Candlemass review

As we draw to a close of this Candlemass, did you have anything special at your parish or chapel?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Luis says:

    My Men’s Emmaus Group held a Holy Hour for the Sanctification of Priests and for a growth in vocations from the Parish. We have been doing this for the Year of the Priest on the first Tuesday of each month. This month the men sang the Salve Regina.

  2. Penguins Fan says:

    Good evening, Father,

    Our parish has a Children’s Mass for Candlemas and gives out blessed candles for all in attendance. Last year, the Mass was in the evening and I was able to take my wife and son. This year it was at noon and I regretfully could not attend due to work. We did watch the vespers at St. Peter’s on EWTN.

    Since, in certain Catholic countries, Candlemas is the close of the Christmas season, I would like to post a “poem” I found on the St. John Cantius website, if that’s okay.

    In Poland, the candles brought from home to be blessed are decorated with symbols and ribbons. There, the custom is to let a blessed candle burn all night tonight before an icon of Our Lady who, when the world still had forests, was relied upon to keep the wolves away during these cold nights. Now, our “wolves” tend to be of a different sort, but the pious burning of a blessed candle tonight, with prayers offered to Our Lady, still might help keep them at bay. This tradition gives Candlemas its Polish name—“Matka Boska Gromniczna,” or “Mother of God of the Blessed Thunder Candle.”

    In any case, when Candlemas is finished, all feelings of Christmas give way to the penitential feelings of Septuagesima and then Lent. The English poet, Robert Herrick (A.D. 1591-1674), sums it up in his poem “Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve”—and reveals a folktale in the process:

    Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve

    Down with the rosemary, and so
    Down with the bays and misletoe ;
    Down with the holly, ivy, all,
    Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall :
    That so the superstitious find
    No one least branch there left behind :
    For look, how many leaves there be
    Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
    So many goblins you shall see.

    And just one more…

    This very ancient carol also speaks of the departure of Christmas on this day. It is called “I Am Christmas,” and was written by James Ryman, a Franciscan Friar, ca. 1492. Note that the reference to Hallowtide (the days of the dead centering around All Saints Day) here refers to the fact that it was during Hallowtide that monarchs used to announce where they would be spending Christmas.

    I Am Christmas

    Here have I dwelled with more or lass
    From Hallowtide till Candelmas,
    And now must I from you hens pass;
    Now have good day.

    I take my leve of king and knight,
    And erl, baron, and lady bright;
    To wilderness I must me dight;
    Now have good day!

    And at the good lord of this hall
    I take my leve, and of gestes all;
    Me think I here Lent doth call;
    Now have good day!

    And at every worthy officere,
    Marshall, panter, and butlere
    I take my leve as for this yere;
    Now have good day!

    Another yere I trust I shall
    Make mery in this hall,
    If rest and peace in England fall;
    Now have good day!

    But oftentimes I have herd say
    That he is loth to part away
    That often biddeth ‘Have good day!”;
    Now have good day!

    Now fare ye well, all in fere,
    Now fare ye well for all this yere;
    Yet for my sake make ye good chere;
    Now have good day!

    I have a deep attraction to the passages in St. Luke’s Gospel about the Annunciation and Birth of Our Lord, and now that season is over, I thought it a good idea to post this.

  3. cuaguy says:

    I served a special Mass today in which Candles were blessed. The first such experience that I can remember.

  4. Girgadis says:

    I didn’t go to Mass at my own parish because of my work schedule, but at the parish where I go during the week, today wasn’t much different from other weekdays. The priest said the prayers of the first form/procession, but there wasn’t really a “procession”, the church wasn’t darkened, the faithful weren’t given candles, and no candles were actully lit during the blessing. After Mass the faithful were invited to come forward and take some of the candles that were blessed. I know I should be grateful I could get to Mass at all today, but I am a bit envious of those blogsters who observed this feast with a Solemn High Mass. I would never suggest that it’s a bad thing to bless throats, but I do wonder why a bigger deal is made for St. Blaise than for the Presentation of the Lord in some of our churches. Is it wrong for me to think that way?

