|On November 21,
the Church recalls the presentation of the Blessed Virgin at the
Temple, when Mary's parents St. Anne
and St. Joachim, took her to the
Temple to devote her to God and His service. As recounted in the The
Protoevangelium of St. James (pdf):
And unto the
child her months were added: and the child became two
years old. And Ioacim said: Let
us bring her up to the temple of the Lord that we may pay the
which we promised; lest the Lord
require it of us, and our gift become unacceptable. And Anna
us wait until the third year, that
the child may not long after her father or mother. And Ioacim
And the child became three years old, and Ioacim said: Call
daughters of the Hebrews that are
undefiled, and let them take every one a lamp, and let them
that the child turn not
backward and her heart be taken captive away from the temple
Lord. And they did so until they
were gone up into the temple of the Lord.
And the priest received her and kissed her and blessed her
The Lord hath magnified thy name
among all generations: in thee in the latter days shall the
manifest his redemption unto the
children of Israel. And he made her to sit upon the third
step of the
altar. And the Lord put grace upon
her and she danced with her feet and all the house of Israel
The priest who received her was, according to tradition, Zachary, the
father of St. John the
Baptist. The Gospel
Nativity of Mary (pdf) and Archbishop Jacobus de Voragine's 13th
century "Golden Legend"
both relate the tradition that she ascended the fifteen steps to the
unassisted. From the latter:
And then when
she had accomplished the time of three years, and had left sucking,
they brough her to the temple with offerings. And there was about the
temple, after the fifteen psalms of degrees, fifteen steps or grees to
ascend up to the temple, because the temple was high set. And no body
might go to the altar of sacrifices that was without, but by the
degrees. And then our Lady was set on the lowest step, and mounted up
without any help as she had been of perfect age, and when they had
performed their offering, they left their daughter in the temple with
the other virgins, and they returned into their place. And the Virgin
Mary profited every day in all holiness, and was visited daily of
angels, and had every day divine visions.
Each of those fifteen steps is related to one of the "Gradual Psalms"
(Psalms 119 to 133 in the Vulgate and Douay; Psalms 120 to 134 in
Bibles with Masoretic numbering) -- the "songs of ascent" which St.
Athanasius recommends when you are "pressing forward, forgetting the
things you've left behind." The Old Covenant Levite priests would pray
these Psalms as they ascended into the Temple to make their sacrifices,
and the faithful of the Old Covenant would pray them when going into
Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals: the Feasts of Pesach
(Passover), Sakkuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tents), Before the changes
made by Pope Pius X, they also formed part of the Divine Office, being
prayed throughout Vespers and Compline.
Perhaps Our Lady herself prayed a
sort of "Divine Office." The Golden Legend says,
Jerome saith in
an epistle to Chromatius and to Heliodorus that the blessed Virgin Mary
had ordained this custom to herself that, from the morning unto the
hour of tierce, she was in orison and prayer, and from tierce unto
nones she entended to her work, and from nones she ceased not to pray...
The figure of the Ark of the Covenant, which was hidden away by the
prophet Jeremias, is fulfilled in Our Lady, and the ark is restored
when she entered into the Temple. As St. Germanus wrote (read the full
blessed Mary (cf. Luke 1.28), the holiest of the holy ones, higher than
the heavens, more glorious than the Cherubim and more honorable than
the Seraphim, more blessed than all of creation. You are the dove who
bears the olive branch to us in your glorious and splendid entry into
the Temple announcing a saving refuge from the spiritual deluge (cf.
Genesis 8.11). "The wings of a dove covered with silver, its pinions
with green gold" (Ps. 67.14 LXX) struck by the lightning of the all
holy and illuminating Spirit, the all-gold container (cf. Exodus 16.33)
who bore Christ, the manna, the sweet sweetness of our souls.
With St. John Damascene, "Let us dance in spirit with David; today the
Ark of God is at rest. With Gabriel, the great archangel, let us
exclaim, 'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Hail,
inexhaustible ocean of grace. Hail, sole refuge in grief. Hail, cure of
hearts. Hail, through whom death is expelled and life is installed.'"
Mary remained in the Temple until she was 12 years old.
