From our archives:
Today, we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary on the feast day of her Presentation in the Temple, when her parents, Joachim and Anne, who had consecrated her to the Lord God, brought her to the Temple of Jerusalem.
We don’t expect that Pope Francis will honor Our Lady on her feast day today, so it is up to us, her children to honor our Mother today. Although modernists disparage this feast for what they perceive as a “lack of historicity”, for those who are consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, this beautiful feast teaches volumes about Mary’s devotion to the most Holy Trinity. According to Venerable Maria de Agreda, this beautiful mystery is a lesson of the importance of humility. Thus, it is a worthwhile meditation for our preparation for observing our Total Consecration December 8.
The Hebrew Ark of the Covenant was but a foreshadowing of the true Ark which is the most Blessed Virgin Mary herself; she who was foreordained to bear our Lord Jesus Christ, Savior. As our Little Office proclaims, “Thou wast the Mother of Him Who made thee, and thou remainest a Virgin forever”. And so, Joachim and Anne brought the true Royal Ark of the Covenant to the Temple, but to all appearances they were merely ordinary pious Jews of their time bringing yet another consecrated child to the Temple.
Mother Maria de Agreda tells us of Mary, that God “ordained in her regard that she receive no honor or recognition at that time, so that she (would) be the shining example of humility, of retirement, of contempt and horror for the dreadful vanity of the world, of love for sufferings … and dishonors inflicted by creatures. All holiness is adverse and contrary to the applause, honors and estimation of the world.”
“In ascending the fifteen stairs the Child brought to fulfillment, that, which Jacob saw happening in sleep; for here too were angels ascending and descending: the ones accompanying, the others meeting their Queen as She hastened up; whereas at the top God was waiting in order to welcome Her as his Daughter and Spouse.” (Ven. Agreda, “The Mystical City of God”)
What a fruitful scene for our meditations! Firstly, we note that the Temple is stated to have 15 steps – which leads us to consider the 15 decades of the Rosary by which we approach the Living Temple of the Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Think now, of this – the bittersweet moment of leave-taking for Joachim and Anne, who had prayed for many years for God to send them a child, only to be called to surrender her at the tender age of three! Then think of the Blessed Virgin responding to Our Father’s call. Psalm 44 speaks to us of this moment of surrender,
“Hearken O Daughter and consider, and incline thine ear, forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house. And so shall the King desire thy beauty, for He is the Lord thy God.” (Psalm 44, 11,12) .
Think too, that this is actually the first time that the Blessed Virgin meets Simeon and Anna, for it was Simeon who received her as she ascended the stairs and he brought her to Anna, who brought her up as her own. And so we see that this moment foreshadows the fateful moment when Our Lady brought her own Divine Son to the Temple, and handed Him to Simeon and Anna.
Tradition tells us that she danced on the steps, on her way to her life of consecration to the Lord. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen tells us that this total consecration is a matter of detaching the affections, of seclusion from the world. Not always a material seclusion but it is absolutely essential that it be a matter of being “in the world, but not of the world”. He continues,
Corresponding to complete separation is oblation, total consecration. Mary gave herself wholly to God, unreservedly, forever.
“Lord, in the simplicity of my heart I offer myself to Thee this day as Thy servant forevermore, for Thy homage and for a sacrifice of perpetual praise.” (Imitation of Christ, IV, 9,1).
Mary gave herself wholly to God, allowing Him to exercise over her all His rights as Sovereign, Lord, and Master. She made no objections nor did she marvel that her immolation should reach such proportions; had she not offered herself without reserve? And when her offering was consummated she did nothing but repeat: “Fiat! Ecce ancilla Domini!”
Let us ask Mary, presented in the Temple, to take our poor offering into her immaculate hands, to purify and complete it by her offering, so pure, so perfect; to include it and hide it in hers, and being thus purified and renewed, may it be agreeable to God.
St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Prayer for the Presentation:
“O dearly Beloved of God, most amiable Child Mary, would that today I could offer to you the first years of my life and consecrate myself to your service, my blessed and sweet Lady, as you presented and consecrated yourself in the Temple for the honor and glory of God … but time has slipped away and so many years have been spent in serving the world and my own caprice, forgetful of you and of God. Woe to the time when I did not love you! But better late than never. Behold, O Mary, I present myself to you this day, offering myself entirely to your service for the number of days, be they few or many, that are left to me on earth. I renounce all creatures as you did and vow myself entirely to the love of my Creator.
“I consecrate to you my Queen, my intellect that it may always think upon the love that you deserve, my tongue that it may praise you, my heart that it may love you. Accept Most Holy Virgin, the offering which this wretched sinner presents to you; accept it, I beg, by the consolation your heart felt when you gave yourself to God in the Temple. And if I am late in putting myself at your service, it is but fitting that I redeem the time lost by redoubling my devotions and my love for thee.
“O Mother of Mercy, help my weakness by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Son Jesus, the strength to be faithful to you until death. Grant that after having served you in this life I may go to praise you eternally in Paradise. Amen.”
Our turning from creatures does not at all mean that we love them less, but that by loving them through God, that is for love of Him, we love them much more beneficently than when we loved them for our own satisfaction. Our Lord taught us, in His Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt. 5,3) As always, Mary leads the way, making her first vows at the age of three, she left all to become poor in spirit. We are her children after all!
NOTE for Nov. 2019: On this day in which we honor the Immaculata’s Presentation, it is good to take a bit of extra time to read the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 2, v 22-38 regarding the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. Mary’s Presentation prepared her for her life of total consecration to God. It foreshadows thus her Presentation of the only-begotten Son of God in the Temple, the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Think now of that Mystery, of the two Hearts of Jesus and Mary united in their offering of total oblation to the Eternal Father. Simeon prophesied:
“Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”
At this, Mother and Son looked into each other’s eyes with deepest sorrow, and they knew the moment would soon come when their eyes would meet on the Via Dolorosa, He the Man of Sorrows, she the Mother of Sorrows. Thus, Mary’s presentation, the Presentation of the Child Jesus and the Carrying of the Cross are all linked in many ways. The link, you see is the humility and generosity of their obedience in sacrificing themselves totally. By thinking thus, we prepare for the Renewal of our Total Consecration to the Immaculata on her great feast of her Immaculate Conception, December 8th.
Remember – Our Lady has called us to: First Saturdays of Reparation, daily rosary, at least 5 mysteries, wear her brown scapular and live your Total Consecration to her Immaculate Heart, offering daily duties in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
† Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† St. Joseph, guardian of the Holy Family, protect our families, protect our priests!
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!