By Megan Marley
INDEPENDENCE – Like the original Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Candlemas this February 2 at St. Mary’s Church was bittersweet.
The Mass offered that evening was to help parents grieve and commemorate the too short lives of their children lost in infancy, miscarriage or abortion.
Nearly thirty people carried newly-blessed candles in procession from the side chapel into the main church, where the lit candles were placed in a bowl of sand to burn throughout Mass. Those who had lost a child were invited to write the names of their children on the paper candleholders as a special way to commemorate them.
This is the second year Fr. Matthew Bartulica has held a Mass of Innocents on Candlemas for lost infants, in arrangement with the post-abortion healing group Project Rachel.
In his homily, Fr. Bartulica encouraged families to have trust and hope in the mercy of God that they will meet their child in the life to come, and spoke of offering the lost child to God.
“One of the great things the Jewish people could do was precisely what Mary and Joseph did at the Presentation: going and presenting their Child to the Lord. So we do that with all the lost children this evening,” he said.
Speaking to those who had lost children through abortion, he reminded them of the great love and mercy of God, and of the tangible forgiveness found in confession.
“The pain of the past and the loss of the child remains with us; the thing for us to do, and to always remember, is the great love He has for us,” said Fr. Bartulica. “In that sacrament, all things from our past are wiped away and healed by God’s mercy that he offers to us.”
Fr. Bartulica plans to offer confessions and a Mass of Innocents every year on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation, and invites all who have lost an infant to attend. For more information on Project Rachel, contact Teresa Hoeppner at firstname.lastname@example.org.