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CANDLEMAS, 2021

Even as the Easter Cycle of the Church’s Year has now begun with today’s Septuagesima Sunday we are still not yet finished with the Christmas Cycle. The Christmas Cycle will conclude this week with the celebration of Candlemas. The Christmas Cycle is marked by several major Feasts: the Nativity of Our Lord (December 25th), the Octave Day of the Nativity (January 1st), the Epiphany of Our Lord (January 6th), the Baptism of Our Lord (January 13th) and Candlemas (February 2nd). 

Falling Forty Days after Christmas, Candlemas recalls the day on which Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple in order to perform two important religious duties: 1) to present their First-Born to the Lord God and to “redeem” Him back from God through a token sacrifice. (In their case, the sacrifice affordable to poor people— “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:24).); 2) for Mary to carry out her ritual purification as required by Jewish Law. Thus, February 2nd celebrates the Presentation of the Lord and the Purification of Mary. It is the event meditated upon in the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. 

February 2nd concludes the review of the Mystery of the Incarnation heralded by Jesus Christ’s Birth. It also points us on to the Mystery of the Redemption which is the theme of the Easter Cycle. The Christ Child presented to the Lord on the fortieth day after His birth will indeed be the Lamb of Sacrifice. At the appointed hour He will mount the Throne of the Cross and die an atoning death for the sins of all mankind. The old man Simeon who prophecies with the Christ Child in his arms on this day is announcing the Mystery of the Cross: “Behold this Child is set for the fall and resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted….”

He also prophecies Mary’s suffering in spirit at the Foot of the Cross: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). Thus the Christmas Cycle points us to the greater mystery of the Easter Cycle as it fades away.  

Candlemas Day also belongs in a special way to mature Christians who have been granted a long life. They are represented in the two elderly people we meet in the Temple: Simeon, who “had received an answer from the Holy Ghost that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.” and Anna, widowed prophetess who had spent many years praying in the Temple: “She departed not from the Temple by fastings and prayers serving night and day.” At the same hour as the Holy Family is in the Temple and Simeon is blessing them, Anna “coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of Him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel.” As their expectation of the Lord was rewarded, so will the expectation of faithful Christians be rewarded when at last they lay down the burden of their years and have their meeting with Jesus.

In this spirit I want to acknowledge the passing of one of our oldest, long-time parishioners Alice Drew who died at the age of 92 and was buried this past week. She was a great lady, with a strong spirit and a wry sense of humor, who gave of herself so generously for this parish over many, many years. May she rest in peace. 

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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