21 November – Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary In The Temple
A prayer to Our Lady to celebrate the Feast of her Presentation in the Temple, by St Alphonsus Liguori from ‘the Glories of Mary’:
Oh holy Lady know that already through thy prayers the Son of God is hastening to come and redeem the world, and know that thou art the blessed one chosen to be the Mother of God, most holy Child, thou prayest for all, pray also for me.
Thou hast consecrated thyself wholly even from infancy to the love of thy God. Obtain for me at least during the remaining years of my life that I may live for God alone.
Today, together with thee, I renounce all creatures, and consecrate myself to the love of my Lord. I also offer myself to thee, oh my queen to serve thee forever. Accept me for thy special servant and obtain for me the grace to be faithful to thee and to thy Son, so that I may come one day to praise thee and love thee in paradise. Amen.
The feast of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple dates back to the 6th Century in the East and to the 14th Century in the West. The feast celebrates the tradition recounted in James’ apocryphal gospel that at a very early age, Mary went to the temple to totally consecrate her life to God. The Church didn’t want to underline the apocryphal account but wanted to celebrate the fact that Mary, from the very moment of her conception, belonged totally to God to fulfil His Divine Will. The feast has its origins in the dedication of the Church of ‘Santa Maria Nuova’ in Jerusalem in543 AD.
This feast permits a meditation on Mary’s hidden life. Apart from the events relayed in the Gospels little is known about Mary’s life. From the Gospels we do know that Mary was always ‘the handmaid of the Lord’ (LK 1:38). The Angel Gabriel’s greeting at the Annunciation tells us something about her as she is referred to as ‘full of grace’(LK 1:28), which really means, ‘full of God’. Mary’s sanctity wasn’t something that occurred from the Annunciation onwards, but she was always holy as she was ‘full of grace’ and without sin. She lived a life that was always holy and that was devoted to God.
Mary is the daughter of the Father, that long awaited daughter of Israel, who was always in a continuous dialogue with God in her soul. Today, is the feast of her total consecration to God and her full dedication to the Divine Plan. She never denied God anything and she always corresponded perfectly to His Grace and the Holy Spirit and as such is the perfect model of consecration for all Christians whatever our particular vocation.
Mary dedicated herself totally to God at an age when a child starts to have the ability to use her own reason. She was always aware that God does not accept a divided heart but wants the total fulfilment of His Will.
This feast is a good occasion to renew our donation to God, to try to carry out our daily duties in the Lord’s service.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Virgin Mary “co-operated through free faith and obedience in human salvation” (LG 56). She uttered her yes “in the name of all human nature” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 30, 1). By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living. (CCC 511)
The Word of God:
‘For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’ MK 3:35