The Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple takes place on Sunday, 21st November 2021. This is a Feast that is celebrated with great joy throughout the world, wherever there are Presentation people.
The content of this year’s novena has been prepared by Sisters from the Conference of Presentation Sisters* who have put together these inspiring reflections. Together with them, we extend an invitation to you to walk with Mary during these days and to listen to the stories of our ‘foremothers’.
“For decades we have delighted in the many images of Mary’s presentation as she walked up the steps of the temple. During this novena, let us walk with Mary up the steps and into the temple.
With her we listen and are enriched by the stories of the biblical women who have come before her and have made societal changes during very challenging times. Let us call upon our foremothers to help us discover the power within ourselves to bring about justice and peace as we continue to meet ‘the signs of the times’ in our day”.
For each day of the 9 days of the novena (starting on Friday 12th November) we will be sharing a brief reflection on that day’s particular theme, alongside the intercessions and prayer focus particular to that day.
Should you wish to, you can download the full content of the novena text in a pdf document at this link: Presentation Day Novena 2021, offering a ‘prayer service’ format.
Day 1: St. Anne – The Mother of Mary
(According to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition, Saint Anne was the mother of Mary and the maternal grandmother of Jesus).
There are some parallels with Anne’s life and Mary’s such as angel’s appearing to Anne and Joachim separately to announce the birth of their child who will be blessed, dedicated to God and part of God’s plan for our salvation as the mother of Jesus. The response of each is a faith response of “yes” to God. Saying yes in a time of uncertainty takes tremendous faith.
What can Anne and Mary teach us about faith?
- For health and safety of all families who are preparing to welcome a new child.
- For the children who are being born into a world of conflict and violence, and for women and mothers who suffer needlessly.
- For all news networks and news casters that they are committed to truth telling and guide us in learning how to respond with the truth.
- For victims and perpetrators of injustice that justice and peace will prevail for all.
- For all those who have been forced into unemployment, who long to return to work.
- For all those who struggle to support their families.
- For our Presentation People in Africa.
Loving God, hear our cries for mercy and peace.
We pray to God with St. Anne for the needs of our times especially for justice and peace in our world. Be with all who suffer, struggle and are caught in the midst of unjust systems.
We pray for protection and support for all families, mothers and women who are soon to be mothers.
We pray in the name of Jesus!
Day 2: Eve – the Mother of Cain & Abel
The story of Eve has many elements to consider. (Genesis 1:27, 2:18, 21-22, 4:1-5; 8). It is a story of a woman birthing two sons and how, because of jealousy, one brother kills the other. I wonder how Eve and Adam dealt with their son Cain after they learn that Cain has killed his brother. Their shared sorrow must have consumed a lot of time and energy.
We have heard the story of how Mary as a young child was taken to the temple to be raised there.
How have we lived out our role as mother, whether that be physical or spiritual mothering?
- Loving Creator, help all mothers to be compassionate with their children as they witness behaviours that go against what they would want for their children.
- Merciful and gracious God, give patience and courage to parents as they deal with the growing pains of their offspring.
- Thank you, God, for gifting us with the parents and models of motherhood that have influenced our lives in a positive way.
- For our Presentation People in Canada and the West Indies.
- For your intentions.
Strengthen us, loving God.
May God give us wisdom, understanding and courage as we deal with the persons in our care. May we trust that we will be guided by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Day 3: Hagar – a trafficked Woman Child
Hagar, the Egyptian slave of Sarah, was given to Abraham’s embrace, since Sarah could not bear a child. This action caused tensions between the two women causing Hagar to run away for her own safety. (Genesis 16:1-6).
Have you ever experienced being mistreated as Hagar was for things beyond your control?
- For the grace to respond with nonviolence when an injustice is happening in your life.
- For God’s healing touch to be felt by those who have experienced injustice in their life.
- For the strength to speak boldly and truthfully to those who continue to harm others through their injustice.
- For the grace to seek God’s help in making difficult decisions that may cause us tension-filled moments.
- For our Presentation People in New Zealand and Latin America.
- For your intentions.
Give us a compassionate heart.
Loving God, I have many thoughts and feelings in praying through this scripture story. Help me to prayerfully consider the whole of situations in which I find myself. There may be times when I react rather than respond to events in my life.