Note that this feast along with the Feast of the Nativity of Mary
(September 8) and the Feast of the
Most Holy Name of Mary (September 12) parallel the Christ-centered
feasts of the Nativity of Christ
(December 25), the Feast of the Holy
Name (early January), and Candlemas,
or the Feast of the Presentation (February 2).
Today we not only commemorate Our Lady's presentation in the Temple and
her service to God, but also the cloistered life in general. It's
customary today to pray for those who've devoted their lives to praying
us: the religious (especially the contemplative religious). This prayer
for religious vocations, written by Pope Pius XII, serves the cause
O Lord Jesus
Christ, sublime model of all perfection, Thou art ever urging onward
all privileged souls in their high aspiration towards the goal of
religious life; and, moreover, Thou dost also strengthen them through
the powerful force of Thy example and the efficacious influence of Thy
grace so that they may be able to follow Thee in such a noble way of
life; grant then that many, recognizing Thy sweet inspirations, may
have the will to correspond with them by embracing the religious state
and so enjoy in it Thy special care and tender predilection.
Grant in like manner that there may never be wanting those
angels of Thy charity, who will represent Thee day and night at the
cradle of the orphan, at the bedside of the suffering, by the side of
the aged and the sick, who perhaps have no one on earth to whom they
may look for sympathy and a helping hand. Grant that humble schools,
like lofty pulpits, may ever re-echo Thy voice, teaching the way to
heaven and the duties proper to each one's state in life.
May no land, ever so wild and remote, be deprived of the
preaching of the Gospel, whereby the invitation is extended to all
peoples to enter into Thy Kingdom. Increase and multiply the flames
which are to spread throughout the world that fire in which the
immaculate holiness of Thy Church is to shine forth in all its
splendour. May there flourish in every place gardens of chosen souls
who by contemplation and penance make reparation for the sins of men
and invoke Thy mercy upon them. Grant that the continuous self
sacrifice of these hearts, the snow-white purity of these souls and
their eminent virtues may keep ever alive the perfect example of the
children of God which Thou didst will to make manifest to men by Thy
coming into this world.
To these armies of Thy dearly beloved souls send a large
number of good vocations, souls steadfast and firm in their resolve to
make themselves worthy of their high calling and to become a credit to
the holy institute to which they aspire, by exact religious observance,
by diligence in prayer, by constant mortification and by the perfect
conformity of their will with Thine in all things.
Enlighten, O Lord Jesus, many generous souls with the fiery
glow of the Holy Spirit, Who is substantial and eternal love, and by
the powerful intercession of Thy most dear Mother Mary, stir up and
preserve in them the fire of Thy love, unto the glory of the Father and
the same Holy Spirit, Who together with Thee live and reign for ever
and ever. Amen.
Other things you can do to help bring about religious vocations and
support traditional religious orders:
To learn more about the importance and purpose of the
contemplative religious orders, see "The MIssion of the
Contemplative Orders" (pdf),
- Talk to your
children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews about possible religious
(or priestly) vocations they might
have. Make sure they know about the religious or priestly life as a
sound option for many.
- Learn about the
different religious orders and and teach your children (an introductory
page: The Religious Life)
- Commit to making
for the purpose of invigorating the religious life
- Devote your
Friday penances (or other penances) for the good of those in religious
life and for an increase in religious and priestly vocations. Invite
your family to do the same.
- Take your kids
to visit traditional monasteries
- Teach your kids
about Saints who were members of religious orders
- Indulge any
interest your children might have in playing at being religious or
priests. Buy or make them nun or monk costumes to play in, get them nun
dolls or paper dolls, buy (or make) for interested sons toy Mass kits
so they can play at being priests, etc.
- Show your
children good movies that include nuns and brothers
- For priestly
vocations, encourage your sons to serve at the altar at Mass
- For priestly
vocations, invite your priest to dinner and holiday gatherings with
your family, know his birthday and ask your children to send him cards,
include his intentions and welfare in your family's prayers, always
show him the appropriate amount of respect for his office, etc. Treat
him as your true spiritual father.
- Adopt a
traditional priestly fraternity to support, if you're able
- Adopt a
traditional religious order to financially support and/or send gifts,
Christmas cards, etc. to. Include your children in this!
