Upcoming Calendar Highlights: First Week of February
Some liturgical reminders, links and thoughts about the first few days in February:
It is 22 days before Ash Wednesday:
- I’m not intending to sound ominous, but just a reminder to start some thinking about Lenten plans.
February begins Black History Month in the United States:
- There are several black saints celebrated by the Church. Here’s a list of a few.
- February 6 is the Optional Memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, who is one of our black saints we honor.
- My friends Noelle and Tom Crowe host a a wonderful podcast on American Catholic History. They have featured nine American black Catholics and give such interesting details.
February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas:
- The older title for this feast day is “The Purification of Mary.” It’s the last feast that points to Christmas. After this feast the focus is shifted forward to Lent and Easter.
- It is an option for the priest to bless candles at Mass. Current regulations regarding candle composition for liturgical use do not have the same requirements of 51% or more beeswax content. See if you can bring some candles for home use to be blessed. It makes family prayer time extra special when burning blessed candles.
- Once a candle is blessed, it becomes a sacramental. Here are some links about sacramentals:
- Every year I tell myself I want to make beeswax candles. A fun project is making rolled beeswax candles out of beeswax sheets.
- Have dinner by candlelight and discuss what it means that Jesus is the Light of the World, and what Simeon meant by “a Light to all nations”?
- Several previous posts I wrote about this feast day:
February 3 is the Optional Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr:
- The candles that were just blessed yesterday are used to bless throats today. This winter in Virginia has been lacking snow and consistently cold temperatures. The fluctuating temperatures wear down our immune systems. What a great blessing to have during the flu and cold season!
- At times children are afraid of this blessing, and it’s no wonder. When it’s described to them, they often imagine the candles are on fire. The blessing has two blessed candles tied together with red ribbon at the bottom. The “V” is put over the neck and the person is blessed. Seeing the priest placing this object near the neck can be frightening.
- In the older liturgy there was sometimes a special twisted version of this candle.
- See my previous post:
February 6 is the Optional Memorial St. Paul Miki and Companions:
- These are 25 Japanese Martyrs of Nagasaki who were martyred around 1527. They were the first martyrs of East Asia to be canonized.
- If you’re menu planning, experiment with a Japanese dish today.
- Discuss the hardships of trying to bring Catholicism to a country where people do not know about Jesus.
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