Living the liturgical calendar takes some planning. That is why I am giving you a heads up that next Monday, February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas. It is not a Holy Day of Obligation but it is definitely a Holy Day of Opportunity. The good folks at Catholic Culture have a very nice explanation of this day along with links to suggested prayers and activities.
"In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another 'epiphany' celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or 'Candlemas,' was of great importance.
If you live in the Northern Virginia area, Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale will be having a Solemn Mass for the Feast of the Presentation complete with the blessing of candles at 7:30 pm on Monday. Forgive me as I praise my own parish a bit, but the liturgies are just getting better and better. I am sure this one will be beautiful. And… we will be bring the Monday night CCD classes to this Mass. At least some of our youth will be exposed to the rich liturgical heritage of our faith.
Of course, thinking about Candlemas brings me to thoughts about Candles. Do you light devotional candles in your home? I do. I light a candle when we say a family Rosary. I also have a supply of tall devotional candles that have pictures of saints on the glass containers. Most days I light one of those. I will be taking my supply for the upcoming year to the Candlemas liturgy so they can be blessed. Devotional candles bring a Catholic environment to my home. They also keep me praying all day. Every time I see the flickering flame it brings to mind the intentions for which I lit the candle and I offer another prayer. When my older children come home from an evening out, a lighted candle tells them Mom has been praying for them.
The custom of lighting candles during home prayer is waning. When I asked my CCD class about devotional candles in their homes I got blank stares. One boy mentioned that was something he saw at his grandmother’s house. Well now, didn’t that make me feel young and spry after my recent milestone birthday! Actually, I don’t think it is just that the practice of lighting candles is waning. The practice of home prayer is waning. We need to reclaim time within our busy days to offer prayers as a family. Right now, many families are lucky to say grace before a meal once a week. There is no prayer more powerful than a family Rosary. However, if you don’t think you can manage a whole Rosary, why don’t you try this:
Gather the family together and ask if there are any intentions for which they would like to pray. If not, don’t worry. Pope Benedict XVI has monthly intentions for which he would like us to pray. They are listed on my sidebar. Then offer an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be.
Trust me. The more often you do this the bigger the positive effect you will see in your family. Generosity, patience and many other virtues will flow from this simple act of family prayer. You might even find that every now and then you can expand the prayer time to include a decade of the Rosary or even a whole Rosary. Start slowly and just nudge your family along to holiness.