- If you're
wealthy, remember traditional priestly societies and religious orders
in your will
- Ask for
intercession from the following Saints: Alphonsus de Liguori, patron of
vocations; SS. Benedict and Teresa of Avila (patrons of the religious);
SS. John Vianney and Therese of Lisieux (patrons of priests)
Sermon on the Presentation of Mary
by St. Germanus
1. Every divine festival, whenever it is celebrated, spiritually fills
those who are present from a treasury and divinely flowing spring. But
even more and beyond other feasts does this recently hymned festival,
brilliantly celebrated, attract the soul with holy joy and gives more
joy in proportion to the preeminence of the excellent child of God. For
the annual observation of this feast is coming, in which one must be
pure to participate.
And let us be anointed with the perfume of her roses, as Solomon says
in the beautiful verse of his Song: "Who is that who comes up from the
wilderness, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant
powders of the merchants?" (Song of Songs 3.6) - "Come hither from
Lebanon, my bride; come hither from Lebanon" (Song of Songs 4.8).
So let us eagerly approach together this mutually beneficial, salvific
feast of the Mother of God. And bowing before the unapproachable place
[the Holy of Holies] let us watch the child going toward the second
veil, Mary the all-holy Mother of God who put an end to unfruitful
sterility, and exchanged the mere shadow of the letter of the law (cf
Hebrews 1O.1) through the grace of her birth-giving.
2. Today, at three years of age, she goes towards her dedication in the
temple of the law, she who alone is called the stainless and greatest
temple of the high priest and the Lord of all, and in whose bright
light is the radiance of divine light which illuminates the darkness of
Today a babe is handed over to a priest , the one who will dedicate the
only high-priestly God made flesh as a child at forty days for us,
having received in his welcoming arms (cf Luke 1.22) the uncontainable
One who is beyond all human knowing.
Today a new, pure, unspoiled book which will not be written by hands,
but written in gold by the spirit, hallowed with blessings according to
the Law, she is brought forward as an acceptable gift.
Today Joachim, who has wiped away the reproach of childlessness, goes
openly down the main road boastfully showing off his offspring, and
again is shown as a functionary of hallowing according to the Law.
Today also Anna has exchanged the persistence of barrenness for
fruitfulness, and becoming inspired by joy, proclaims to the ends of
the earth that she has borne a child, embracing to her bosom the one
who is wider than the heavens.
Today the gate of God's temple is opened to receive the entry of the
eastward looking, sealed gate of Emmanuel (cf. Ezekiel 44.1-3).
Today the sacred Table of the temple joyfully meets and participates in
the true divine table of the heavenly soul-feeding bread and by
changing to the worship of the bloodless sacrifice begins to shine.
Today she who alone is called the new, god-like, purifying and mercy
seat, not made by hands, (cf. Hebrews 9.11) for mortals who have
drowned in floods of sin is presented to the mercy seat of the temple.
Today she who will receive the Holy One of the Holy through the
hallowing of the Spirit is placed in the holy of Holies at a pure and
innocent age; and she who is marvelously exalted above the Cherubim,
makes more holy the holy of Holies by her presence.
3. Today Mary advances, about whom no matter how much we say, we cannot
come close to our goal of adequately praising her. Her beauty far
surpasses the power of every tongue and mind. For her greatness is a
vast sea, as the Heavenly drop born from her has shown. And therefore
her richness is unlimited in its infinitude, and her wealth is
For while it is possible for everyone in everything else to be sated,
it is not possible in this feasting to give too much sweetness in her
hymns and festivals. And hence, the material is without limit of
praises starting with her. And since the well is unfailing and not
diminished by the drawing out (cf. John 4.14) but as much as is drawn
out is refilled 100 or 10,000 fold, those who draw out cannot cease.
For the mystery overflows and the plant grows taller even than the
incorporeal minds, not to mention the incarnate minds, in the
compassion of the all-rich and pure maiden!
