NEWS BULLETIN – NOVEMBER 2017

pope

PAPAL INTENTION FOR NOVEMBER 2017

Christians in Asia.

That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions.

bishop

BISHOP’S MESSAGE

PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

God and the Church expect total consecration from the priests and religious. Hence it is better to concentrate on the feast of the presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary in this news bulletin.

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it is known in the West), or The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple (its name in the East),is a liturgical feast celebrated on November 21 by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

The Story of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in
the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the
Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow. Tradition held that she
was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God.

Thus the account of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple is principally based on the Protoevangelium of James, which has been dated by historians prior to the year 200 AD.

Mary remained in the Temple until her twelfth year, at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. According to Coptic tradition, her father Joachim died when Mary was six years old and her mother when Mary was eight.[2] While the story is a legend with no foundation in history, the point is to show that even in her childhood Mary was completely dedicated to God. It is from this account arose the feast of Mary’s Presentation.

FEAST DAY

The feast originated as a result of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New, built in 543 Emperor Justinian ruined Temple in century. This by the Byzantines under near the Jerusalem site of the basilica was the Sassanid Persians under KhosrauII after the Siege of Jerusalem (614).

The first documented celebration of the feast in any calendar is the mention of the Entry of the All-Holy Theotokos into the Temple in the Menologion of Basil II, an 11th- century menology of the Eastern Roman (also known as Byzantine) emperor Basil II.

The feast continued to be celebrated throughout the East, was celebrated in the monasteries of Southern Italy by the ninth century, and was introduced into the Papal Chapel in Avignon in 1372 by decree of Pope Gregory XI.[4] The feast was included in the Roman Missal in 1472 and became the feast of the universal church in the 16th century. But the feast was suppressed by Pope Pius V in 1568.[5] As a result, it did not appear in the Tridentine Calendar. Pope Sixtus V reintroduced it into the Roman calendar in 1585.[6] Pope Clement VIII made this feast a greater double in 1597.The feast also continued as a memorial in the Roman calendar of 1969.

LITURGICAL CELEBRATION

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates it on November 21 as one of its twelve Great Feasts.
In the Orthodox Church the feast always falls during the Nativity Fast, and on the day of the feast the fasting rules are lessened somewhat so that fish, wine, and oil may be eaten.
For the Roman Catholic Church, 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 …”[7] It is celebrated on 21st of November.

The three feasts of the Birthday of Our Lady, theHoly Name of Mary, and her Presentation in the Temple correspond in the Marian cycle with the first three feasts of the cycle of feasts of Jesus: namely, Christmas, theHoly Name of Jesus, and His Presentation at the Temple[8] November 21 is also a “Pro Orantibus”Day, a day of prayer for cloistered religious “totally dedicated to God in prayer, silence, and concealment”.[9]

Basing on the feast of the presentation of Mary, many religious congregations were established and one of them is the Franciscan sisters of Presentation of Mary founded in Coimbatore. From the beginning of the diocese they serve in our diocese. Let us all wish them a very happy feast and pray for God’s abundant blessing on them.

IN THE ART

Western depictions of the presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary usually focused on the lone figure of the child Mary climbing the steep steps of the Temple. Having left her parents at the bottom, she is to be received by the High Priest and other Temple officials waiting at the top of the steps. This is what you see in the cover page of this news bulletin.

The Presentation was one of the usual scenes in larger cycles of the Life of the Virgin, St. Peter’s Basilica contains the “Cappella della Presentazione” (Presentation Chapel); the altar is dedicated to St. Pius X.[10]

THE REFLECTION FOR OUR LIFE

Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her

life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God’s saving work.

In the 1974 encyclicalMarialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI wrote that “despite its apocryphal content, it presents lofty and exemplary values and carries on the venerable traditions having their origins in the Eastern Churches”.[11]

Consecration of One’s life to God

There are two types of consecration to God: the first one is as an infant and the second one is as an adult.

