During the thousand years that the Temple of Jerusalem had been built there had been kept within its walls many very solemn feasts, but there never had been one so holy and solemn as was that whereon the most precious Virgin offered herself to God, and was presented by her parents to the Divine Majesty.

The principal subject of this solemnity, the mystery of Mary’s Presentation, is very great and marvelous.

In this mystery there may be considered seven persons, the most noble, holy and worthy in the world, who render both the mystery and the feast very honorable and altogether admirable.

The first to be noted is the admirable little Mary, who is the most excellent of all persons, after the three Persons Eternal.

Secondly, we behold St. Joachim and St. Ann, of all persons in the world the most honorable, after their incomparable daughter, since they were father and mother of this future Mother of God.

In the third place, there were several of their relatives, their kindred and neighbors, among whom very probably was St. Joseph. He was of the city of Nazareth and of the same tribe, doubtless a relative of St. Joachim and St. Ann. We may conjecture that he took part in the joy at the favor God had done them in delivering them from the opprobrium of barrenness. He probably accompanied them in their journey to Jerusalem to present their daughter to God in the Temple.

Fourthly, there were the priests of the Temple who were in the office and actual exercise of their ministry. Among them, on this occasion, was St. Zachary, soon to be the father of the Precursor.

Fifthly, we behold the blessed Anna, the prophetess, who is canonized in the holy Gospel for her rare piety and great sanctity. She was eighty-four years old when Our Lord was presented in the Temple, and had lived there more than fifty years.

Sixthly, St. Gabriel, the Angel Guardian of the Queen of Angels, was there, and with him the guardian Angels of St. Joachim, St. Ann, St. Joseph, the Angels of the city of Nazareth, of Jerusalem and of all Judea. Perhaps even all the Angels were present. At least, it is highly probable that there were a great number of all the nine choirs composing the innumerable army of these celestial spirits.

And, especially, I can readily persuade myself that those whom Divine Providence destined as guardians of the persons whom It foresaw would belong particularly to the Queen of Heaven by their special devotion towards her, were present on that solemn occasion and played therein a special part, by beginning to serve and honor her in the name and on the part of those whose tutelary Angels they should one day become. Finally, in the seventh place, we behold there by the light of faith, the three adorable Persons of the most Holy Trinity.

But let us consider what part these holy and divine persons took in the grand solemnity of the Presentation of our blessed Infant.

And, in the first place, let us observe what transpired in Mary, exteriorly and interiorly.

From the first moment of her entrance into the Temples she realizes that she is in the house of God, a house not less holy than heaven and meriting the same veneration and respect, since the God of heaven makes His dwelling there. She persuades herself that she is as much in the presence of God as the Angels in the empyrean heaven, and, consequently, comports herself with marvelous reverence, piety and devotion. There is, in her deportment, nothing puerile nor childish; on the contrary, it is marked by profound recollection and angelic modesty. She does not gaze about; her eyes are modestly lowered. She observes profound silence, speaking only to God. This divine Infant is in the Temple, who is herself a true, living temple, the temple of the Divinity, more august and incomparably more holy than this material Temple. And, nevertheless, she humbles herself profoundly, esteeming herself unworthy to be in this holy place. Her demeanor is full of reverence. She does not stand nor recline upon silken cushions, although she is a royal princess; she does not seek ease upon the benches or chairs, but kneeling upon the pavement of the Temple, or prostrate with her face on the ground, she adores God. Such is her exterior.

But of her interior sentiments who shall be able to speak? All her mind, her heart, her will, all the powers and affections of her soul are concentrated upon God.

She contemplates, adores, praises, loves, glorifies Him, and offers, consecrates and sacrifices herself entirely to His Divine Majesty. She renders to God adoration and praise more holy and more agreeable to Him than all which has risen from this Temple during the thousand years it has been in existence. In a word, on beholding her one would say that she was not a child nor a human being, but a Seraph who had assumed the form of a child.

St. Joachim and St. Ann, father and mother of this admirable Infant, adore, praise and glorify God, together with their holy Child. They render Him a thousand thanks for having bestowed upon them so precious a treasure. They offer her to the Divine Majesty with humility, devotion and love altogether inexpressible.

St. Joseph and the other relatives, friends and neighbors of Joachim and Ann, rejoice at the favor God has done them. They bless Him for having made this infant so perfect, and they had abundantly more reason to remark of her that which the neighbors of St. Zachary and St. Elizabeth said of the little St. John Baptist at his birth: “What a one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him.” (1)

The priests of the Temple received with joy and admiration this holy Child, as a sacred victim which they offered to God with extraordinary devotion excited in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. They knew not the secret of this mystery, unless perhaps St. Zachary, who was high priest at that time and engaged in the exercise of his ministry. St. Germain, Patriarch of Constantinople, and George, Archbishop of Nicomedia, tell us that Zachary, being in the Temple on that occasion, received our divine Infant, who was his relative, and placed her among the virgins who lived in community in a dwelling adjoining the Temple. He offered to God this holy and immaculate host, thereby rendering more glory to the Divine Majesty than that which accrued to It from all the sacrifices ever offered in the Temple.