4. And her own parents presented to God the one who had reached three
years of age. But how great is the three-fold number and exceedingly
honored and for everyone a cause of all security! With three stones
David slew the infamous Goliath (cf. 1 Samuel 17.40), and Elijah the
Tishbite, as by three circuits he brought thus the flame of fire onto
water (cf. 1 Kings 18.34.), prepares [men] to believe. And for an equal
number of days Jonah was carried about in the breast of the beast
covered with water (cf. Jonah 2.1). He is declared an image of God who
managed the whale. And in like time the children boldly walked about in
the furnace nourished by the heavenly dew (cf. Daniel 3.49). And my
Lord Jesus' ministry was for a period of three encircling years,
cleansing me from the stain of my transgression and at another time
healing every disease and weakness. And to a similar number of
disciples he revealed the mystical appearance of His own glory upon the
mountaintop (cf. Matthew 17.1). And by spending three days he raised
the souls of those imprisoned in the shadows of hell from the ages
[past]. And what more? See with me the number three even in the
greatest things. For the cause of all and the divine source of
perfection has chosen to be praised in three blessings, in three
characters, that is in three natures, and if indeed we need to say the
same thing with "in three persons" in one essence, as a perfect number
without confusion, a collective unity; neither is the deficient poverty
dishonored, nor either is a vain fantasy indulged by a greater number
with many origins. Thus that Gregory says who is great in divine
matters and accurate in theology [Gregory of Nazianzus].
When, at last, the One, All-Holy, unoriginate Trinity, deigned to be
contained in the belly of the Virgin Mother, through good will of the
Father and of the Son and by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, then
it was necessary for her who had been glorified by the same number to
be most brilliantly consecrated, and because of this she is brought
into the temple at three years of age. Her Fashioner and Son puts all
things finally and surely in order.
5. When she who is the nourisher of our lives had been weaned, her
parents fulfill the commitment which they had promised. They call
together, as it is reported, all the virgins in the region to go after
her as torch-bearers. Delighted by the procession of the lamp-bearers,
she walks without turning back.
And the barren and unfruitful Anna with foresight lifts her hands to
God and says in a loud distinct voice, "Come with me, let us rejoice
together, all women and men who rejoiced at her birth, even more now,
as I dedicate to the Lord this divinely beautiful and holy gift
recently received from my own womb. Come with me, chorus leaders, with
singers and instrumentalists, and joyfully begin new songs in a new
way, not as did Moses' sister Miriam (cf. Exodus 20-21) but with my
daughter as the leader.
Come with me also, you neighbors and strangers and keep up with me in
giving thanks with great joy for a good childbirth and even more in
dedicating the fruit of my pains of childbirth to the holy places: sing
with joy a divinely inspired song . Come with me also, company of the
prophets, the assembly of the elect, ordering aright the resonating
glorious hymns through the Holy Spirit of our God: let us sing a hymn.
For there the word vibrates with prophetic sound, and thereby is
severed all opposing evil speech.
6. But come with me, David the forefather and ancestor of God and make
ever more harmonious music striking your harp in the giving of hymns on
the strings of the spirit (cf. I Samuel 16.23) with your God-inspired
voice, guiding more clearly her escort of virgin companions, as "The
virgins after her are led along to the king, those who are with her are
led along" (Ps 44:15, LXX). For behold the crowd leads the young women
in song on the way. The daughter of the King is led to the holy house
and with praises and songs into the holy temple, she who will
accomplish Your word, the one you yourself called daughter, my regal
child, for you said: "All glory is given to the daughter of the King
who resides within the temple dressed in gold-fringed robes," of a pure
and spotless virginity, and in the similar way you will have said,
"embroidered with incomparable beauty" (Ps 44:14 LXX). Come here David
bringer of dawn's light: "Who is this who shines out like the dawn, is
as fair as the moon, and bright as the sun?" "How gracefully you walk
in your sandals!" (Cant 7:2) "How beautiful and pleasant you are" (Cant
7:7) the one who shall be clothed in the Sun (Rev 12:1) and will bring
forth a new wonder under the Sun! (cf. Ec. 1:9-10)
Come, loud-voiced Ezekiel, holding the divine scroll of the
life-creating Spirit and crying your holy words to the eastward
oriented and sealed gate (Ezekiel 44:1) which only God goes through;
and anyone else in holy orders, or all the rest of the choir of
spectators, raise your voices, having seen accomplishment of the thing
that has been prophesied. But what? Our ancestors who are about to be
released from the curse and again inheriting the residence in paradise
from which you were cast out: should you not hymn the cause of your
salvation, with a fitting encomium and great praises? Indeed you
especially ought to shout out, and I with you and with us both all
creation ought to sing out in joy.
