Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple -November 21st
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The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Religious parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to God, His divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some among the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the Temple, to be brought up in quarters attached to the Temple, attending the priests and Levites in their sacred ministry. There were special divisions in these lodgings for the women and children dedicated to the divine service. (III Kings 6:5-9) We have examples of this special consecration of children in the person of Samuel, for example. Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple of Jerusalem. It is very probable that the holy prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna, who witnessed the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, as we read in the second chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke (verses 25 ff.) had known His Mother as a little girl in the Temple and observed her truly unique sanctity.

It is an ancient and very trustworthy tradition that the Blessed Virgin was thus solemnly offered in the Temple to God at the age of three by Her parents, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim. The Gospel tells us nothing of the childhood of Mary; Her title Mother of God, eclipses all the rest. Where, better than in the Temple, could Mary be prepared for Her mission? Twelve years of recollection and prayer, contemplation and sufferings, were the preparation of the chosen one of God. The tender soul of Mary was adorned with the most precious graces and became an object of astonishment and praise for the holy Angels, as well as of the highest complacency for the adorable Trinity. The Father looked upon Her as His beloved Daughter, the Son as One set apart and prepared to become His Mother, and the Holy Ghost as His undefiled Spouse.

Here is how Mary's day in the Temple was apportioned, according to Saint Jerome. From dawn until nine in the morning, She prayed; from 9:00 until 3:00 She applied Herself to manual work; then She turned again to prayer. She was always the first to undertake night watches, the One most applied to study, the most fervent in the chanting of Psalms, the most zealous in works of charity, the purest among the virgins, Her companions, the most perfect in the practice of every virtue. On this day She appears as the standard-bearer for Christian virginity: after Her will come countless legions of virgins consecrated to the Lord, both in the shadow of the altars or engaged in the charitable occupations of the Church in the world. Mary will be their eternal Model, their dedicated Patroness, their sure guide on the paths of perfection.
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21 NOVEMBER – THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger

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The exceedingly pure temple of the Saviour, the inestimable sheep, the holy Virgin, the sacred ark containing the treasure of the divine majesty, is led today into the house of the Lord. To there she brings the grace of the divine Spirit, while the Angels of God sing her praises, saying: “Truly she is the heavenly tabernacle.” The Creator, Author and Lord of all things, out of His incomprehensible mercy and compassion, bent down towards us and seeing the creature He had made with His own hands fallen away, He in his pity, deigned to restore it by a sublimer work than the creation: for He, so good and merciful, emptied Himself, and in the mystery by which He freely took on Him our nature, He associated the immaculate Virgin Mary with Himself.

The Word of God, our Redeemer, willing to show Himself for our sake in the flesh, brought the Virgin into this world and honoured the coming of that spotless one with new and stupendous gifts: for He gave her as the fruit and reward of prayer, and promised and announced her to Joachim and Anne. Her parents believed the word, and with joyful love they vowed to offer her to the Lord. The lovely Virgin being born according to the divine decree, her holy parents led her to the temple, to fulfil their promise and give her to her Creator. Anne in her joy thus cried out to the priest: “Receive this child, lead her into the most secluded parts of the temple surround her with all care, for she was given to me as the fruit of my prayers, and in the joy of my faith I promised to devote her to God her Creator.”

The Presentation is one of the minor solemnities of our Lady, and was inscribed at a comparatively late date on the sacred Cycle. It seems to court the homage of our silent contemplation. The world, unknown to itself, is ruled by the secret prayers of the just, and the Queen of saints, in her hidden mysteries, wrought far more powerfully than the so-called great men whose noisy achievements fill the annals of the human race.

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The East had been celebrating for seven centuries at least the entrance of the Mother of God into the temple of Jerusalem, when in 1372 Gregory XI permitted it to be kept for the first time by the Roman court at Avignon. Mary in return broke the chains of captivity that had bound the Papacy for seventy years, and soon the successor of Saint Peter returned to Rome. The feast of the Visitation, as we saw on July 2nd, was in like manner inserted in the Western Calendar to commemorate the re-establishment of unity after the schism which followed the exile.

In 1373, following the example of the Sovereign Pontiff, Charles V of France introduced the feast of the Presentation into the chapel of his palace. By letters dated 10th November 1874 to the masters and students of the college of Navarre, he expressed his desire that it should be celebrated throughout the kingdom:
Quote:“Charles, by the grace of God king of the Franks, to our dearly beloved: health in him who ceases not to honour his Mother on Earth. Among other objects of our solicitude, of our daily care and diligent meditation, that which rightly occupies our first thoughts is, that the blessed Virgin and most holy Empress be honoured by us with very great love, and praised as becomes the veneration due to her. For it is our duty to glorify her; and we, who raise the eyes of our soul to her on high, know what an incomparable protectress she is to all, how powerful a mediatrix with her blessed Son, for those who honour her with a pure heart... Wherefore, wishing to excite our faithful people to solemnise the said feast, as we ourselves propose to do by God’s assistance every year of our life, we send this Office to your devotion, in order to increase your joy.”

