Of the Presentation of Mary
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
There never-Was, and never-Will be, an Offering on the Part-of a Pure Creature, Greater or more-Perfect than that
which Mary made-to God, when, at the Age-of
Three (3) Years, she 'Presented'
herself in the Temple, to-Offer Him, not Aromatical Spices, nor Calves,
nor Gold, but her Entire-self; Consecrating
herself as a Perpetual Victim, in
His Honor. She well-Understood the Voice-of God,
'Calling' her to-'Devote' herself entirely-to
His Love, when He said, "Arise, make
Haste, My Love, My Dove, My Beautiful One, and Come!" (Song-of-Songs 2:10). Therefore, her
Lord Willed that-from that Time
she should Forget her Country, and 'All', to-think only-of
Loving and Pleasing Him:
"Hearken, O Daughter, and See, and Incline thine Ear; and Forget thy People, and thy Father's House" (Psalm 45:10-11).
She, with-Promptitude and at-Once, 'Obeyed' the Divine Call.
Let us, then, consider how-Acceptable, was this Offering, which Mary made-of
herself to-God; for it was 'Prompt' and
'Entire'. Hence the Two (2) Points for our Consideration are,
First (1st), Mary's Offering was
'Prompt', and without-Delay; Secondly (2nd), it was
'Entire', and without-Reserve.
First (1st) Point — Mary's Offering was
Prompt. From the First (1st) Moment that this
Heavenly Child was Sanctified in
her Mother's Womb, which was in the Instant-of her
Immaculate Conception, she Received the
Perfect use-of Reason, that
she might begin-to Merit. This is in-accordance-with the General Opinion-of Theologians,
and with that-of Father Suarez in-particular, who says, that as the most-Perfect Way in-which
God Sanctifies a Soul, is by
its own Merit, as Saint Thomas also 'Teaches'; it is thus we must-Believe that the
Blessed Virgin was Sanctified: "To
be Sanctified by one's Own Act, is the more Perfect Way. Therefore it is to be Believed, that the Blessed Virgin was thus Sanctified". And if
this Privilege, was Granted-to the Angels, and to-Adam as the Angelic Doctor says, much-more ought we
to-Believe, that it was Granted-to the Divine Mother, on whom,
certainly we must Suppose-that God, having 'Condescended'-to make
her His Mother, also 'Conferred' Greater
Gifts, than-on All-other-Creatures. "From her", says the same Holy Doctor,
"He received His Human Nature, and therefore, she must have Obtained a Greater Plenitude-of-Grace, from Christ, than all
others". "For being a Mother", Father Suarez says, "she has a sort-of Special
Right, to All the Gifts-of her Son"; and as, on-account-of the Hypostatic
Union, it was Right that Jesus should 'Receive' the Plenitude-of all
Graces, so, on-account-of the Divine Maternity, it was
'Becoming', that Jesus should 'Confer', as a Natural Debt, Greater
Graces on-Mary, than He 'Granted'-to All-other
Saints and Angels.
Thus, from the Beginning-of her Life, Mary 'Knew'
God, and 'Knew' Him so that "No
tongue" (as the Angel declared-to Saint Bridget) "will ever Express
how-Clearly this Blessed Virgin, Understood His Greatness, in that very First Moment of her Existence". And thus
Enlightened, she Instantly 'Offered'
her entire-Self to her
Lord, 'Dedicating' herself, without-Reserve, to His
Love and Glory. "Immediately", the
Angel went-on to-say, "Our Queen determined to-Sacrifice her Will to-God, and
to-Give Him all her Love, for the Whole-of her Life. No one can Understand how 'Entire' was the Subjection, in-which she then Placed her Will, and
how-Fully she was Determined-to do All, according-to His Pleasure".