7. Probably with these thoughts the chaste Anna, having accepted this
course with her loving husband, sends forth her for whom she had felt
the pangs of childbirth. With the lamp-bearing virgins they reach the
temple, whose gates open to receive the mystical gate of God Emmanuel,
and the threshold of the temple is blessed by Mary's footsteps. For, on
the one hand, the house is brightened by the lamps, but even more, the
house is brilliantly illuminated by the luminance of the true lamp. By
her entry the temple's beauty is adorned. The vestments of the horn of
the altar of sacrifice are made more royal by the purple-hued garment
of her virginity. Zacharias rejoices that he is found worthy to receive
the Mother of God. Joachim is glad, confirming the outcome of the
oracles. Anna is joyful at the sanctification of her child. The
forefathers jump for joy, escaping the captivity of condemnation. The
prophets are delighted, and with them all who are yet to come in this
age of grace also leap for joy.
8. And thus the child of God is led in [and) takes her place by the
horns, as her parents offer their vows, and the priest gives his
blessing. Once again, the forefathers call to the priest: "Receive her
who will receive the immaterial and uncontainable fire. Receive her who
will be called the container of the Son and Word of the only God and
Father. Accept her who has destroyed the reproach of our bareness and
sterility. Lead into the sanctuary her who will restore us to the
ancient pasture of paradise. Possess her, who endures fear like ours in
her own childbearing and will be victorious over the power of death and
the tyranny of hell. Enfold her who covers our nature which was
stripped bare in Eden. Take the hand of her who binds in swaddling
clothes him who puts an end to our uncontrolled and impulsive
audaciously spread-out hands. Return to God her who returned us, you
who are the priestly celebrant of the expectation of our hopes.
Behold, Lord, accept her whom you gave. Receive her whom you provided.
Accept her whom you assigned to destroy our bareness , overcoming
through her the barrenness of the Law, you have ransomed us through her
from the terrible persistence [daily repetition of temple
sacrifices?]. House her who so well has housed us, her whom you have
chosen, and have foreseen, and have blessed. Draw to yourself her who
leans on you and is attracted by your fragrance. You chose her as a
lily out of the brambles of our unworthiness. Embrace her who is
brought to you with a most radiant complexion. Behold, to you we offer
her as our intercessor and dedicate ourselves.
9. These are the harmonious words of the righteous people, this is the
dance of the God- loving couple, these is the beautifully arranged
inscription of the ancestors of God. So then Zacharias having received
the child, probably first addresses the parents saying: "O cause of our
salvation, what shall I say to you? What shall I call you? I am
astonished seeing what kind of fruit you have brought forth, such a one
as by her purity attracts God to dwell within her. For never yet has
anyone existed or will anyone exist who shines forth in such beauty.
You are seen as the two double rivers flowing out of paradise, (cf.
Genesis 2.10-15) carrying a lamp more precious than gold and precious
stones, who in the beauty of her blameless virginity and her dewy
sparkling illuminates the whole earth.
You have been made known as shining stars as if fixed in the firmament,
each of you being a torch-bearer enlightening the murky shadow of the
letter and the law which was given in a stormy darkness and each of you
surely and unstumblingly guiding the believer in Christ to the new
grace of the new light. You have been made known as the shining horns
of the new righteous, spiritual temple, holding in your breasts the
holy, God-acknowledged, rational altar of the sacred victim. You, if it
is not too early to say, have been made known as Cherubim flying around
the mercy-seat (cf. Exodus 25.18) with the nourishment of the Priest
who supports the universe. You appeared to cover the mystical and holy
Ark of the new covenant of Him who on the Cross wrote the forgiveness
of our sin, forming a covering which far surpasses the one which long
ago was wrought of gold to cover the Ark (cf. Exodus 25.10).
Your rejoicing has become that of the cosmos. Your renown is the
universal joy of all men. Fortunate are you who bear the title of
parents of such a blessed child. Fortunate are you, who have brought
such a blessed gift to the Lord! Fortunate are the breasts by which she
was nursed and the womb that carried her (cf. Luke 11.27).
10. Come to me, child, child higher than the heavens. Come, you who are
seen as a child but are known as God's workshop. Come hallow rather the
gateway of the holy place, for you, so to speak, are not purified and
hallowed by this gate: but instead you hallow it more.
