The Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple/
The Purification of the Theotokos/Candlemas
one of the
In Our Domestic Church...
Today is one of the Twelve Major Feast Days in the Eastern Church. We begin the day with liturgy & the blessing of our beeswax candles that we will use at our holy supper on Great & Holy Thursday and again on Pentecost.
Today the last of our decorations, our green garlands which went up at the beginning of St. Philip's Fast (Advent) on 15 November, come down, and we keep an eye on the weather...
"Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall"
— Robert Herrick (1591–1674), "Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve"
"If Candlemas Day is clear and bright,
winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
winter is gone and will not come again."
- Old English proverb
We celebrate the feast with friends, a meal - crepes in keeping with the feast day tradition of the French, or tamales in keeping with the Mexicans -and a procession around the house. In our procession, we carry the Icon of the Theotokos of the Softening of Evil Hearts, a reference to St. Simeon's prophecy over the Theotokos, "and you yourself a sword will pierce." Looking to the same passage in Luke, we carry our two turtle dove candle holders, as St. Joseph brought the two sacrificial doves and St. Simeon declared Christ "a light for the revelation of the Gentiles." We sing the Kontakion and Troparion of the feast as we process to our Beautiful Corner and set up our little shrine.
symbolism to look for in the icon:
•Simeon's deep bow & covered hands show his reverence & recognition of Jesus as the Messiah
•Christ is blessing those present, appearing as Lord & Savior rather than a helpless baby
•We recognize Anna as prophetess by a scroll, which she is often holding in this icon
•Joseph brings the 2 sacrificial turtledoves, the poor man's offering, emphasizing Christ's humble birth & background
• The Temple as Church: The scene is set in the Temple of Solomon, signified by the ciborium (the four-pillared canopy); "Before the building of the Temple, from the time of Moses, the Hebrews had the Tabernacle, which contained the Ten Commandments given to Moses, the manna from Heaven, and an altar. This portable structure was the holy place in which the presence of God was manifest. After the nation of Israel was established, King Solomon built the Temple to house the Ten Commandments and the other contents of the Tabernacle. A permanent tabernacle was created within the Temple, the sanctuary, and this is what is depicted as a ciborium."
•The altar here is through two gates similar to Royal doors; the Mosaic tabernacle contained manna, & here Jesus is the Bread of Heaven; a Gospel lays on the altar rather than stone tablets, telling us that the important thing here is the fulfillment of the Mosaic law, not its observance.
•Just as Christ did not need baptism to be purified, but he purified the waters by his baptism, he does not need a sacrifice to be purified, but his entry into the Temple purifies all men.
22 When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23 just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, 24 and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel and the holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. 27 He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, 28 he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
29“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted 35 (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. 38 And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
History of the Feast
As with the term Pascha, in Pentecost Christians borrowed a Jewish term and applied it to their own festivals. Tertullian (3rd century) knew of Christian Pentecost, and the Apostolic Constitutions (4th century) speak of the Pentecost feast lasting a week. The vigil of Pentecost became second only to the Easter Vigil in importance. Eventually in the West, Pentecost became a Sunday set aside for baptisms. Pentecost was not kept with an octave (an 8 day celebration) until a later date, although now that practice has been largely abandoned. For the most part, now Pentecost in Western churches is celebrated for only a Sunday. Traditionally, the Sundays between Pentecost and Advent have been designated "Sundays After Pentecost." This has been dropped in the West, but it continues in the East
Troparion of The Presentation of Our Lord
Hail Virgin Theotokos full of Grace, for Christ our God, the Sun of Righteousness, has dawned from you, granting light to those in darkness. And you, O Righteous Elder, rejoice, taking in your arms, the Deliverance of our souls, who grants us Resurrection.
Kontakion of The Presentation of Our Lord
Your birth sanctified a Virgin's womb and properly blessed the hands of Simeon. Having now come and saved us O Christ our God, give peace to Your commonwealth in troubled times and strengthen those in authority, whom You love, as only the loving One.
Candlemas White Punch
1 large punch bowl
1(12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1tablespoon almond extract
6(2 liter) bottles carbonated lemon-lime beverage
3(1/2 gallon) cartons vanilla ice cream
Mix sugar and water in a saucepan.
Stir constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat, add evaporated milk and almond extract and let cool.
Chill until serving time.
Combine milk mixture and lemon-lime drink in punch bowl just before serving.
Add and stir ice cream, to break ice cream up into small pieces.
some useful links...
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