Such was the language of princes in those days. Now just at that very time, the wise and pious king, following up the work begun at Bretigny by our Lady of Chartres, rescued France from its fallen and dismembered condition. In the State then, as well as in the Church, at this moment so critical for both, our Lady in her Presentation commanded the storm, and the smile of the infant Mary dispersed the clouds. The new feast, enriched with Indulgences by Paul II, had gradually become general when Saint Pius V, wishing to diminish the number of Offices on the universal Calendar, included this one among his suppressions. But Sixtus V restored it to the Roman Breviary in 1585, and shortly afterwards Clement VIII raised it to the rank of Double Major. Soon the Clergy and Regulars adopted the custom of renewing their holy vows on this day on which their Queen had opened before them the way that leads by sacrifice to the special love of our Lord.

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“Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear, and forget your people and your father’s house: and the King will greatly desire your beauty.” Thus, wording the wishes of the daughters of Tyre, sang the Church of the expectation, on the summit of Mount Moriah, and penetrating the future with her inspired glance, she added: “After her will virgins be brought to the King, her neighbours will be brought to you. They will be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they will be brought into the temple of the King.” Hailed beforehand as “beautiful above the sons of men,” this King, the most mighty, makes on this day a prelude to His conquests; and even this beginning is wonderful. Through the graceful infant now mounting the temple steps, He takes possession of that temple whose priests will hereafter vainly disown Him: for this child, whom the temple welcomes today, is His throne. Already his fragrance precedes and announces Him, in the Mother in whose bosom He is to be anointed with the oil of gladness as the Christ among His brethren. Already the Angels hail her as the Queen whose fruitful virginity will give birth to all those consecrated souls who keep for the divine Spouse the myrrh and the incense of their holocausts, those daughters of kings, who are to form her court of honour (Psalm xliv.).

But our Lady’s Presentation also opens new horizons before the Church. On the Cycle of the Saints, which is not so precisely limited as that of the Time, the mystery of Mary’s sojourn in the sanctuary of the Old Covenant is our best preparation for the approaching season of Advent. Mary, led to the temple in order to prepare in retirement, humility and love for her incomparable destiny, had also the mission of perfecting at the foot of the figurative altar the prayer of the human race, of itself ineffectual to draw down the Saviour from heaven. She was, as Saint Bernardine of Siena says, the happy completion of all the waiting and supplication for the coming of the Son of God. In her, as in their culminating point, all the desires of the saints who had preceded her found their consummation and their term.

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Through her wonderful understanding of the Scriptures, and her conformity, daily and hourly, to the minutest teachings and prescriptions of the Mosaic ritual, Mary everywhere found and adored the Messiah hidden under the letter. She united herself to Him, immolated herself with Him in each of the many victims sacrificed before her eyes, and thus she rendered to the God of Sinai the homage, hitherto vainly expected, of the Law understood, practised and made to fructify, in all the fullness that beseemed its divine Legislator. Then could Jehovah truly say: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and return no more thither, but soak the earth and water it, and make it to spring:... so will my word be: it will not return to me void, but it will do whatever I please” (Isaias lv. 10, 11). Supplying thus for the deficiencies of the Gentiles as well as of the Synagogue, Mary beheld in the Bride of the Canticle the Church of the future. In our name she addressed her supplications to Him whom she recognised as the Bridegroom, without however knowing that He was to be her own Son. Such yearnings of love, coming from her, were sufficient to obtain from the divine Word pardon for the infidelities of the past, and the immorality into which the wandering world was plunging deeper and deeper. How well did this Ark of the New Covenant replace that of the Jews, which had perished with the first temple! It was for her, though he knew it not, that Herod the Gentile had continued the construction of the second temple, after it had remained desolate since the time of Zorobabel, for the temple, like the tabernacle before it, was but the home of the ark destined to be God’s throne. But greater was the glory of the second temple which sheltered the reality, than of the first which contained but the figure.

The Greeks have chosen for the Lessons of the feast the passages of Scripture which describe the carrying of the Ark into the tabernacle of the desert (Exodus xl.) and afterwards into the temple of Jerusalem (3 Kings viii.). The historical Lesson relates the traditions concerning the oblation of the Blessed Virgin by her holy parents to God in the temple at the age of three years, there to dwell until, after the lapse of 12 years, the mystery of our salvation was to be accomplished in her.

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“Congratulate me, all ye that love the Lord, because when I was a little one I pleased the Most High.” Such is the invitation you address to us, O Mary, in the Office chanted in your honour, and on what feast could you do so more appropriately? When, even more little in your humility than by your tender age, you mounted, in your sweet purity, the steps of the temple, all Heaven must have owned that it was henceforth just for the Most High to take His delight in our Earth. Having hitherto lived in retirement with your blessed parents, this was your first public act. It showed you for a moment to the eyes of men, only to withdraw thee immediately into deeper obscurity. But, as you were officially offered and presented to the Lord, He Himself doubtless, surrounded by the princes of his court, presented you not less solemnly to those noble spirits as their Queen. In the fullness of the new light that then burst upon them, they understood at once your incomparable greatness, the majesty of the temple where Jehovah was receiving a homage superior to that of their Nine Choirs, and the august prerogative of the Old Testament to have you for its daughter, and to perfect by its teachings and guidance during those 12 years, the formation of the Mother of God.

Holy Church, however, declares that we can imitate you, O Mary, in this mystery of your Presentation, as in all others. Deign to bless especially those privileged souls who, by the grace of their vocation, are even here below dwellers in the house of the Lord: may they be like that fruitful olive enriched by the Holy Spirit, to which Saint John Damascene compares you. But is not every Christian, by reason of his Baptism, an indweller and a member of the Church, God’s true sanctuary, prefigured by that of Moriah? May we, through your intercession, follow you so closely in your Presentation, even here in the land of shadows, that we may deserve to be presented after you to the Most High in the temple of His glory.

