The Armchair Liturgist: Presentation Candles

armchair1.jpgI almost forgot the question for today.

How many armchair liturgists would retain the old custom of the blessing of candles on February 2nd. Or do you even know what I’m talking about?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Presentation Candles

  1. howtocentral says:

    I’m wondering, if all candles are blessed, do they have to be buried when burned down too far to use for Mass? Right now, our sacristans are busy enough without ordering for the year all at once or guarding the blessed candles for Mass so they don’t end up in the parish center for other functions.

  2. Liam says:

    To Todd’s question:

    Of course. Why ever not? It’s not merely an old custom: it’s a full-fledged liturgical ritual. Andrew Greeley would reel at the thought of tossing away a valuable tangible liturgical opportunity for catechesis.

  3. Liam says:

    And don’t neglect the procession at least at one Mass.

  4. Ah, I did my best today.

    We had a Mass with all the schoolchildren (normally they attend two Masses during the week — so this was automatically special), concluding Catholic Schools Week. After being talked out of having all the children process in with lighted candles (the mention of wax all over the carpet did the trick), we decided to have children from each grade bring unlit candles forward, in procession, to the front. I blessed the candles at that point. The music was “The King of Glory Comes”; after the blessing, “To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King” (the music director knows I love this hymn; he likes to make the boss happy; I like that) was played as we continued into the sanctuary, and I attempted to incense the altar. (I used incense I found in the back of the closet. It makes smoke — for about 3 seconds. I threw it all out after this Mass.)

    Mass went forward nicely, albeit sans smoke. I attempted a rousing homily about all the themes of the day, including “light” and Catholic Schools Week. It was all a lot of fun and everyone said it was nice.

    We didn’t attempt to bless all the candles, just a representative subset.

    Oh, and I forgot to have the servers light the candles on the side altars. Sigh.

  5. Gavin says:

    We did a blessing service here, I wanted to do a big festive Nunc Dimittis, but it wasn’t in the cards this year.

  6. Brigid says:

    I *loved* the smell of the candles as they embraced my neck each year. But, as with many fine traditions, gone from my Parish except for the School mass, similar to Fr. Fox above. And Fr., thanks for sharing above. I hear your sigh… ;-}

  7. David S says:

    I’m glad to hear of Fr. Fox’s efforts, especially for the children. In my local area, I heard of no special festivities for this feast. The local cloistered nuns probably had a procession in the cloister, as is their custom. At my parish, the resident chant freak sang the Communion chant at the 7:00 am Mass.

    I’m with Liam: this is a big deal feast with a special liturgical blessing and procession. Why hide it?

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