Come gaze upon the Holy of Holies and the awesome treasury, You who
will become the inexhaustible, unsearchable treasure. Come into the
entry doors of the Bema, you who destroy the doors of death . Gaze upon
the veil (cf. Exodus 26.31), you who enlighten through your lightning
flash those who are blinded by their dull-sighted tastes. Give to me
your hands as I lead you like a babe and hold my hand exhausted by old
age and weakened by earthly-minded zeal in transgressing the
commandment, and lead me to life. For behold I keep you as a staff in
old age and a prop for the weariness that comes naturally with old age.
Behold, I see you as one who will become a support for those who have
descended to death.
Approach in order to venerate the table, you who are called the living,
undefiled table, which has been spoken of in many symbols . Make your
way through the courts of the whole sanctuary breathing out as an odor
of incense (cf. Exodus 30.1). You have become more fragrant than myrrh,
you who have been proclaimed by the God-chosen tongue of the
spirit-filled prophet to be a censer. Go up, go up to the steps of the
holy house. Daughters of Jerusalem taking pleasure in the beauty of
your comeliness joyously compose a hymn . The kings of the Earth call
you blessed . Your ascent of the steps is recognized as divine and
delightfully shown as a God- supported ladder to the great patriarch
Jacob (cf. Genesis 28.12). Sit down O Lady, for it is proper to you as
the Queen glorified above all earthly kingdoms to be seated upon such
This holy place is a fitting dwelling for you who are the throne of the
Cherubim. Behold, as Queen of all I have attributed, as it is fitting
to you, the most honorable throne. Do you yourself raise up those who
have been cast down. And now with David I cry unto you: 'Hear O
daughter consider and incline your ear; forget not your people and your
father's house; and the king will desire your beauty.' (Psalm 45.11)"
11. And with this the old man restrained himself, although he had
thoughts enough for many more encomia. And the parents went away, and
the child having been consecrated to God remained behind. And angels
did their duty of feeding with fear, and the maiden was fed by
immaterial beings, whether with immaterial or material food.
Thus the fulfillment of the divine mystery was accomplished through an
initiative from God. Thus the infant grew and was strengthened, and all
the opposition which was given to us by the curse of Eden was weakened
(cf. Genesis 3.16).
12. But come now, assembly dear to God, whatever power is in our
childish thoughts, with one voice let us proclaim the "rejoice" to the
Virgin (cf. Luke 1.28), not being able adequately to hymn her perfect
feast; but excusing our weakness as far as possible, since God is
pleased with what is within our power. For the only woman known as
virgin and mother has surpassed all thought, and the cause is clear.
For what virgin has given birth, or after giving birth has preserved
her virginity undefiled, except you alone, who truly bore God in the
flesh for us, all-blessed maiden?
13. Therefore rejoice, forgiveness of transgressions given by God for
us filthy ones, who are denuded by the death-dealing and
soul-destroying food of Eden, as you put on the sea-purple robe which
represents God-given forgiveness today for your entrance to the Holy of
Holies in your glorious garment not made by hands (cf. Genesis 3.17), O
bride of God.
Rejoice, you who today call together all the prophetic assembly for the
beginning of your most brilliant and venerable Entrance, with
well-tuned cymbals as with musical instruments striking up the
divine-sounding strain and dancing in spiritual joy.
14. Rejoice, you who by the rhythm of your footsteps trample down my
terrible leader - that serpent with his crooked-minded, good-hating
diabolical nature - who has counseled me toward transgression (cf.
Genesis 3.1-13). But you controlling your changeable, visible, and
corrupt nature continue to journey along toward the heavenly, holy and
even eternal tent.
Rejoice, you who have radiantly shown this day of joy and gladness (cf.
Psalm 45.15 LXX) of your torch-lit Entrance upon those who have been
caught by the shadow of death and the abyss of infirmity - you who bear
witness that the divinely-ordained destruction of darkness shall come
about through you, O most wonderful Mary.
Rejoice, bright cloud (cf. Exodus 19.16) who continues to drop divine
spiritual dew upon us (cf. Exodus 16.13), you who today by your holy
entrance into the Holy of Holies have made to shine the all-brilliant
Sun upon those who remain in the shadow of death. A fountain pouring
out God, from which the rivers of divine knowledge pour out the bright
clear water of orthodoxy and drown out the company of the heretics.
