The early annals of the Presentation Congregation record that the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple was the date chosen by Nano in 1782, to receive two young women into the novitiate. Nano’s choice of this day for this ceremony, indicates that this Feast had a special place in her spirituality. Following Nano’s death, her fledging Congregation continued to choose this day to receive women into novitiate. Nano Nagle recognised in this feast an expression of Mary’s total self-giving to God.
The Church liturgy for this feast speaks of Mary as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and prays ‘that we like her may be presented on the Temple of God’s glory.’ This ancient prayer from the liturgy offers us a means of understanding Nano’s devotion and continues to provide new insights into how to be Presentation people today.
Called to prayer and action
In the book ‘Nano Nagle and An Evolving Charism,’ Mary L. Coloe, pbvm writes:
“The Feast of the Presentation celebrates a meeting point, when Mary, the new Temple and dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, is presented to the former Temple of Israel. Israel’s Temple represented by the High Priest, recognises and welcomes the New Temple, Mary.
The Jerusalem Temple is no longer needed as the dwelling place of God’s glory; there is a new indwelling of the Spirit, heralded first in Mary (celebrated in the Eastern feast of the Presentation of Mary), and then in Jesus (celebrated in the Western feast of the Presentation of Jesus)” *.
Nano Nagle responds to this indwelling of the Spirit and her ‘Yes’ to the call of God by going out amidst those ‘made poor’ in the lanes of Cork, undertaking a challenging and exhausting ministry that will make a difference to their lives and the lives of many, in a practical way. However, Nano Nagle was also a courageous and relentless social advocate, not content to serve the needs of those in front of her, she was passionate about naming and changing the system in 18th century Penal Ireland that allowed this deprivation to prevail. Reiterating the words written by Sr. Mary Coloe:
“Nano Nagle encountered God in both the solitude of her prayer and in her passionate love for the poor. She was called to prayer and action, to solitude and crowded lanes.”
Nano Nagle in the midst of a busy and exhausting ministry in the lanes of Cork city, also spent much time in prayer. Indeed, it is true to say prayer informed each step of ‘Nano’s way’ of doing and being.
Living Nano’s legacy today
In our commitment to live as Presentation People our current Provincial Leadership Team describe ‘who they are as Presentation Sisters’ today:
“Called to live as consecrated women, we strive to witness to joyful, reflective, compassionate service, constantly calling ourselves to be aware of, and where possible to help those who find themselves on the edge, forgotten and neglected.
“The quality of our presence, our prayerfulness, and the gift of our lives are of untold value for Presentation life and mission” ~ Our Way of Life, C11.
We are sustained in our commitment by our contemplative practices, and our life and relationships in community.”(An extract from the Vision Statement, of the Leadership Team, NE Province – August 2020).
Together with Presentation People everywhere, we continue to share in the dream of Nano Nagle (Founder of the Presentation Congregation)”.
“Nano, the lantern carrier, worked to achieve the vision of ‘good news to the poor’ in her age, and our task is no less worthy. […] The world cries out for people who can look at reality from a contemplative stance and see how to act collaboratively for justice for people and planet so that creation is birthing and not dying. Given the growing ecological consciousness in the world, Presentation spirituality is most relevant. The world, our ‘oikis,’ needs to become more and more visibly a place where God’s Spirit is at home.”
(Page 148 – Mary L. Coloe, pbvm in ‘Nano Nagle and An Evolving Charism’, edited by Bernadette Flanagan, Mary T. O’Brien and Anne M. O’Leary).
Nano Nagle Pray for Us! Mary of the Presentation, Pray for Us!
The Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple is celebrated on the 21st November each year. You can join with us in ‘Praying the Novena for Presentation Day 2022’ which will be posted on our website in the lead up to the feast day.
*Note: (Ref: Pages 140 to 148) Chapter ‘Presented in the Temple of God’s Glory’ by Mary L. Coloe, pbvm in ‘Nano Nagle and An Evolving Charism’, edited by Bernadette Flanagan, Mary T. O’Brien and Anne M. O’Leary).
Mary Coloe is an Associate Professor at the University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia where she lectures in New Testament. She has authored and edited a number of books, journal articles and essays primarily on the Gospel of John.
‘Oikis’ – in the bible means an inhabited house, home, the house of God, the tabernacle or any dwelling place, the inmates of a house, all the persons forming one family, a household, the family of God, of the Christian Church, of the church of the Old and New Testaments.