Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

For a long time Carmel had been planning widespread honours for you, and in its happy caves it trains sons who in white cloaks will witness to perpetual chastity for you and will bind your name with the name of this Mount in everlasting covenant. You are purer than gold. You are whiter than snow. Your are brighter than the star of Venus. Your virginity was not vitiated by child-bearing, nor can your brightness be darkened by any stain. You certainly were not bound to this legitimate custom, and in all justice you could have renounced these gifts. Time will come when a future age will remember us and on this solemn day will offer you honour on the altars, and will carry candles in long procession of a well celebrated liturgy. Then your priest, processing in golden vestments, will chant your hymns and will sent forth a sweet smelling cloud throughout the Church and the breeze will spread the pleasant scent far and wide, and because our path cross at his point, posterity will call this day Hypante, in the Greek language, and it will be lit up with numberless torches. (Bl Baptiste Spagnoli of Mantua O.Carm)

Religious parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to God, His divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some among the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the Temple, to be brought up in quarters attached to the Temple, attending the priests and Levites in their sacred ministry. There were special divisions in these lodgings for the women and children dedicated to the divine service (3 Kings 6:5-9). We have examples of this special consecration of children in the person of Samuel, for example. Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple of Jerusalem. It is very probable that the holy prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna, who witnessed the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, as we read in the second chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke (verses 25) had known His Mother as a little girl in the Temple and observed her truly unique sanctity. It is an ancient and very trustworthy tradition that the Blessed Virgin was thus solemnly offered in the Temple to God at the age of three by Her parents, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim. The Gospel tells us nothing of the childhood of Mary; Her title Mother of God, eclipses all the rest. Where, better than in the Temple, could Mary be prepared for Her mission? Twelve years of recollection and prayer, contemplation and sufferings, were the preparation of the chosen one of God. The tender soul of Mary was adorned with the most precious graces and became an object of astonishment and praise for the holy Angels, as well as of the highest complacency for the adorable Trinity. The Father looked upon her as His beloved Daughter, the Son as One set apart and prepared to become His Mother, and the Holy Ghost as His undefiled Spouse. Here is how Mary’s day in the Temple was apportioned, according to Saint Jerome. From dawn until nine in the morning, she prayed; from 9:00 until 3:00 she applied herself to manual work; then she turned again to prayer. She was always the first to undertake night watches, the one most applied to study, the most fervent in the chanting of Psalms, the most zealous in works of charity, the purest among the virgins, her companions, the most perfect in the practice of every virtue. On this day she appears as the standard-bearer for Christian virginity: after her will come countless legions of virgins consecrated to the Lord, both in the shadow of the altars or engaged in the charitable occupations of the Church in the world. Mary will be their eternal Model, their dedicated Patroness, their sure guide on the paths of perfection.

Main text after 'Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints' a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints.