Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Presentation of Mary

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

By faith she believed; by faith, conceived

Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Saviour was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her – did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father’s will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.
  Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power. and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God’s word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God’s truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary’s mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.
  The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent – the most eminent – member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine – our head is God.
  Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfils the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.
  Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? “Of Mother Church,” I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ.
Responsory
I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation like a bride adorned in her jewels.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour, for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation like a bride adorned in her jewels.

Let us pray.
Lord,
  as we honour the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
  and seek her help,
grant that we, like her,
  may share in the fullness of your grace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.

Presentation of Mary

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, Willem Vrelant

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it is known in the West), or The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple (its name in the East), is a liturgical feast celebrated on November 21 [1]by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Orthodox Churches.

The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary‘s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God.

In Eastern Orthodox tradition, this is one of the days when women named Mary (Μαρία in Greek) and Despoina (Δέσποινα in Greek) celebrate their Name Day.

Story

The account of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple is principally based on the Protoevangelium of James, which has been dated by historians prior to the year 200 AD. The story relates that in thanksgiving for the birth of their daughter, Mary, Joachim and Anne decide to consecrate her to God, and bring her, at the age of three years, to the temple in Jerusalem. Mary’s presentation in the temple draws parallels to that of the prophet Samuel, whose mother Hannah, like Anne was also thought to be barren, and who offered her child as a gift to God at Shiloh.[2]

Mary remained in the Temple until her twelfth year,[2] at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. According to Coptic tradition, her father Joachim died when Mary was six years old and her mother when Mary was eight.[2] While the story is a legend with no foundation in history, the point is to show that even in her childhood Mary was completely dedicated to God. It is from this account that arose the feast of Mary’s Presentation.[3]

Feast day

The Presentation of the Virgin Mary by Titian (1534-38, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice).

The feast originated as a result of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New, built in 543 by the Byzantines under Emperor Justinian I near the site of the ruined Temple in Jerusalem.[3] This basilica was destroyed by the Sassanid Persians under Khosrau II after the Siege of Jerusalem (614). The first documented celebration of the feast in any calendar is the mention of the Εἴσοδος τῆς Παναγίας Θεοτόκου (Entry of the All-Holy Theotokos, i.e., into the Temple) in the Menologion of Basil II, an 11th-century menology of the Eastern Roman (also known as Byzantine) emperor Basil II.

The feast continued to be celebrated throughout the East, was celebrated in the monasteries of Southern Italy by the ninth century, and was introduced into the Papal Chapel in Avignon in 1372 by decree of Pope Gregory XI.[4][5] The feast was included in the Roman Missal in 1472, but was suppressed by Pope Pius V in 1568.[4] As a result, it did not appear in the Tridentine Calendar. Pope Sixtus V reintroduced it into the Roman Calendar in 1585.[6] Pope Clement VIII made this feast a greater double in 1597.[4] The feast also continued as a memorial in the Roman Calendar of 1969.

Liturgical celebration

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates it on November 21 as one of its twelve Great Feasts. For those churches which follow the Julian Calendar, November 21 falls on December 4 of the modern Gregorian Calendar. In the Orthodox Church the feast always falls during the Nativity Fast, and on the day of the feast the fasting rules are lessened somewhat so that fish, wine, and oil may be eaten.

For the Roman Catholic Church, on the day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “we celebrate that dedication of herself which Mary made to God from her very childhood under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who filled her with grace … .”[7] In the 1974 encyclical Marialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI wrote that “despite its apocryphal content, it presents lofty and exemplary values and carries on the venerable traditions having their origins in the Eastern churches”.[3]

The three feasts of the Birthday of Our Lady, the Holy Name of Mary, and her Presentation in the Temple correspond in the Marian cycle with the first three feasts of the cycle of feasts of Jesus: namely, Christmas, the Holy Name of Jesus, and His Presentation at the Temple.[8] November 21 is also a “Pro Orantibus” Day, a day of prayer for cloistered religious “totally dedicated to God in prayer, silence, and concealment”.[9]

Legacy

St. Peter’s Basilica contains the “Cappella della Presentazione” (Presentation Chapel); the altar is dedicated to St. Pius X.[10]

The Presentation of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Monastery is located in Marshfield, Missouri.[11]

The Presentation Sisters, also known as the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PBVM for short), a religious institute of Roman Catholic women, was founded in Cork, Ireland, by Nano (Honoria) Nagle in 1775.

The congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, dedicated to the education of youth, was founded November 21, 1796, in Thueyts, France, by Marie Rivier.[12]

In art

Western depictions usually focused on the lone figure of the young Mary climbing the steep steps of the Temple, having left her parents at the bottom, and climbing towards the chief priest and other Temple figures at the top of the steps. The Presentation was one of the usual scenes in larger cycles of the Life of the Virgin, although it was not usually one of the scenes shown in a Book of Hours.

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