[HSMOM lets HSDAD post for the first (and probably only) time this year.]
It was the first time in ten years that the feast of the Presentation of Christ/Purification of Mary and Candlemas fell on a Sunday, and added to the beauty of these Liturgies, both of our sons, along with some of their classmates and friends, advanced from junior acolyte to senior acolyte in the Saint Stephens Guild in our Parish. My wife and I took stock today on the way home from Mass this morning on how blessed we are with this wonderful Catholic Faith and her beauty that we have come to fully appreciate in her ancient ways and Traditions.
The Purification of Mary. The Churching of Women ... our Pastor presented us with the thought on Mary, having gone through the birthing of the Christ Child, being welcomed back after her recovery from childbirth, which came to be known traditionally as the churching of women. My wife recalled our old Pastor in an earlier Parish we’d belonged to calling us aside after Mass wanting to give her a special pregnancy blessing, as she was pregnant with our second child. How beautiful this prayer for her, but how much more complete had she been offered the prayers of the churching of women after giving birth. Do we see the churching of women in our Parishes today? I don’t think we do; in fact, I would bet that most Ordinary Mass-goers have never heard of or understood this.
Saint Stephens Guild, once a part of many parishes before the Vatican II reforms, has fallen out of use, and that is unfortunate because the Guild encourages and instills the highest standards of young boys and young men serving the Church at Her Liturgy. It provides Altar boys a more meaningful and complete understanding of their duties so that they may offer themselves in service at Mass with greater reverence with prayerful hopes to be led into a deeper clarity of their vocation in life. Saint Stephens Guild helps to form these young boys and to provide sure-footed stepping stones into the priesthood.
These are the things that foster vocations among young men, whether these vocations are to the religious life or the married state, it prepares them because of a deeper understanding and relationship with Christ and His Mother through service at the Altar. It starts with solid Catechesis, good formation among holy priests and educators, working in collaboration with parents that give these boys solid foundations to combat the world, save their souls and lead others to Christ. May our Blessed Mother continue to guide us and may the prayers of Saint Stephen strengthen our young men.
From the Canticle of Simeon for the Feast of the Purification, sung by the choir during the blessing and procession of candles: "Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuae Israel."