Thursday, January 31, 2013
Blessing of Candles for Candlemas (February 2)

The Feast of Candlemas, exactly 40 days after Christmas, commemorates Mary's obedience to the Mosaic law by submitting herself to the Temple for the ritual purification, as commanded in Leviticus.

The Feast of the Purification is called Candlemas for the traditional blessing and distribution of candles on that day.  It is customary to bring candles from home to be blessed -- at least 51% beeswax candles that one uses for devotional purposes (candles for the family altar, Advent candles, etc.) -- so they can be lit after dusk on All Saints' Day (1 November), during the Sacrament of Unction, and during storms and times of trouble.  Nowadays, though, for those few parishes continuing this ancient observance, the parish will provide the candles.

Dom Gueranger writes, "After Terce, follows the Blessing of the Candles, which is one of the three principal Blessings observed by the Church during the year; the other two are those of the Ashes and of the Palms. The signification of this ceremony bears so essential a connection with the mystery of our Lady’s Purification, that if Septuagesima, Sexagesima, or Quinquagesima Sunday fall on the 2nd of February, the Feast is deferred to tomorrow; but the Blessing of the Candles, and the Procession which follows it, always take place on this precise day."

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The principal Mass on Candlemas is typically preceded by a procession with the lighted candles and the singing of anthems. The lighted candles are held during the reading of the Gospel and from the beginning of the Canon of the Mass to Communion.

1. the blessing 
The Priest, vested in a violet cope, blesses the candles, which are placed near the altar

V. Dominus Vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy Spirit.
First Prayer
Oremus. -- Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus, qui omnia ex nihilo creasti, ut jussu tuo per opera apum, hunc liquorem ad perfectionem cereri venire fecisti: et qui hodierna die petitionem justi Simeonis implesti: te humiliter deprecamur; ut has candelas as usushominum, et sanitatem coporum et animarum, sive, in acquis, per invocationem tui sanctisimi nominis, et per intercessionem beatae Mariae semper Virgnis, cujus hodie festa devote celebrantur, et per preces omnium Sanctorum tuorum, bene†dicere, et sanci†ficare digneris: et hujus plebis tuae, quae illas honorifice in manibus desiderat portare, teque cantando laudare, exaudias voces de coelo sancto tuo, et de sede majestatis tuae: et propitius sis omnibus clamantibus ad te, quos redemisti pretioso sanguine Filii tui: Qui tecum vivit et regnat. Let us Pray -- O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, who hast created all things out of nothing, and by Thy command hast caused this liquid to become perfect wax by the labor of bees: and who, on this day didst fulfill the petition of the righteous man Simeon: we humbly entreat Thee, that by the invocation of Thy most holy Name and through the intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin whose feast is today devoutly observed, and by the prayers of all Thy Saints, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless † and sanctify † these candles for the service of men and for the health of their bodies and souls, whether on land or on sea: and that Thou wouldst hear from Thy holy heaven, and from the throne of Thy Majesty the voices of this Thy people, who desire to carry them in their hands with honor, and to praise Thee with hymns; and wouldst be propitious to all that call upon Thee, Whom Thou hast redeemed with the precious Blood of Thy Son.
Second prayer 
Oremus. -- Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum ulnis sancti Simeonis in templo sancto tuo suscipiendum praesentasti: tuam supplices deprecamur clementiam; ut has candelas, quas nos famuli tui, in tui nominis magnificentiam sucipientes, gestare cupimus luce accensas, bene†dicere et sancti†ficare, atque lumine supernae benedictionis accendere digneris: quatenus eas tibi Domino Deo nostro offerendo digni, et sancto igne dulcissimae caritatis tuae succensi, in templo sancto gloriae tuae repraesentari mereamur Per eumdem Dominum nostrum. O almighty and everlasting God, who on this day didst present Thine only-begotten Son in Thy holy temple to be received in the arms of holy Simeon: we humbly entreat Thy clemency, that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless † and sanctify † and to kindle with the light of Thy heavenly benediction these candles, which we, Thy servants, desire to receive and to bear lighted in the honor of Thy Name: that, by offering them to Thee our Lord 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. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
Third prayer
Oremus. -- Domine Jesu Christe, lux vera, quae illuminas omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum: effunde bene†dictionem tuam super hos cereos, et sancti†fica eos lumine gratiae tuae, et concede propitiusl ut, sicut haec luminaria igne visibili accensa nocturnas depellunt tenebras; ita corda nostra invisibili igne, id est Sancti Spiritus splendore illustrata, omnium vitorum caecitate careant: ut, purgato mentis oculo, ea cernere possimus quae tibi sunt placita, et nostrae saluti utilia; quatenus post hujus saeculi caliginosa discrimina, ad lucem indeficientem pervenire mereamur. Per te, Christe Jesu Salvator mundi, qui in Trinitate perfecta vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. O Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light who enlightenest every man that cometh 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, by the splendor of the Holy Spirit, may be free from the blindness of all vice, that the eye of our mind being cleansed, we may be able to discern what is pleasing to Thee and profitable to our salvation; so that after the perilous darkness of this life we may deserve to attain to neverfailing light: through Thee, O Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, who in the perfect Trinity, livest and reignest, God, world without end.
Fourth prayer
Oremus. -- Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui per Moysen famulum tuum purissimum oleo liquorem ad luminaria ante conspectum tuum jugiter concinnanda praeparari jussisti bene†dictionis tuae gratiam super hos cereos benignus infunde; quatenus sic administrent lumen exterius, ut te donante, lumen Spiritus tui nostris non desit mentibus interius. Per unitate ejusdem Spiritus Sancti. O almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy servant Moses didst command the purest oil to be prepared for lamps to burn continuously before Thee: vouchsafe to pour forth the grace of Thy blessing † upon these candles: that they may so afford us light outwardly that by Thy gift, the gift of Thy Spirit may never be wanting inwardly to our minds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
Fifth prayer
Oremus. -- Domine Jesu Christe, qui hodierna die in nostrae carnis substantia inter homines apparents, a parentibus in templo es praesentatus: quem Simeon venerabilis senex, lumine Spirtus tui irradiatus, agnovit, suscepit, et benedixit: praesta propitius; ut ejusdem Spiritus Sancti gratia illiminati, atque edocti, te veraciter agnoscamus et fideliter diligamus: Qui cum Deo Patre in unitate ejusdem Spiritus Sancti vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. O Lord Jesus Christ, who appearing on this day among men in the substance of our flesh, wast presented by Thy parents in the temple: whom the venerable and aged Simeon, illuminated by the light of Thy Spirit, recognized, received into his arms, and blessed: mercifully grant that, enlightened and taught by the grace of the same Holy Ghost, we may truly acknowledge Thee and faithfully love Thee; Who with God the Father in the unity of the same Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end.

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The Priest sprinkles the candles three times with holy water, saying the Antiphon Asperges me, and also incenses them thrice. 

Source: 1962 Missal

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