The CAPG's Blog
Sunday February 02, 2020
In Her Purification, Mary teaches priests how to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass worthily
"They carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord."-St. Luke ii. 22.
I. If Mary "carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord," Priests, when they celebrate Mass, " carry " Him to the mystical "Jerusalem," that is, to the Church, and there "present" the same Holy Victim to the same " Lord," and for the same ends. But how great is the difference between Mary's preparation and our preparation for this sublime act! She prepared Herself with so great purity, says St Bernard, that there was no need of Her purification ; She had no real, either legal or carnal stain ; and yet, before fulfilling Her great office, She waited in the Court of the unclean until the Priest had completed the prescribed rites for Her purification, and led Her into the Court of the purified (Lev. xii 2). What a lesson is this for Priests, teaching them to prepare themselves for Mass with the greatest possible purity of soul and body ; for if Christ, during His mortal life, chose to be presented by a most pure Mother, by whom, says St. Peter Damian, would He be presented, now that He reigns gloriously in Heaven, if not by pure hands ! Moreover, She prepared Herself with humility; for She concealed Her Divine Maternity and Her Virginity, and would not appear to be different from other women. St Bernard says, that as the Son would be circumcised as a sinner, so She would be purified as unclean. What ought our humility to be when we approach the Altar, conscious of our unworthiness of so sublime an honor ? We ought to remember, as St. Martin says, that no wrinkles, nothing which contaminates mind or body, should affect the Priest. Lastly, She prepared Herself with immense fervor, knowing what a depth of mystery, of the wisdom and knowledge of God, was comprehended in this act. What, then, should be our fervor when we offer the Holy Sacrifice?
2. The Blessed Virgin, in "presenting Her Son," accurately fulfilled the ceremonial prescribed by the Law. It is worthy of note that St. Luke mentions this fact four times : " according to the law of Moses ... as it is written in the law of the Lord . . . according to the custom of the law . . . after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord." By these repetitions the Holy Spirit teaches us, that Mary fulfilled these ceremonial precepts with careful accuracy, although neither the letter nor the spirit of the law bound Her to them. We too are bound to an exact fulfillment of all the prescribed ceremonies in celebrating Holy Mass. Our diligence, says St. Bonaventure, should be great in act, greater in word, greatest of all in intention. Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin to obtain for us a perfect observance of the sacred ceremonies, and an elevation of mind whilst we are celebrating the Divine Mysteries.
3. Mary tasted the purest joy " in presenting Her Son to the Lord," not only because She presented a Sacrifice worthy of Almighty God, but also because She saw Him acknowledged by Simeon and Anna, who now obtained from God the fulfillment of their desires with ineffable consolations. And Mary rejoiced in their joy, for it is the property of holy souls to " rejoice with them that rejoice '' (Rom. xii. 15). So, in celebrating Holy Mass, we too should rejoice, that by our means God is glorified, the Faithful are nourished, and the whole Church largely benefited. This is the time, says St. Bernard, when we ought to be glad and rejoice. We must not, however, be satisfied with present consolations, but imitate Mary, who ever retained a grateful, thankful remembrance of them, wondering as it were at them. Never should we forget the great grace of being permitted to say Holy Mass, but continually wonder at the infinite condescension of Almighty God. And amidst these consolations, let us make use of the strength we have received in the Holy Sacrifice to prepare ourselves for the tribulations which it may be the will of God we should suffer, and for the temptations with which the Devil may assail us. Even Mary, in the midst of all the consolations She then experienced, heard these words from holy Simeon : " Behold this Child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted, and thy own soul a sword shall pierce " (St. Luke ii. 34, 35).
" I will go in to the Altar of God, to God, who giveth joy to my youth." —
Ps, xlii. 4.
** O Mary, pray to Thy Son, that He may not be to me for fall, but for re-
surrection." — St, Luke ii. 34.