Education of the Virgin - by TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista -
from S. Maria della Consolazione (Fava), Venice
But the Immaculate Child, afterwards Understanding-that her
Holy Parents, Joachim and Anne, had 'Promised' God, even by-Vow, as many-Authors 'Relate', that if
He 'Granted' them Issue, they would
Consecrate it to His Service, in the
Temple; as it was, moreover, an Ancient Custom amongst the Jews, to-take their Daughters to the Temple, and there to-Leave them for their Education
(for which purpose there were Cells, contiguous), as it is recorded-by Baronius, Nicephorus, Cedrenus, and Suarez, with Josephus, the Jewish Historian,
and also on the Authority-of Saint-John-Damascen, Saint-George-of-Nicomedia, Saint Anselm, and Saint Ambrose, and, as we may easily gather-from the
Second-Book-of-Machabees, where, speaking-of Heliodorus, who 'Besieged' the Temple, that he might Gain Possession-of the Treasure there-Deposited, says,
"Because the place was like to-Come into Contempt ... and the Virgins also that were shut-up, Came-forth, some-to
Onias". Mary, hearing this, I say, having scarcely attained the Age-of
Three (3) Years, as Saint Germanus and Saint Epiphanius 'Attest' — the Latter of-whom says, "In her
Third Year, she was brought-to the Temple" — an Age at which Children are the most-Desirous, and Stand-in the Greatest Need-of their Parents'
Care, she Desired-to 'Offer' and Solemnly Consecrate
herself to-God, by 'Presenting' herself in the Temple. Hence, of
her own Accord, she 'Requested' her Parents, with-Earnestness, to-Take
her there, that they might thus 'Accomplish' their Promise. And the Holy Mother, says Saint-Gregory-of-Nyssa,
"did not delay Leading her to the Temple, and Offering her to God".
Behold now, Joachim and Anne, Generously Sacrificing to-God,
the most Precious Treasure that they Possessed in the World, and the One Who was Dearest-to their Hearts,
setting-out from Nazareth, carrying their well-Beloved Little Daughter in-turns, for
she could not otherwise have-Undertaken so-long a Journey, as that from Nazareth-to-Jerusalem, it being a Distance-of
Eighty (80) Miles, as several-Authors 'Say'
[Refer to Roads & Caravan Routes of Ancient Palestine]. They were Accompanied-by few Relatives,
but Choirs-of-Angels, according to Saint-George-of-Nimoedia, 'Escorted' and 'Served' the
Immaculate little Virgin, who was about-to
Consecrate herself to the Divine
Majesty. "How Beautiful are thy steps, O Prince's Daughter!" O, how Beautiful (must the
Angels have Sung), how Acceptable-to God is
thy every-Step, taken-on thy Way, to 'Present' and 'Offer'
thyself to Him! O Noble Daughter,
most-Beloved of our Common Lord! "God
Himself, with the Whole Heavenly Court", says Bernardine-de-Bustis, "made Great Rejoicings on that day, Beholding His
Spouse, coming-to the Temple". "For He never saw a more Holy Creature, or one whom He so Tenderly Loved, come-to Offer
herself to-Him". "Go then" (says Saint Germanus, Archbishop-of-Constantinople),
"go, O Queen-of the World, O Mother-of God, go Joyfully to the House-of God, there to-Await the coming-of the Divine Spirit, Who
will make thee the Mother-of the Eternal Word". "Enter with Exultation, the Courts-of the Lord, in Expectation-of the
Coming-of the Holy Ghost, and the Conception-of the only-Begotten, Son-of-God".
When the Holy Company had-Reached the Temple, the Fair Child turned-to
her Parents, and on her Knees 'Kissed' their hands, and 'Asked' their
Blessing; and then, without again Turning-back, she 'Ascended' the
Fifteen (15) Steps-of the Temple (according to Arius Montano, quoting Josephus), and as we are told by Saint-Germanus,
Presented herself to the Priest, Saint Zachary. Having done this, she
Bade Farewell-to the World, and 'Renouncing' all the Pleasures which it Promises-to its Votaries, she
'Offered' and ' Consecrated' herself to
At the Time-of the Deluge, a Raven Sent-out-of the Ark by Noah, remained to Feed-on the Dead Bodies; but
the Dove, without-Resting her foot, Quickly "returned to him into the Ark" (Genesis 8:9). Many who are Sent-by
God into this World, Unfortunately Remain-to Feed-on Earthly Goods. It was not thus that
Mary, our Heavenly Dove, 'Acted';
she 'Knew' full-well that God should be our only
Good, our only Hope, our only
Love; she 'Knew' that the World is full-of
Dangers, and that he who Leaves it the Soonest, is Freest-from its Snares: hence,
she sought-to do this in her Tenderest Years, and as-soon-as
possible, shut herself up in the Sacred Retirement-of the Temple, where
she could better-Hear His Voice, and
Honor and Love
Him more. Thus did the Blessed Virgin, in her
very First (1st) Actions, 'Render' herself entirely
Dear and Agreeable to
her Lord, as the Holy Church says in
her Name: "Rejoice with me, all ye who Love God; for when I was a Little One, I
Pleased the Most High". For this Reason, she was likened-to the Moon; for as the Moon completes
her Course, with greater-Velocity than the other Planets, so did Mary 'Attain'
Perfection, sooner-than all the Saints, by-Giving
herself to God Promptly and without-Delay, and making
herself all His, without Reserve. Let us now Pass-to the
Second (2nd) Point, on which we shall have much to-Say.