Also on this day according to the ROMAN MARTYROLOGY:

The birthday of blessed Rufus, mentioned by the blessed Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans.
At Rome, the martyrdom of the Saints Celsus and Clement.
At Ostia, the holy martyrs Demetrius and Honorius.
At Rheims, St. Albert, bishop of Liege and martyr, who was put to death for defending the liberties of the Church.
In Spain, the holy martyrs Honorius, Eutychius and Stephen.
In Pamphylia, St. Heliodorus, martyr, in the persecution of Aurelian under the governor Aetius. After his death his executioners were converted to the faith and thrown into the sea.
At Rome, St. Gelasius, pope, distinguished for learning and sanctity.
At Verona, St. Maurus, bishop and confessor.
In the monastery of Bobio, the departure from this life of St. Columban, abbot, who founded many convents and governed a large number of monks. He died at an advanced age, celebrated for many virtues.
And in other places, many other holy martyrs, confessors and virgins.

Thanks be to God.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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Taken from:

The Mystical City of God

HER PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE

Treats of the Presentation of the Princess of Heaven in the Temple, the Favors She Received at the Hand of God, the Sublime Perfection with which She Observed the Rules of the Temple, the Heavenly Excellence of Her Heroic Virtues and Visions, Her Most Holy Espousal and other Events up to the Incarnation of the Son of God.

The three years’ time decreed by the Lord having been completed, Joachim and Anne set out from Nazareth, accompanied by a few kindred and bringing with them the true living Ark of the covenant, the most holy Mary, borne on the arms of her mother in order to be deposited in the holy temple of Jerusalem. The beautiful Child, by her fervent and loving aspirations, hastened after the ointments of her Beloved, seeking in the temple Him, whom She bore in her heart. This humble procession was scarcely noticed by earthly creatures, but it was invisibly accompanied by the angelic spirits, who, in order to celebrate this event, had hastened from heaven in greater numbers than ordinary as her bodyguard, and were singing in heavenly strains the glory and praise of the Most High. The Princess of heaven heard and saw them as She hastened her beautiful steps along in the sight of the highest and the true Solomon. Thus they pursued their journey from Nazareth to the holy city of Jerusalem, and also the parents of the holy child Mary felt in their hearts great joy and consolation of spirit.

They arrived at the holy temple, and the blessed Anne on entering took her Daughter and Mistress by the hand, accompanied and assisted by saint Joachim. All three offered a devout and fervent prayer to the Lord; the parents offering to God their Daughter, and the most holy Child, in profound humility, adoration and worship, offering up Herself. She alone perceived that the Most High received and accepted Her, and, amid divine splendor which filled the temple, She heard a voice saying to Her: “Come, my Beloved, my Spouse, come to my temple, where I wish to hear thy voice of praise and worship.” Having offered their prayers, they rose and betook themselves to the priest. The parents consigned their Child into his hands and he gave them his blessing. Together they conducted Her to the portion of the temple buildings, where many young girls lived to be brought up in retirement and in virtuous habits, until old enough to assume the state of matrimony. It was a place of retirement especially selected for the first–born daughters of the royal tribe of Juda and the sacerdotal tribe of Levi.

Fifteen stairs led up to the entrance of these apartments. Other priests came down these stairs in order to welcome the blessed child Mary. The one that had received them, being according to the law one of a minor order, placed Her on the first step. Mary, with his permission, turned and kneeling down before Joachim and Anne, asked their blessing and kissed their hands, recommending herself to their prayers before God. The holy parents in tenderest tears gave Her their blessing; whereupon She ascended the fifteen stairs without any assistance. She hastened upward with incomparable fervor and joy, neither turning back, nor shedding tears, nor showing any childish regret at parting from her parents. To see Her, in so tender an age, so full of strange majesty and firmness of mind, excited the admiration of all those present. The priests received Her among the rest of the maidens, and saint Simeon consigned Her to the teachers, one of whom was the prophetess Anne. This holy matron had been prepared by the Lord by especial grace and enlightenment, so that She joyfully took charge of this Child of Joachim and Anne. She considered the charge a special favor of divine Providence and merited by her holiness and virtue to have Her as a disciple, who was to be the Mother of God and Mistress of all the creatures.

Sorrowfully her parents Joachim and Anne retraced their journey to Nazareth, now poor as deprived of the rich Treasure of their house. But the Most High consoled and comforted them in their affliction. The holy priest Simeon, although he did not at this time know of the mystery enshrined in the child Mary, obtained great light as to her sanctity and her special selection by the Lord; also the other priests looked upon Her with great reverence and esteem. In ascending the fifteen stairs the Child brought to fulfillment, that, which Jacob saw happening in sleep; for here too were angels ascending and descending: the ones accompanying, the others meeting their Queen as She hastened up; whereas at the top God was waiting in order to welcome Her as his Daughter and Spouse. She also felt by the effects of the overflowing love, that this truly was the house of God and the portal of heaven.

