Newsletter 8
The Feast of the
Purification
St Valentine's day
Lent
.

 

2nd February      Feast of the Presentation/Purification   

This is the day when the Church commemorates the time when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the Temple as was the custom among the Jews.  They gave two turtle doves which was the poor man’s offering.

 

The purification of the Virgin Mary is also commemorated on this day.  The Jews regarded women as unclean after childbirth until a ceremony of purification was performed.  Mary was an obedient follower of the Jewish faith so followed the custom, although she was the purest of the pure.

 

This Feast is also referred to as Candlemas.  Simeon greeted the Holy Family in the Temple and referred to Jesus as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles”   For this reason, the feast is marked by the lighting of candles.  We can read a full account of this incident in Lk. 2:22-40 
Feast of St. Valentine 

It is thought that there were at least three saints with the name Valentine.  You can get some information about this feast on the following website:

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=159

Although the real facts may be hidden in the mists of time, the Church is in favour of celebrating love.  Although we usually celebrate romantic love on this day, we may also think of other kinds of love: agape, eros and philos.  In essence, eros love is "physical", philos love is "mental", and agape love is "spiritual". You may like to read more about these three kinds of love on the following website:

http://theseekeroftruth.blogspot.com/2005/02/3-types-of-love.html

 

First Corinthians 13:4-8 provides a perfect description of love: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

 

16th February   Shrove Tuesday   

This is the last day before the start of Lent and the day when people would use up any rich food they had in stock before the strict Lenten fast.  The word ‘shrove’ is past tense of ‘shrive’.  To be shriven was to have obtained absolution for our sins through the Sacrament of Penance when the priest hears our confession.  In our country, the day is usually marked by the eating of pancakes, the eggs representing the rich food.  In some countries they refer to this day as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).  In Rio de Janeiro, they hold a great carnival (the word ‘carnival’ being connected with flesh or meat).  At one time, they would abstain from meat for the whole of Lent.

 

17th February   Ash Wednesday  A Day of Fasting and Abstinence.

This is the beginning of Lent which is the time of preparation before Easter.  Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence.  This means that everyone over the age of fourteen is requested to abstain from meat.  Those between 18 years and 59 years take just one main meal and two smaller ones (with no eating between meals!) 

 

It is customary to go to Church if we can. There is usually a Mass in the morning and one in the evening.  During the Mass, the priest will make the Sign of the Cross on our forehead to remind us of our mortality and that we will return to dust after our time on earth.  The ashes are the burnt palms left over from Palm Sunday last year.  Ashes are a reminder of the much stricter penances that sinners did in former times.  The priest would bless the hair shirts which some penitents would wear during Lent.  It was customary for those guilty of serious sin to wear sack cloth and ashes and not to go back into the church until the end of Lent.

 

Lent

Lent lasts for six weeks but because we don’t count the Sundays as part of Lent, it is said to be forty days.  It is a time of prayer, penance and almsgiving. In the Middle Ages, fasting and penances were very strict. Today, it is up to us to decide what we are going to do for Lent.  It may be giving something up or doing something extra.

 

During Lent, the Gloria is omitted during Mass.