Msgr. Sam A. Sirianni
Msgr. Sam A. Sirianni

With the month of February, my favorite month of the year, comes some very special events. Granted my birthday being one of them, I would like to focus on the two days that begin the month, Feb. 2 and Feb. 3.

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is celebrated on Feb. 2. It is the day when Mary and Joseph presented the child Jesus in the Temple. Throughout history, this day was called Candlemas, the day the Church blessed the candles it would use throughout the coming year.

The Church blessed candles as a reminder that as candles give light, and dispel the darkness, so does Christ give light to dispel the darkness of sin and hatred. The custom of keeping blessed candles in the home was very popular during our parents’ and grandparents’ day.

Today, many do not know anything about keeping blessed candles in the home. Blessed candles can be used when a priest, deacon or minister brings Holy Communion to someone who is sick, and at home. In some cases blessed candles can be lighted during a terrible thunder storm, or when someone is going through a hard time. The light from the blessed candle reminds us that Christ is with us no matter what is going on in our lives.

The Feast of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, is celebrated Feb. 3. The day after the Church blesses candles, we then take blessed candles and impart the blessing of St. Blaise, for the protection from all illness of the throat and other sicknesses. Granted this blessing is not the Catholic version of the flu shot, but a blessing is a blessing, after all.

It is my hope that you will find strength and hope in these two feasts. May the Light of Christ brighten your day, and “through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness:”

Msgr. Sirianni is the director of the diocesan Office of Worship and pastor in St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, Freehold.