The child Mary, when brought to her teacher, knelt in profound humility before her and asked her blessing. She begged to be admitted among those under her direction, obedience and counsel, and asked her kind forbearance in the labor and trouble, which She would occasion. The prophetess Anne, her teacher, received Her with pleasure, and said to Her: “My Daughter, Thou shalt find in me a helpful mother and I will take care of Thee and of thy education with all possible solicitude.” Then the holy Child proceeded to address Herself with the same humility to all the maidens which were then present; each one She greeted and embraced, offering Herself as their servant and requesting them, as older and more advanced than She in the duties of their position, to instruct and command Her. She also gave them thanks, that without her merit they admitted Her to their company.

When the heavenly child Mary had dismissed her parents and entered upon her life in the temple, her teacher assigned to Her a place among the rest of the maidens, each of whom occupied a large alcove or little room. The Princess of heaven prostrated Herself on the pavement, and, remembering that it was holy ground and part of the temple, She kissed it. In humble adoration She gave thanks to the Lord for this new benefit, and She thanked even the earth for supporting Her and allowing Her to stand in this holy place; for She held Herself unworthy of treading and remaining upon it. Then She turned toward her holy angels and said to them: “Celestial princes, messengers of the Almighty, most faithful friends and companions, I beseech you with all the powers of my soul to remain with me in this holy temple of my Lord and as my vigilant sentinels, reminding me of all that I should do; instructing me and directing me as the teachers and guides of my actions, so that I may fulfill in all things the perfect will of the Most High, give pleasure to the holy priests and obey my teacher and my companions.” And addressing in particular those whom I mentioned above as the twelve angels of the Apocalypse, She said: “And I beseech you, my ambassadors, if the Almighty permit you, go and console my holy parents in their affliction and solitude.”

While the twelve angels executed her command, Mary remained with the others in heavenly conversation. She began to feel a supernal influence of great power and sweetness, spiritualizing Her and elevating Her in burning ecstasy, and immediately the Most High commanded the seraphim to assist in illumining and preparing her most holy soul. Instantly She was filled with a divine light and force, which perfected and proportioned her faculties in accordance with the mysteries now to be manifested to Her. Thus prepared and accompanied by her holy angels and many others, in the midst of a refulgent host, the celestial Child was raised body and soul to the empyrean heaven, where She was received by the holy Trinity with befitting benevolence and pleasure. She prostrated Herself in the presence of the most mighty and high Lord, as She was wont to do in all her visions, and adored Him in profound reverence and humility. Then She was further transformed by new workings of divine light, so that She saw, intuitively and face to face, the Divinity itself. This was the second time that It manifested Itself to Her in this intuitive manner during the first three years of her life.

By no human tongue or any sensible faculty could the effects of this vision and participation of the divine Essence ever be described. The Person of the Father spoke to the future Mother of his Son, and said: “My Dove, my beloved One, I desire thee to see the treasures of my immutable being and of my infinite perfections, and also to perceive the hidden gifts destined for the souls, whom I have chosen as heirs of my glory and who are rescued by the life–blood of the Lamb. Behold, my Daughter, how liberal I am toward my creatures, that know and love Me; how true in my words, how faithful in my promises, how powerful and admirable in my works. Take notice, my Spouse, how ineffably true it is, that he who follows Me does not walk in darkness. I desire that thou, as my chosen One, be an eye–witness of the treasures which I hold in reserve for raising up the humble, enriching the poor, exalting the downtrodden, and for rewarding all that the mortals shall do and suffer for my name.”

Other great mysteries were shown to the holy child in this vision of the Divinity, for as the object presented to the soul in such repeated intuitive visions is infinite, that which remains to be seen will always remain infinite and will excite greater and greater wonder and love in the one thus favored. The most holy Mary answered the Lord and said: “Most high, supreme and eternal God, incomprehensible Thou art in thy magnificence, overflowing in thy riches, unspeakable in thy mysteries, most faithful in thy promises, true in thy words, most perfect in thy works, for Thou art the Lord, infinite and eternal in thy essence and perfections. But, most high Lord, what shall my littleness begin to do at the sight of thy magnificence? I acknowledge myself unworthy to look upon thy greatness, yet I am in great need of being regarded by it. In thy presence, Lord, all creation is as nothing. What shall I thy servant do, who am but dust? Fulfill in me all thy desire and thy pleasure; and if trouble and persecutions suffered by mortals in patience, if humility and meekness are so precious in thy eyes, do not consent, O my Beloved, that I be deprived of such a rich treasure and pledge of thy love. But as the rewards of these tribulations, give them to thy servants and friends, who deserve them better than I, for I have not yet labored in thy service and pleasure.”

The Most High was much pleased with the petition of the heavenly Child and He gave Her to understand that He would admit Her to suffering and labor for his love in the course of her life, without at the time revealing to Her the order and the manner in which He was to dispense them. The Princess of heaven gave thanks for this blessing and favor of being chosen to labor and suffer for the glory of God’s name. Burning with desire of securing such favor, She asked of his Majesty to be allowed to make four vows in his presence: of chastity, of poverty, of obedience, and of perpetual enclosure in the temple whither He had called Her. To this petition the Lord answered and said to Her: “My Spouse, my thoughts rise above all that is created, and thou, my chosen one, dost not yet know what is to happen to thee in the course of thy life, and thou dost not yet understand why it is impossible to fulfill thy fervent desires altogether in the manner in which thou now dost imagine. The vow of chastity I permit and I desire that thou make it; I wish that from this moment thou renounce earthly riches. It is also my will that as far as possible thou observe whatever pertains to the other vows, just as if thou hadst made them all. Thy desire shall be fulfilled through many other virgins in the coming law of grace; for, in order to imitate thee and to serve Me, they will make these same vows and live together in community and thou shalt be the Mother of many daughters.”