I pray that I will be open to your guidance when I am filled with many conflicting feelings and responses. I want to make the best decisions and with your help and guidance I can do that.
Day 4: Shiphrah and Puah, The Midwives
Shiphrah and Puah were two midwives who prevented a genocide of children by the Egyptians. (Exodus 1:15-21)
The story of the midwives in Exodus is placed just before the story of baby Moses being rescued by his sister Miriam. The action of the midwives is a strong example of courageous women who stood up to the evil king and spoke truth to power and God protected and blessed them.
What parallels can you see from your own life story? What parallels can you see to today’s challenges of equity and social justice?
- For a world where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor.
- For a world where the riches of creation are shared, and everyone can enjoy them.
- For a world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect.
- For a world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
- For our Presentation People in the United States of America.
- Gift us with inspiration and courage to build a more just and peaceful world.
God have mercy on our world!
O God, you have given all peoples one common origin. It is your plan that we be gathered together as one family in yourself.
Fill the hearts of all of us with the fire of your love and with the desire to ensure justice for all. By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure an equality for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
May there be an end to division, strife and war.
May there be a dawning of a new society built on love and peace.
We ask this in the name of Jesus.
Day 5: Miriam, Protector of Baby Moses
Miriam saved her brother Moses’ life when she caused the Pharoah’s daughter to notice baby Moses floating in a basket on the river. She became a prophetess who danced after Moses led the people out of Egypt. (Exodus 2: 1-10).
Despite the low regard for women at that time in history, the story of Moses’ sister would have taught Mary that one person, even a girl like herself, could impact history through a simple caring action.
In what ways do your actions and your presence convey compassion and support for the vulnerable people in your family or community, just as Miriam watched out for her baby brother?
- For children who live in unsafe conditions or suffer from hunger and disease.
- For children separated from their parents due to violence or tragedy.
- For parents, childcare providers, and teachers to respond to children’s needs with love.
- For government leaders to make wise decisions about policies and budget allocations to protect and serve children’s needs.
- For Presentation People around the world to be courageous in their acts of kindness, especially those in India and Pakistan.
God of mercy, hear our prayer.
O God, you teach us to care for our brothers and sisters in need through the example of Miriam. Open our eyes to the sisters and brothers in our homes and our neighbourhoods for whom we can be a compassionate presence. Call us to prayer and action for the vulnerable people in our midst. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Day 6: Ruth, Stranger in a Strange Land
Two widows Naomi and Ruth, two countries, Israel and Moab, are bonded, and lasting repercussions ring throughout history. (Ruth 1-4)
In faithful caring Ruth left her homeland and journeyed with Naomi. Summoned by love she set aside all that defined her and came into a new land. Summoned by love she left her house of origin and became a house of origin in Bethlehem.
As Ruth discovered the power within herself to move “faith into action”, how might I continue to do this today?
- For all people in our global family facing hunger and oppression today as did the people of Israel.
- For women throughout the world, that they may know the strength, the faithfulness and love exhibited by Ruth as she followed her star.
- For acceptance of all peoples as they travel across borders on land and water seeking freedom and peace.
- For our Presentation People in England, Ireland, Slovakia and the Holy Lands.
God of mercy, hear our prayer.
We stand where they once stood,
Listening … hearing in our own world,
New-born this day Life’s insistent cry, the Spirit’s voice.
Let us rise up and follow,
For though the cross hang in our stars
Resurrection shouts in the sunrise,
And the tree of a hundred rings, deep-thrusting
Out of warm darkness lifts to the light Branches vibrant with song.
Day 7: Hannah, Woman of Prayer
Hannah, although barren, was the preferred wife of Elkanah. Peninnah, his other wife had children. Peninnah would constantly torment Hannah causing her to weep and refuse to eat. (1 Samuel 1:9-18)
In ancient Israel children, and especially sons, were regarded as gifts of God, often as the reward for a righteous life. A woman who could not bear children seemed marked with divine disapproval and might well be divorced or pushed aside in disdain by a rival wife. It is striking that so many important mothers in early Hebrew history are described as originally barren. In each case, however, God intervened miraculously to give a son who was destined to preserve or aid his people.
