The Feast of The Presentation – also called Candlemas | The Uprising – Ancient:Modern:Anglican Church

Candlemas - Purification - Presentation

The Feast of The Presentation – also called Candlemas

From an excellent Anglican blog found on Facebook, called “The Uprising – Ancient:Modern:Anglican Church”:

There is one more sacred day that should not be lost in the avalanche of “winter holidays.” February 2 – the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – is a time when we celebrate the blessing of the candles for the year – Candlemas – and the Presentation of the Lord in the temple.

After celebrating the Nativity of our Lord, with its splendor in both the Church and the popular culture, it would be easy for one’s mind to drift and overlook the significance of the fortieth day after the Lord’s birth. But we should look beyond our hustling to banish the decorations to the attic, the obsession over the days remaining in this strenuous winter, and endless chatter about Super Bowl Sunday. Because the events set in motion with the Annunciation and Nativity continue with the significant presentation of our Lord in the Temple.

Joseph and Mary’s presentation of the baby was no pro forma event. The words of the prophet Malachi are fulfilled in the poor parents presenting their firstborn son along with their humble sacrifice of two turtledoves. (“Now I am sending my messenger— he will prepare the way before me; And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:1) The mother of God – the Theotokos, in no need of ritual purification – and her husband did not set themselves above the Law.

In their conformation to the Law is God’s entrance into his Temple. Simeon and Anna, pious and elderly, having spent their lives in prayer and waiting in the Temple for the Messiah, have their “moment.” There is the glorious Nunc Dimittis of Simeon. Is not the conformation of the Law and the Prophets also fulfilled when the Lord enters the temple of our hearts?

With Candlemas we celebrate the coming of the Light of the World. But a shadow also passes; a shadow foretelling the suffering that will precede the victory of the Light over darkness. Simeon not only proclaimed that he had seen his salvation, but also told the Mother of our Lord that her share would include a sorrow pierced heart. In Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II wrote that Mary heard in Simeon’s words something akin to a second Annunciation,

“for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely, in the misunderstanding and sorrow. While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful.”

In like fashion, do we not also share in the sorrowful sufferings of the Holy Mother as we too live our lives in obedience to Christ?

Candlemas – A historical and cultural consideration


“February Second, Candlemas Day!
Half your wood, and half your hay!
Half the Winter has passed away,
We’ll eat our supper by the light of day!”

Whether you believe Winter starts on December 21st and ends on March 21st, or whether you follow the older reckoning and view Winter as the “dark half” of the year, the season of cold and dark that begins on All Hallows (Samhain) and lasts until May Day (Beltane), we are, as of today, halfway through it! In an older and more agrarian age, this was the time to take stock of one’s provisions, and see whether or not one had enough wood for the fire and fodder for one’s livestock to make it through until warming temperatures and growing pastures brought a measure of freedom and safety from want. As another old maxim put it,

“If, on the morning of Candlemas Day,
You’ve half your wood and half your hay,
You’ll make it safely through ’til May!”

If not, better see if any of your more provident neighbors had any extra you could buy, trade, or borrow, because there was no Walmart to go to, to make up the lack, in those days! If you had ample stores, this was a time of some satisfaction and comfort – and the lengthening hours of daylight means that we can, indeed, “eat our supper by the light of day!”

But as another old saying reminds us,

“As the light lengthens, so the cold strengthens!”

It is a mostly bright and sunny (some clouds are about), but cold and windy, Candlemas day: 27°, but with the wind-chill, the “feels-like” temperature is a mere 14°! A clear reminder that, although Candlemas (earlier known as Imbolc, by the ancient Celts) is in some ways – with the lactating of the ewes, and the blooming of the snowdrops – a foretaste of Spring, Winter is still only HALF over!

More on the religious significance of Candlemas in a separate post.

(The picture is a woodcut illustration for Edmund Spenser’s “The Shepherds.” February was lambing season, for our forebears (and still is, for at least some of those who rear sheep!), so it is most appropriate – the ancient Celtic name for the festival that became known in the Christian era as Candlemas was “Imbolc,” which meant “In the belly,” as in, the lambs were in the bellies of the ewes, waiting to be born…)

Propers for the Presentation of Christ in the Temple

“The Presentation of Christ in the Temple” (Presentazione di Gesù al Tempio) by Giotto, c.1311 – 1320. Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy.

Presentation of Christ in the Temple,

commonly called The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin.

The Book of Common Prayer 1928.

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Epistle. Mal. iii. 1.

BEHOLD, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ sope: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

The Gospel. St. Luke ii. 22.

AND when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken to him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord. and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

The Presentation of our Lord | For All the Saints

Source: The Presentation of our Lord | For All the Saints

An excellent account of this holy Feast, by the superb (but sadly, not currently active) blog, “For All the Saints.”

“Sometime after the introduction of the procession, the custom arose of blessing all the candles to be used during the coming year on this feast day, leading to the designation “Candlemas” (Candle-Mass) in England. The Presentation of Our Lord brings to a conclusion the celebration of Christmas. In recognition of this, some leave a few Christmas decorations (for example, the wreath on the front door) up until the Presentation.”

(Liturgical note: the Propers found here are those of the contemporary lectionary, not the classical / traditional Anglican one used by the UEC and St. Bede’s. For those, see my separate post!)