Candlemas – 2nd February

January 27, 2015

It’s still cold, wet, and dark and Christmas now seems a long, long time ago. But the feast we celebrate on Monday is an echo of the joy and elation we felt at Christmastide. The feast has several names. It is known and the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, or the Purification of the Virgin, but perhaps its best title is its ancient name – Candlemas.

We remember the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple 40 days after his birth. It is described to us in the gospel reading. But that same reading also speaks of Jesus as ‘the light to enlighten the gentiles’. And it is that theme the feast picks up in earnest.

At the start of Mass candles are blessed (often all those that will be used over the year) and carried in procession to honour him who is the Light of the Nations. It is a lovely echo of the lights and celebration of Christmas.

The candles are signs of what we are called to be. It is amazing how much light just one candle can give in a darkened room. Similarly it is amazing how much warmth one Christian action can spread in a world that so badly needs that.

We shine with the light that is Christ.

St Francis de Sales

January 23, 2015

Unfortunately religious people can sometimes come across as stern, humourless and uncaring. Perhaps some of them are. But the saint we celebrate on Saturday shows another, far more attractive side of religious belief and practice. St. Francis de Sale was born in 1567. He was ordained a priest in 1593 and became Bishop of Geneva is 1599.

These were difficult times for the Church as the headquarters of the radical reformation were to be found in this city. He became renowned as a preacher possibly because of his practice of his words: "He who preaches with love, preaches effectively."

Francis won praise from all sides of the religious divide for his gentleness and kindness. On another occasion he remarked: ‘one catches more flies with a spoonful of honey than a barrel full of vinegar’. And his life put that into effect. He died in 1622.

Francis has been called ‘the gentleman saint’, not because of his noble upbringing but because of his charity and courtesy to all. In our rather brash and thrusting age when we are told that we must push ourselves forward and market ourselves at every step St Francis points to a much better code of conduct and interaction. May he pray for us that we may bring something of the humility of Christ into our world today.