Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “This feast commemorates the dedication of the church of St. Mary, built in Jerusalem near the site of the Temple. Additionally, with Christians of the East, the Latin Church also remembers on this day the tradition according to which Mary as a small child, was presented to the Lord by her parents in the Temple” (The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume IV, p. 1572).
Mary’s birth is not recorded in the Bible. What we celebrate on September 8th each year is not Mary’s birthday in the traditional sense, but we honor the blessing of her being born. The word nativity refers to the circumstance or occasion of one being born. We honor the Nativity of Jesus, celebrated on December 25th, the date nine months after the celebration of the visit of the angel, Gabriel at the Annunciation. In a similar way, we remember Mary´s nativity, coming exactly nine months following the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the December 8th Solemnity when we commemorate Mary’s gift of prevenient grace allowing her to be born without Original Sin.
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We kayaked across Yellowstone’s Lewis Lake, up the Lewis River and halfway across Shoshone Lake to the campsite. Stepping out, stepping back, a different perspective unfolded as we celebrated the Eucharist on the shore. This gaze opened into infinity, finding and awakening vision: the faculty to be able to see and to understand, where sometimes only nature can reawaken this sense. At the same time, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, in a similar and complementary way awakens our vision, yet with even greater clarity and depth.
Family Rosary continues our May reflections on the motherly role that the Blessed Mother plays in our lives. Often times Catholics are questioned, "Why not go directly to God? Why do you go to Mary with your prayers?" Well, I propose a few reasons why we, as Catholics, turn to the Blessed Mother, gaze upon her beauty, and ask for her prayers.
As a young girl, I felt very drawn to Mary. There was not necessarily a “reason” for this. I could hardly understand her Immaculate Conception, her Fiat, her suffering at the Foot of the Cross. Still, I would often find myself reaching out and touching her feet on prayer cards, taking in her blue mantle and the crown she wore on her head. I would often ask to light a candle or say a “Hail Mary” after Mass. There was a knowing then, a maternal feeling that radiated from her into my own heart. I felt a desire to be more like her.
A few years before I gave birth to my daughter, I had consecrated myself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, using the method popularized by St. Louis-Marie de Montfort. The consecration meant that I had handed over my temporal goods and my spiritual blessings to the Blessed Mother with the hope of drawing closer to not only Mary but to Jesus as well.