The most holy Child then, in the presence of the Lord, made the vow of chastity and as for the rest without binding Herself, She renounced all affection for terrestrial and created things. She moreover resolved to obey all creatures for the sake of God. In the fulfillment of these promises She was more punctual, fervent and faithful than any who have ever made these vows or ever will make them. Forthwith the clear and intuitive vision of the Divinity ceased, but She was not immediately restored to the earth. For, remaining in the empyrean heaven, She enjoyed another, an imaginary vision of the Lord in a lower state of ecstasy, so that in connection with it, She saw other mysteries.

In this secondary and imaginary vision some of the seraphim closest to the Lord approached Her and by his command adorned and clothed Her in the following manner. First all her senses were illumined with an effulgent light, which filled them with grace and beauty. Then they robed Her in a mantle or tunic of most exquisite splendor, and girded Her with a cincture of vary–colored and transparent stones, of flashing brilliancy, which adorned Her beyond human comprehension. They signified the immaculate purity and the various heroic virtues of her soul. They placed on Her also a necklace or collar of inestimable and entrancing beauty, which contained three large stones, symbolic of the three great virtues of faith, hope and charity; this they hung around her neck letting it fall to her breast as if indicating the seat of these precious virtues. They also adorned her hands with seven rings of rare beauty whereby the Holy Ghost wished to proclaim that He had enriched Her with his holy gifts in a most eminent degree. In addition to all this the most holy Trinity crowned her head with an imperial diadem, made of inestimable material and set with most precious stones, constituting Her thereby as his Spouse and as the Empress of heaven. In testimony whereof the white and refulgent vestments were emblazoned with letters or figures of the finest and the most shining gold, proclaiming: Mary, Daughter of the eternal Father, Spouse of the Holy Ghost and Mother of the true Light. This last name or title the heavenly Mistress did not understand; but the angels understood it, who, lost in wonder and praise of the Author, were assisting at this new and strange ceremony. Finally the attention of all the angelic spirits was drawn toward the Most High and a voice proceeded from the throne of the blessed Trinity, which, addressing the most holy Mary, spoke to Her: “Thou shalt be our Spouse, our beloved and chosen One among all creatures for all eternity; the angels shall serve thee and all the nations and generations shall call thee blessed” (Luc. 1, 48).

The sovereign Child being thus attired in the court dress of the Divinity, then celebrated a more glorious and marvelous espousal than ever could enter the mind of the highest cherubim and seraphim. For the Most High accepted Her as his sole and only Spouse and conferred upon Her the highest dignity which can befall a creature; He deposited within Her his own Divinity in the person of the Word and with it all the treasures of grace befitting such eminence. Meanwhile the most Humble among the humble was lost in the abyss of love and wonder which these benefits and favors caused in Her , and in the presence of the Lord She spoke: “Most high King and incomprehensible God, who art Thou and who am I , that thy condescension should look upon me who am dust, unworthy of such mercy? In Thee, my Lord, as in a clear mirror seeing thy immutable being, I behold and understand without error my lowliness and vileness, I admire thy immensity and deprecate my nothingness. At the sight of Thee I am annihilated and lost in astonishment, that the infinite Majesty should stoop to so lowly a worm, who can merit only oblivion and contempt of all the creatures. O Lord, my only Good, how art Thou magnified and exalted in this deed! What marvel dost Thou cause through me in thy angelic spirits, who understand thy infinite bounty, magnificence and mercy in raising up from the dust her who in it is poor, and placing her among the princes (Ps. 112, 7)! I accept Thee, O my King and my Lord, as my Spouse and I offer myself as thy slave. Let not my understanding attend to any other object, nor my memory hold any other image, nor my will seek other object or pleasure than Thee, my highest Good, my true and only Love. Let not my eyes look upon human creature, nor my faculties and senses attend upon anything beside Thee and whatever thy Majesty shall direct. Thou alone for thy spouse, my Beloved, and she for Thee only, who art the immutable and eternal Good.”

The Most High received with ineffable pleasure this consent of the sovereign Princess to enter into the new espousal with her most holy soul. As upon his True Spouse and as Mistress of all creation, He now lavished upon Her all the treasures of his grace and power, instructing Her to ask for whatever She desired and assuring Her that nothing would ever be denied Her. The most humble Dove at once proceeded to beseech the Lord with the most burning charity, to send His Onlybegotten to the world as a remedy for mortals; that all men be called to the true knowledge of his Divinity; that her natural parents, Joachim and Anne, receive an increase of the loving gifts of his right hand; that the poor and afflicted be consoled and comforted in their troubles; and that in Herself be fulfilled the pleasure of the divine will. These were some of the more express petitions addressed by the new Spouse on this occasion to the blessed Trinity. And all the angelic host sang new songs of admiration in praise of the Most High, while those appointed by his Majesty, midst heavenly music, bore back the holy Child from the empyrean heaven to the place in the temple, from which they had brought Her.

