“Candlemas,” another name for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, occurs 40 days after Christmas on Feb. 2, marking the first time Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for the rites of purification and dedication as prescribed by Jewish law.

On Thursday, Feb. 2 Holy Name of Jesus Church in Machias and Sacred Heart Church in Lubec will commemorate the feast with the blessing of candles at a special Mass and prayer service. The candles symbolize the light created by the birth of Christ as He is the light who came into this world to dispel sin and darkness. For this reason, at least since the seventh century, candles have been blessed this day, coining the term “Candlemas.”

Participants can bring their own candles on Feb. 2 to have them blessed for use at home throughout the year. The candles can be in any style (votive, tealight, taper, etc.). Candles will be blessed at Holy Name of Jesus Church, located on 8 Free Street in Machias, at a 5 p.m. prayer service that will also include adoration, benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and a candlelight procession. Candles will also be blessed at an 8:30 a.m. candle Mass at Sacred Heart Church, located on 14 Hamilton Street in Lubec. Contact your local parish to find out if they will also be offering blessings of candles during Masses on this day.

The Gospel reading on “Candlemas” (Luke 20:22-40) tells of Simeon, a just and pious man, who awaited the Messiah and was inspired to come to the temple. He held baby Jesus in his arms and blessed God, saying, “Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace; you have fulfilled your word. For my eyes have witnessed your saving deed, displayed for all the peoples to see: A revealing light to the Gentiles, the glory of your people Israel.” The Messiah has come not just for the Jew but the gentile; not just the righteous, but the sinner. The Presentation is a proclamation of Christ — Messiah and Priest, Lord and Savior.