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Q&A  February AD 2011
Our Lady of the Rosary
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Our Lady of the Rosary

   On February 2nd the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, also known as the Purification of Our Lady, or Candlemas. A Jewish woman who gave birth to a boy was expected to present herself and her child in the Temple. For forty days she was considered ritually “unclean” under the Mosaic Law. When she came to the Temple she was to offer a lamb as a holocaust, and a dove for a sin offering; if she were poor, two doves would suffice. If the child were her first-born son, she would also pay five sicles to redeem him from the Lord, for all of the first-born of Israel belonged to God.{1}

   For reasons shrouded in antiquity the Church has chosen this day to blees the beeswax candles to be used at the altar and for the Sacraments. Every Catholic home should have a pair of blessed candles for those occasions when the priest brings the Sacraments to those who are ill. Since Father will celebrate Mass at Harbour's Edge on the 2nd, our blessing of candles will be deferred until Sunday February 6th at the beginning of the 10 AM Mass. 7/8” by eight-inch candles will be available for use at home. Please be sure to obtain a pair of these candles unless you already have them at home. If you burn other candles for prayer at home, you may bring them to be blessed. Place them with the others, and be sure that you can identify your candles to take them home after the blessing.

Candle Safety

   Whether at home or in church, please always be careful to burn candles safely. Our leaflet on caring for candles is on the internet at

   Votive candles should always be burned inside a heat resistant glass cup made for that purpose (other glasses may shatter), and only on a wide fire-proof, non heat-conducting, surface like an earthenware dinner plate. Votive candles give off a great deal of heat, all around, above, and below the glass—don't touch them or leave them where they can set something on fire. Do not leave them burning unattended, particularly if you have children or pets in your home. If your drop a match into a candle, extinguish it immediately and retrieve the match after the glass is cool. Don't try to use anything in place of the candle wick if it burns down. Don't place candle glasses close together. A few drops of water at the bottom of the glass before installing the votive candle may keep the glass from cracking when the candle burns down. Remove the remains of the burnt candle before replacing it with a fresh one. THINK!

Our Lady of the Rosary
Saint Blaise Day—February 3rd

   Blaise, whose signal virtues made him dear to the people of Sebaste in Armenia, was chosen bishop of that city. When the emperor Diocletian waged his cruel persecution against the Christians, the saint hid himself in a cave on Mount Argeus, and there he remained some time concealed, but was at length discovered by some soldiers of the governor Agricolaus, while they were hunting. They led him to the governor, who gave orders that he should be put in prison. During his imprisonment, many sick people, attracted by the reputation of his sanctity, came to him, and he healed them. Among these was a boy, whose life was despaired of by the physicians, on account of his having swallowed a bone, which could not be extracted from his throat. The saint was twice brought before the governor, but neither fair promises nor threats could induce him to offer sacrifice to the gods. Whereupon he was beaten with rods, and then his flesh was torn with iron hooks while he lay stretched on the rack. At length he was beheaded, and nobly gave testimony to the faith of Christ our Lord on this very day.{2}

The traditional blessing of throats will be given after the 8:00 AM Mass on February 3rd, and again after the Masses on Sunday, February 6th.

Our Lady of the Rosary
Tale of two Coyotes

(1) California:

   The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out, bites the Governor, and attacks his dog.

   1. The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie "Bambi" and then realizes he should stop; the coyote is only doing what is natural.

   2. He calls animal control. Animal Control captures coyote and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.

   3. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases.

   4. The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 being checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.

   5. The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is free of dangerous animals.

   6. The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a “coyote awareness” program for residents of the area.

   7. The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.

   8. The Governor's security agent is fired for not stopping the attack somehow and for letting the Governor attempt to intervene.

   9. Additional cost to State of California: $75,000 to hire and train a new security agent with additional special training re: the nature of coyotes.

   10. PETA protests the coyote's relocation and files suit against the State.


(2) Arizona:

   The Governor of Arizona is jogging with her dog along a nature trail. A Coyote jumps out and attacks her dog.

   1. The Governor shoots the coyote with her State-issued pistol and keeps jogging. The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.

   2. The Buzzards eat the dead coyote.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, is why California is broke.

Our Lady of the Rosary
The Holy Innocents

   Question: Why was the Mass on the feast of the Holy Innocents celebrated in purple? Are they not considered martyrs? Or is there some penitential aspect to the feast?

   Answer: The liturgical color for the feast day of the Holy Innocents is purple because they were put to death before the Resurrection of our Lord, a time when no human being enjoyed the beatific vision of God in Heaven. The Church symbolizes this reality by not using the more joyful color red. When the Mass is celebrated on a Sunday or on the octave day, the vestment color is red since Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, and the day in which the souls of the just began to enjoy the vision of God. The octave day, January 4th, always follows a Sunday after Christmas, as do any votive Masses of the innocents that might be allowed by the calendar.