In order to commence at once to put in practice what She had promised in the presence of the Lord, She betook Herself to her instructress and offered all that her mother, saint Anne, had left for her comfort and sustenance, with the exception of a few books and clothes. She requested Her to give it to the poor or use it for any other purpose according to her pleasure, and that She command and direct Her what She was to do. The discreet matron, (who was, as I have already said, the prophetess Anne) by divine impulse accepted and approved of the offering of the beautiful Child and dismissed Her entirely poor and stripped of everything except the garments which She wore. She resolved to take care of Her in a special manner as one destitute and poor; for the other maidens each possessed their spending money and a certain sum assigned and destined for their wearing apparel and for other necessities according to their inclinations.

The holy matron, having first consulted the high priest, also gave to the sweetest Child a rule of life. By thus despoiling and resigning Herself the Queen and Mistress of creation obtained a complete freedom and detachment from all creatures and from her own Self, neither possessing nor desiring anything except only the most ardent love of God and her own abasement and humiliation.


WORDS OF THE QUEEN
The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain

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My daughter, among the great and ineffable favors of the Omnipotent in the course of my life, was the one which thou has just learned and described; for by this clear vision of the Divinity and of the incomprehensible essence I acquired knowledge of the most hidden sacraments and mysteries, and in this adornment and espousal I received incomparable blessings and felt the sweetest workings of the Divinity in my spirit. My desire to take the four vows of poverty, obedience, chastity and enclosure pleased the Lord very much, and I merited thereby that the Godfearing in the Church and in the law of grace are drawn to live under these vows, as is the custom in the present time. This was the beginning of that which you religious practice now, fulfilling the words of David in the forty–fourth psalm: “After Her shall virgins be brought to the King;” for the Lord ordained that my aspirations be the foundation of religious life and of the evangelical law. I fulfilled entirely and perfectly all that I proposed to the Lord, as far as was possible in my state of life; never did I look upon the face of a man, not even on that of my husband Joseph, nor on that of the angels, when they appeared to me in human form, though I saw and knew them all in God. Never did I incline toward any creature, rational or irrational, nor toward any human operation or tendency. But in all things I was governed by the Most High, either directly by Himself or indirectly through the obedience, to which I freely subjected myself.

Be careful therefore, my daughter, and fear so dreadful a danger; by divine assistance of grace raise thyself above thyself, never permitting thy will to consent to any disorderly affection or movement. I wish thee to consume thyself in dying to thy passions and in becoming entirely spiritualized, so that having extinguished within thee all that is of earth, thou mayest come to lead an angelic life and conversation. In order to deserve the name of spouse of Christ, thou must pass beyond the limits and the sphere of a human being and ascend to another state and divine existence. Although thou art earth, thou must be a blessed earth, without the thorns of passion, one whose fruit is all for the Lord, its Master. If thou hast for thy Spouse that supreme and mighty Lord, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, consider it beneath thy dignity to turn thy eyes, and much more thy heart, toward such vile slaves, as are the human creatures, for even the angels love and respect thee for thy dignity as spouse of the Most High. If even among men it is held to be a daring and boundless insolence in a plebeian to cast longing eyes upon the spouse of a prince, what a crime would it be to cast them on the spouse of the heavenly and omnipotent King? And it would not be a smaller crime if she herself would receive and consent to such familiarity. Consider and assure thyself that the punishment reserved for this sin is inconceivably terrible and I do not show it to thee visibly, lest thou perish in thy weakness. I wish that for thee my instructions suffice to urge thee to the fulfillment of all I admonish and to imitate me as my disciple, as far as thy powers go. Be also solicitous in recalling this instruction to the mind of thy nuns and in seeing that they live up to it.

My daughter, the greatest happiness, which can befall any soul in this mortal life, is that the Almighty call her to his house consecrated to his service. For by this benefit He rescues the soul from a dangerous slavery and relieves her of the vile servitude of the world, where, deprived of true liberty, she eats her bread in the sweat of her brow. Who is so dull and insipid as not to know the dangers of the worldly life, which is hampered by all the abominable and most wicked laws and customs introduced by the astuteness of the devil and the perversity of men? The better part is religious life and retirement; in it is found security, outside is a torment and a stormy sea, full of sorrow and unhappiness. Through the hardness of their heart and the total forgetfulness of themselves men do not know this truth and are not attracted by its blessings. But thou, O soul, be not deaf to the voice of the Most High, attend and correspond to it in thy actions: I wish to remind thee, that one of the greatest snares of the demon is to counteract the call of the Lord, whenever he seeks to attract and incline the soul to a life of perfection in his service.

Even by itself, the public and sacred act of receiving the habit and entering religion, although it is not always performed with proper fervor and purity of intention, is enough to rouse the wrath and fury of the infernal dragon and his demons; for they know that this act tends not only to the glory of the Lord and the joy of the holy angels, but that religious life will bring the soul to holiness and perfection. It very often happens, that they who have received the habit with earthly and human motives, are afterwards visited by divine grace, which perfects them and sets all things aright. If this is possible even when the beginning was without a good intention, how much more powerful and efficacious will be the light and influence of grace and the discipline of religious life, when the soul enters under the influence of divine love and with a sincere and earnest desire of finding God, and of serving and loving Him?
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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#4
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

