November 21st, 2022 – Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today we celebrate the memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although the event isn’t found in the canonical Gospels, in 543 a Jerusalem basilica was dedicated to our Lady in memory of her Presentation. Possibly as a memorial of this dedication, in the fourteenth century, this observance was extended in the West as a liturgical feast on November 21.
As the tradition goes, the Presentation of Mary recalls that when Our Lady was three years old, her parents Joaquin and Anne offered her in the Temple to be entirely dedicated to God’s service. In the Old Testament, we can see another presentation, that of Samuel presented by his mother. The event highlights the act of a complete offering of self to God’s service, and, indeed, the two presentations we commemorate liturgically, that of Mary and of Christ her Son (February 2nd), give us the models of consecration to God’s service.
In the case of today’s celebration, we recall that everything Mary had and was, all her beauty and grace, in both soul and body, was for the Lord. It’s this complete and entire dedication that we recall and celebrate.
No matter our vocation, we need to remember that what matters most in this world is doing God’s will and giving ourselves to His service. For religious, and contemplatives in particular (today is the day of prayer for contemplatives), this means giving ourselves in sacrifice and praise. Like Anna the prophetess, we are called to be with the Lord always, at least in the Temple of our hearts, no matter where we are or what we are doing.
For married couples, and lay people in general, that call to give self to God is still valid. In a particular way, for married couples with children, this feast is a reminder that children ultimately belong to God, and must be entrusted to Him, both through prayer and sacrifice, as well as accepting God’s will in their regard.
Although such surrender might seem frightening or hard, in the end, God knows what makes for true happiness, and gives us exactly what we need. As one poet beautifully described the Presentation: “Her parents thought they were handing her up, the threatening one with the bejeweled breast received her it seemed: Yet she went through them all, small as she was, forth out of every hand and into her destiny, which, higher than the hall, was prepared already, and heavier than the house.”
Let us pray, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Presentation, for the grace to give ourselves entirely to God through our vocations and daily lives.
 Eng. trans. from M. D. Herter Norton, Translations from the Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1993), 197-199