Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Joys of February

            It’s official! February is here! Punxsutawney Phil has already predicted what the weather holds for us for the next 6 weeks.  February is my least favorite month.  Although it is the shortest; it seems like the longest to me.
            “February got its name from the Latin FEBRUUM meaning purification.  FEBRUA was a purification ritual held February 15, (full moon) where people were ritually washed.  These great festivities were to re-establish the Emperor’s focus on righteous living.” (Writer’s note:  Wouldn’t that be great!)
            It’s possible that FEBRUA (purification) had some influence on the Christian three part celebration on February 2nd.  One part is the Presentation of Jesus in the temple by Mary and Joseph. Jesus, the Son of God, is offered and redeemed by two turtledoves.  Simeon, the elderly prophet, tells Mary and Joseph that Jesus is destined to be “the Light of the world.”  Jesus, as “light,” is symbolized by candles. Second part is Candlemas Day when the Church blesses candles for use in the liturgy.  The final part of this day is Mary’s Purification.  The ritual women participated in after the birth of first born child.
            We Benedictines have a special interest in February.  The 10th is the feast of Saint Scholastica, Benedict’s twin sister; the 25th the feast of Saint Walburg, the saint for whom our monastery is named.
            Presidents’ Day February 18th (this year) celebrates our many presidents especially, Washington (22) and Lincoln (12) whose birthdays occur during this month.           
            We can’t forget Valentine Day the 14th.  According to Wikipedia “there are energy shifts toward love and compassion.  We find happiness in the simplest things.”  On Valentine Day we take the time to reflect on the love given us from others, and show them how much they mean to us.  We give valentines—by our love in words, actions, simple gifts.
            I’m ready for spring with warmer weather and more sunshine.  I have begun to look for the tiny heads of tulips, crocus, and daffodils peaking out of the ground.  Even “the Old Farmers’ Almanac said that this is the month to plant a garden. Start onion seeds, these are firmer than sets. Parsley should be started indoors.”
            Maybe it’s a good thing to have a “Leap Year” every four years, thanks to Julius Caesar’s astronomers.  Or, we may not have enough of “February” to enjoy all its l-o-n-g days.  Maybe I’ll learn to like February better.

        Sr. Kathleen Ryan, OSB


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  2. Dear Sister, thank you for teaching me the meaning of Februa -- I did not know this, all these years one reads these words and does not know their history. It is good to know. Usually this month is part of Lent, and surely it is still for the sisters, whose Lent starts earlier (for some 80 days before). Easter is later this year so February is before Ash Wednesday so we can have a few pancakes in the cold. Candlemas is a beautiful service of light and it reminds us what we have given up. We do not sacrifice animals to purify ourselves. Women are not naturally impure in their bodies in any way. Perhaps we do offer the first born to God in some places -- I like that. What kind of offering? There are various ways to serve. God bless OSB amen

  3. Thank you, Sister, for your instructive writing. I'm at home sick this week, so it was nice to have the chance to read and enjoy your wit and wisdom.