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Today's festival is called the Presentation of Mary, because on this day Joachim and Anna, the holy parents of the Blessed Virgin, consecrated their little daughter to the divine service in the temple at Jerusalem, and Mary consecrated herself to the Almighty. At that time, there were two ways of consecrating children: one was ordained by the law, which required every male child to be offered to God, forty days, and every female child, eighty days after its birth. This ceremony was called the consecration of the child and the purification of the mother. The second kind of consecration was a voluntary self-oblation by which some persons devoted themselves to the Almighty. There were also many parents who either before, or immediately after their child's birth, consecrated it to the service of the Lord, sometimes for a few years, sometimes for life. To this end several separate dwellings had been erected in connection with the Temple, for men, women, youths and maidens, where they remained for the time which had been fixed by themselves or their parents. Their occupations consisted in decorating the temple, and in making the garments which the priests and levites wore during their sacred functions. Thus we read in the first book of Kings, that Anne the spouse of Elkana, made a vow that if she gave birth to a male child, she would consecrate it to the Lord. The Lord blessed her and she brought forth a son, whom she named Samuel, and afterwards consecrated to the Most High, through the hands of the High Priest, Heli. In the second book of the Maccabees, we find mention of virgins, who lived and were educated in the Temple, that is, in a building annexed to it.

It is the belief of several holy Fathers, that Joachim and Anna, being already advanced in years and having no issue, made a vow to God that if He would bless them with a child, and thus take from them the dishonor of being barren, they would consecrate their offspring to His service in the Temple. God heard their prayer and blessed them so greatly that they became the parents of the most holy of all human beings, Mary, the ever Blessed Virgin. For three years they kept this sacred treasure at home, after which time, although Mary was their only comfort, they resigned her with pious fortitude, in fulfilment of their vow. Hence they went, with their daughter, to Jerusalem, presented her to the priest in the Temple and consecrated her, through his hands, to the service of the Almighty.

But who can worthily describe the devotion and veneration which Mary manifested at the consecration! She had not only consented cheerfully, but as, notwithstanding her tender years, she was already possessed of her full reason, and knew better than any one else, in heaven or on earth, the Majesty of Him to whom she was consecrated, she had longed for the moment when she was to be given to Him. She went therefore most joyfully to the Temple, her heart full of devotion and love towards God and a fervent desire to serve Him. The priest was at first greatly astonished, not only at the unusual beauty of the little child, but still more at the devotion she showed in such extreme youth. When her parents had given her in charge to the priest, the latter took her to the Altar, to which there was an ascent of fifteen steps on the first of which he placed her. Having in a few words bade her parents farewell, the little maiden went joyfully and unaided, from the lowest step to the highest, and casting herself down before the Altar, she consecrated herself to the Almighty with such humility and reverence, that all present were deeply moved. Her consecration differed greatly from that of all other children. Many were brought to the temple only because their parents desired it, and without their own knowledge of the reasons for which it was done. Others wept bitterly at parting with their parents. No other at that tender age, had understood the ceremony, and none had made the consecration with such entire devotion to the Lord.

The Blessed Virgin, however, already gifted with reason, not only consented to the sacrifice thus made by her parents to God, but consecrated herself, entirely and with a happy heart, to His service. How pleasing this sacrifice must have been to the Lord, words are unable to express. It is quite certain that, from the creation of the world until that time, no sacrifice had been so pleasing to Him as that which Mary offered in her own person. Abel, Noah, Aaron, and many more, had sacrificed to the Lord the fruits of the Earth, or dumb brutes; but Mary offered herself. Many parents had consecrated their children to the service of God, but Mary surpassed them all in innocence and grace, in heavenly virtues and gifts; hence it cannot be doubted that her sacrifice surpassed all others, and was more agreeable to the Almighty. After the consecration. Mary was taken into the dwelling of the maidens destined to serve the Most High, and was numbered among them. There she remained until her marriage with St. Joseph.

Her conduct during this period can be more easily imagined than described; but it is certain that it was more like an angel's than like that of a human being. Her occupation was prayer, reading, meditation and work. In the works of St. Jerome there is a sermon on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, in which the life she led in the Temple is thus described: "She endeavored to surpass in goodness all those with whom she dwelt; to be the first in the nightly vigils; to understand Holy Writ most thoroughly; to be the most humble; to sing the Pslams of David most devoutly; to love God most fervently; to be the most chaste; in a word, to be the first in all virtues, in order to honor the Almighty, and to prove her love to Him. God was the only subject of her conversation. She prayed without ceasing and meditated on the law of the Lord." St. Ambrose, in his instructions to those who had vowed perpetual chastity, gives them Mary as an example, saying emphatically, that her life had been such that it might serve as a model to all. "Mary," he writes "was virgin, not only in body, but also in heart and mind. She was modest in her speech, and humble of heart. She offended no one, had every one's welfare at heart, avoided pride and loved virtue. Nothing bold was in her gaze, nothing frivolous in words, nothing that was in the least immodest in all her manners. Her body was the index of her mind, a model of piety. She went not to rest until necessity required it, and when her body rested, her soul remained awake." This and much more, the above mentioned Father writes, in praise of the Blessed Virgin.