Second (2nd) Point — The Enlightened
Child, well-'Knew' that God does not 'Accept' a Divided-
Heart, but Wills that, as
He has Commanded, it should be
Consecrated-to His Love, without the least-Reserve:
"Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God, with thy Whole Heart" (Deuteronomy 6:5). Hence from the
First (1st) Moment-of her Life,
she began-to Love God, with all
her Strength, and Gave herself entirely-to Him.
But still, her most Holy Soul, awaited-with the most-Ardent
Desire, the Moment when she might
Consecrate herself to-Him, in a more 'Solemn'
and 'Public' Way. Let us, then, consider with-what Fervor, this Loving and
Tender Virgin, on finding herself actually
Enclosed-in the Holy Place, First (1st) Prostrate, Kissed that Ground as the House-of
her Lord: and then 'Adored' His Infinite Majesty,
Thanked Him for the Favor she had Received, in-being thus
Brought-to Dwell, for a-Time, in HisHouse, and then Offered
her entire-self to her
God, Wholly, without-Reserving anything ─ all
her Powers and all her
Senses, her Whole
Mind and her Whole Heart,
her Whole Soul and her Whole
Body; for then it was, according to many-Authors, that to-Please
God "she Vowed Him her Virginity", a Vow which, according-to the Abbot Rupert,
"Mary was the First to make". And the Offering she then made-of
her entire-self, was without any Reserve as to Time, as
Bernardine-of-Bustis declares: "Mary Offered and Dedicated herself to the Perpetual Service of God"; for
her Intention was to-Dedicate herself to the Service-of
His Divine Majesty in the Temple, for her Whole Life, should
such be the Good Pleasure of God; and never to-Leave that Sacred Place.
O, with what Effusion-of Soul, must she then have 'Exclaimed',
"My Beloved to me, and I to Him!" (Song-of-Songs 2:16). Cardinal Hugo, 'Paraphrases' these words, saying,
"I will Live all His, and Die all His". "My Lord and my God,"
she said, "I am come here to Please Thee alone, and to give Thee all the Honor
that is in my Power; here will I Live all Thine, and Die all Thine, should such be Thy Pleasure; accept the Sacrifice which Thy Poor Servant offers Thee,
and enable me to be Faithful to Thee".
Here let us consider how Holy was the Life which Mary led in
the Temple, where, as "the Morning Rising" (Song-of-Songs 6:10), which Rapidly Bursts-out into the full-Brightness
of mid-Day, she 'Progressed'-in Perfection. Who can ever tell
the always-increasing Brightness, with-which her Resplendent
Virtues Shone-forth from day-to-day: Charity,
Modesty, Humility, Silence,
Mortification, Meekness. This Fair
Olive-Tree, says Saint-John-Damascen, Planted-in the House-of God, and Nurtured-by
the Holy Ghost, became the Dwelling-place of all Virtues;
"Led-to the Temple, and thenceforward Planted-in the House-of-God, and Cultivated-by the Spirit, she, as a Fruitful Olive-Tree,
became the Abode-of all Virtues". The same Spirit says elsewhere, "that
the Countenance-of the Blessed Virgin was Modest, her Mind Humble, her Words, Proceeding-from a Composed Interior, were Engaging". In
another-Place, he Asserts-that she Turned her Thoughts,
far-from Earthly Things, Embracing all Virtues; and thus Exercising
herself in Perfection, she made such Rapid
Progress in a Short Time, that she Merited to-become a
Temple, Worthy-of God.
