BY CAROL BAASS SOWA
SAN ANTONIO • Mission Concepción is already a gem among San Antonio’s mission churches, with its amazing solar illuminations and colorful frescos, but it shines especially bright on Sunday when the Feb. 2 Feast Day of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple is commemorated. This year’s observance took place at the morning Masses celebrated on Feb. 4 by Father David Garcia, pastor at Concepción, with a reception held between the two services.
Known as Candlemas Day or, in Spanish, La Candelaria, the feast reminds us, said Father Garcia, that Christ is the light of the world, and calls us to be the same.
Candles distributed to those present were lit and blessed, with the opening procession culminating in the arrival of a young man and woman portraying Joseph and Mary, who held a life-size statue of the infant Jesus. After dressing the statue in christening apparel, they presented him to Father Garcia, who placed him beneath the painting of Our Lady above the altar.
During Mass, those with young children, were invited to bring them to the altar for a special blessing, with a later invitation asking padrinas (godmothers) and padrinos (godfathers) with statues of the infant Jesus from their Christmas Nativity scenes to bring them to the altar for a blessing, a tradition known as La Levantada del Niño. Levantada means to “pick up,” explained Father Garcia, and this feast marks the day when the baby Jesus is picked up and put away until the next Christmas.
The 10 a.m. Mass featured participation by costumed descendants of the Canary Islanders who settled San Antonio and brought with them their devotion to Our Lady of Candelaria, whose picture was placed to the side of the altar.
The noon Mariachi Mass included a presentation by Father Garcia, with permission of Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, of a Lumen Gentium Award to parishioner Maria Valdez, who had been unable to attend the archdiocesan award ceremonies.
The awards are bestowed annually on lay persons from each parish who have served to bring Christ’s light to all through their parish work. Father Garcia praised Valdez’s spearheading of Fair Trade sales at Concepción, which helps workers in third world countries receive fair wages.
A final blessing took place after the Mass, with a blessing of throats, a tradition on the Feb. 3 Feast of St. Blaise, patron of those with throat ailments.