My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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The Feast of Candlemas

Since reverting back to my Catholic Faith, this is one of my favorite feasts. First of all, I am a sucker for candles and candle light. I use to make candles when I was a kid. I just love the look and feel of candlelight! Secondly,it is a feast of hope. It comes halfway between winter and spring. It gives me hope that the long cold days are almost over. Thirdly, I love the connection to Jesus through his Mother Mary. I have found this connection to be even more poignant since the loss of one of my own children. Every birth and new life is full of joys and sometimes sorrows. Even our Blessed Mother experienced this.

Below are some things I have written in years past. As a re-vert to Catholicism there are many things that I have tried to learn or re-learn on my own and I continue to learn!

This year, I learned that Candlemas is the time of year that the garlands from Christmas are taken down, because they are dry enough. I have an artificial garland but I have been recalcitrant to take it down because - well because I hate putting ALL of the Christmas stuff away! But I love having a symbolic, liturgical, historical, and practical reason to do so! It will come down tomorrow.

I also have some links to what some other wonderful Catholic Mommy bloggers have done to keep the live the liturgical year during Candlemas alive!

It's also Groundhog's Day tomorrow. I love the Bill Murray movie on Groundhog Day
I love the fact that he had as many chances as he needed to make his life meaningful and worthwhile. What a gift that was! So if you haven't seen that movie, I recommend it!

Also on a personal note - tomorrow is my best friend's birthday. It's the big 5-0 for both of us this year! She has been my dear friend since high school. I can't imagine what life would be like without her in it! So happy birthday T!
twana 007*********
February 2 is an ancient, special day as it marks the halfway mark between the winter solctice and the spring equinox. (Which is why the other holiday - Ground Hog Day is also celebrated on this day!)

It also is a very scriptural day for all Christians. It is the 40th day after Christ's birth and the time for Mary, as a good Jewish mother, to be purified.

Chapter 12 of Leviticus is the law concerning purification of women:

And if her hand ind not sufficiency, and she is not able to offer a lamb, she shall take two turtle doves, or two yhoung pigeons, one for holocaust and another for sin; and the priest shall pray for her and so she shall be cleansed.

Note the significance again of the lamb, with Jesus as the Lamb of God.

The ceremony cleansed ceremonial uncleanness, not sin. The prescribed period before the ceremony signified that the mother was leaving a period of weakness and recuperation and utter dependence on God (The Year and Our Children page 62). As anyone who has ever had a baby can attest rest after childbirth is very important and I suppose one could argue even prescribed by God. Funny that our culture tends to honor the "drop that baby in the field and pick up the plow again" attitude instead of calm and rest.

All of the ceremonies before mass and during mass speak of Light, because Jesus is the light of the world, People come to mass and candles are distributed and blessed. I have never, ever belonged to a parish that made a big deal out of this and some either ignored it or maybe just did something for the people that showed up for daily mass. I think it's a shame that the larger congregation isn't educated and encouraged to participate in this. Maybe with our new bishop it will.

I love the point Mary Reed Newland makes in her book, The Year and Our Children, that the old Mass of Purifiation is an "eloquent meditation for mothers and wives, occupied so constantly with washing, whether their laundry of their children, their dishes or their floors. These are purifications. Malachias has said that Christ will purify us the same way, refining us by the fire of our trials, purifying us of self-love by the washing of our wills. He would have us in the wedding garments, clean and bright."

I don't think you have to be too elaborate for this day. But if you love candles, this is YOUR holiday!!

Our table for Candlemas

This is our table for Candlemas. Note the Christ candle in the middle - it's the one we lit at our wedding. I know, it screams 1979, but nonetheless, it is the candle we lit all those years ago.

Our table for Candlemas

This is the other side. Since this feast revolves around Mary's motherhood as well as Christ coming into the world, I thought it was appropriate to leave my Holy Family Candleholder out from Christmas.

Last year my kids made an cube candle. You only need a paper carton like a milk carton for the mold! I use to make these ALL THE TIME when I was about 12 years old. We used blue for winter, (also the Blessed Mother's Color). Tomorrow though, our new candle will be red, and then it will double for Valentine's Day!

I found this fascinating article on today's feast of Candlemass!

In modern life many people may not be aware that on February 2 we celebrate an ancient feast, common to the Church of both East and West, which is mentioned clearly in Leviticus and Luke.

February 2 is "Candlemas" in many churches and is the day for observing the ritual purification of Mary forty days after the birth of Jesus as well as the presentation of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem (see Luke 2:21-40). The day has pagan roots and was a Christian adaptation of the older practices for this midwinter festivity from which we get our "Groundhog Day." Since the presentation was also the purification of Mary (40 days after childbirth), the church developed ritual practices known as the "Churching of Women" (see additional notes at bottom of page) or "Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth." The following is an explanation

Seven days after Christmas, January 1, is the feast of our Lord's circumcision

Thirty three days after that, February 2 is the feast of his being offered in the Temple, the purification of the Virgin Mary. So Candlemass is fourty days after the birth of Jesus.

This day also used to have great significance in the rural calendar, because the date lies half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so it marks the day upon which winter is half over! . It is a time of the year which naturally forms a transition period in winter - there is a sense in which thank God we are moving on into brighter and better days.

Like many Christians festivals, including Christmas itself, Candlemas has roots which lie deep in pagan roots and an understanding of nature.
Imbolc was an important day in the Celtic calendar. (pronounced 'im'olk' also known as Oimelc) comes from an Irish word that was originally thought to mean 'in the belly' although many people translate it as 'ewe's milk' (oi-melc). As winter stores of food were getting low Imbolc rituals were performed to harness divine energy that would ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later.

Like many Celtic festivals, the Imbolc celebrations centred around the lighting of fires. Fire was perhaps more important for this festival than others as it was also the holy day of Brigid (also known as Bride, Brigit, Brid), the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. For the Christian calendar, this holiday was reformed and renamed 'Candlemas' when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.

As Candlemas traditions evolved, many people embraced the legend that if the sun shone on the second day of February, an animal would see its shadow and there would be at least six more weeks of winter. Bears or badgers are watched in some European countries, but the German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania found an abundance of groundhogs and late in the 19th century a few residents in Punxsutawney began celebrating the groundhog as weather prophet. So we have Groundhog Day.

You may know the rhyme

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright,
Winter again will show its might.
If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey,
Winter soon will pass away. (Fox version)

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day be shower and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again. (Traditional)

But this time of year should not be a pagan festival it is a Christian feast which we celebrate and it can be traced to at least 543. The Feast of Lighted candles is mentioned by Bede and St. Eligius, who was bishop of Noyon from 640 to 648. The feast quickly became popular, the day is set aside to commemorate the presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus has been circumcised, marking him as a member of God's chosen people, through whom world salvation was to be achieved.

The background to the passage from Luke today is seen in the Book of Leviticus Chapter 12:1.

Other interesting links for the day.

All my Candlemas Links on Diigo!

Holiday Page: Ground Hog's Day: "Candlemas"

Happy Candlemas

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