The Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple is celebrated by all Presentation people throughout the world. Mary, who knows how to listen.
In the lead up to November 21st, Presentation Day we share together a period of reflection and prayer.
“As we make this journey, let us be inspired by mystery seen at the heart of Mary. Throughout her lifetime she was beckoned by the Spirit of God to understand who God was and what God was asking of her, and she responded with trust and courage. Like Mary, we are called to embrace mystery in our lives. … We are being beckoned to open our hearts and minds, to listen to what is emerging and to respond to what is being asked of us as followers of Nano Nagle in today’s world.” (Congregational Leadership Team)
The story of Mary’s presentation is not in scripture but is an apocryphal story appearing in other early Christian writings. Anna and Joaquim, Mary’s parents, presented Mary in the Temple as a gesture of gratitude to God for the end of a painful time in their lives. This “miracle” child, according to the Protoevangelicum of James, was the answer to infertility of a couple who waited with longing and prayer for a child. Anna and Joaquim’s response to the prophecy and gift was to promise to give Mary over to Temple life until she was at least 14 years old.
The Church wants to emphasise not so much the historical event in itself, of which there is no trace in the Gospels, but the total gift that Mary made of herself, by listening: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it” (Lk. 11:28). This experience prepared the young girl from Nazareth to become the “temple of the Son of God”.
The celebration of this feast dates back to the 6th century in the East with the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New, built by the Emperor Justinian I near the ruins of the temple in Jerusalem. There is evidence that various monasteries in Italy celebrated the feast in the 9th century. However, it was not until the 15th century that it was included in the Roman Missal.
On this feast day the Church also celebrates the World Day of Cloistered Life.
Mary, who knows how to listen
Mary is the woman who knows how to listen, who knows how to contemplate, who knows how to refer everything to her Son – “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn. 2:5). Mary is the One who never abandoned her Son Jesus, not even along the way of the Cross. She “stood” under the Cross. She is a disciple who never abandons the Lord Jesus, who always “stands behind” Him. Because of this we are called to look at Mary so as to learn from her, to entrust themselves to her intercession.
Our journey of faith is the same as that of Mary, and so we feel that she is particularly close to us.
Let us entrust to Mary, our journey of faith, the desires of our heart, our needs and the needs of the whole world, especially of those who hunger and thirst for justice and peace.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
To find out more about Presentation Day explore the following links: