A Doubly Beautiful Feast
On this feast we, as Catholics, commemorate when our Lady dedicated herself to God entirely. One of the best quotes that illustrate the beauty of the presentation of Mary can be found on americancatholic.org. It says,
“Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary, that from the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands.”
Mary was literally the first tabernacle. Having been chosen by God to carry Jesus in her womb she had to be formed for such a vocation. On this feast we can contemplate the first step our Lady embarked towards becoming the mother of our Saviour. However, she couldn’t have made this step on her own.
I like to think of this feast as doubly beautiful because on one hand, it’s a feast of our Lady and all her feasts are precious, but on the other hand, we can’t forget that Mary was raised by parents, just like us. Her parents, Saints Joachim and Anne played a crucial role in Mary’s life. You could say they were the ones who introduced her to God, especially on the day of her presentation, that’s why this feast is an excellent example to Parents too.
Parents as the First Educators
We know that Mary was born without original sin, but she still needed an environment conducive to her nature. She needed an upbringing that would nurture her and form her. She needed her parents.
Mary’s first educators were Saints Joachim and Anne. God entrusted them with Mary that Mary might fulfill her purpose. Similarly, parents are responsible for forming their children and each of them have a purpose to fulfill.
During Mary’s time, according to the law of Moses, presenting a child in the temple was a means of purification. Today we have baptism. In baptizing our children we are making the first step in introducing them to God, freeing them from sin and rebirthing them as sons and daughters of Christ. Yet this is only the first step in a life long commitment to forming true Christians.
This simple fact that parents are the first educators of their families is not a new concept in the church. In fact, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church number 2223, you can find this gem of a quote:
“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones."31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.”
The consequences of raising children in Christian households go far beyond the walls of our homes. It is a duty to society, and more importantly it is a duty as a Christian. After all, the family is the cell of society and each parent has been entrusted by God with the children they have.
Ask Mary for Help
Mary was prepared in order to raise Jesus, and Mary prepared Jesus in order to fulfill God’s will that we be sons and daughters of His. Each one of the little souls under our care need formation with love and attention. But we can’t give them anything we don’t have ourselves. So, we should learn from the example of our Lady and her parents during this feast of the presentation and ask for help to fulfill our responsibility to the souls God has entrusted to us.