Saint Anselm also Speaks-of the Life-of the Blessed Virgin in the Temple, and says that
"Mary was Docile, Spoke little, was always Composed, did not Laugh, and that her Mind was never Disturbed. She also
'Persevered'-in Prayer, in the Study-of the Sacred Scriptures, in Fastings, and all Virtuous Works". Saint Jerome enters more into-Detail.
He says that Mary, thus Regulated-in her Life: In the Morning, until the
Third (3rd) Hour, she remained-in
Prayer; from the Third (3rd) Hour, until the Ninth
(9th), she employed herself with-Work;
and from the Ninth (9th) Hour, she again
Prayed until the Angel brought her
her Food, as he was wont to-do. She was always the
First (1st) in-Watchings, the most-Exact in the Observance-of the Divine
Law, the most-Profoundly Humble, and the most
Perfect in every Virtue. No one ever saw her
Angry: her every Word, carried-such Sweetness with it, that it was a
Witness-to all, that God was with her.
We read-in Saint Bonaventure's ─ Life-of-Christ
─ that the Divine Mother herself, Revealed-to
Saint-Elizabeth-of-Hungary, that "when her Father and Mother left her in the Temple, she determined-to have God alone, for her
Father, and often thought how she could Please Him most". Moreover, as we learn-from the Revelations-of-Saint-Bridget,
"she determined-to Consecrate her Virginity to Him, and to Possess nothing-in the World, and to-give Him her
entire-Will". Besides this, she told Saint Elizabeth that of all the
Commandments to be 'Observed', she especially kept this one before
her eyes: "Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God"; and that at-Midnight,
she went-before the Altar-of the Temple, to-beg that He would
'Grant' her the Grace, to-Observe
them all, and also that she might Live to-see the Birth-of the
Mother of the Redeemer, 'Entreating' Him at
the same-Time, to-Preserve her Eyes to-Behold her,
her Tongue to-Praise her, her Hands and
Feet to-Serve her, and her Knees
to-Adore her Divine
Son, in her Womb. Saint Elizabeth, on-Hearing
this, said, "But Lady, wast thou not Full-of Grace and Virtue"? Mary
replied, "Know that I Considered myself most-Vile and Unworthy-of Divine Grace, and therefore thus Earnestly, Prayed-for Grace
and Virtue". And finally, that we might be Convinced-of the Absolute Necessity under which we All are, of-Asking the
Graces that we Require-from God, she
added: "Dost thou think that I possessed Grace and Virtue without Effort? Know that I Obtained no Grace from God, without
great-Effort, constant-Prayer, ardent-Desire, and many Tears and Mortifications".
But above all, we should consider the Revelation made-to Saint Bridget, of the Virtues and Practices-of the
Blessed Virgin in her Childhood, in the following Words:
"From her Childhood, Mary was full-of the Holy Ghost, and as she advanced-in Age, she advanced also, in-Grace. Thenceforward she
determined-to Love God with her Whole Heart, so that she might never Offend Him, either by her Words or Actions; and therefore she Despised all Earthly
Goods. She gave all that she could to the Poor. In her Food, she was so-Temperate, that she only took as much as was barely Necessary to-Sustain her Body.
Afterwards, on Discovering-in the Sacred Scriptures, that God was to be Born-of a Virgin, that He might Redeem the World, her Soul was to such a degree,
Inflamed-with Divine Love, that she could Desire and Think-of nothing but God; and finding Pleasure in Him alone, she avoided all-Company, even that-of
her Parents, lest their Presence might Deprive her of His Remembrance. She desired, with the greatest Ardor, to-Live until the Time-of the Coming-of the
Messiah, that she might be the Servant-of that Happy Virgin, who Merited to be His Mother". Thus far, the Revelations-of-Saint-Bridget.