15. Rejoice, delightful and rational paradise of God, which today is
planted in the east by the omnipotent right hand of his will (cf.
Genesis 2.8), who have blossomed forth the beautiful lily and the
unfading rose for those who in the west have drunk the bitter
soul-destroying plague of death, on whom the life-giving tree has
sprouted forth to the intimate knowledge of the truth . Those who have
tasted from it are made immortal.
Rejoice, sacred, undefiled, most pure palace of the omnipotent God. You
are wrapped in his grandeur and guide us all with your mystical joy.
Right now you are being established in the court of the Lord, in his
holy Temple, in which is located the decorated bridal chamber not made
by hands of the bridegroom (cf. Psalm 19.5-6). Through you, the Word
which was married to the flesh willingly wished to reconcile those
wanderers (cf. Romans 5.10) who through their own private will had been
16 . Rejoice, new Zion and holy Jerusalem, holy city of the great king
- within his citadels God has shown himself a sure defense (cf. Psalm
47.3 LXX) - and [God] making kings subject to the veneration of your
glory , and preparing all the world to celebrate in great joy the feast
of your Entrance. Truly golden and brilliant ... You the seven-lighted
lamp stand (cf. Exodus 25.31) enkindled by the unapproachable Light and
filled by the oil of purity, and giving the rising of its gleam to the
blind in the darkness of sin.
Rejoice, O fertile (Ps. 67.15-17 LXX) shady mountain (Hab. 3.3) in whom
the rational lamb has been nourished, he who has set aside our sins,
from whom the stone not made by hands was quarried (Dan. 2.34), he who
has crushed the sacrificial idols and "the head of the cornerstone has
become marvelous in our eyes" (Ps. 117.22, 23).
17. Rejoice, holy throne of God, the divine gift, house of glory, the
most beautiful splendor and elect treasure and universal propitiation,
and "heaven declaring the glory of God," (Psalm 18.2 LXX) the Orient
who has raised the unapproachable radiant one, who sends forth from the
highest heaven his warmth (Psalm 18.7 LXX) - that is to say his
managing forethought -- from which no one ever can hide.
Rejoice, you who through your birth released the fetters of sterility,
who scattered the reproach of childlessness, and sank the curse of the
Law (cf. Galatians 3.13); and blossomed forth the grace of blessing -
by entering the Holy of Holies you perfected the prayers of your
parents and the foundation for forgiveness of our sins, fulfilling the
perfection of harmony as the leader of the beginning of grace.
18. Rejoice, most blessed Mary (cf. Luke 1.28), the holiest of the holy
ones, higher than the heavens, more glorious than the Cherubim and more
honorable than the Seraphim, more blessed than all of creation. You are
the dove who bears the olive branch to us in your glorious and splendid
entry into the Temple announcing a saving refuge from the spiritual
deluge (cf. Genesis 8.11). "The wings of a dove covered with silver,
its pinions with green gold" (Ps. 67.14 LXX) struck by the lightning of
the all holy and illuminating Spirit, the all-gold container (cf.
Exodus 16.33) who bore Christ, the manna, the sweet sweetness of our
19. But O most blameless and all-laudable, most holy one, offering to
God greater than all created things, untilled earth, unplowed field
(cf. Ezekiel 19.10), well-pruned vineyard, most joyous wine bowl,
gushing spring (cf. Ezekiel 17.6), virgin birth-giver and husbandless
mother, treasure of purity and ornament of holiness, by your acceptable
and motherly-persuasive petitions to your son, born from you without a
father, and the God Creator of all, following the furrows of good
ecclesiastical order, steer us from the floods of heresies and scandals
to the calm and harbor where ships do not sink.
Clothe the priests brilliantly with righteousness (cf. Psalm 131.16
LXX) and the joy of glorious blameless pure faith. As for those
orthodox lords who have obtained you as a diadem and robe sea-purple
and supremely golden dye, or pearl, or precious stone and the undefiled
ornament of their own royalty, wielding their scepters in peace and
stability; subject to them and spread under their feet the un-filial
barbarian nations who blaspheme against you and the God born from you.
