Mary’s Presentation in the Temple.
Mary had no childhood in the ordinary sense of the word. She had no games, no childish tastes, none of the ignorance or levity of childhood. From her very conception she possessed intelligence of God, and she merited. All her faculties were raised toward God and fixed on Him. He was her life. Her body alone had the weakness and littleness of infancy. As soon as she could walk alone, she begged her parent’s permission to retire to the Temple. She was but three years old when she was received among the maidens consecrated to the Lord, and there she remained twelve years. We know nothing of her life in the Temple, excepting that she lived there hidden from the world and practicing all the virtues. Some pious writers and saintly doctors, such as Gedrenus and St. John Damascene, say that she preferred the companionship of the children who suffered, caring for them in their sickness, and consoling them in their little troubles. Whenever a dispute arose, little Mary was always called to reconcile the parties and restore peace, which she bore with her everywhere. She lived in simplicity, never making herself remarkable in anything. She made herself the servant and the least of all, never losing courage, and anticipating the desires of her little companions. She was protected by the angels and surrounded by the heavenly spirits. The demon could not approach her, shielded as she was by her faithful guardians. She was the "garden inclosed," which none but the well-beloved Spouse Himself could open.
It is in this hidden life in the Temple that Mary should be our model. God had prepared her in secret, in silence, and without her suspecting the great mission that she was to fulfill. Later, Our Lord will prepare Himself, also, for His evangelical mission by thirty years of silence at Nazareth. During three years, He will prepare His disciples for the mystery of the Eucharist, and only on the eve of His death will He reveal to them all Its love.
Silence and secrecy are the soul of great things. Our Lord hid from Satan that He was the Son of God. Had the demon positively known it, he never would have urged the Jews to put Him to death. Nor did he know that this young maiden was one day to be the Mother of God. So long as a work remains hidden, unknown to the world, it grows in security. But as soon as the demon had discovered it and made it known to the world, he rises up against it, and combats it with all his might. If the seed cast into the soil is too often disturbed, it will not germinate. It must be allowed to rest hidden under the earth. It is the same with us. If we wish to increase, we must hide, we must remain unknown to the world, otherwise the demon will raise up many contradictions, and the wind of self-love will destroy us.
Our Lord has prepared us a long time. He has hedged us about with graces since our infancy, in order to introduce us into the cenacle of the Eucharist. Let us thank Him will all our heart. And although we may not have given ourselves to Him at so early an age as Mary, we are, however, in the infancy of the Eucharistic life. The Eucharistic manifestation has only just begun, and Our Lord calls us among the first to concur in it.
Mary in the Temple adored God in spirit and in truth. By her prayers and ardent desires, she hastened the coming of the Messiah. But we adore Him really present on our altars. We do not call Him from afar like Mary. He is with us, He is in the midst of us. We possess Him always. Let us imitate the silence, the solitude, the life hidden in God of the Blessed Virgin. May she be the model of our life hidden in the Eucharist!
Now we aim at appearing. We wish to have and to enjoy all at once. We know not how to wait. We force our plants, as it were, and they yield much at first; but they soon exhaust themselves and die.
Let us, then, love the simple and hidden life, the obscure employments of our position. Let us find our happiness in living unknown. Let us hide the tiny flame of our lamp under a bushel, for the least draft might extinguish it.
Mary gave herself to God promptly, entirely, and forever. She gave her whole being, her mind, her heart, her liberty. She reserved nothing. O let us give all to our Eucharistic Jesus, who gives Himself all to us! It is so easy to say: "My God, I give myself entirely to Thee," but it is difficult to do it in reality. Let us rely on His grace and on the prayers of our Mother, and when occasion offers, let us recall her perfect gift of herself to God. Her example will be our strength and encouragement.
Practice: Incessantly repeat: "Mary and Jesus! Jesus and Mary!"
Aspiration: They found the Infant with the Mother, and prostrating, they adored Him.