JANUARY IS THE MONTH OF THE MOST HOLY NAME OF JESUS
The Fourth Week of Ordinary Time
THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD - CANDLEMAS
(Picture of Candlemas as St Vincent de Paul’s Church, Kansas City, Missouri)
This Thursday, the 2nd of February, the Church celebrates the FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD, also called ‘the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary’. It is the end of the series of feasts that centre around the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. On Christmas Day we remember the birth of the Redeemer; Epiphany commemorates the Divine showing to the Gentiles; and at the feast of the Presentation we remember the offering of our Saviour in the temple by His blessed Mother, as the Victim who will make peace between God and man.
Therefore, at the Feast of the Presentation, we recall the light of Christmas which still twinkles like a star behind us, but we also look forward to the Passion of the Lord. For on this day, Simeon said to Our Lady when he saw the infant Jesus in the Temple ‘A sword shall pierce your heart’. Jesus came down from Heaven to save us by dying on the Cross: he was the light, but he came into a world which is dark with the suffering of Sin. Today we remember to keep the light of Christmas in our hearts when life seems dark to us and to stand with Our Lady at the foot of the cross. She did not leave the Lord in the darkness that fell upon the earth when he was nailed to the cross because the light of faith stayed in her, and it is this faith that led her until the light of the Lord’s Resurrection brought light again to the world. If Jesus is Light in the darkness, it shines on the example of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, for the light of Faith which she kept at the darkest hour in her life. For these reasons, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord/ Purification of Mary is marked by the Church for an important ceremony: the great blessing of candles and so we also call this feast Candlemas.
The candles we use in our church are made, for the most part, with beeswax. This is in accord with the rubrics of the Missal and in various decrees from Rome. The quality of the candle is demanded by the wording of many prayers in the Missal for the blessing of candles and by the symbolism expressed in them. This is notable in the great prayer of the Easter Vigil, ‘The Exsultet’ sung to the greatest candle of all, the Paschal Candle, the symbol of the Resurrected Christ,: ‘On this, your night of grace, O holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering, the work of bees and of your servants’ hands, an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church’.
We use candles in all the sacraments except Penance (confession) because they are usually ministered publicly and solemnly, but Penance is always made privately. Candles are lit at Mass and other church services such as Vespers and Benediction, at the giving of some blessings, in processions and on various other occasions. At St Thomas More, in union with churches throughout the world, after the blessing of this year’s candles in the porch, there will be a candlelit procession into the church.
The custom of putting lighted candles on our altars goes back, probably, only to about the eleventh century before which time they were left standing in tall candlesticks on the floor of the sanctuary or in brackets on the walls. At St Thomas More masses, candles are used as follows: at a solemn mass, such as our Sunday 11 o’clock, six are lit at the tabernacle and two on the altar. At a more simple sung mass or said mass, such as Sunday 9 o’clock or Saturday 6.30 p.m. we use only the two. We light extra candles on occasions of special solemnity such as Christmas and Easter when we light the candles on the walls which show the consecration of our Church by the bishop in 2000. At Christmas, Epiphany and Candlemas we also use our two seven- pronged floor candle stands.
In the processions to the sanctuary before solemn services, two altar servers, in the sacred liturgical roles of acolytes, carry two candles. They also carry them to do honour to the proclamation of the Gospel, for the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion and carry them to the Lady Chapel at the end of mass for the singing of the seasonal Marian antiphon.
Votive Candles and Home Candles
At St Thomas More, we also have our new votive candles in the Lady Chapel, for St Joseph and the crib. We light these when we visit the church as offerings to our saints for their prayers.
Every Catholic home may have a place in the house, like a small shrine, where there may be a blessed candle or two. Sometimes, when death is coming nearer, it is a pious custom to place in the hand of the dying Catholic a blessed candle, the light of which is an image of the faith which he or she has lived by before the world; the grace which God has given to the soul, and the eternal glory to which he or she will come in the end.
Please bring your candles for use at home to the Mass on Thursday evening, the Feast Day of the Presentation, when the priest can bless them for you to keep and use at home when you pray.
Other signs of Candlemas.
This is the last day in which our lovely Crib is with us. At the end of mass, the infant Jesus will be taken from the Crib, and it will all be taken apart the next day until Christmas comes again. Candlemas is also the last day we sing the ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’ to Our Lady. From February 3rd we will be singing the ‘Ave Regina Caelorum’ until Easter Day. This is another sign that from Candlemas we are looking towards Lent and the Passion of the Lord.
To honour our Lady this year, we will be showing for veneration in the Lady Chapel the popular Roman icon of OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR. This image perfectly shows the spirit of Candlemas, for Our Lady points our gaze to pure Joy: God’s gift of her son Jesus, but He in turn looks ahead to the signs of his coming suffering carried by the angels above him and then shaking with terror at the sight, his sandal falls from his left foot. Meanwhile, the Mother of Jesus holds him fast in her love and the light of faith which will guide her through her own sorrows.
At this Candlemas, let us pray that the Light of Christmas and the prayers of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour will guide us through these dark days in the Church and the world and lead us to a new dawn of the Resurrection.
UPCOMING PARISH EVENTS
PARISH PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES in October. Please contact the parish office if you are interested in joining us.
PARISH PILGRIMAGE TO WALSINGHAM . We have now taken all the bookings and will be in touch soon.
Escorted Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine, Ireland, 15th March 2023. £699.00 per person sharing. Price includes flight, all transfers, 4 nights’ in Knock House Hotel with full board. All entertainment and excursions included. Day trips to Westport, Ballintubber Abbey, Croagh Patrick, Fr. Peyton Centre & National Museum. Special St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations. Single supplement £150.00. Contact Patricia on 01268 762 278 or 07740 175557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy an evening out
St Thomas More Parish Club
A social evening for all the family, everybody welcome
Music by Annie Gee
Friday 3rd February 2023
8.00 pm till 11pm
Admission - Adults £3 at the door
St Thomas More Hall Long Lane DA7 5JW
For more information call
Jenny 07710 527692 Mary 07369 252072
Buy candles now which you may be using for prayer in the year ahead and they can be blessed at the FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD, 2nd FEBRUARY 2023 with the church candles; mass at 7.00 p.m.
JANUARY DEVOTION TO THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS.
With the Holy Rosary, hymns to the Holy Name, The Litany of the Holy Name and Benediction. Sunday 29th January at 4.00 p.m.
THURSDAY LUNCH CLUB takes place from 12.30 p.m. this Thursday.
A DAY WITH MARY
1. Our Lady Help of Christians, Mottingham Road, SE9. Saturday 4th February from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
2. St. Joseph’s Church, Orchard Road, Bromley from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Please bring a packed lunch. Tea and coffee provided.
URGENT ATTENTION NEEEDED. FOOD BANK.
HELP NEEDED! For at least a month, from next week, Paul is going to be out of action and so will not be able to take your donations to the food bank. If you are willing and able to collect food donations from St Thomas More on either Monday or Friday morning for the next month or two and have a car, we need your help. Turn up on Monday morning at 9.15 and go with Paul to the food bank and he can show you the way. This job takes no more than half an hour in total, but may benefit many people who are struggling.
PARISH YOUTH NOTICES
MASSES AND INTENTIONS FOR THE FOURTH WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME
JANUARY INVOCATIONS TO THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS.