February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation. 40 days after Christmas, Mary would have entered the temple for the first time since Christ’s birth for her ritual purification. Just like Christ did not need to be baptized, neither did Mary need to be purified. Still, she submitted to the law. Think of the intimacy our Blessed Mother would have experienced in those 40 days with the Christ child. The Church traditionally asks us to stay in the Christmas spirit a little longer than the secular world so that we might savor that intimacy so miraculously given to us by Jesus’s incarnation. This is why the nativity scenes around campus stay up a little longer than you might be used to.
The Presentation of the Lord in the temple is also the date traditionally used to bless candles, which is why it’s sometimes called “Candlemas.” It commemorates Simeon’s famous prophecy that Jesus would “be a light of revelation to the Gentiles.” Today, we celebrate the reality that Jesus came to save us all.
And just because the Church likes to celebrate: today is also known as the World Day of Consecrated Life, instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1997. Just as Mary experienced divine intimacy through her vocation, so too, those in consecrated life pray and meditate on behalf of the whole Church every day. Just as Jesus was a light to the world, so too those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus to all peoples.
In his meditation on today’s feast, Saint John Baptiste De La Salle observed: “How good it is to give oneself to God! Even in this life, he rewards and fills with very tangible consolations the soul that consecrates itself to him… The more you give yourself to God, the more he will bless you.”
Happy World Day of Consecrated Life to all of our religious priests, brothers, and sisters! Happy feast day to all!