Today is the Feast Day of the Presentation of the Lord, or Candlemass. (See Luke 2:22-40)
Today marked our first year of actually getting to church on this beautiful feast day. Hannah and I decorated a candle with blue ribbon, blue flowers and white turtle doves. Alex had a "manly" candle with an inscribed cross on it's pristine white wax. Both candles were promptly dropped in the dirty gravel on our way to church. Yet I felt peace. It's always better to have dirty Holy candles & noisy children in front of a friendly priest for the special Candlessmass blessing on February 2, than to have no children and pristine Holy Candles!
This afternoon we will have friends over to celebrate Mrs. Alice Gunther's amazing "Candlemass Tea. (By the way, I can think of no greater tribute to Mrs. Gunther's engaging "how to extend Christian hospitality" tips on her website and recent book "Haystack full of Needles" than to give the example of my own transformation. Before finding Cottage Blessings, you could not have found a more retiring shy violet when it came to playing the hostess. Jon and I moved into this apartment in 2005 with two kids ages 2 and 1. We didn't even have our parents over to eat! If my parents were hungry when they stopped by, I took them to the Italian restaurant across the street.
Alice made me realize that your apartment is never too small, your kids are never too noisy, and you are never too "unprepared" to make use of your little domestic church to the wider community. Her engaging teas practically BEG to be shared with other families. She also develops an inviting long list of Catholic 'club' ideas for joint home-schooling projects to encourage "socialization."
In 2007, I started with a teeny St. Nicholas Party with Maria, from Ordinary Time and her delightful clan. In the past two weeks in 2009, I hosted a coffee for our parish priest, a meatloaf dinner for an African immigrant, and a Candlemass party for young nine kids. The virtue of Christian hospitality is an underused treasure today. Visit Ms. Gunther's site and get some tips from a Catholic Master.
For more Candlemass ideas, "vist the Loveliness of Candlemass Fair 2007 still posted by Blessed Among Men.