According to the tradition in the Eastern Church, when Mary was three years of age, Joachim and Anne took her to the Temple so that she might be consecrated to the service of the Lord. The legend says that they invited the young girls of the town to walk before her with lighted torches. As soon as they had reached the Temple, Mary, alone and unhesitatingly, went up the steps of the sanctuary where she was to remain, living in the contemplation of God and miraculously fed by the Archangel Gabriel, until the day she was espoused to Joseph, shortly before the Annunciation.
The theme of the feast is that Mary the Immaculate One, the Temple of the Living God, is offered to the Almighty in his holy house in Jerusalem. This day witnesses the bond between the Word and the Virgin predestined in eternity: this day is the fountainhead of all her privileges.
A more historical view is that the feast originates in Jerusalem in 543. In the Latin rite, it took many years for the feast to be widely accepted; it entered the Western calendar in 1585. Today, the feast celebrates the recognition of Mary as a temple in whom God dwells. In a very special way, the Blessed Virgin is herself a holy temple when she conceived the very Son of God in her immaculate womb, she became a true temple of the true God; when she cherished the word of God in her heart (see Luke 2:19, 51), loved Christ so ardently, and faithfully kept his word, the Son and the Father came to her and made their home with her, in accordance with the promise of the Lord (see John 14:23).
The day is dedicated to those who belong to contemplative religious orders, and the Pope said It’s a good opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work”.
“Let us give thanks to the Lord – he added for their testimonies of cloistered life and he urged the faithful to lend their spiritual and material support to these brothers and sisters of ours so that they can carry out their important mission”.
For our part, we remember with gratitude these religious women of who as St Thérèse of Lisieux wrote choose to abide in the “heart” of the Church.
Let us pray:
Almighty and ever living God,Today we honor the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose hidden life brings light and warmth to the Church in every place. Her presentation in the temple at Jerusalem reveals her as a temple where God truly lives among us.May Mary’s example give us the strength to radiate that light and warmth to the Church, and help us to be dwelling places of God’s joyful presence on earth.We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.