Emmitsburg, MD — A variety of candles were organized in abundance on a table, and attendees knew at once that something special was about to take place. One of the Shrine’s chaplains, Father Ted Trinko, IVE, began to speak, and so Candlemas at the Seton Shrine began.
The tradition of Candlemas goes back for centuries. In more recent times, Candlemas was celebrated by churches, but over time the tradition was no longer observed by some. The Shrine returned to celebrating Candlemas in 2017, to add a timeless spiritual tradition to its worship services and provide an enriching, faith-filled celebration to its Mass attendees.
This year, Candlemas began in the hall outside the entrance to the Shrine’s Basilica. Attendees were given a candle that had previously burned in the Shrine’s Basilica, and each person lit their candle from ones that were already burning. Father Ted led the Candlemas celebration and blessed everyone in attendance. Then, attendees followed Father Ted and the altar servers into the Basilica. It was moving to see this ancient tradition come to life.
“Candlemas is beautiful,” commented one of the Daughters of Charity sisters in attendance. “It fits into the evangelization that Pope Francis calls us to do. A sacred celebration like Candlemas firms up people’s faith.”
“The day of Candlemas is also the Feast Day of Presentation of Our Lord,” said Father Ted. “Just as Jesus was presented in the temple to God, those who choose a religious life, like Mother Seton, present themselves to God as well. They are giving their entire selves to God to become a light in the world. Candlemas is symbolic of God calling us to present ourselves and become lights of the world. Jesus is the Light of the World and we are called to be lights in the world and share God’s message.”
Helen A. Jahn is the Marketing Manager for The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. She can be contacted at: Helen.Jahn@setonshrine.org