Jesus, Incarnate of Mary
Mary, Mother of God
Mary, Chosen Mother of the Eternal Word
Mary, Living Temple of the Holy Ghost
Mary, Tabernacle of God
Mary, Delight of her Lord
Mary, Consummate in Perfection
Mary, Virgin most-Holy and most-Perfect
Mary, God's Garden-of-Delights
Mary, Seeker of Redemption for All
Mary, Mother of Salvation
"Hail Mary, Full of Grace,
the Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou amongst women,
Blessed is the Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus"
(Luke Chapter 1)
Ah, yes, for the Love-of this Exalted Child, the
Redeemer did indeed 'Hasten' His Coming-into the World; for
whilst she, in her
Humility, looked-upon herself as Unworthy to be the Servant-of the
Divine Mother, she was herself
'Chosen' to be this Mother; and by the Sweet Odor-of her
Virtues, and her Powerful
Prayers, she 'Drew' the Divine Son into
her Virginal Womb. For this Reason, Mary was called a
Turtle-Dove by her Divine
Spouse: "The Voice-of the Turtle, is Heard-in our Land" (Song-of-Songs 2:12). Not only because as
a Turtle-Dove, she always Loved Solitude, Living-in this World,
as in a Desert, but also because, like a Turtle-Dove, which always Sighs-for its Companions, Mary always
Sighed-in the Temple, 'Compassionating' the Miseries-of the Lost World,
and 'Seeking'-from God, the Redemption-of All. O, with how much
greater Feeling and Fervor than the Prophets, did she Repeat their
Prayers and Sighs, that God would send the Promised Redeemer! "Send
forth, O Lord, the Lamb, the Ruler-of the Earth" (Isaiah 16:1). "Drop-down Dew, ye Heavens, from above, and let the
Clouds, Rain the Just!" (Isaiah 45:8)
In a word, it was a Subject-of-Delight to-God, to-Behold this Tender
Virgin, always Ascending-towards the Highest Perfection, like a Pillar-of-Smoke, Rich in the
Sweet Odor-of all the Virtues, as the Holy Ghost Himself
clearly-Describes her in the Sacred Canticles: "Who is she that goeth up by the
Desert as a Pillar of Smoke, of Aromatical Spices, of Myrrh and Frankincense, and of all the Powders-of the Perfumer?" (Song-of-Solomon 3:6).
"This Child", says Saint-Sophronuius, "was Truly God's Garden-of-Delights; for He there
found every Kind-of-Flower, and all the Sweet Odors-of-Virtues". Hence Saint-John-Chrysostom 'Affirms', that
God 'Chose' Mary for His
Mother in this World, because He did not find on-Earth, a
Virgin more-Holy and more-Perfect than
she was, nor any Dwelling more-Worthy than
her most-Sacred Womb. Saint Bernard also says,
"that there was not on-Earth, a more Worthy Place, than the Virginal Womb". This also agrees with the Assertion-of
Saint Antoninus, that the Blessed Virgin, to be Chosen-for, and Destined-to the
Dignity-of the Mother-of-God, was Necessarily so-Great and
Consummate-in Perfection, as to-Surpass all other Creatures: "The last
Grace-of-Perfection is that which Prepared her for the Conception-of the Son-of-God".
As, then, the Holy Child, Mary, 'Presented' and 'Offered'
herself to-God in the Temple, with-Promptitude, and without-Reserve, so let us also 'Present'
ourselves, this Day, to-Mary, without-Delay and without-Reserve; and let us 'Entreat'
her to-Offer us to-God, Who will
not Reject us when He sees us Presented-by the Hand-of that Blessed
Creature, who was the Living Temple-of the Holy
Ghost, the Delight-of her Lord, and the Chosen
Mother-of the Eternal Word. Let us also have Unbounded
Confidence-in this High and Gracious Lady, who Rewards, indeed,
with the Greatest Love, the Homage that she Receives-from
her Clients, as we may Gather-from the following-Example.