  5. Luis: Thank you and all who prayed for priests.
    You made my heart sing; I am so grateful for your love and prayers.
    May all priests grow in holiness during this Year for Priests. God know we need all the help and graces we can receive. My blessing.

  6. I reported this on the “good news” post; but I will repeat this.
    We had the EF Mass with blessing of candles, procession, and Sung Mass at dawn where we presently reside; it was beautiful. As the light was coming forth the Mass progressed from the darkness of our procession to the Consecration: Christ, the Light. We were few in number; our prayer and devotion was not limited…the communion of saints and the whole Church was with us.

  7. TMA says:

    There was the blessing of candles and procession followed by high mass in our TLM parish. There was a beautiful homily about the feast and how to use blessed candles in our homes. As instructed, we kept our candles lit through communion. That was a first for me. I feel so privileged to be a Catholic in such a community. Something I noticed this year is that more people not only brought candles to be blessed for home use – they brought large boxes of them.

  8. donmar35 says:

    I was at a small parish where they had a Mass in Latin tonight; actually a high Mass. They had the full blessing of the candles at the start and even a procession. Only the priest and the acolyte actually processed around the church. I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to join in. There were about 25 people and everyone stayed in their pews. I don’t know too much about this but I saw people who I know are very into the Latin Mass and they all stayed in their pews. We had lit candles for the procession. We were instructed to extinguish them after the procession, relight them for the Gospel, extinguish them after the Gospel and then relight them again for the Preface until Communion. I must say that this was all really confusing to me. The acolyte came down at the appropriate times to light our candles. Since there were only about 25 of us , we all lit each others. Being a smoker, I was tempted to pull out my lighter and just light my own candle and those who were around me. I refrained because I thought it might be in poor taste. I’m really curious if that would be sort of a tacky thing to do. After Mass , we could take the blessed candles. They were much larger than I thought and I don’t know what kind of candle holders I’ll need for them. I would think they would last me for years. I know we should light them in sickness, death, or storms. Should I light them for any other reason.

    However it was a beautiful Mass and it saddened me that this was once an important feast with so much meaning and symbolism and now it’s sort of just on the back burner.

    Thanks so much for all you do!

  9. We had:

    Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Candlemas) Beginning with the Blessing of the Candles and Procession With polyphonic propers composed by William Byrd, and the Ordinary from his Mass for Four Voices, sung by Chantry

  10. Agnes says:

    We has a nice little impromptu procession with a few students joining the servers with candles, then Fr. blessed the candles and went on with Mass as usual. We normally don’t have a procession for the chapel Masses so this was a nice little treat. Nothing fancy, but he quoted some liturgical history from an ancient nun’s travelogue. Apparently, Candlemas in the Holy Land was done with great pomp, and ALL of the priests present, then the bishop, would give a sermon.

    Thankfully, we lucked out with just one.

  11. donmar35: Light those blessed candles when you pray together as a family or when you are in special need.
    They, with your faith and devotion, bring about the special blessing of the Lord.

  12. devthakur says:

    The parish where I normally attend the TLM on weekday evenings, Holy Innocents in Manhattan, had a Missa Cantata. Sadly I had to miss it (working overnight).

    At least I will be serving Mass tomorrow for the Feast of St. Blaise :-).

  13. padredana says:

    Here at the Liturgical Institute we had a wonderful Mass. We began with the blessing of candles and a procession while singing the proper antiphons/psalms. Throughout the Mass all the propers were chanted in Latin. The Gospel was chanted and large quantities of incense were used at all the proper places. It was truly a magnificent Mass.

  14. DavidJ says:

    We had a blessing of candles, procession into the sanctuary, and a good chunk of the homily devoted to Candlemas.

