Candlemas 2023

As we head towards the second day of February, which is the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary/the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, also known as Candlemas, I thought you might like to read a homily on this commemoration from St. Anthony of Padua (b. 1195- d. 1231). St. Anthony was noted in his day as being a gifted homilist; so, take a cup of tea or coffee, and allow the voice of our Catholic ancestor, a saint and priest, to speak today. In this short piece, you will find what the Church has taught about the woman, Our Holy Mother, who gave birth to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and carried Him to the Temple, so long ago. The homily begins now:

Our Lady, blessed Mary, gave birth to the Son of God without defilement, because The Holy Ghost came upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her [cf. Lk 1:35]. This good bee was ‘small’ in her humility, ‘rounded’ in contemplation of heavenly glory (which has no beginning or end), ‘dense’ in charity (since she who bore Charity in her womb for nine months could not lack charity), ‘compact’ in poverty, and purer than others by her virginity.

That is why, if one may put it this way, the stink of lust offends her, while the sweet scent of virginity or chastity pleases her. And so he who would please the blessed Virgin should shun lust and practice chastity. She flees no animal (that is, no sinner), rather she welcomes all those who have recourse to her, and so is called ‘Mother of mercy’. She is merciful to those in misery, the hope of the hopeless.

In Canticles 2 the Bridegroom says: I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys. [Cant 2:1]. Blessed Mary chose this flower, leaving all others, clinging to it and receiving whatever she needed from it. Nazareth, where she conceived, means ‘flower’, and she chose this place above all others. The ‘flower which sprang from the root of Jesse’ [cf. Is 11:1] loves a flowery homeland. The food of blessed Mary was her Son, the honey of the angels and sweetness of all the saints. She lived from the one she nourished. The one she suckled gave her life.

This good bee prepared a house: her mind by humility, and her flesh by virginity, in which the king of angels might dwell. And notice how the bee begins to build from above, because the blessed Virgin began to build not from below (in the sight of men), but from above (in the eyes of the divine majesty); and little by little, discretely and in due order, she began to come down to human attention, so that being already chosen in God’s sight, she might become admirable in human sight.

Saint Anthony of Padua

Sermon for the Feast of the Purification, 9, Source

May the (most holy) good bee, who loves a flowery homeland, the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us now, and always.

May God bless you.


~Top image: Candlemas Day, source