We read in the Life-of-Sister-Domenica-del-Paradiso, written by the Dominican-Father-Ignatius-del-Niente, that she was
Born-of Poor Parents, in the Village-of Paradiso, near Florence. From her very Infancy, she began to-Serve the Divine
Mother. She Fasted every day, in her Honor, and on
Saturdays, gave her food, of which she Deprived herself, to the Poor. Every Saturday, she went into the Garden and into the Neighboring Fields, and
Gathered all the Flowers that she could find, and Presented them before an Image-of the Blessed Virgin,
with the Child in her arms, which she kept in the House. But
let us now see with how many Favors, this most Gracious Lady, 'Recompensed' the Homage-of
her Servant. One day, when Domenica was Ten (10) Years of Age, standing
at the window, she saw in the Street, a Lady-of Noble Mien, accompanied by a Little Child, and they both Extended their Hands, asking-for
Alms. She went to get some Bread, when in a Moment, without the Door being-Opened, she saw them by her side, and
Perceived that the Child's Hands and Feet and Side were Wounded. She therefore asked the Lady, who had
Wounded the Child. The Mother answered, "It was Love". Domenica, Inflamed-with
Love, at the Sight-of the Beauty and Modesty of the Child, asked him if the
Wounds Pained him? His only Answer was a Smile. But, as they were standing near the Statue-of
Jesus and Mary, the Lady said to Domenica: "Tell me, my child,
what is it that makes thee Crown these Images with Flowers"? She replied, "It is the Love that I bear to Jesus and
Mary". "And how much dost thou Love them"? "I Love them as much as I
can". "And how much canst thou Love them"? "As much as they enable
me". "Continue, then", added the Lady, "continue to Love them; for they will
Amply Repay thy Love in Heaven".
The Little Girl, then Perceiving that a Heavenly Odor, came-forth-from
those Wounds, asked the Mother with-what Ointment she Anointed them, and if it
could be Bought. The Lady answered, "It is Bought-with Faith and Good Works". Domenica then 'Offered' the Bread.
The Mother said, "Love is the Food of my Son; tell Him that thou Lovest Jesus, and He will be Satisfied". The
Child, at the word Love, seemed filled-with Joy, and turning-towards the little girl, asked her how much
she Loved Jesus. She answered that she
Loved Him so-much, that Night and Day she always Thought-of
Him, and sought for nothing-else, but to Give Him as much Pleasure, as she possibly could.
"It is well", he replied; "Love Him, for Love will teach thee what to do, to Please
Him". The Sweet Odor, which Exhaled-from those Wounds, then
Increasing, Domenica cried out, "O God! This Odor makes me Die of Love". If the Odor-of a Child is so-sweet, what
must that of Heaven be? But Behold, the Scene now 'Changed'; the Mother appeared
Clothed-as a Queen, and the Child resplendent-with Beauty, like the Sun.
He took the Flowers and scattered them on the Head-of Domenica, who, recognizing
Jesus and Mary in those Personages, was already Prostrate, Adoring them. Thus the Vision
ended. Domenica afterwards took the Habit-of a Domicaness, and Died in the
Odor-of-Sanctity, in the Year 1553.
- End of Liguori Discourse -
O Beloved Mother-of-God, most Amiable-Child, Mary, O that, as thou didst Present thyself in the Temple,
and with Promptitude and without-Reserve, didst Consecrate thyself to the Glory and Love of God, I could Offer thee, this Day, the First Years of my Life,
to-Devote myself without-Reserve to thy Service, my Holy and most Sweet Lady!
But it is now too-Late to do this; for, Unfortunate Creature that I am, I have Lost so many Years, in
the Service-of the World and my own Caprices, and have Lived-in almost entire Forgetfulness of-thee and of-God: "Woe to that Time, in which I did not
But it is better to begin-Late, than not at-all. Behold, O Mary, I, this day Present myself to thee,
and I Offer myself without-Reserve to thy Service, for the Long or Short Time that I still have to-Live in this World; and in Union-with thee, I Renounce
all Creatures, and Devote myself entirely-to the Love-of my Creator.
I Consecrate my Mind to thee, O Queen, that it may always Think-of the Love that thou deservest, my
Tongue to-Praise thee, my Heart to-Love thee. Do thou Accept, O most Holy Virgin, the Offering which this Miserable Sinner now makes thee: Accept it, I
Beseech thee, by the Consolation that thy Heart experienced, when thou gavest thyself to God, in the Temple.
But since I enter thy Service late, it is Reasonable that I should Redouble my Acts of Homage and Love,
thereby to Compensate for Lost Time. Do thou Help my Weakness, with thy Powerful Intercession, O Mother-of-Mercy, by obtaining me Perseverance from thy
Jesus, and Strength to be always Faithful-to thee until Death; that thus always Serving thee in Life, I may Praise thee in Paradise, for all Eternity.