Does the Presentation of the Lord need to be supplemented by the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life?

Call me a killjoy, but I don’t really like the fact that the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is the day when the Catholic Church observes the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life.

I have nothing against Consecrated Life or those who have followed their vocation there.  But it seems to detract from the Presentation.  The Presentation is a beautiful feast in and of itself and I think that all Christians need to benefit from its message of how the Light of Christ can penetrate out lives and enlighten us. If we have the possibility, and this is often not possible in daily parish Masses, it is good to have the prescribed Procession (which Egeria bears witness to in Fourth Century Jerusalem).

I have posted before about what I consider to be a problem.  It is not that it is bad to pray for those in Religious Life or even to recognize them in the liturgy.  But surely the priority is the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. Many people who come to our churches are facing serious problems and need the help of basic Christian celebration and catechesis.  Obviously, it is fine if a parish is being served by religious of a particular congregation or order that they emphasize particular feasts.  It is only natural that a parish served by Dominicans celebrate the feast day of St. Dominic and so forth.

Liturgy is often multivalent, different images and emphases converge around the Paschal Mystery. Different people will take different things from a celebration. What strikes and helps me, might not strike or help you. But I think that in our day when most will recognize a certain crisis in the Church and a lack of formation, that we are better served by celebrating the feast days in their primary fulness.

Days of Prayer or particular events in recognition of the contribution of different groups are fine. I think that  But they simply cannot be allowed to eclipse the primary focus of the liturgy. I would suggest that we ask ourselves whether the celebration of particular Days of Prayer on the same day as liturgical observances is in the spirit of  Sacrosanctum Concilium 108 which reminds us that, “the minds of the faithful must be directed primarily toward the feasts of the Lord whereby the mysteries of salvation are celebrated in the course of the year.”


Cover art: Marianne Stokes Candlemas Day from Wikimedia Commons


  1. I am not opposed in principle to multiple celebrations on the same day as long as there is a hierarchy of importance and emphasis. If 90-95% of the focus is on the Feast itself, but the Bidding Prayers has an intercession or two concerning consecrated life, and the bulletin has a brief reminder to pray for those in consecrated life, then I can see no harm. No need to mention it in the homily or in any announcements.

  2. I fear that, like so many other such liturgical non-issues, this is utterly irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of Catholics who will never darken the door of their parish church on Candlemas Day and who will likely be aware of the day’s special significance, if at all, as “Groundhog Day.” That said, as an aging Religious myself, I find the identification of Religious priests, brothers, and sisters with Simeon and Anna to be very apt and spiritually meaningful.

  3. Is there an equivalent World Day of Prayer for the Married? Or Parents? Both on feasts of our Lord?
    How does this not smack of clericalism?

    1. Probably the feast of the Holy Family is practically treated as such. (We can probably avoid discussing Catholicism’s sacramental Island of Misfit Toys for older folks: the longtime unconsecrated single folks.)

      1. Hmmmm, the Holy Family. An old man, a perpetual Virgin and the Son of God.
        Maybe a bit of a stretch for the married among us to live up to.

      2. Alan

        Note the passivity of my sentence syntax. I didn’t say it was an *optimal* one, but it’s what I imagine many Churchy Folks would immediately think of.

  4. Yes, I agree! The feast of Candlemas is enormously important for the Christmas-Epiphany cycle and the elements of revelation within it. If one reads the Missal carefully, it’s clear the Mass must have the commemoration before it, which is primarily a procession with lighted candles…”perfect” kind of commemoration for marking the Lord entering his Temple as light of the world. There is no possibility of either omitting it, or just blessing candles, or just lighting candles, or having no kind of candlelit procession. The Missal also expects singing during the candlelit procession, indicating the preferred chants. Then, watching Mass on webcams, we see just an ordinary Mass or a basic blessing of candles without procession, without singing. Sad really.

  5. In our parish in Maine we were fortunate to celebrate the feast of Candalmas. A evening Mass a procession, darkened church, sung chants. It was a joy.
    We were also fortunate to have 2 Religious from the Daughters of Wisdom to celebrate with us. It lasted through 2 different pastors and was turned into a daily Mass with a new pastor. Such a loss.

  6. I’m not a fan of world day of this or that and I really don’t think most of the faithful pay any attention to those whatsoever. The feast days are already so full of meaning that I’m not sure why the Church wants to impose these “world days” especially when there are millenary traditions attached to feast days such as the Presentation. It’s unfortunate that I often have to look across the street (to the slightly high-church Episcopal Cathedral) to find the Catholic traditions that the typical American parish (and cathedrals) just choose not to observe anymore. And I say this as someone who celebrated Traditiones Custodes and believes there ought to only be one Roman rite.

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