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Catholic Prayer: Blessing of Candles and the Propers of Mass for February 2, Extraordinary Form


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This is the Candlemas blessing and Mass propers for the Feast of the Purification of the Blessing Virgin Mary. The following are adapted from the 1949 St. Andrew's Daily Missal and the 1943 version of The Catholic Missal by Very Rev. Charles J. Callan, O.P and Very Rev. John A. McHugh, O.P. , published by P.J. Kenedy and Sons.

The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Double of the First Second Class

Vestments:violet at the Blessing and Procession, white at Mass

This feast celebrates the ceremony of purification of Our Lady on the fortieth day after the birth of our Lord, and of the presentation of offering of our Lord to the Eternal Father in the Temple, as also prescribed in the Law of Moses for first-born male children. The ceremonies of today consist of four parts: the blessing of candles, their distribution, the procession with lighted candles, and the Mass which follows. The whole ceremony that precedes the Mass, and especially the lighted candles, refers to our Lord as the Light of the world according to the words of holy Simeon, who on the day of the Presentation took the divine Infant in his arms and said of Him: "A light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel." (C.M.)

The feast of the Purification is one of the oldest feasts of the Virgin. At Rome in the seventh century it ranked after the Assumption. it is the last one in the Cycle that shows any connection with Christmas: Mary, wishing to obey the Mosaic law, had to go to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of Jesus (December 25-February 2) to offer the prescribed sacrifice. mothers were to offer a lamb, or if their means did not allow, "two doves or two young pigeons."

The Blessed Virgin took the Infant Jesus with her to Jerusalem. The Candlemas procession recalls the journey of Mary and Joseph going up to the temple to present "The Angel of the Covenant" (Epistle, Introit) as Malachy had prophesied, or "the light to the revelation of the Gentiles" (Gospel).

"The wax of the candles signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant," says St. Anselm, "the wick figures His soul and the flame His divinity."

The Purification to which the mother of the Saviour was not obliged to conform, as her motherhood was beyond ordinary laws, is not placed in the foreground by the liturgy and the Presentation of Jesus it he principle object of this feast. (The Church has instituted for Christian mothers the fine ceremony of Churching, the meaning of which is neither a purification of the mother nor a presentation of the child, but a thanksgiving for the birth and a blessing of the mother.)

The first and fourth prayer of the blessing of candles explain the symbolism of the sanctuary lamp and the candles blessed on this day, and teach the right use to be made of them by the bed of the drying, during storms and periods of "body and soul, on land and on the waters."

If the feast of the Purification falls on a privileged Sunday (Septuagesima, Sexagesimal, or Quinquagesima), it is transferred to the Monday Febr. 3; nevertheless the blessing of the candles takes place before the Mass on Sunday 2.


I. The Blessing of the Candles

The priest vested in a purple cope enters the sanctuary and blesses the candles as follows:

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And With your spirit.

1st Prayer: O holy Lord Father almighty, eternal God, who didst create all things out of nothing, and by Thy command didst cause this liquid to come by the labor of bees to the perfection of wax; and on this day didst fulfill the petition of the just man Simeon, we humbly beseech Thee, that by the invocation of Thy most holy name, and by the intercession of blessed Mary ever virgin, whose festival is this day devoutly celebrated, and by the prayers of all Thy saints, Thou wouldst vouchsafed to bless + and sanctify + these candles for the use of men, and the health of bodies and souls whether upon the earth, or on the waters; and wouldst hear from Thy holy heaven, and from the seat of Thy majesty, the voices of this Thy people, who desire to bear them with honor in their hands, and to praise Thee with hymnals, whom Thou has redeemed with the precious blood of Thy Son; who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.

2nd Prayer: O almighty and everlasting God, who didst this day present Thy only-begotten Son to be received in the arms of holy Simeon in Thy holy temple; we humbly implore Thy clemency, that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless +, sanctify +, and kindle with the light of heavenly benediction these candles, which we Thy servants receiving desire to carry lighted to magnify Thy name; that by offering them to Thee, the Lord our God, being worthily inflamed with the holy fire of Thy most sweet charity, we may deserve to be presented in the holy temple of Thy glory. Though the same our Lord...
R. Amen.

3rd Prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, the true light, who enlightenest every man coming into this world, pour forth Thy blessing + upon these candles, and sanctify + them with the light of Thy grace; and mercifully grant, that as these lights enkindled with visible fire dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts illumined by invisible fire, that is, the brightness of the Holy Spirit, may be free from the blindness of every sin; that the eye of our minds being purified, we may be able to discern what is pleasing to Thee and conducive to our salvation; so that after the perilous darkness of this life we may deserve to arrive at never-failing light. Through Thee, Christ Jesus, Saviour of the world, who in perfect Trinity livest and reignest God, world without end.
R. Amen.

