The Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Memorial: November 21
The Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple recalls – according to the apocryphal gospels, the day on which Mary, while still a child, was brought to the temple in Jerusalem to be offered to God. The Church wants to emphasize not so much the historical event in itself, of which there is no trace in the Gospels, but the total gift that Mary made of herself, by listening: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it” (Lk. 11:28). This experience prepared the young girl from Nazareth to become the “temple of the Son of God”.
The celebration of this feast dates back to the 6th century in the East with the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New built by the Emperor Justinian I near the ruins of the temple in Jerusalem. There is evidence that various monasteries in Italy celebrated the feast in the 9th century. It was not until the 15th century that it was included in the Roman Missal.
This is also the on which the Church celebrates the World Day of Cloistered Life, established by Pope Pius XII in 1953.
Bonds of love, not of blood
For the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the liturgy proposes the passage from Matthew that speaks about how we are “related” to Jesus. It is a relationship not formed by blood, but by imitation: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother”. To become a member of “His family”, one must do so not by blood or belonging to a particular religion. Rather, it is a free and personal choice that translates into a commitment to do the will of the Father.
Mary, the first disciple
Confirming what has just been said, Jesus Himself said this in responding thus to a woman who was praising His Mother: “ ‘Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.’ He replied, ‘Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.’ ” Mary is the woman who knows how to listen, who knows how to contemplate, who knows how to refer everything to her Son – “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn. 2:5). Mary is the One who never abandoned her Son Jesus, not even along the way of the Cross. She “stood” under the Cross. She is a disciple who never abandons the Lord Jesus, who always “stands behind” Him.
Mary, model for Christians
All of this can help us imitate the Virgin Mary. Every Christian is called to look at Mary so as to learn from her, to entrust themselves to her intercession and to guard the “purity of the faith” against any idols that surround us.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.