Candlemas Day

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I was woken up by the sound of plainchant this morning at 6am!  I have to confess I was still in bed…. so I missed the striking sight of the theologians processing into chapel, in their white soutanes, carrying Candles to celebrate the feast of  the Presentation.  Today’s feast is popularly known as ‘Our Lady of the Candles’ here in the Philippines or otherwise known as  Candlemas.   As quite a few of my ex-students are reading this blog  – maybe  a small reminder of today’s feast would be helpful.  The presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (40 days after Christmas Day) – is when we recall Mary presenting the Child Jesus to God in the temple.  40 days was what the Mosaic law prescribed as a period of purification for women after childbirth.

It is a feast that is underplayed in the Church – at least in my experience. I would like to see  a mini-revival. Why? Because it is about gratitude .  For me this is a key to being happy in life.  The happiest people I meet are the most grateful, the most thankful.  2000 years ago in Judea, women showed their gratitude to God by presenting their new-born children at the Temple.  Often when I celebrate baptisms I think that part of the celebration is in offering the life (child or adult) back to God.  When we see things as gifts we are grateful.  Conversely the most miserable people you meet, and often the most angry are those who feel life ‘owes’ them something, or they have been cheated some way.  This sense of entitlement may have been behind the recent credit crash.

So today at mass – I prayed in gratitude for my Mum, who gave birth to two of us!  and also my nieces and nephews. Maybe I’ll never be a dad – but there is still some  joy and privilege in baptising, in celebrating new life.  I hope next week to be celebrating more baptisms in the remote Palawan islands…. but more of that later.  So what are you grateful for? and how are you going to show that gratitude today?

The following video from Igniter – gives fantastic food for thought on that.  The background of volunteers and a soup kitchen remind us that gratitude often leads to generosity.  This time of year we need more grateful people! Good luck to all those working in the night-shelters back where Winter is hitting hard.