4th Prayer: O almighty, everlasting God, who didst command the purest oil to be prepared by Thy servant Moses to keep lamps continually before Thee; graciously pour forth the grace of Thy blessing + upon these candles; they may so afford external light, that by Thy gift the light of Thy Spirit may not fail interiorly in our minds. Through our Lord Jesus the unity of the same Holy Spirit....
R. Amen.

5th Prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, who appearing this day among men in the substance of our flesh, and wast presented by Thy parents in the temple; whom the venerable and aged Simeon, enlightened by the light of Thy Spirit, recognized, received, and blessed: mercifully grant, that enlightened and taught by the grace of the same Holy Spirit, we may truly acknowledge Thee, and faithfully love Thee; who with God the Father in the unity of the same Holy Spirit livest and reignest God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Here the priest sprinkles the candles three times with holy water saying the Antiphon without chant nor psalm, and he incenses the candles three times.

Antiphon: Asperges me Domine, Ps. 50: Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

II. Distribution of Candles

The priest receives or takes a candle, and then distributes them to the rest of the clergy in turn and to the laity, who kiss first the candle, then the priest's hand.

When the distribution begins, the choir sings as follows:

Antiphon: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.

Antiphona: Luc. 2, 32. Lumen ad revelation em gentium: et Gloria's plebis tuae Israel.

This Antiphons is repeated after each verse of the following Canticle:

Canticle: Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2, 29-32)

V. Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace.
Ant. A light, etc.
V. Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation.
Ant. A light, etc.
V. Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples.
Ant. A light, etc.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost.
Ant. A light, etc.
V. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
Ant. A light, etc.

After the distribution the following Antiphon is sung:

Antiphon. Arise, O Lord, help us, and deliver us, for Thy name's sake.
Ps. We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have declared to us.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
Antiphon. Arise, O Lord, help us, and deliver us, for Thy name's sake.

The priest then says:
V. Let us pray.
If after Septuagesima, and not on a Sunday, the deacon adds:

V. Let us kneel.
R. Arise.
Prayer. Hear Thy people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and grant that we may obtain those things within by the light of Thy grace, which Thou permit test us outwardly to venerate in this yearly devotion. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The Procession

Here the priest puts incense into the thurible and the Deacon says:

V. Let us proceed in peace
R. In the name of Christ. Amen.

All bear lighted candles in their hands; the following Antiphons from teh Greek liturgy are sung:

Antiphon: O Sion, adorn thy bridal chamber, and welcome Christ the King: embrace Mary, for she who is the very gate of heaven, brings th to Thee the glorious King of the new light. Remaining ever Virgin, in her arms she bears her Son begotten before the day-star, whom Simeon, receiving into his arms declared unto all peoples to be the Lord of life and of death and the Saviour of the world.

Antiphon 2: Luke 2, 26, 27, 28, 29. Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should. not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord; and when they brought the Child into the temple, he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now doesn't Thou dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, in peace.
V. When His parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him in his arms.

When the Procession re-entered the church, the choir sings:

Responsory: They offered for Him to the Lord a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons,
R. As it is written in the law of the Lord.
V. After the days of the purification of Mary, according to the law of Moses, were fulfilled, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.
R. As it is written in the law of the Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it is written in the law of the Lord.

IV. The Mass (White Vestments)

Introit We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth: Thy right hand is full of justice. Ps. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praise, in the city of God, in his holy mountain. V. Glory be to the Father.

Collect O almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech Thy majesty; that 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. Through the same Lord, etc.

Lesson. Malachy 3:1-4

Gradual. Ps. 47, 10-11, 9.

Before Septuagesima:
Alleluia. The old man carried the Child: but the Child governed the old man. Alleluia.
After Septuagesima:
Tract. Luke 2, 29-32. Now Though dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace.
V. Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation.
V. Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples.
V. A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.

The blessed candle should be held lighted in the hand during the Gospel, and also from the Sanctus to the Communion.

Gospel. Luke 2, 22-32.

Offertory. Ps. 44, 3. Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee for ever and for ages and ages.

Secret. Graciously hear our prayers, O Lord; and that the gifts we offer in the sight of Thy majesty may be found worthy, extend to us the help of Thy mercy, Through our Lord.

Preface of Christmas is used.
It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, and everlasting God. Because by the mystery of the Word made flesh the light of Thy glory hath shone anew upon the eyes of our mind: that while we acknowledge Him to be God seen by men, we may be drawn by Him to the love of things unseen. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the heavenly hosts, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing:

Communion. Luke 2, 26. Simeon received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, until he had see the Christ of the Lord.

Postcommunion. We beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that by the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin Thou wouldst make the most holy mysteries, which Thou has conferred upon us for the preservation of our spiritual life, both a present and future remedy. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.

Prayer Source: Saint Andrew Daily Missal by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, Liturgical Apostolate, 1959