of Our Lady, and closed the Christmas Cycle, forty days after the Lord's birth. This feast has for long been associated with many popular devotional exercises. The faithful:
- gladly participate in the processions commemorating the Lord's entry into the Temple in Jerusalem and His encounter with God, whose house He had come to for the first time, and then with Simeon and Anna. Such processions, which in the West had taken the place of licentious pagan events, always had a penitential character, and were later identified with the blessing of candles which were carried in procession in honor of Christ, 'the light to enlighten the Gentiles' (Lk 2, 32);
- are sensitive to the actions of the Blessed Virgin in presenting her Son in the Temple, and to her submission to the Law of Moses (Lk 12, 1-8) in the rite of purification; popular piety sees in the rite of purification the humility of Our Lady and hence, 2 February has long been regarded as a feast for those in humble service.
Popular piety is sensitive to the providential and mysterious event that is the conception and birth of new life. Christian mothers can easily identify with the maternity of Our Lady, the most pure Mother of the Head of the mystical Body — notwithstanding the notable differences in the Virgin's unique conception and birth.
These too are mothers in God's plan and are about to give birth to future members of the Church. From this intuition and a certain mimesis of the purification of Our Lady, the rite of purification after birth was developed, some of whose elements reflect negatively on birth.
The revised Rituale Romanum provides for the blessing of women both before and after birth, this latter only in cases where the mother could not participate at the baptism of her child.
It is a highly desirable thing for mothers and married couples to ask for these blessings which should be given in accord with the Church's prayer: in a communion of faith and charity in prayer so that pregnancy can be brought to term without difficulty (blessing before birth), and to give thanks to God for the gift of a child (blessing after birth).
In some local Churches, certain elements taken from the Gospel account of the Presentation of the Lord (Lk 2, 22-40), such as the obedience of Joseph and Mary to the Law of the Lord, the poverty of the holy spouses, the virginity of Our Lady, mark out 2 February as a special feast for those at the service of the brethren in the various forms of consecrated life.
The feast of 2 February still retains a popular character. It is necessary, however, that such should reflect the true Christian significance of the feast. It would not be proper for popular piety in its celebration of this feast to overlook its Christological significance and concentrate exclusively on its Marian aspects. The fact that this feast should be 'considered [...] a joint memorial of Son and Mother' would not support such an inversion. The candles kept by the faithful in their homes should be seen as a sign of Christ 'the light of the world' and an expression of faith.
Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 
Commonly Called Candlemas-Day.
ON this day the Church solemnly celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the obedience and humility both of Mary and her divine Son, who, though not subject to the law in regard to purification and presentation, yet subjected themselves to it. Hence this feast is called the Purification of the Virgin Mary.
In common speech we call it also Candlemas, because on this day the candles required for the divine service are blessed and carried in procession. What is the design of this custom?
1. It is to remind us that Jesus, the light of the world, was offered up to His heavenly Father, by Mary, in the temple at Jerusalem, where He was called by Simeon “a light for the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel.”
To remind us, also, of several important truths, to which the priest refers in
the prayers at the blessings. Thus he prays that as the earthly light dispels
the darkness of night, so Jesus, with the light of His divine doctrine, may
clear away our spiritual blindness and ignorance, and lead us in the way of
virtue; that as the Holy Ghost enlightened Simeon, so He may also enlighten us
to acknowledge Jesus as the true light, to love Him and follow Him, to keep our
hearts from the way of sin, and to guide them in the way of virtue, and to
kindle them with the fire of holy love; finally, that God may preserve, in soul
and body, those who use blessed candles with devotion, may hear their prayers,
and grant them entrance into the kingdom of the eternal and ever-blessed light.
In the Introit of the Mass the Church sings: We have received Thy mercy, O God,
in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise
unto the ends of the earth; Thy right hand is full of justice. Great is the
Lord and exceedingly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy
everlasting God, we suppliantly beseech Thy majesty that, as Thy only begotten
Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so Thou
wouldst grant us to be presented to Thee with purified souls.
EPISTLE. Mai iii. 1-4.
saith the Lord: Behold I send My angel, and he shall prepare the way before My
face. And presently the Lord Whom you seek, and the angel of the testament whom
you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of
hosts: and who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall
stand to see him? for he is like a refining fire, and like the fullers herb:
and he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the
sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall
offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of
Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient
years, saith the Lord Almighty.
GOSPEL. Luke ii. 22-32.
At that time: After the days of Mary’s purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; and to offer a sacrifice according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law: he also took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace: because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.
The Blessed Virgin presented herself and her divine Son at the temple so as not to give scandal to such as were ignorant of their being exempt from the law, to show from the first that Jesus was come to redeem sinners, and to leave us an example of humility and obedience. Mary offered the gift of a pair of doves, like the poor, because she was poor, and was not ashamed to acknowledge it before the world.
INSTRUCTION FOR WOMEN AFTER CHILDBIRTH.
