If she considered the spirit of these legal enactments, and why God required the ceremony of Purification, it was evident that she was not bound to them. They for whom these laws had been made were espoused to men; Mary was the chaste Spouse of the Holy Ghost, a Virgin in conceiving and a Virgin in giving birth to her Son; her purity had ever been spotless as that of the Angels; but it received an incalculable increase by her carrying the God of all sanctity in her womb, and bringing him into this world. Moreover, when she reflected upon her Child being the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all things, how could she suppose that he was to be submitted to the humiliation of being ransomed as a slave, whose life and person are not his own?
And yet the Holy Spirit revealed to Mary that she must comply with both these law. She, the holy Mother of God, must go to the Temple like other Hebrew mothers, as though she had lost something which needed restoring by a legal sacrifice. He that is the Son of God and Son of Man must be treated in all things as though he were the poor Jewish boy. Mary adores the will of God, and embraces it with her whole heart.... The Divine Will was dear to Mary in this as in every circumstances of her life. The Holy Virgin knew that by seeking this external rite of Purification, she was in no wise risking the honour of her Child, or failing in the respect due to her own Virginity. She was in the Temple of Jerusalem what she was in the house of Nazareth, when she received the Archangel's visit; she was the Handmaid of the Lord. She obeyed the Law because she seemed to come under the Law. Her God and her Son submitted to the ransom as humbly as the poorest Hebrew would have to do; he had already obeyed the edict of the emperor Augustus in the general census; he was to be obedient even unto death, even to the death of the Cross. The Mother and the Child both humbled themselves in the Purification, and man's pride received, on that day, one of the greatest lessons ever given it.... At length the Holy family enter Jerusalem. The name of this holy City signifies Vision of Peace; and Jesus comes to bring her Peace. Let us consider the names of the three places in which Redeemer began, continued and ended his life on earth. He is conceived at Nazareth, which signifies a Flower; and Jesus is, as he tells us in the Canticle, the Flower of the Field and the Lily of the Valley (Cant. 2:1), by whose fragrance we are refreshed. He is born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread; for he is the nourishment of our souls. He dies on the Cross in Jerusalem, and, by His Blood, he restores peace between heaven and earth, peace between men, peace within our own souls; and, on this day of his Mother's Purification, we shall find him giving us the pledge of this peace..... The Emmanuel has left Bethlehem; he has come among the people; he is about to take possession of his Temple, and the mere fact of his entering it will at once give it a glory, which is far above that of its predecessor. He will often visit it during his mortal life, but his coming to it today, carried as he is in Mary's arms, is enough for the accomplishment of the promise, and all the shadows and figures of the Temple at once pale before the rays of the Sun of the Truth and Justice. But this great event could not be accomplished without a prodigy being wrought by the Eternal God as a welcome to His Son.... this time it is the Holy Ghost himself who sends a witness to the Infant, now in the great Temple. There was then living in Jerusalem an old man whose life was wellnigh spent. He was a Man of desires (Dan 10: 11) and his name was Simeon; his heart had longed unceasingly for the Messaias, and at last his hope was recompensed. The Holy Ghost has revealed to Him that he should not see death without first seeing the rising of the Divine Light. As Mary and Joseph were ascending the steps of the Temple, to take Jesus to the altar, Simeon felt within himself the strong impulse of the Spirit of God: he leaves his house, and walks toward the Temple; the ardour of his desires makes him forget the feebleness of age. He reaches the porch of God's House, and there, amids the many mothers who had come to present their children, his inspired gaze recognizes the Virgin of whom he had so often read in Isaias, and he presses through the crowd to the Child she is holding in her arms. Mary, guided by the same Divine Spirit, welcomes the saintly old man, and puts into his trembling arms the dear object of her love, the salvation of the world. Happy Simeon! figure of the ancient world, grown old in its expectation, and near its end.....He cannot keep silence; he must sing a Canticle; he must do as Shepherds and Magi had done, he must give testimony: Now, says he, now, O Lord, thou dost dismiss thy servant in Peace, because my eyes have seen thy Salvation, which thou has prepared - a Light that is to enlighten the Gentiles, and give glory to thy people Israel.
Immediately there comes, attracted to the spot by the same Holy Spirit, the holy Anna, Phanuel's daughter, noted for her piety, and venerated by the people on account of her great age. Simeon and Anna, the representatives of the Old Testament, unite their voices, and celebrate the happy coming of the Child who is to renew the face of the earth; they give praise to the mercy of Jehovah, who in this place , in this second Temple, gives peace to the world, as the prophet Aggeus had foretold. This was the Peace so long looked forward to by Simeon, and now in this Peace will he sleep...Anna has some years still to pass on earth; as the Evangelist tells us, she has to go and announce the fulfilment of the promises to such of the Jews as were spiritually minded, and looked for the Redemption of Israel (St Luke II,38). The divine seed is sown; the Shepherds and the Magi, Simeon and Anna, have all been its sowers; it will spring up in due time; and when our Jesus has spent his thirty years of hidden life in Nazareth, and shall come for the harvest-time, he will say to his Disciples: Lift up your eyes, and see the countries, for they are white already for the harvest: pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into the harvest (St Luke 10: 2). Simeon gives back to Mary the Child she is going to offer to the Lord. The two doves are presented to the priest, who sacrifices the on the Altar; the price for the ransom is paid; the whole law is satisfied; and after having paid her homage to her creator in this sacred place, where she spent her early years, Mary, with Jesus pressed to her bossom, and her faithful Joseph by her side, leaves the Temple. Such is the mystery of this fortieth day, which closes, by this admirable feast of the Purification, the holy season of Christmas. Several learned writers, among whom we may mention Henschenius and Pope Benedict XIV, are of opinion that this Solemnity was instituted by the Apostles themselves. This much is certain, that it was a long-established feast even in the fifth century....The honour paid thus by the Church to the Mother tends in reality to the greater glory of her Divine Son, for He is the Author and the End of all those prerogatives which we revere and honour in Mary.
Fragments from the chapter on the Feast of Purification of the Blessed Virgin taken from Dom Gueranger "Liturgical Year".