By: Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
A reporter was interviewing Jack Nicklaus. He said, “Jack, you are spectacular. Your name isi synonymous with the game of golf. You really know your way around the course. What is your secret?” And Jack replied, “The holes are numbered.”
Our days are numbered with special events during the next few weeks. The Presentation of our Lord. Candlemas Day, Groundhog Day, St. Blaise. Lumen Gentium – light of the world. And, Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.
Everyone in our parish has received a letter from Archbishop Gustavo. He now invites us to make a generous contribution to the Appeal to reach our and serve the less fortunate in the Archdiocese.
Tuesday – February 2nd, is a very special day. Not only is it Ground Hog Day but in our Catholic tradition it is ‘Candlemas day.’ Candlemas is a Christian holiday celebrated annually on February 2. It celebrates the ‘Presentation’ of the child Jesus in the temple and the Virgin Mary’s purification.
Joseph and Mary went to the temple to fulfill the Law of Moses. The Law commanded that a woman who had given birth to a son should not approach the Tabernacle for the term of 40 days; after which time she was to offer a sacrifice for her purification. By another ordinance, every first-born son was to be considered as belonging to God. So Joseph and Mary presented their first born to God in the temple.
When Joseph and Mary entered the temple, they met an elderly man, Simeon. Simeon had been promised that he would see the ‘Promised One’ before he would die. Simeon held the child and prayed, a prayer that we know as ‘Nune Dimitis,’ ‘Master, now you may dismiss your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’
An elderly woman was also in the temple. Her name was Anna, a prophet. We are told that Anna was constantly in the Temple prayng, day and night. When Anna saw the child Jesus, she stepped forward and with sublime joy, began praising God. For she saw what others were not able to see. She recognized Jesus as the one who would bring redemption to Israel.
Each year ARchbishop Gustavo recognizes people who make a difference in our parishes. Archbishop Gustavo asks all pastors to submit the name of a person, or the names of a husband and wife to be giventhe Lumen Gentium award. The award ceremony takes place at St. Dominic’s Church on Tuesday, February 2nd.
We have selected Jim and Linda Worswick to receive this award. St. Paul tells us to be all things to all people. Jim and Linda are faithfully following Paul’s advice. They always seem to be on call and ready to help. Whether it’s buying food, preparing food, serving food for social events; or whether it is helping with the Altar/Holy Name Society, the Knights of Columbus; or whether it is keeping financial books or fixing the mechanical – Jim and Linda are always available. Congratulations and Thanks!
On the feasts of the Presentation we normally bless candles that will be used in our liturgical celebrations throughout the year. We also bless all the vigil lights which remind us that Christ is with us and we are with Him. We believe that Jesus is the “light of the world.” Jesus was the light in the eyes of Simeon and Anna. He is our light. So, it is fitting that we light candles to give honor to THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
HOWEVER – as you already know, we jumped the gun both in blessing the candles and blessing throats. (Normally we bless candles on february 2nd and bless throats on February 3rd.) We wanted everyone to receive the blessing of throats so we transferred all the blessings to the weekend.
Saint Blaise was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia during the fourth century. Very little is known about his life. According to various accounts he was a physician before becoming a bishop. His cult spread throughout the entire Church in the Middle Ages because he was reputetd to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died because of a fish bone in his throat. From the eighth century he has been invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those affected with illness of the throat.
According to the Book of Blessings, the blessing of throats may be given by a priest, deacon, or a lay minister. It may be given by touching the throat of each person with two candles joined tegether in the form of a cross.
As someone said, “Let’s be thankful that the pro football season is nearly over. We’re tired of violence on television.”
Fr. Jim Shea C. Ss.R.