St. Bonaventure relates a vision in which the Divine Mother said to a holy person: "I arose always in the middle of the night, went to the Altar of the Temple, and presented my homage and desires to the Almighty." These desires were for the grace of loving God above all things and with her whole heart; of her neighbor for God's sake; of keeping the Commandments of the Lord, and of hating everything that was displeasing to Him. The same holy teacher says also: "Mary was very solicitous that none of her companions should in the least offend the Lord, but that they should always praise Him and never indulge in idle words." He writes further, that Mary occupied her thoughts with holy contemplations, her mouth with devout prayers; but, at the same time used her hands in sacred work, and admonished others to do the same. Several Holy Fathers write that the Blessed Virgin, soon after entering the Temple, consecrated her virginity to the Lord. Others, with greater reason, maintain that this had been done before, and as soon as she had been conceived, since she was gifted even then with the full use of her reason. The Holy Fathers Ambrose, Jerome, Rupert, Bernard, and many others, think that the Blessed Virgin was the first who made a vow of chastity, and thus set an example, which many thousands, desiring to serve the Lord more perfectly, have followed and are still following.

It is quite certain that the Blessed Virgin, from the first use of her reason until the end of her life, always endeavored to do what she knew would make her more perfect, and thus unite her more closely with the Almighty. Hence it is easy to conclude, that she gathered such a treasure of merits, as no Saint ever did or will possess. St. Bonaventure and St. Bernardine of Sienna apply to her the words of the Proverbs of Solomon: "Many daughters have gathered riches, but thou hast surpassed them all." Many daughters, they say, means, many souls, many Saints have gathered riches in merits; but Mary surpasses them all, as well in grace, as in virtues and merits. Hence it follows that her glory in heaven is above that of all other Saints; for which reason she is called by the Catholic Church Queen of All Saints. Nothing is more just than that we duly honor so great a Queen, and invoke her with confidence; for the higher she stands above all other Saints, the more powerful is her intercession with God.



PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

In the third year of her life, Mary, the Blessed Virgin, consecrated herself to the service of the Almighty, and this, not for days or years only, but for ever; for, as long as she lived, she ceased not to serve the Lord. How is it with you? Did you also begin in your tender years to serve the Lord. Or to whom did you dedicate the years of your life? Ah! confess it with weeping eyes and repentant heart, not to the Lord, but to world, to the flesh, to Satan, you gave the years of your youth; and perhaps you have not even made the resolution to serve your God; or it may be, you think it will be time enough when you are old, though it is unknown to you, whether you will ever count many years. But even had you been assured of this, tell me, do you not deserve to be disowned by the Almighty as a second Cain, since like him, you sacrificed only what was a less value, and not, like the pious Abel, what was the best? God cursed him who took from his flock the meanest for his offering. This Curse you also deserve for not having given to the Lord your first and best years, but reserving your old age for Him. Oh! truly you have reason to weep over this wickedness as long as you live. Humbly beg God to pardon you, and resolve, at the same time, to serve Him from this hour most fervently and without ceasing until your end, as the Blessed Virgin did. You have perhaps but a short time more: hence employ ever moment in the service of God. The benefit will be yours, and will last through all eternity.

In consecrating herself to the Almighty, the Blessed Virgin gave herself entirely to Him without any reservation. Soul and body, every power of her soul, ever member of her body, her whole heart and life, all was given for evermore to the service of the Most High. Doubtless you resolve today to serve your Lord most fervently for the future. Consecrate yourself, then, today to His service, but without any reservation, your whole heart, your entire life, your soul with all its powers, your entire body with all its members, sacrifice all willingly and for evermore to the Lord. God Who desires the whole heart and not a part of it, wishes also your whole soul, your whole body, your entire life. Do you wish to divide your heart and to give one part of it to the Almighty the other to the world and Satan? to serve God with one member of your body, and to offend Him with another? Do you wish to employ your memory to honor God with good thoughts, but to soil your will with wicked desires? Oh! then do not imagine that your sacrifice will be acceptable to God. It will rather be a horror in the eyes of Him Who commands us to serve Him alone, and to sacrifice everythying to His service. Make today, a perfect sacrifice, so that you may, at least in something, follow the Blessed Virgin. And take care that you do not, after the lapse of some time, retract your sacrifice.

You consecrate, today, your eyes, your tongue, and your hands, with the intention to use them only in God's service. Guard yourself, lest, after some hours or days, you misuse them in offending the Lord, for, this would be as mush robbing the Altar of what you have given to the Most High. Mary did not act thus. It is written: "I am the Lord that hate robbery in a holocaust, (Isai. lxi.)





Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

O blessed Virgin Mary! who can duly thank thee, or herald forth thy praises, who, by the assent of thy single will, didst rescue a fallen world? What honor can be paid to thee by our weak human nature, which, by thy intervention alone, hath found the way to return to grace and life? Accept then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, unequal to thy merits though they be; and, accepting our good desires, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offenses. Graciously hear our prayers, and obtain for us the remedy of reconciliation.

May the offering we make to God through thee, through thee be acceptable in his sight; and may that be granted which we ask with trustful heart. Accept our offerings, grant us our petitions, banish our fears; for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for forgiveness of our sins; and in thee, most blessed Lady, is the hope of our reward.

Holy Mary, succor the wretched, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for the people, shield the clergy, intercede for holy women; let all who celebrate thy holy commemoration feel thy protection. Be thou at hand, ready to aid our prayers, and obtain for us what we desire. Make it thy care, blessed Lady, to intercede ever for the people of God--thou who didst deserve to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Indulgence of 50 days each time, His Holiness, Pius IX., May 19, 1854
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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#5
The Catholic Storyteller: Presentation of the Blessed Virgin by the Mystic Mary of Agreda (Nov 21)


"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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