The law of purification in the Old
Testament, it is true, no longer applies to Christian women, because the Church
has done away with Jewish ceremonies. But the spirit and intention of that law
the Church would yet have complied with. She permits women, therefore, to
remain at home, with a good conscience, for six weeks after childbirth, or so
long as circumstances may require, without attending divine service, in order
to care for their health. This permission is, at the same time, an excellent
admonition to women, that, in order to their recovery, they should refrain from
anger, from exposure, from hard labor, from injurious food; to men, not to
refuse their wives during this period, set apart by God Himself under the Old
Law, the rest and attention which their nature requires. But when this time is
past the Church desires that women should, after the example of Mary, repair to
the church with their children, to procure the blessing of the priest, to give
thanks to God for their safe delivery, to dedicate their children to Him, and
to implore of Him, with the priest, grace to bring up their offspring in piety
and holiness. In this consists the so-called “churching of women”; and, from
what has been said, it is evident, not only that it contains nothing to be
ashamed of, but that it should by no means be omitted by such as desire God’s blessing.
The feeble health of both women and children after childbirth is almost always
owing to their having injured themselves by want of care.
Prayer for Women after Childbirth.
Almighty and merciful God, Who didst lay upon our mother Eve the fit punishment for her disobedience that she should bear children in sorrow, I offer to Thee all the pains of my child-bearing in propitiation for my sins; and I thank Thee that, through Thy help, the fruit of my womb has been safely brought forth into the world, and new-born in Baptism. According to the example of the Mother of Thy only begotten Son, I also offer to Thee my child for Thy holy service, and will earnestly strive to bring it up to Thy honor. To this end give me, through the intercession of the most blessed Virgin, thy grace; bless me and my child, and grant that we may live according to Thy will here, and hereafter may obtain everlasting happiness. Amen.
Things to Do
- Ask your parish priest to bless the candles that you will be using on your home altar this year.
- Read Luke 2:22-35, the account of the presentation including the Canticle of Simeon.
- Meditate on the constant fiat of Our Lady of Sorrows, who embraced the will of God even as Simeon predicted that a sword would pierce her heart.
children share in blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through
death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their
One of the grandest feasts of the Middle Ages and one of only three feasts in the English language verbally denoted by a Mass (Christmas and Michaelmas being the other two), Candlemas, or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorates Our Lady's visit to the Temple in humble obedience to that clause of the Old Law which requires a woman to be ritually purified forty days after bearing a son. On the assumption that Our Lord was born on December 25, the date of Mary's visit to the Temple would be February 2. It was on this day that Simeon the aged prophet, upon seeing the infant Jesus, proclaimed him to be "a Light to the gentiles" (Lk. 2.32). Hence the day has always involved a celebration of light. The most famous of these customs -- and the one from which the feast takes its common name -- is the blessing of, and procession with, candles. The day begins with five beautiful blessings of candles that invoke God's aid in living out allegorically what the light and fire of a candle symbolize: wisdom and illumination, purification and charity, and so on. A solemn and penitential procession (in which the celebrant wears purple) exits and then re-enters the church, at which point the purple is cast aside for the jubilance of white and a joyful Mass is offered. One of the more distinctive features of this Mass is that the candles are held lighted in the hand during the Gospel and from the Sanctus to the Communion. Candles used in the procession are not the only ones blessed on this day. Many families traditionally had most or all of their special candles -- for Advent, St. Lucy's Day, Christmas, or the family shrine -- blessed on this day.
The Feast's association with light also made it a great day for predicting the weather. According to an old legend, if the sun shines bright for the better part of the day, it means forty more days of winter. Subsequently this quaint superstition became Groundhog Day. Finally, Candlemas is the absolute last day for ending the Christmas season. Any Christmas items that had not been taken down on Epiphany or its Octave were now carefully put away.
· A lot of Christians will also bring candles with them to their local church. They will then have their candles blessed, and they will use them for the rest of the year. This is especially the case for Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Methodists, and Anglicans. The candles are essential, as they are viewed as a symbol of Jesus Christ. If you’re familiar with the teachings of the Bible, you will know that Jesus often referred to Himself as the Light of the World.
· There are different celebrations that take place all around the world on this date. It is certainly interesting to learn about the various ways that countries celebrate this occasion, and you can easily find this information online if you would like to learn more. For example, in Peru, one of the biggest festivals of dancing, music, and culture takes place during the first fortnight of February. There are many different events taking place, which are in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria, which is considered the patron saint of Puno; a city in Peru.
· In Mexican tradition, some of the important celebrations on this day include enjoying family meals with tamales, which is a classic dish from Mesoamerican cuisine. The adoration and dressing of the child Jesus also plays a role in this symbolic day. In Puerto Rico, the end of Christmas is celebrated on this day. There are a number of different festivities that will occur on this date.
