The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Temple
Today in the Holy Catholic Church we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Mother at the Temple, by her parents St. Ann and St. Joachim. It is believed that because God had answered their prayers for a child, the once barren couple, had made a vow to the Lord that they would consecrate their child to Him, and when Mary was just three years old she was taken to the Temple to live with other young girls. As consecrated virgins, these girls were going to be raised by pious women, and taught about the Lord. Even though Mary was still just a ‘baby’ she had the maturity level of a much older child, and was able to show obedience to the calling of God. According to some Catholic scholars, once she started climbing the stairs that led into the Temple, her only desire was to serve the Lord, and as a detachment from the world, she never looked back at her parents…From that moment on, her one desire…her only desire..was to please and do as the Lord wanted.
This beautiful feast allows us to celebrate the fact that the Blessed Mother’s parents brought her to the Temple at such a young age…handing her over to be raised and consecrated to the Lord. It was during these years that her prayer life grew and she was able to live as a consecrated virgin, exclusively contemplating the Lord. It is important to note, that this action of her parents highlights the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen for her role even before time began. In the book of Isaiah, 11:1 she is called the root of Jesse, from which Our Lord Jesus Christ would be born.
From “Butler’s Lives of the Saints”, we read the following beautiful description of this feast:
It is an ancient tradition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was thus solemnly offered to God in the Temple in her infancy. The tender soul of Mary was then adorned with the most precious graces, an object of astonishment and praise to the angels. It was also a highly blessed event from the standpoint of the Holy Trinity: the Father looking upon her as His beloved daughter, the Son as one chosen and prepared to become His mother, and the Holy Ghost as His darling spouse.
And from “Goffiné’s Devout Instructions on the Epistles and the Gospels,” (1690) we read the following reflection:
The Blessed Virgin was presented in the temple at Jerusalem by her pious parents, Joachim and Ann, there to be educated in the service and the law of the Lord in order that she might be guarded against the defilements of the world. From this we learn:
- Joachim and Ann offered to the Lord their only and most beloved child, and gave her up entirely to His service. Great as the sacrifice was, they yet made it. The preservation of the innocence of their daughter was to them above all else. Parents, God requires of you that you should not merely offer your children to Him in the temple, but that you should take care to keep them pure and holy, as living temples which have been consecrated in Baptism.
- Mary gives and dedicates herself to God as soon as she is capable of serving Him, and that without any reservation, for all time, and irrevocably. When, then, shall we give ourselves in earnest to God? True, we have been given to Him in holy Baptism, we have been consecrated as His temples, we have renounced the devil and the world, we have vowed to live only for God, and this vow we have, perhaps, often renewed; but have we kept it? What we gave with one hand, have we not taken it away with the other? Have we not defiled the temple of our hearts by shameful lusts, lived for the world and vanity more than for God? Ah, when shall we give ourselves up to God sincerely and forever? Perhaps when we are old! But will God accept our offering then? Will He be pleased that we begin to serve Him only when we can no longer serve the world? that we first begin to live for Him when our life is soon to cease? No; God is a jealous Lord, and is not pleased with a heart divided between Him and creatures. He requires us to love Him with all our heart and all our soul, and to serve Him with all our powers. Let us, then, do this, and do it from our youth; let us keep ourselves in body and soul undefiled for the Lord; such love, and such love only, will He reward as perfect.
Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary
May the offering we make to God through thee, through thee be acceptable in his sight; and may that be granted which we ask with trustful heart. Accept our offerings, grant us our petitions, banish our fears; for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for forgiveness of our sins; and in thee, most blessed Lady, is the hope of our reward.
Holy Mary, succor the wretched, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for the people, shield the clergy, intercede for holy women; let all who celebrate thy holy commemoration feel thy protection. Be thou at hand, ready to aid our prayers, and obtain for us what we desire. Make it thy care, blessed Lady, to intercede ever for the people of God–thou who didst deserve to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Indulgence of 50 days each time, His Holiness, Pius IX., May 19, 1854 )