Monday, November 21, 2011

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we observe the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple. It is a feast generally observed both in the East and the West. Among Eastern Christians today's observance is known as the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. This feast originated in the sixth century around the time of the construction of a basilica in Jerusalem near the ruins of the Temple and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, which means God-bearer.

Given my focus on Revelation leading up to Christmas, in which we read of God's plan reaching its ultimate fulfillment, of all the liturgical propers for this feast, today I was struck by the Troparion from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: "Today is the prelude to God's munificence, and the announcement of salvation of men: in the Temple of God the Virgin is seen openly, foretelling to all the coming of Christ. Wherefore let us cry out to her with all our strength: 'Joy to you, Fulfillment of the Creator's Plan!'"

While the event we celebrate can only be found in apocryphal literature, namely the Protoevangelium of James, it is worthy of celebration. It is hard for many to appreciate an observance like this precisely because it seems to not have an historical basis. It is important because it emphasizes that from the beginning of her life, the Blessed Virgin was wholly dedicated to God. Moreover, we attend to the fact that her own body became an even greater temple than the Temple in Jerusalem. After all, don't we revere her as the new Ark of the Covenant, too? While it doesn't happen every year, it seems fitting that this year this memorial falls the day after the great Solemnity of Christ the King.

Remember, O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

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