Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saturday, November 21, 2020
From 2018 Post:
We celebrate the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast memorializes a story not present in Scripture. We know of it only from apocryphal writings, those considered of unsubstantiated origin. It tells of Mary’s dedication in the Temple at the age of three. Some versions say she remained there until the age of twelve, thus giving her life fully to God even from youth.
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 … .” (Liturgy of the Hours)
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on Mary’s holy feast, we pray with Psalm 144, a song attributed to David as he thanks God for his war victories.
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.
How strange that the Church would use this psalm to celebrate gentle Mary as we commemorate her Presentation in the Temple. The traditional story, not included in scripture, is that Mary’s grateful parents brought her, at age three, to be dedicated to God.
Psalm 144 reminds us, as we pray with Mary today, that life can be filled with daunting challenges. It can even, at times, seem like a war. Pope Francis has described our times as beset by a “culture of death’:
It is difficult both to recognize and to contradict the overwhelming barrage of selfish, materialistic messaging our culture throws at us. It really is an ongoing battle.
But it is a battle we face not with weapons of violence. We stand up, like Mary, by the power of the God in whom we trust.
My mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who rallies strength around me.
We pray with Mary:
- to discern the path of grace for our lives
- to turn our whole lives over to God,
- to become a portal for God to enter our world
We pray for the courage to be God’s new song of hope for our times.
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to your beloved,
and deliver us from the grasp of evil.
Poem: To the Immaculate Virgin, On a Winter Night – Thomas Merton
Lady, the night is falling and the dark Steals all the blood from the scarred west. The stars come out and freeze my heart With drops of untouchable music, frail as ice And bitter as the new year's cross. Where in the world has any voice Prayed to you, Lady, for the peace that's in your power? In a day of blood and many beatings I see the governments rise up, behind the steel horizon, And take their weapons and begin to kill. Where in the world has any city trusted you? Out where the soldiers camp the guns begin to thump And another winter time comes down To seal our years in ice. The last train cries out And runs in terror from this farmer's valley Where all the little birds are dead. The roads are white, the fields are mute There are no voices in the wood And trees make gallows up against the sharp-eyed stars. Oh where will Christ be killed again In the land of these dead men? Lady, the night has got us by the heart And the whole world is tumbling down. Words turn to ice in my dry throat Praying for a land without prayer, Walking to you on water all winter In a year that wants more war.
Music: Blessed Be the Lord, My Rock – by Abbie Betinis sung by St. Pius X Choir, Atlanta, Georgia
Blessed be the Lord, my rock and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield and he in whom I take refuge.
We are like breath,
our days are like a passing shadow.
Bow thy heav’ns, O Lord,
Stretch forth thy hand from on high,
rescue me, deliver me.
I will sing a new song to thee, O God.
– Psalm 144