Has there been a time in your life when you have misjudged someone and only later found out the truth about that person?
- May we be seekers of truth and not misjudge others.
- May we learn from Hannah that God always knows the answers to our prayers.
- For our Presentation People in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
God hear us, hear our prayer.
Let us pray Hannah’s Magnificat. (Samuel 2: 1-10)
My heart exults in the Lord, my horn is exalted by my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in your victory.
There is no Holy One like the Lord; there is no rock like our God.
Speak boastfully no longer, do not let arrogance issue from your mouths.
For an all-knowing God is the Lord, a God who weighs actions.
The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry no longer have to toil.
The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes.
The Lord puts to death and gives life, casts down to Sheol and brings up again.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich, humbles, and also exalts.
He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he has set the world upon them.
He guards the footsteps of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall perish in the darkness;
for not by strength does one prevail.
The Lord’s foes shall be shattered; the Most High in heaven thunders;
the Lord judges the ends of the earth.
May he give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
Day 8: Abigail – peacemaker
Closing Prayer – Prayer of Saint Francis:
Day 9: Esther, Speaker of Truth to Power
In the 6th century BC, the Jews were an oppressed people scattered in an early diaspora and living at the whim of a King. At peril of her own life, Queen Esther advocated for her people. (Book of Esther 1-10).
Esther, at first obedient and compliant, joined the harem and later assumed the crown of queen. But learning that all her people would be killed in a genocide (such as we see happening still today), she turned to fasting and prayer before appearing before the king and facing the possibility of her own death. While speaking “truth to power” she saved the entire people of Israel from death
What can we do to combat the evils of systemic racism, of gun violence, of blatant injustice?
- For all who are threatened unjustly from whatever cause.
- For all those people in power who close their minds and hearts to the truth.
- For the grace to listen and truly hear those in our midst who are moving with the Spirit.
- For all members of the Nagle and Rice family though-out the world.
God of mercy, hear our prayer.
We call on the holy women who went before us,
Channels of your word in testaments old and new,
To intercede for us so that we might be given the grace
To become what they have been for the honour and glory of God.
(A Litany of Women for the Church, Joan Chittister OSB)
Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today we celebrate the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in communion with thousands of Presentation People and Friends of Nano around the world. This feast day story is not found in the Bible, but it helps us imagine the ways Mary prepared to respond to God’s call.
Through the prayers of this novena, we celebrated some women in the Hebrew scriptures whose life stories likely informed Mary’s faith and helped her offer a courageous “Yes!” to God’s call.
Even as we celebrate Mary’s call to bring Christ to birth, we are mindful of the needs of all of creation for restoration to wholeness: people, living creatures, Earth, the entire natural universe. The injustices and sufferings on our planet can seem overwhelming. We need each other to bolster our sense of hope. We need to celebrate the stories of heroes like Nano Nagle & Presentation People who have gone before us. These inspiring people boost our resilience in our efforts to share hospitality and persevere in justice work to restore right relationships in our world.
The angel went to (Mary) and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” In a loud voice (Elizabeth) exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” (Luke 1:28, 42).
In what ways is God calling you to deepen your commitment to Christ and say “Yes!” again today?
Faithful God, you create us in your image and draw us ever closer to you through our vows, promises, and commitments. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our foundress Venerable Nano Nagle, help us grow in communion with all Presentation People and Friends of Nano around the world as we courageously respond together to the needs of our times.
Bless the next generations of Presentation People and Friends of Nano with inspiration to rejoice in your call to say “Yes!” as Mary and Nano did. Be with us in our joy today as we celebrate our connections with the global Presentation family on this Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Presentation Day Blessings to each and all!
Additional post content will be added as we go through the week together. Abundant blessings for the journey.
Note: This Novena text has been prepared by the Sisters from the Conference of Presentation Sisters*:
Sr. Rita Jovick (San Francisco), Sr. Marilyn Medau (San Francisco), Sr. Mary Jaeger (Aberdeen), Sr. Elaine Garry (Aberdeen), Sr. Vicky Larson (Aberdeen) and Lisa Olson, (Conference of Presentation Sisters).