  15. Antioch_2013 says:

    At my little parish we had the blessing of candles (the five prayers are really great), then we had a procession around the church with everyone in attendance, followed by a Sung Mass with Incense (Mass XIII was used with chanted propers). All in all it was simply beautiful, the darkened church lit by many candles is always so moving.

    As it says in the collect from Lauds for today, “as Thine only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so too Thou wouldst grant us to be presented unto Thee with purified souls.”

  16. Solemn High Mass EF by the FSSP in Toronto assisted by Deacons and Seminarians from St. Augustine’s Seminary. Music included Bach and Charpentier organ works, pre Mass choral offering of Senex Puerum and Hodie, the First and Second Vespers Antiphons to the Magnificat, Hymns, Antiphons, Responsory, Melismatic Gregorian Propers, Missa Cum Jubilo, Credo III, Ave Maris Stella, Jesu Rex Admirabilis, Charpentier Te Deum! Not bad for the first one!

  17. jesusthroughmary says:

    Two words: Mater Ecclesiae.

  18. m.w.scott says:

    Sadly, I was the youngest person at Mass and most likely the only person who even knew of the tradition. The only difference between today, and daily Mass as usual in ordinary time was the mention of the “old tradition” of blessing candles and a white chasuble. Oh college parishes…

  19. Father G says:

    I celebrated my first Presentation of the Lord as a priest.
    The parish where I am stationed had not done a blessing of candles nor a procession for many years.
    Well, that all changed this morning when I blessed candles and led the procession.
    This evening, I visited a home for the traditional “levantada del niño Dios”, a Mexican Catholic traditon in which the baby Jesus is lifted up from the nativity scene, is dressed up and carried around while songs are sung. Then the nativity scene is put away until next Christmas.

  20. Father G: Beautiful! We kept our nativity until today here in our little monastery. Glad to know that there is a Mexican tradition of placing Him away until next Christmas.

  21. EENS says:

    The wife and children attended a Traditional Latin High Mass.
    I had to work (Thank the Lord for work)and attended a very reverent Nouvus Ordo Mass at a Polish parish nearby. Our creche is still up, we’ll most likely take it down over the weekend.

  22. Father Flores says:

    I had the honor of serving as one of the four MC’s for Bishop Daniel Flores’ instillation as the Sixth Bishop of Brownsville this Candlemass night. There were over 350 priests, 40 Deacons, 39 Bishops, Cardinals Dinardo and Sambi and of course our former Bishop Raymundo Pen~a

  23. Dave N. says:

    Today I recalled not knowing that Christmas could continue up to Candlemas until one time many years ago when I went to sung evening prayer in Canterbury Cathedral–and was more than a little surprised that they were still singing Christmas music and lighting the Advent wreath in late January.

  24. DetJohn says:

    I attende Candalmas evening at the John Paul II Polish Center in Yorba Linda, Ca.

    Dom Oppenheimer of the Cannons Regular of New Jerusalem was the celebrant. Prior to the Solemn Traditional Latin Mass Dom Oppenheimer blessed the candles. Everyone in attendance came forward in the fashion of receiving Holy Communion, knelt kissed the candle and the Celebrant’s hand.

    We then had a Procession out of the Church and around a good sized parking. We all processed with burning candles. I am guessing there were around 150 or so in attendance.

    The STLM was done with the assistance of Norbertines of St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, Ca.

    The congregation sang the responses and prayers in Latin. This was a very rewarding expierence for me.

  25. Incaelo says:

    I attended Mass at the cathedral of St. Joseph in my hometown of Groningen, the Netherlands. Candles were blessed in the narthex and then we processed towards the sanctuary. We had two concelebrating priests, three servers, plenty of incense and Latin… One of those Masses which just comes together perfectly.

  26. smallone says:

    Sadly, nothing special was planned at our parish, though I suspect that has been the case for a while.

    This is a holy day of obligation that I wish would be revived — especially because it is focused to an extent on Our Blessed Mother, and there are many lovely folk traditions associated with it (cf. Robert Herrick, et al.).

