Today we offer a new post to commemorate one of the oldest feasts in the Church, the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple. Our post combines elements from previous essays from 2018 and 2020, including writings from St. Francis de Sales, Ven. Mother Maria de Agreda, and Father Garrigou-Lagrange O.P., among others.
The feast of the Purification of Mary is also the feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, and both rites were observed in order to fulfill Mosaic Law; that is to say, this venerable old feast is all about obedience! The obedience of Mary, the most pure and perfect example of God’s creation humbly submitting to the ancient Mosaic Law of purification, and the Divine Infant, truly God as well as truly man, submitting in utmost humility to the Mosaic Law, consecrating themselves to God as models for us.
As we consider the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Divine Child in the Temple, we note that it is in their actions, that is to say, in their choices, that we learn the essential truths of our faith and begin to grasp the significance of the choices we ourselves are required to make. For humility demands obedience, and wherever we see true obedience, there is humility in action.
It was a common sight in those days to see proud young fathers and mothers present their first born sons in the great Temple of Jerusalem. There was perhaps, little to distinguish the Holy Family as they brought in their infant Son, wending their way through the throng of devout Jews. However, in stark contrast to the other women offering their sons, Mary’s consecration of Jesus under the Old Law was to be consummated on the altar of the Cross, the turning point in salvation history, fulfilling the Old Law and beginning the New Law. Thus, Mary’s offering was, on this day, nothing less than the obedient acceptance of the complete oblation of the Sacred Victim, her beloved Son.
For God so loved His creation that in order to save men from their sins, He spared not even His own beloved Son but delivered Him up to save us all, as St. Paul reminds us. God’s justice demanded that the Blessed Virgin Mary know in full every aspect of the sacrifice that was demanded of her innocent Son. This was, as St. Francis de Sales reminds us, so that “together with the sacrifice of the life of the Son, the heart of the mother might be sacrificed also. … although Mary, from the moment she was made mother of Jesus, gave her consent to His death, yet the Lord wished her on this day to make in the Temple a solemn sacrifice of herself, by offering solemnly her Son, and sacrificing to the divine justice His precious life.”
As we consider the scene, we note Simeon’s great sorrow; for although God had promised him that he should not die before seeing Christ the Saviour, he now realized the immense suffering which these two innocents would have to endure. Thus it was with an immeasurable sorrow that Simeon addressed the most Blessed Virgin Mary, “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”
At the moment when the priest Simeon mentioned the sword and the sign of contradiction, which were prophetical of the passion and death of the Lord, the Child bowed His head, signifying His acceptance of Simeon’s prophecy as the sentence of the eternal Father pronounced by His minister. All this the loving Mother noticed and understood. She felt the sorrow predicted by Simeon and was wounded by the sword, of which She had thus been warned. As in a mirror her spirit was made to see all the mysteries included in this prophecy; how her most holy Son was to be the stone of stumbling (1), the perdition of the unbelievers, and the salvation of the faithful; the fall of the synagogue and the establishment of the Church among the heathens; She foresaw the triumph to be gained over the devils and over death, but also that a great price was to be paid for it, namely her Son’s frightful agony and death on the Cross. She foresaw the boundless opposition and contradiction, which the Lord Jesus was to sustain both personally and in His Church (2). At the same time she also saw the glory and excellence of the predestined souls.
For Mary kept all this in her Immaculate Heart, bearing within her soul such a profound sorrow that no human can ever fathom. The saints assure us that ever after, each glance at this divine, innocent and most lovable Son yielded the most intense pangs of sorrow. St. Francis de Sales explains further:.
What lesson can we draw from this Mystery of the Presentation? If we are to be truly Mary’s children, living our consecrations to her, then we must accept with equanimity the sorrows and sufferings given to us; not only those we ourselves endure but also those we behold suffered by the Bride of Christ, that is, the Church. The Immaculate Virgin offered up her sufferings united with those of her Divine Son and Saviour. She was silent before Herod, and she was silent as Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin, and before Pilate. This is not to say she was indifferent. Not at all. Indeed, Mary held all of this, every brutality and indignity suffered by her beloved Son was held in her Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart. We her children, can do no less, nor should we seek to do more. For as a loving child in obedience to the mother, models his behaviour on hers, we attend to all our Saviour’s sufferings, we do not turn away, but abide with Him in sorrowful love with Mary our Mother, offering all in reparation.
THE PRESENTATION OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE
This from the writings of Father Reginald garrigou-Lagrange:
“Mary said her Fiat in peace and holy joy on the day of the Annunciation. There was sorrow too in her heart at the thought of the sufferings which Isaias had foretold would befall her Son. Still more light is thrown for her on the mystery of the Redemption when the holy old man Simeon speaks of the Child Jesus as the “Salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles.” Mary remains silent in wonder and thanksgiving.
“This child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted.” Jesus, come for the salvation of all, will be the occasion of the fall of many, He will be a stumbling block (Is. 8:14) for many of the Jews, who, refusing to recognise Him as the Messiah, will fall into infidelity and thence to eternal ruin. (Rom. 9:32; 1 Cor. 1:3). Jesus Himself will say later: “Blessed is he that shall not be scandalised in me.” (Matt. 11:6).
Turning then to Mary herself, Simeon addressed to her the prophetic words: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.” Mary will have a share in the Saviour’s trials. His sufferings will be hers. Her very heart will be pierced by a sword of sorrow. Had the Son of Man not come thus on earth we should never have known the full malice of pride’s revolt against truth. The hidden thoughts of hypocrisy and false zeal were revealed when the Pharisees cried out for the crucifixion of Him Who is Holiness.
Jesus’ fullness of grace had two apparently contradictory effects: the most perfect peace of soul; the will to offer Himself as a redemptive victim. Mary’s grace produced two similarly contrasting effects: the pure joys of the days of the Annunciation and the Nativity; the desire to be united most generously to the sufferings of her Son for our salvation.
Thus, presenting Him in the temple, she already offers Him for us. Joy and sorrow are wedded in the heart of the Mother of God who is already the Mother of all who will believe in her Son.
In her Message of Fatima, our most Blessed Mother has providentially given us the means for increasing sanctifying grace in our lives to nourish our souls and provide us with the spiritual weapons for this great battle for the Church, for souls,
Today, the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary continues to suffer as the apostasy of the faith continues apace. So many souls are swept away in this maelstrom!
With these thoughts in mind, today is a great day for us to renew our consecrations, please refer to the sidebar for the Consecration pages.
(1) In this phrase we note the terrible sorrow of Mary for all the chosen souls who turn from the truth and are lost forever. Many of whom are her own children who chose to disobey.
(2) Even as those first “Chosen People”, the race of Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother, rejected His saving grace, so also the Church today rejects His grace. This is to complete the cycle. And even as Jerusalem was destroyed for its perfidious rejection, so also we shall see the parallel in our own day.
The above post quotes and paraphrases articles by Saint Francis de Sales , notably, The Month of Mary found in “The Saint Francis de Sales Collection” (available on Kindle by Catholic Way) and Venerable Mother Maria de Agreda (Mystical City, Veritatis Splendor Pub.) as well as Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P., here.
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
† St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Please pray for a Pope and hierarchy that will perform the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!