This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation. This celebration (also known as Candle Mass) happens 40 days after Christmas and usually falls on a weekday, so it goes relatively unnoticed. However, this year it falls on a Sunday and so replaces our regular Sunday readings. The Feast of the Presentation marks that moment when Jesus (as a child) was presented in the temple at Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph and so was dedicated to God from the beginning. Every pious, Jewish parent was required to consecrate their first-born child in the temple and offer sacrifice a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons as a means of purification. This feast teaches us two things: 1) That Jesus (although the Son of God) came from real parents and was inducted into real religious community such as Judaism. After all, Jesus was Hebrew and came from a long line of Jewish people. 2) Since we consider Jesus the “Light of the World” who enters the temple for the first time, many churches will take this opportunity to bless all the candles in church that will be used throughout the year, either at the altar or special ceremonies or taken home for personal use. As Catholics we also have the tradition of blessing throats with these new candles, honoring St. Blasé (Feb. 3rd) whose memorial is the next day and who is the patron saint of throats and neck ailments. Chances are your church offers the Blessing of Throats during these days.
If you think about it, a candle is a beautiful image and symbol of our Lord. The sole purpose of a candle is to “burn for the light!” Jesus’ sole purpose, being the “The Light of the World,” was also to “burn for the light” to give himself up for the Light! He came to empty himself that we might see and experience the Light of God in our lives! How appropriate then that we use candles at our altar during Mass! May the Light of the Lord shine on us!
On a final note: I want to thank all those who made our recent Catholic Schools Week on January 26th thru February 1st such a wonderful success! Here at our own All Saints Academy Catholic School (St. Cloud campus) our children had a great time celebrating what our Catholic Schools are all about. We have a great staff and principal in Paula Leider as well! If you have not done so and your children are of grade-school age, please consider sending your child to ASA. It’s never too late! Those primary grades of Pre-K to 6th are so important in our children’s early development and Catholic schools provide both the spiritual and academic foundation they need. For those who feel they can’t afford Catholic Education, there are scholarships available, so please check it out.
Secondly, to echo Fr. Timothy in his column last week, please join us at our ASA Extravaganza on Saturday, February 8th beginning at 5:30 pm at the Church of St. Paul, immediately following the 4:30 pm. Mass. This is our largest fundraiser for the year, and we hope to raise upwards of $70,000. There will be food, beverages, silent auction items, and entertainment provided by Dueling Pianos. You can stop by our ASA school office to purchase your tickets, order them online, or simply show up at the door and pay to get in. Come show your support for us! We hope to see you there!