· This includes a statue of the “Virgen de la Candelaria” carried on the shoulders, with people following behind with lit candles. In Luxembourg, this day is very much centered on the children. Small groups of children and adults will roam the streets, singing traditional songs to every house that they pass and holding a homemade wand or lantern. In exchange for singing songs, it is hoped that the children will receive some sort of reward. Today, this is typically some loose change or sweets. Traditionally, it was biscuits, peas, or bacon.
There are also celebrations across Swiss Romandy, Belgium, and France.
It is considered the day of crepes here! Not only does everyone enjoy some
delicious crepes, but everyone is prompted to light all of the candles in the
house. Tradition also indicates that manger scenes should be kept out until
Ground Hog Day
I ask Christ if he has seen the movie, “Ground Hog day”. He laughs and says playfully, “No, but I inspired it”. I continue, well today is Ground Hog day and tradition say that if the ground hog sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. Christ asks, “So what happens in the movie?” I state it is a story of a cranky young man who keeps magically repeating his ground hog day until he has a life changing attitude toward people and life in general. Christ says that is the reason for His coming to these coffee clutches with me and that He wants to give me a whole new view of life. This is what I referred to when I told Nicodemus that a person must be born again to enter the kingdom. That is, you must awaken or give birth to the Spirit of the Father that is in you-the spirit of love and you must also live in the truth. Your action and behavior must be true to the spirit the Father reveals to you.
John McCain in his book “Character is Destiny” portrays the life of “The Four Chaplains” as a model of great religious tolerance that allowed them to risk all to protect others of a different faith or race.
It was the evening of Feb. 2, 1943, and the U.S.A.T. Dorchester was crowded to capacity, carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers. Once a luxury coastal liner, the 5,649-ton vessel had been converted into an Army transport ship. The Dorchester was one of three ships steadily moving across the icy waters from Newfoundland toward an American base in Greenland.
Hans J. Danielsen, the ship’s captain, was concerned and cautious because he knew he was in dangerous waters. German U-boats were constantly prowling these vital sea lanes, and several ships had already been blasted and sunk. The Dorchester was now only 150 miles from its destination, but the captain ordered the men to sleep in their clothing and keep life jackets on. Many soldiers sleeping deep in the ship’s hold disregarded the order because of the engine’s heat. Others ignored it because the life jackets were uncomfortable.
On Feb. 3, at 12:55 a.m., a periscope broke the chilly Atlantic waters. Through the cross hairs, an officer aboard the German submarine U-223 spotted the Dorchester. The U-223 approached the convoy on the surface, and after identifying and targeting the ship, he gave orders to fire the torpedoes, a fan of three were fired. The one that hit was decisive–and deadly–striking the starboard side, amid ship, far below the water line. Captain Danielsen, alerted that the Dorchester was taking water rapidly and sinking, gave the order to abandon ship.
In less than 20 minutes, the Dorchester would slip beneath the Atlantic’s icy waters. Aboard the Dorchester, panic and chaos had set in. The blast had killed scores of men, and many more were seriously wounded. Others stunned by the explosion were groping in the darkness. Those sleeping without clothing rushed topside where they were confronted first by a blast of icy Arctic air and then by the knowledge that death awaited. Men jumped from the ship into lifeboats, over-crowding them to the point of capsizing, according to eyewitnesses. Other rafts, tossed into the Atlantic, drifted away before soldiers could get in them. Through the pandemonium, according to those present, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness.
Those chaplains were Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed. Quickly and quietly, the four chaplains spread out among the soldiers. There they tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded and guide the disoriented toward safety. “Witnesses of that terrible night remember hearing the four men offer prayers for the dying and encouragement for those who would live,” says Wyatt R. Fox, son of Reverend Fox. One witness, Private William B. Bednar, found himself floating in oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,” Bednar recalls. “I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.” Another sailor, Petty Officer John J. Mahoney, tried to reenter his cabin but Rabbi Goode stopped him. Mahoney, concerned about the cold Arctic air, explained he had forgotten his gloves. “Never mind,” Goode responded. “I have two pairs.” The rabbi then gave the petty officer his own gloves.
In retrospect, Mahoney realized that Rabbi Goode was not conveniently carrying two pairs of gloves, and that the rabbi had decided not to leave the Dorchester. By this time, most of the men were topside, and the chaplains opened a storage locker and began distributing life jackets. It was then that Engineer Grady Clark witnessed an astonishing sight. When there were no more lifejackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and gave them to four frightened young men. “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven,” said John Ladd, another survivor who saw the chaplains’ selfless act. Ladd’s response is understandable. The altruistic action of the four chaplains constitutes one of the purest spiritual and ethical acts a person can make. When giving their life jackets, Rabbi Goode did not call out for a Jew; Father Washington did not call out for a Catholic; nor did the Reverends Fox and Poling call out for a Protestant. They simply gave their life jackets to the next man in line. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains–arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their voices could also be heard offering prayers. Of the 902 men aboard the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, 672 died, leaving 230 survivors. When the news reached American shores, the nation was stunned by the magnitude of the tragedy and heroic conduct of the four chaplains.
Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.