Yesterday was the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. It is also called Candlemas. The ancient traditon of Candlemas is to bring in all of the candles the church would use for the year and bless them. I have heard that churches used to distribute blessed candles or bless candles that parishioners brought in to church that day. The candles blessed on Candlemas would not only be used to light the church, but to bless throats on the Feast of St. Blase (today).
In our parish, we have a Candle Mass for our First Communicants. The way we had done it prior to last year was to choose a weekend in March and let the families choose one of three Masses where the kids could receive a blesssed First Holy Communion rememberance candle. It was kind of like: "Hey, come to Mass, get a candle."
When I read about Candlemas for the first time last spring, I thought to myself: Gosh, it would be so much nicer to have this Candle Mass on Candlemas. Then it's tied to the liturgy and it actually MEANS something. It's not random that way.
So that's what we did last night at the 7 pm Mass. The First Communicants (ages 7 and 8) gathered in the Library and after receiving instructions on how to hold the candle (Matthew, it is not a sword.) the children processed in with the lighted candles. Father said a blessing in the darkened church while the children stood in the center aisle with the lighted candles. They processed in after the crucifer and as soon as they got to the front, the children turned to find their parents and I had them extinguish the candles right away. Immediately.
It was a beautiful Mass. Father's homily was great and the kids did a terrific job of not setting each other on fire. We had almost 50 of the 120 students who are scheduled to receive the Eucharist for the first time in our parish at the Mass. And they were so good.
Our organist came to play the music with a fever and a sinus infection. What a trouper! HIs daughter sang. It was great. I'm all aglow.