Guard them in the hour of battle along with the army which always
relies on your aid. Confirm them to go obediently by God's command with
the well-directed servitude of good order. Crowning with victorious
trophies your city which holds you as tower and a foundation, protect
her, girding her with strength. Keep the dwelling-place of God always
as the beauty of the temple. Preserve those who praise you from all
misfortune and distress of soul. Providing rescue for the captives,
appear as a succor to those who are strangers, homeless, and
friendless. Stretch out your protective hand for all the world, so that
in joy and gladness we may celebrate your festival with the rites which
we are now most gloriously performing. In Christ Jesus the King of all
and our true God, to whom be glory and power, along with the holy
Father, the source of life, and the co-eternal Spirit, one in essence
and sharing the throne, now and ever and to the ages of the ages. Amen.
From Dom Prosper Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year"
De B. Virgine in Templum
The exceedingly pure temple of the Savior, the inestimable sheep, the
holy Virgin, the sacred ark containing the treasure of the divine
majesty, is led today into the house of the Lord; thither she brings
the grace of the divine Spirit, while the Angels of God sing her
praises, saying: Truly she is the heavenly tabernacle.
While I contemplate the grace of God's ineffable and sacred mysteries,
revealed in its plenitude in this Virgin, I am full of joy, and I
cannot comprehend the wonderful and inexpressible way in which this
chosen and immaculate Virgin surpasses all creatures visible and
invisible. Desiring then to applaud her with joyful voice, my thoughts
and words fail me; yet I dare to proclaim her praises and exalt her,
for she is the heavenly tabernacle.
The Creator, Author, and Lord of all things, out of His
incomprehensible mercy and compassion, bent down towards us, and seeing
the creature He had made with His own hands fallen away, He in His
pity, deigned to restore it by a sublimer work than the creation; for
He, so good and merciful, emptied Himself; and in the mystery whereby
He freely took on Him our nature, He associated the immaculate Virgin
Mary with Himself: and she is the heavenly tabernacle.
The Word of God, our Redeemer, willing to show Himself for our sake in
the flesh, brought the Virgin into this world, and honored the coming
of that spotless one with new and stupendous gifts; for He gave her as
the fruit and reward of prayer, and promised and announced her to
Joachim and Anne. Her parents believed the word, and with joyful love
they vowed to offer her to the Lord: for she is the heavenly tabernacle.
The lovely Virgin being born according to the divine decree, her holy
parents led her to the temple, to fulfill their promise, and give her
to her Creator. Anne in her joy thus cried out to the priest: Receive
this child, lead her into the most secluded parts of the temple
surround her with all care; for she was given to me as the fruit of my
prayers, and in the joy of my faith I promised to devote her to God her
Creator: she is the heavenly tabernacle.
The "Wisdom of God with inscrutable providence, disposeth all things
rightly: Joachim and Anne are united in wedlock, but their union is
With all the heart's affection they together bind themselves by
inviolable vow to the Lord: that if He deign to give them offspring,
they without delay will consecrate it to Him for ever in the temple.
A bright Angel appears, and tells them their prayers are heard, and by
the grace of the most high King, a daughter shall be given them, full
Holy even in her conception, she is born in a wondrous manner, yet in a
way more wondrous still will she give birth, remaining a virgin, to the
Son of the most high Father, when He comes to, freely, cancel the guilt
of the world.
She is born then, that blessed Virgin, and at the age of three years is
presented in the temple; swift and erect, adorned with her beautiful
robe, she ascends the fifteen steps, beneath her parents' gaze.
The temple shines with a new glory, when this august Virgin is
presented; there she is taught by God, is visited by the Angels from
heaven, and rejoices with them.
When the chief priest bids the maidens of adult age prepare for
marriage, the Virgin at first refuses; for her parents have devoted her
to God, and she herself has vowed to remain a virgin.
God, being consulted, answers that the virgin shall take him for her
spouse whom a miraculous flower shall designate; Joseph thus chosen
weds the maiden and leads her to his home.
Then Gabriel is sent to her, telling her how she is to become a mother;
but the prudent Virgin stands silent, pondering over the strangeness of
But when he explains how this shall be, she believes him; and thus by
the Holy Spirit the Word is conceived, and He whom no space can contain
is concealed in the Virgin's bosom.
O peerless maiden, how dost thou surpass all praise in thy dazzling
glory! Protect us now, that in our fatherland we may enjoy thy fruit,
whereby thou art so honored. Amen.