Posted by: Catholic of Thule | February 2, 2011

The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, also called Candlemass Day or the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. Many Catholics meditate on the presentation regularly as it is also the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, in which, in the words of the late Holy Father, Venerable John Paul II,

the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer’ (Rosarium Virginis Mariae).

The late Holy Father goes on to say that the task of ‘every of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us is to

look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and the sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendour definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father….In contemplating Christ’s face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life, experiencing ever anew the love of the Father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul’s words can then be applied to us: “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18)’. This ‘contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary.

One of the things that often appear very poignant in the recitation is how the words of the prayers remain the same through joy, sorrow, and glory. We can imagine Our Lady praying with us ‘Our Father, Who art in Heaven; Hallowed be thy Name, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’ at the foot of the cross no less than at the annunciation, the nativity or the resurrection. We call her blessed amongst women and the fruit of her womb blessed to no greater degree at the rejoicing at the birth of Christ, and in awe and joy at His glorification,  than at the suffering of his passion and death. Among other things, this helps illustrate the important fact about love that it does not consist in fuzzy feelings, which come and go and may be in or out of sync with a real, active, and true love. Rather it has to do with self-offering, with giving all and suffering all for the beloved as shown us in Christ – a challenging but beautiful truth. And our Lady is not only the incomparable model of our contemplation of Christ, but the incomparable model of our conforming to Christ in continuance of our prayers and the very channel through which we receive graces from God and through which we may best offer ourselves back to Him.

In a preeminent sense we encounter in the Presentation both the joy and sorrow.  The fourth Joyful Mystery overlaps to a great extent with the First Sorrow of Mary, ‘The Prophecy of Simeon’. We imagine the young virgin Mary, totally devoted to God throughout her entire life and without the slightest stain of sin to mar her capacity for love, joy, and wonder, as she proceeds joyfully towards Jerusalem to present her child, her Saviour and her God to the Lord ‘as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’.  Yet, she would have known of the suffering servant even when she gave her Fiat and consented to become the tabernacle and Mother of the God-Man. The knowledge would surely not have been absent from her mind even as she marvelled at the words of Simeon: ‘…for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to thy people Israel’.

Then it is brought out in full by the Prophecy of Simeon:

Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.

No creature has had such a capacity to love as the Mother of God, as her sanctity has no equal among creatures. Thus no creature has had such a capacity for sorrow and suffering as Our Lady, nor greater occasion for it.

The sorrows of the Mother of God surpassed the power of human endurance. It is the unanimous opinion of spiritual writers that beneath the pressure of her inconceivable sufferings, the Blessed Virgin’s life was miraculously preserved. From the moment of Simeon’s prophecy, she foresaw her sorrows in vivid reality. Without the special aid of God’s omnipotence, her soul would have been separated from her body. (Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother)

Mary stood at the foot of the cross completing the offering of the Presentation and what she offered was more than her whole life. We all know that the love of a good mother is such that they would much prefer to suffer all than see their children suffer. Mary’s love for her Son far surpassed that of any other mother for her child, both due to her incomparable sanctity, and thus her incomparable capacity for love and her incomparable devotion to God,  and due to the identity of her Son.

She was His mother, a mother more loving than all other mothers, loving as never yet a mother loved, loving more than all mothers combined could love, even if their thousandfold affections were united into one inexpressible act of love. In her heart were united natural love, by which she loved Jesus as her Son, and supernatural love, by which she loved Him as her God. Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother

And what love she had for God! So imagine this love for Son and God combined by a creature with such a capacity for love! By this we can begin to catch a glimpse of the intensity both of her sorrow and joy and the manner in which she is our model of loving union with God but also our means to draw closer to this ideal according to the measure available to us.

How can we begin to present ourselves to God and offer ourselves to Him when we have but little love and a thousand weaknesses and selfish inclinations? By trusting in the Mother of God by whose hands God chose to present and dedicate His own Son, God and Man, to Himself – a dedication which was fulfilled on the Cross, when God the Son Himself made satisfaction for our sins by his suffering and death in His human nature. As Catholics we know that Christ gave us His Mother to be our Mother at the cross. What can then be more natural than to ask our divinely given spiritual Mother to present ourselves to God to be conformed into the image of her Divine Son when we are as unable to manage on our own spiritually as an infant child is to take care of himself physically?

In Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Venerable John Paul II points out that

Insistent prayer to the Mother of God is based on confidence that her maternal intercession can obtain all things from the heart of her Son. She is “all-powerful by grace”, to use the bold expression, which needs to be properly understood, of Blessed Bartolo Longo in his Supplication to Our Lady. This is a conviction which, beginning with the Gospel, has grown ever more firm in the experience of the Christian people.

And what we need above everything to obtain from God are the graces to offer ourselves fully to God, to fulfill the unique task He has for each individual and to move, in accordance with the graces given to each, towards the prayer of union in a life marked by charity – true love.

To this end, we could do worse than to look at the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort on True Devotion to Mary, as recommended by the late Holy Father himself:

…my episcopal motto: Totus Tuus.The motto is of course inspired by the teaching of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, who explained in the following words Mary’s role in the process of our configuration to Christ: “Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ. (Rosarium Virginis Mariae)



  1. What a beautifully written and well presented post. There is so much wisdom in it and so much to really consider.

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