  27. JARay says:

    I grew up in England at a time when candles were blessed on this occasion. Now, in my parish, in Australia, people looked completely blank when I mentioned this tradition. In my home, as a child, blessed candles were treated with reverence because they were blessed. Knowing which candles were blessed and which were not was usually simple enough. One simply lifted a candle up to one’s nose and took a smell!
    Well, blessed candles were made of pure beeswax not white paraffin wax.
    Does that tradition still hold?

  28. My 3 oldest children and I attended a Solemn High Mass at St. Bernadette’s in Silver Spring, MD. (ignatiangroupie above was there too) It was a beautiful Mass with choir, many servers, and a lovely homily by Msr. Smith. When we left the church at 9:30pm the snow had covered all the streets giving us all a prolonged sense of peace.

  29. Henry Edwards says:

    Candles were blessed in narthex before Mass. After procession into our circular church led by crucifer and adult male servers in surplice and cassocks, priest removed gold cope over lace alb and donned traditional Roman vestments. Lots of incense—of altar at beginning, of Gospel, of gifts, of people, and (most significant) of Host and Chalice at elevation. Mass mostly sung—other than quietly spoken Canon (EP I, of course, this being a feast)—Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin. At end of Mass, no hymn, just the Prayer to St. Michael as usual. Beautiful and reverent OF.

  30. We had a Missa Cantata as St John’s in McLean last night. We didn’t turn on the lights, but had two gigantic candelabrae on the altar in addition to the prescribed six candles. The procession around the church was especially lovely.

    We did have a minor challenge, in that because of the impending snow, half of our servers didn’t show up. But two of our finest did. So while I was MC, the Thurifer doubled as Second Acolyte, and the Crucifer doubled as First Acolyte. Our parochial vicar was “in choro” as the lector, and was an extra set of hands during the Blessing of Candles. A High Mass with incense can work with only three servers, if everybody knows what they’re doing.

    At the end of the recessional after Mass, we stepped outside to see a winter wonderland. One of us started singing “I’m dreaming of a white Candlemas …”

  31. marthawrites says:

    In past years we simply picked up a candle from a large basket at the back of our daily Mass chapel after the early morning Mass. This year our pastor invited us to pick up the candle beforehand, go to the lobby, and after all the candles were lighted and blessed, reciting a refrain we processed back into the chapel for Mass. Unfortunately, he prefaced all this by saying, “I thought I’d jazz things up a bit today.” He said that before the ceremony and again during the homily. His other inappropriate comment was, “I thought I’d try something different to wake you all up this morning.” In my observation everyone who attends this Mass at 6:45 is alert and devout, so I always consider any insinuation that we’re not “all quite there” an insult. Don’t get me wrong: he is my pastor, he consecrates the Eucharist for us, his homilies always have at least one take-home point to consider for the remainder of the day, but I really dislike the way he trivializes what he says and does.

  32. Fr. W says:

    I have been offering the EF on my free days in the parish, nearly weekly. (Without congregation). Yesterday I became confused however: if one celebrates a Low Mass for Candlemas, are the preliminary prayers and blessings simply omitted, and prayers at the foot retained?

  33. maynardus says:

    At Holy Name in Providence we had a the blessing of candles, a procession, and a Missa Cantata with perhaps 40 people present. One of my favorite holy days, and I too lament the apathy with which it is treated in most place. I had intented to take some photos but Father was one server short so I had to pinch-hit as thurifer. Always fun leading a procession when you can’t remember which course it usually takes!

  34. Dr. Eric says:

    We sang Haugen and Haas hymns. Father did bless candles for us to take home before we recited the Gloria.

  35. Here at Notre Dame there was a sung Mass in Latin in the ordinary form, organized by a student group and reverently offered by one of the campus priests. There were 5 servers — MC, crucifer, thurifer, and 2 acolytes — while the schola sang the propers of the Mass ‘Suscepimus Deus’ and Mass IX. Father blessed and distributed the people’s candles before the ‘solemn entrance’ of the Mass, which was accompanied by the Nunc Dimittis. It was good to see the number of students who attended, and who, it seems, are increasingly flocking to the traditions of the Church as such customs are gradually brought back to campus.

