Parishioners and friends of St. Anastasia Parish in Newtown Square came out on Feb. 2 to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, for the second year in a row. The parish church hosted a special Mass and candle blessing on Thursday evening to mark the Solemnity.

Fr. Brandon Artman, parochial vicar, participated in a similar celebration during his formative years at the seminary years and thought it would be an excellent liturgical tradition in the life of the parish.

“I wanted our parishioners to experience the fullness of this feast here in our parish,” he said. “Having a special affinity for the liturgy and for music, this is a special feast day for me.”

Approximately 80 people came out for Candlemas Day. They were encouraged to bring their own candles from home to be blessed. Candles used by St. Anastasia for different liturgical functions were also blessed.

In addition to the evening celebration, a blessing was performed at the 8:00 a.m. daily Mass. Among the attendees, a woman who did not give her name decided to attend as the evening service followed her usual adoration. She did not know just what to expect. Nevertheless, she brought red and green candles from home that her dad received at his office party over sixty years ago. Her mom decided they were a good keepsake.

“I thought I would stay for Mass,” said the woman.

The congregation gathered in the vestibule for the blessing of the candles. Fr. Artman served as principal celebrant and homilist with Deacon Christopher Hilden assisting. Fr. Artman helped people light their candles before sprinkling them with holy water. The congregation then processed in to church with lit candles in hand as the hymn “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” was sung.

This feast comes forty days after the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day). At the actual Presentation of the Lord, Simeon waited for the Messiah. He was honored to meet Jesus when Mary and Joseph brought him to the Temple as a means of presenting him to God the Father.

“May we be presented to you with minds made pure through our Lord, Jesus Christ,” said Fr. Artman in the opening prayer.

The Liturgy of the Word was a time to hear and take in the word of God. Deacon Hilden proclaimed the gospel according to St. Luke. Fr. Artman preached a homily with a reminder that God brings light and that “we are the light of the world.” It is especially important to take in that light during the dark winter months.

“Shine in our hearts, Lord Jesus,” said Fr. Artman as he ended his sermon. “God bless you.”

The Mass also offered a chance to lift hearts to the Lord while reflecting on the theme of light with Joe Holden providing the music. Other selections included “Christ Be Our Light” and “We Are the Light of the World.”

“We believe that Christ is our light, shining in our hearts, in our darkness and in the Church today,” said Fr. Artman. “This affords us hope, something we desperately need in our lives.”

Father Artman blesses lit candles Feb. 2 before processing into the church to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord also known as Candlemas Day. (Photo by Dan McCarty)