Presentation of Our Lord
Yesterday, February 2nd, was the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. As usual Mass began in the Chapter Hall with the blessing of the candles and Fr. Chaplain reading from Scripture before we processed into choir with candles lit singing Adorn Your Bridal Chamber Zion. What was not usual was a different sort of procession at the offertory.
This year we began an old Dominican custom of processing towards the altar with lit candles as our offering after the bread and wine are given to Father. The candles were placed in shallow vases filled with sand on either side of the grille. Sr. Mary Catharine had seen this practice during her time in Portugal and we decided to try it. For some reason our monastery had never incorporated the candle offering into our liturgy, although the practice is common among the Friars, at the least.
Fr. Thomas Petri, OP explained the custom this way: "The offertory of candles during the Presentation is an ancient monastic tradition the Dominicans took up in the 13th century. As candles give light by offering their own existence, so the friars & laity offer their candles to the prior before the gifts come up."