Today is the double feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also called Candlemas. We offer these thoughts on this feast day from Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange.
THE PRESENTATION OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE
Mary said her Fiat in peace and holy joy on the day of the Annunciation. There was sorrow too in her heart at the thought of the sufferings which Isaias had foretold would befall her Son. Still more light is thrown for her on the mystery of the Redemption when the holy old man Simeon speaks of the Child Jesus as the “Salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles.” Mary remains silent in wonder and thanksgiving.
“This child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted.” Jesus, come for the salvation of all, will be the occasion of the fall of many, He will be a stumbling block (Is. 8:14) for many of the Jews, who, refusing to recognise Him as the Messiah, will fall into infidelity and thence to eternal ruin. (Rom. 9:32; 1 Cor. 1:3). Jesus Himself will say later: “Blessed is he that shall not be scandalised in me.” (Matt. 11:6).
Turning then to Mary herself, Simeon addressed to her the prophetic words: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.” Mary will have a share in the Saviour’s trials. His sufferings will be hers. Her very heart will be pierced by a sword of sorrow. Had the Son of Man not come thus on earth we should never have known the full malice of pride’s revolt against truth. The hidden thoughts of hypocrisy and false zeal were revealed when the Pharisees cried out for the crucifixion of Him Who is Holiness.
Jesus’ fullness of grace had two apparently contradictory effects: the most perfect peace of soul; the will to offer Himself as a redemptive victim. Mary’s grace produced two similarly contrasting effects: the pure joys of the days of the Annunciation and the Nativity; the desire to be united most generously to the sufferings of her Son for our salvation.
Thus, presenting Him in the temple, she already offers Him for us. Joy and sorrow are wedded in the heart of the Mother of God who is already the Mother of all who will believe in her Son.
† 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.
~ 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!