What were the emotions of the holy prophetess Anna? She dwelt among the virgins and widows who had retired into the Temple, and, apparently, had authority over them. She considered attentively all that passed, and her eyes and heart were so irresistibly drawn towards this amiable Child that she never lost sight of her. She waited with eager longing the consolation of Israel, that is, the Savior of the world. She knew that according to the oracles of the Prophets, His advent was at hand and that He was to be born of a Virgin. Being a Prophetess, she was filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, and conceived great hope that this tiny Virgin was to be His Mother. On this account, the holy Anna entertained towards the little Mary sentiments of profound respect and affection, and lavished extraordinary care upon her during her sojourn in the Temple.

St. Gabriel and the other Angels considered attentively the mysteries that were enacted, and riveted their gaze upon the seraphic little Mary and upon whatever she did.

St. Gabriel rejoiced and rendered thanks to God for the very signal favor with which he had been honored in having been constituted guardian of her who was to be Mother, nurse, ruler and guardian of the King of Seraphim. All the other Angels rejoiced with him, and blessed God together with him for having chosen one from among their number for so glorious an employment.

The Angel Guardians of St. Joachim, St. Ann, St. Joseph, of the cities of Nazareth, Jerusalem and all Judea, make jubilee and give a thousand thanks to God on account of this admirable Child, whom they regard and honor as the true Judith who shall cut off the head of the proud Holofernes and shall be the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel and the honor of the people of God, but especially of her parents and of him who shall have the happiness and glory of being her spouse.

The Seraphim marvel to behold in the heart of this Child a furnace of divine love more glowing than that in their own hearts.

The Cherubim, in astonishment, behold a daughter of Adam, in the midst of the darkness of this earth, all replenished and environed with the beautiful light of heaven.

The Thrones admire her as the most high throne of the Divinity.

The Dominations revere her as one who, bearing the name of Mary, is Sovereign Lady of the Universe, even in her infancy, although, as yet, she has not the use of her sovereignty.

The Virtues honor her as the most worthy sanctuary of all virtues.

The Powers respect her as one to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth, and who has, after the Almighty, more power than all the inhabitants of heaven.

The Principalities honor her as the greatest Princess in the kingdom of God.

The Archangels are ravished to behold this tiny creature so marvelous.

The Angels glorify God for having rendered a Child of three years more pure, more holy and more agreeable to His Divine Majesty, than all the heavenly spirits.

The Angels whom God has destined to guard those whom He foresees will belong particularly to this admirable Virgin by reason of their special devotion towards her, commence from this instant, in the name of their future clients to serve and honor her, as their Queen, their Mother, their Protectress, their hope and consolation.

Finally, all the angelic Choirs give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for having made of this earth a heaven and elevated it above heaven, since It placed therein the little Mary in whom and by whom the Divine Majesty is more loved and glorified than by all the inhabitants of the empyrean heaven. Thus did all the Angels keep this great feast.

Let us, with the eye of faith, here contemplate the three Eternal Persons of the Most Adorable Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us consider and adore what They have done. Oh, how They regard this admirable Infant, the first object of Their love! What complaisance do They not take in her humility, her piety, her love and all her actions, attended with so great perfection!

It seems to me I hear the voice of the Eternal Father saying of her what He will one day declare regarding His Son, Jesus: “This is my beloved Daughter in whom I am well pleased.” The voice of the Son exclaims: “This is My most amiable Mother, chosen from all eternity from among an infinity of others.” While the voice of the Holy Spirit resounds throughout the universe: “This is My most worthy and dear Spouse, whom I love above all pure creatures.” Oh, how pleasing to Them was the holy and immaculate host offered on that day in the Temple! And if Divine Bounty renders a hundredfold and a thousand times a hundredfold to those who renounce all, what must It have rendered to St. Joachim and St. Ann in return for this precious gift? What abundance of light, what profusion of grace inundated the minds and hearts of the father and the mother, and still more of the daughter!

O great God, Who didst make fire descend from heaven to consume the material sacrifice of Elias, what fire, what flames, were lighted up in the sacred hearts of Joachim, Ann and Mary, three hearts which were but one, to consume the holy victim they there offered! On the one hand, this blessed and amiable Child presents herself, gives, consecrates and immolates herself entirely, with all her heart, to the glory of the Divine Majesty; and, on the other hand, Divine Bounty receives and accepts the gift and appropriates it to Itself, taking full possession of it and uniting it to the Divinity by a union the closest possible, enclosing this precious gift in Its bosom and heart, preparing to operate in her and by her the grandest marvels of all powerful Bounty, disposing this Child to become the Mother of the Redeemer and to cooperate with Him in the work of our salvation. She must also become our true Mother, to whom the Eternal God will communicate His power, His wisdom and His bounty, to the end that she may be able, that she may know how, and that she may be willing to extricate us from all sorts of miseries and bestow upon us all sorts of good. Immortal and infinite thanks be given to Thee, most adorable Trinity!

O divine Infant, I give myself to thee with all my heart, together with all who are mine. Employ the great power God has given thee to take entire and perfect possession of us. Present us and immolate us with thyself to the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity.


This article was excerpted from The Wondrous Childhood of the Most Holy Mother of God, Preserving Christian Publications, 2000, First Part, Chapter 25.

Notes

(1) “Quid, putas, puer iste erit? Etenim manus Domini erat cum illo” Lk. 1:66.