February 2, 2014

February 2nd - Candlemas Day

According to St. Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by His conception or His birth, the spotless purity of His Blessed Mother. The same holy bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus who came to enlighten our darkness. 

 The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  On the fortieth day after the birth of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin came to the Temple to purify Herself in accordance with the custom of the Law although She was not constrained to obey the law, for She had conceived by the Power of the Holy Ghost. Nonetheless, She was minded to submit to this law for four
  reasons, namely:
To give an example of humility
To do homage to the Law, which Her divine Son had come to fulfill
To put a term to the Jewish purification and to mark the beginning of the Christian purification
To teach us to purify ourselves throughout our whole life

  The Presentation of Our Lord, Jesus, in the Temple
  The Virgin came therefore to the Temple, presented Her Son, and Redeemed Him with the sacrificial offering of the poor, a pair of turtle doves. The just man, Simeon, took the Child Jesus in his arms and blessed Him, and said to Mary His mother:  Behold this Child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a Sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.

Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace. He then who is let depart to go in peace to God, is presented as an offering to God. And in order to make known by whom he was presented, he said, For lo! mine eyes have seen Thy mercy.

Candlemas Day
The wax of the candles signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, the wick 

figures His soul, and the flame His divinity.  
St. Anselm
  On this day, the faithful carry lighted candles. And there are four reasons for this custom:
To remedy a pagan superstition. For of old, in the first days of February, the Romans used to light up the whole city with candles and torches, in order to  honor the goddess Februa and procure her favor with her son, Mars, in order to insure their victory over their enemies. In the month of February the Romans also
  honored the gods of the underworld. In order to win their good will for the souls of the dead, the people offered them solemn victims, and passed the night singing their praises, with lighted torches and candles. As it is difficult to wipe out such customs, Pope Sergius decreed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be honored
  each year on this day, with a blessed candle being carried in the hand. Thus the ancient usage was transformed by a new intention.
To show forth the purity of the Virgin Mary. To impress her purity upon the minds of all, the Church ordered that we should carry lighted candles, as if to say: Most blessed Virgin, thou hast no need of purification; on the contrary, thou art all light and all purity! Such indeed was Mary's innocence that it shone forth even outside of Her, and quelled any urgency of the flesh in others. Thus the Jews tell us that although Mary was surpassing fair, no man could ever look upon Her with desire.
To be a symbol of the procession of Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna, when they presented the Child Jesus in the Temple.
For our edification. It teaches us that if we wish to be purified in the sight of God, we should be sincere in faith, unselfish in conduct, and righteous in intention. For the lighted candle signifies faith with good works. And the wick which is hidden in the wax represents the right intention of which Saint Gregory speaks when he says: Let your works be visible to all, but let your intention be hidden; so that we may give the example of good works to our neighbors, and yet ever desire that our virtues be unknown, by the intention we have of pleasing God alone.

For funsies:

If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year.
(English folklore)

When it storms and snows on Candlemas Day,
Spring is not far away;
if it's bright and clear,
Spring is not near.
(Germanic folklore)

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