1. Consecration as an Infant- The first Offering
Religious parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to the divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some amongst the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the temple, to be lodged in apartments belonging to the temple, and brought up in attending the priests and Levites in the sacred ministry. It is an ancient tradition, that the Blessed Virgin Mary was thus solemnly offered to God in the temple in her infancy.[12]

By the consecration which the Blessed Virgin made of herself to God in the first use of her reason, we are admonished of the most important and strict obligation which all persons lie under, of an early dedication of themselves to the divine love and service. It is agreed amongst all masters of Christian morality, that everyone is bound in the first moral instant of the use of reason to convert his heart to God by an implicit act of faith, hope and charity. It takes place during the time of Baptism. How diligent and solicitous are parents bound to be in instructing their children in the first fundamental mysteries of faith, and in the duty of prayer, and in impressing upon their tender minds a sense of spiritual things in a manner in which their age may be capable of receiving it.

The tender soul of Mary was then adorned with the most precious graces, an object of astonishment and praise to the angels, and of the highest complacence to the adorable Trinity, the Father looking upon her as his beloved daughter, the Son, as one chosen and prepared to become his mother, and the Holy Ghost as his darling spouse.

Her first presentation to God, made by the hands of her parents and by her own devotion, was then an offering most acceptable in his sight. Let our consecration of ourselves to God be made under her patronage, and assisted by her powerful intercession and the union of her merits.

2. Consecration as an Adult -Late Offering

The first offering is very much acceptable to God. And then if we have failed to offer ourselves as infants or if we have been unfaithful to our sacred baptismal engagements, God disdains not our late offerings. But that these may be accepted by him, we must first prepare the present he requires of us, that is, our hearts. They must be washed and cleansed in Christ’s adorable blood, by means of sincere compunction and penance. And all inordinate affections must be pared away by our perfectly renouncing in spirit, honours, riches, and pleasures, and being perfectly disengaged from creatures, and ready to do and suffer all for God, that we may be entirely his, and that neither the world nor pride, nor any irregular passion may have any place in us.

This, Mary did by spending her youth in holy retirement, at a distance from the commerce and corruption of the world, and by the most assiduous application to all the duties and exercises of a religious and interior life. Mary was the first who set up the standard of virginity; and, by consecrating it by a perpetual vow to our Lord; she opened the way to all virgins who have since followed her example. They, in particular, ought to take her for their special patroness, and, as her life was the most perfect model of their state, they ought always to have her example before their eyes, and imitate her in prayer, humility, modesty, silence, and retirement.

Imitating Mother Mary, let us rededicate and re-consecrate ourselves to God, to our charismas and to our ministry as priests and religious.

References:
1. Some but not all Eastern Rite churches reckon by the Julian calendar, in which this date falls 13 days later on December 4 of the
Gregorian calendar.
2. Peters, Sr. Danielle. “The Holy Land: In the Footsteps of Mary of Nazareth”, Marian Library, University of Dayton
3. Mauriello, Matthew R., “November 21: Presentation of Mary”, Fairfield County Catholic, 1996
4. “The Saint Andrew Missal, with Sundays and Feasts,” by Dom Gaspar LeFebvre, O.S.B., Saint Paul, MN: The E. M. Lohmann Co., 1952, p. 1684
5. William E. Coleman, Ed. “Philippe de Mezieres’ Campaign for the Feast of Mary’s Presentation,” Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval
Studies, 1981, pp. 3-4.
6. “Calendarium Romanum” (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), pp. 108-109
7. “Liturgy of the Hours,” November 21
8. “The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, Passionist Nuns
9. Angelus Address of Pope Benedict XVI, November 19, 2006
10. “Presentation Chapel”, St. Peter’s Basilica
11. Pope Paul VI,Marialis Cultus Nos:25-28
12. St.Greg.of Nyssa,Serm.In Nat.Christ.,P.779

With my most cordial blessings,
A. Amalraj,
Bishop of Ootacamund

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