  36. Frank H says:

    marthawrites: I think as we re-capture more of our traditional Catholic practices, our priests will become less “embarrassed” by them, and not feel the need to make excuses such as you cite. I’m guessing there are quite a few priests who have longed to re-introduce such things, and have felt constrained not knowing how their congregations might react. We need to thank them and encourage them when we see such practices occur!

  37. Rob Cartusciello says:


    Many priests (especially those of a certain age) were trained to feel downright apologetic about the liturgical traditions of our faith. It comes as no surprise your priest acted in the manner he did.

    That having been said, at least he celebrated the Feast of Candlemass with some additional elements. This is to his credit.

    Perhaps the best way we can encourage the revival of these traditions is by thanking the priests who observe them and encouraging them to be unapologetic in their observance.

  38. wolfeken says:

    The Solemn High Mass at Saint Bernadette’s in Silver Spring, Md. was absolutely beautiful. The professional choir Chantry surely pleased William Byrd. It is always encouraging to see a dozen priests and seminarians born after Vatican II.

    Question for the hardcore liturgical guys here — was the Flectamus genua during the blessing of candles (within Septuagesima) eliminated in the 1962 missal?

  39. Huxtaby says:

    Here in the UK. My ‘sacramental’ parish had nothing – it being Tuesday and the man who masquerades as a priest has his day off (even though when I was leaving for work at 8.30 a.m I passed him as he was walking his dog).

    Anyway, at the parish I now generally attend (ironically the same parish from where dog-walker priest came from) I asked the PP there to offer an EF Mass (Missa Cantata). He did so beautifully and there was another priest in choir.

    We had everything from the 1962 Missale Romanum. I played the organ and sang at the same time(necessity being the mother of invention!). All simplified chants with the exception of the ‘Adorna thalamum’ – I’m not that confident chanting alone. Mass VIII and Credo III (sorry – but it does allow the congregation to join in and you must remember that in my part of the country there is no liturgical tradition to re-establish, there never was one to begin with!). The hymns O Sanctissima and Ave Maris Stella at the Offertory and Communion reespectively and finally Ave Regina at the end of Mass.

    All very simple but the small 1950’s church looked lovely, everyone did their best and the procession went around the inside of the church.

    I do love the Purification and the priest offered it for my grandmother and father. My grandmother died on the Feast of the Purification 1961. May she rest in peace. Amen.

  40. Nan says:

    Candlemass with the Archbishop, Bishop and 15 priests, most of which were religious priests, doing double duty as the celebration of world celebration of consecrated life and jubilarians. There were a ton of religious, the religious sisters in habits were seated closer to the altar and the older group not in habits were seated further away.

  41. Penguins Fan says:

    It’s touching to read the various posts about the commemoration of Candlemas here. Fr. Z, your blog teaches so much it’s astounding.

    I put away our manger scene this evening, as I like to leave it out until after Candlemas.

    When I was in my teens, and not very itnerested in going to Mass, I can remember going to Mass on Epiphany Sunday. Of course, the nativity scene was still set up and the hymns were about Christmas, and my very poorly catechized mind thought, “Don’t they know? Christmas is OVER!” In my secular teenaged world, school had resumed the Tuesday before Epiphany and it seemed a strange way to drag things out.

    My dad always wanted to leave the tree up until New Years but we were in a rush to take everything down. My sister in law insists on having everything put away in a few days.

    In five years of Catholic school, we never observed Candlemas.

    Maybe I’m a little whimsical because my dad’s birthday was February 2. He died 16 years ago.

  42. catholicmidwest says:

    I’ve never so much as heard the word “Candlemass” mentioned in any parish I’ve attended for the whole 25 years I’ve been Catholic. You asked, Fr. Z.

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