The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord
Many Catholics consider the Feast of the Epiphany as being the end of Christmas but traditionally the Christmas Season is 40 days and concludes with the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. This great feast also has other names, including: Candlemas and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast commemorates the day when the Holy Family went to the temple in obedience to the law of Moses, which we find in the book of Leviticus Chapter 12 versus 1 to 4:
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: If a woman having received seed shall bear a man child, she shall be unclean seven days, according to the days of the separation of her flowers. And on the eighth day the infant shall be circumcised: But she shall remain three and thirty days in the blood of her purification. She shall touch no holy thing, neither shall she enter into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled.“
The Feast of the Circumcision is traditionally celebrated on the 1st of January.
The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Our Lady, who is Immaculate and a Perpetual Virgin had no need for purification, but in humble obedience she submitted herself to the law of Moses to give us poor sinners an example. Mary, who Venerable Mother Mary of Agreda describes as the new Temple, because God dwells in her more perfectly than in any other created thing, approaches the old temple to be purified but in fact is the one who purifies the temple. Many Saints have said that we must approach Our Blessed Lord through the Blessed Virgin Mary just as the Hebrews of old approached God through the Temple in Jerusalem. In the book of Genesis, chapter 28:17 we read: “And trembling, he said: How terrible is this place? this is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven.” The Catholic Church has very appropriately given Our Lady the title “Porta Caeli”, that is “The Gate of Heaven.” One devotion to approach Jesus through Mary is the Holy Rosary.
The feast of the Presentation of Our Lord is also called Candlemas. Traditionally this feast would include a procession involving the blessing of candles. Candles, particularly beeswax candles, are symbolic of Our Blessed Lord and His two natures. The wax, produced by bees, symbolizes Our Lord’s body given to Him by His Mother. The wick symbolizes Our Lord’s soul, created by God at the Incarnation. The flame symbolizes Our Lord’s Divine Nature as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who has always existed and took on a human nature at the incarnation.