Sunday, November 20, 2005
PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Holy light on Earth’s horizon,
Star of hope to fallen man,
Light amid a world of shadows,
Dawn of God’s redemptive plan.
Chosen from eternal ages,
Thou alone of all our race
By thy Son’s atoning merits
Was conceived in perfect grace.
Mother of the world’s Redeemer
Promised from the dawn of time;
Never could one so highly favored
Share the guilt of Adam’s crime.
Sun and moon and stars adorn thee,
Sinless Eve, triumphant sign;
Thou art she who crushed the serpent,
Mary, pledge of life divine.
Christians of the East and West celebrate this Feast day by recalling the tradition according to which Mary as a small child was presented to the Lord by her parents in the temple. Here is how it happened as seen in a vision by Venerable Mary of Agreda:
The three years decreed by the Lord having been completed, Joachim and Anne (Mary's parents) set out from Nazareth, accompanied by a few of their kindred and bringing with them the true living Ark of the covenant, the most holy Mary, borne on the arms of her mother in order to be deposited in the holy temple of Jerusalem. . .
They arrived at the holy temple, and the blessed Anne on entering took her Daughter and Mistress by the hand, accompanied and assisted by saint Joachim. All three offered a devout and fervent prayer to the Lord; the parents offering to God their Daughter, and the most holy Child, in profound humility, adoration and worship, offering up herself. She alone perceived that the Most High received and accepted Her, and, amid divine splendor which filled the temple, She heard a voice saying to Her: "Come, my Beloved, my Spouse, come to my temple, where I wish to hear thy voice of praise and worship."
Having offered their prayers, they rose and betook themselves to the priest. The parents consigned their Child into his hands and he gave them his blessings. Together they conducted Her to the portion of the temple buildings, where many young girls lived to be brought up in retirement and in virtuous habits, until old enough to assume the state of matrimony. It was a place of retirement especially selected for the first-born daughters of the royal tribe of Juda and the sacerdotal tribe of Levi.
Fifteen stairs led up to the entrance of these apartments. Other priests came in order to welcome the blessed child Mary. The one that had received them, being according to the law one of a minor order, placed Her on the first step. Mary, with his permission, turned and kneeling down before Joachim and Anne, asked their blessing and kissed their hands, recommending herself to their prayers before God. The holy parents in tenderest tears gave Her their blessing; whereupon She ascended the fifteen stairs without any assistance. . .
Sorrowfully her parents Joachim and Anne retraced their journey to Nazareth, now poor as deprived of the rich Treasure of their house. But the Most High consoled and comforted them in their affliction. . .
(Excerpted from 'City of God', book two, Chapter one.)