   The Latin Church instituted the feast of the Holy Innocents at a date now unknown, not before the end of the fourth and not later than the end of the fifth century. It is, with the feasts of St. Stephen and St. John, first found in the Leonine Sacramentary, dating from about 485. To the Philocalian Calendar of 354 it is unknown. The Latins keep it on 28 December, the Greeks on 29 December, the Syrians and Chaldeans on 27 December. These dates have nothing to do with the chronological order of the event; the feast is kept within the octave of Christmas because the Holy Innocents gave their life for the newborn Saviour. Stephen the first martyr (martyr by will, love, and blood), John, the Disciple of Love (martyr by will and love), and these first flowers of the Church (martyrs by blood alone) accompany the Holy Child Jesus entering this world on Christmas day. Only the Church of Rome applies the word Innocentes to these children; in other Latin countries they are called simply Infantes and the feast had the title "Allisio infantium" (Brev. Goth.), "Natale infantum," or "Necatio infantum." The Armenians keep it on Monday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost (Armenian Menology, 11 May), because they believe the Holy Innocents were killed fifteen weeks after the birth of Christ.{3}

Our Lady of the Rosary
The Epiphany - The Magi

   Question: On the Epiphany we hear that our Lord was visited by Magi? What is a “Magi,” and what do we know about them? What is the significance of20+CMB+11 ?

   Answer: The Gospel has very little to say about these Magi who play such an important part in the modern celebration of Christmas. Their number is not specified—we usually say three, but in various accounts over the centuries the number has been give as high as eight. The Greek text calls them μάγοι (magoi), which various editions of the Bible translate as “wise men,” while many just refer to the with the anglicized “Magi.” None refer to them as “kings.”

   The only thing we can say with certainty about their origin is that they came from the “East” relative, of course to Jerusalem. The epistle read on the Epiphany suggests that they came from Madian, Epha, and Saba, but this is almost certainly an accommodation of the text from Isaias, and not an actual prophecy of the Epiphany event. Likewise the offertory verse Psalm lxxi: 10-11, which may refer to King Solomon or to Christ. Some writers hold that the “star rising out of Jacob” in the Book of Numbers is a prophecy of the means by which the Magi were guided to Jerusalem.{4}

   The historian Herodotus held that the Magi were the priestly caste among the Medes and later the Persians who practiced the more or less monotheistic old Zoroastrian religion, worshiping “Ahura Mazdah (also Ormazd or Ormuzd) [sovereign knowledge], in primitive Zoroastrianism the only god.”{5} As Zoroastrians they were almost certainly astrologers and not magicians.

   The philosophy of the Magi, erroneous though it was, led them to the journey by which they were to find Christ. Magian astrology postulated a heavenly counterpart to complement man's earthly self and make up the complete human personality. His "double" (the fravashi of the Parsi) developed together with every good man until death united the two. The sudden appearance of a new and brilliant star suggested to the Magi the birth of an important person. They came to adore him — i.e., to acknowledge the Divinity of this newborn King (vv. 2, 8, 11).{6}

   Two of the gifts brought by the Magi, gold and frankincense are mentioned in the lesson from Isaias. Gold is obvious. Frankincense refers specifically to the resin derived from the hardy Boswellia tree.{7} It was used in the medicine of Asia, and even today is under study for its medicinal properties. Frankincense was used as a perfume, and was burned in the Temple at Jerusalem in worship of the One True God. The third gift was myrrh, also an aromatic tree resin, said to be more bitter than frankincense, used medically as an astringent, antiseptic, and preparation for embalming the deceased. A hymn at Lauds on the Epiphany explains that:

When the Magi see Him, they bring out their gifts from the East, and
With reverent prostration they offer Him incense, myrrh, and royal gold.
The treasure of gold and the sweet scented Sabæan incense disclose that He is King and God.
The powdery myrrh foretells His tomb.

   A number of explanations are proposed to explain the star which preceded the Magi from the East to Bethlehem:

•The word aster may mean a comet; the star of the Magi was a comet. But we have no record of any such comet.

•The star may have been a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn (7 B.C.), or of Jupiter and Venus (6 B.C.).

•The Magi may have seen a stella nova, a star which suddenly increases in magnitude and brilliancy and then fades away.

   These theories all fail to explain how "the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was" (Matthew 2:9). The position of a fixed star in the heavens varies at most one degree each day. No fixed star could have so moved before the Magi as to lead them to Bethlehem; neither fixed star nor comet could have disappeared, and reappeared, and stood still. Only a miraculous phenomenon could have been the Star of Bethlehem. it was like the miraculous pillar of fire which stood in the camp by night during Israel's Exodus (Exodus 13:21), or to the "brightness of God" which shone round about the shepherds (Luke 2:9), or to "the light from heaven" which shone around about the stricken Saul (Acts 9:3).8

20+CMB+XX is made up of the first two digits of the current year; followed by the initial letters of the traditional names of the Magi, Caspar, Melchior, and Baltassar; ending with the last two digits of the current year. “CMB” is also said to represent the Latin “Christus mansionem benedicat” ("May Christ bless the house"). The traditional practice is to have the priest bless chalk (like we used to use on blackboards or greenboards before they invented whiteboards) and distribute it to the faithful and have them take it home to write 20+CMB+XX (20+CMB+11 this year) over their doors while invoking God's blessings on their homes.

Blessing of Chalk on The Epiphany

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with thy spirit.
P: Bless, + O Lord God, this creature, chalk, and let it be a help to mankind. Grant that those who will use it with faith in your most holy name, and with it inscribe on the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Casper, Melchior, and Baltassar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health in body and protection of soul; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.


1  Leviticus xii; Numbers iii: 47

2  Lesson at Matins on the feast of Saint Blaise

3  Catholic Encyclopedia (CE), s.v. “Holy Innocents”

8 Ibid. CE s.v. “Magi.”


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