Today is the Feast of Candlemas. More commonly known as the Feast of the Presentation, in pre-Vatican II days it was called the Feast of the Purification of Mary, making it the only major feast day that now has three different names. In much of the Western world, however, today is called by another appellation: Super Bowl Sunday. (We could throw Groundhog Day in there just for good measure, but one can only go so far in a short blog post.) Amongst traditional Catholics who refuse to cave in to social pressure and resolutely put up their Christmas decorations at, um, Christmas, today also marks the official end of the Christmas/Epiphany season.
Today is traditionally one of the more popular days when many young people choose to enter religious life, following the theme of entering the temple. At Holy Annunciation Monastery, we had a festive meal and then drew cards with the names of our patron saints for the coming year, along with the Gift from the Crib of Bethlehem we are to manifest to the community, the virtue we are to pray for, the Sister we are to pray for, the intention we are to pray for, and the day when we are to offer the Liturgy for her. I got St. Mary of Egypt, St. Elias (Elijah the Prophet), patience, and our benefactors. My Gift from the Crib was the Adoration of the Shepherds. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it's better than the "darkness of the cave" and "the warmth of the oxen's breath," which were a couple of other gifts that were bestowed.
St. Mary of Egypt was a penitent of the -- I want to say fourth century? I will have to read up on her. The Prophet Elijah, of course, is one of the pillars of the Old Testament and incredibly is considered the founder of the Carmelite Order. "With Zeal I Have Been Zealous for the Lord God of Hosts" is the battle cry and motto of that venerable eremitic Order. May those saints teach me how to grow in virtue (although I don't know if Elijah excelled in patience, Mary of Egypt surely did, having dwelled in the desert doing penance for some 80 years.) Elijah battled the prophets of Baal and slew them. These are appropriately super-saints, much needed for our troubled times and for me, who tend to coddle and cater to myself at every possible opportunity. Goes right along with Fr. Boghossian's fiery sermon today quoting several saints about the necessity of suffering for good Christians carrying our crosses.
A lot to take in on one snowy Sunday in Sugarloaf.
Now, play ball!
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