Presentation of Mary


Heavenly Father, the Blessed Virgin Mary was dedicated to You by her parents when she was three. In the temple, she joined the girls who spent their days praying, reading Scripture, and serving the temple priests. Her holiness was very evident, and the high priest thought that You probably had great plans for her. I ask Mary to pray for the plans You have for my life. Where I have strayed onto a road of my own choosing, give me her hand to guide me back to where You want me. Where I need to wait for a new plan to begin, give me the grace to remain patient and say, “Your will be done.” Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for me. Amen.

[This prayer was found at the website of Saint Michael Center]

[Artwork:  The artist was known as “Meister des Marienlebens” (the Master of the Life of the Virgin), working circa 1463-1490]

One cannot help but notice that in the painting, those gathered around the temple steps have removed their eyes from Mary. They are focused either on another event, two puppies playing, or looking around to see what other people’s responses are to that event. In reality, we know that this is a heartrending moment for Saints Anne and Joachim, and as parents, many of us know that we wouldn’t have taken our eyes off that child until she was no longer in sight, and even then, we probably would have been running around the temple walls, tears in our eyes, trying to catch a final glimpse of her through the windows.

I’m sure the artist knew that too, and wasn’t disparaging Saints Anne or Joachim, or Mary’s family and friends as they gathered near the temple steps to give Mary over to her new life. He created a scene which is so far removed from how we know in reality Mary’s loving parents would have been acting that it captures our attention and causes us to reflect.

How easily we are distracted from what is truly important. How easily we turn our focus to the events around us, and to individual or global reactions to those events. Mary is our Mother, daily leading us to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit, and helping us to know the heart of the Father. How often will she have to turn her head and look back, to see if we are still watching her, still near her, still focusing our eyes and hearts on her?


5 Responses

  1. Mary Blessed Mother Thank you for praying for my family I ask you to continue doing same as we cry for your help in this trying time

  2. It seems as if St. Anne is waving goodbye and can’t stand to look and St. Joachim has his hand over his (breaking?) heart.

    This is a very odd and thought provoking painting. I think that I see a group of virgins on a porch waiting to greet the Blessed Mother also.

  3. Rose, I’m saying a prayer for you and your family tonight, and asking our Lady to keep interceding for you, that graces, blessings, peace and strength may pour down upon your family.

    Terry, I see what you mean, especially about St. Anne, now that you point it out. I was thinking afterwards, too, about how we all must continue on after we lose a loved one, whether through a parting or death. Life keeps going, puppies are born and play, flowers grow, there are meals to be cooked and floors to be washed…despite our sorrow – and all these things can actually be beneficial “distractions” throughout painful periods.

  4. In all honesty, unless it’s a Caravaggio or Carracci, I can not make heads nor tails of a religious painting. You can imagine what fun I am around icons, then.. but it’s fun and yes, thought-provoking, to learn about different religious paintings.

    And now, it would be just Anne and Joachim again.. what a hole her going must’ve left. Do we know for sure if St. Anne wasn’t also the Anna praying night and day in the temple along with Simeon, awaiting the Lord?

    And yes, Mary must look constantly to see if some of us are still near.

  5. No, St. Anne, Mary’s mother, is not the same person as the prophetess Anna who spent her life in prayer and service in the temple. But the prophetess Anna was actually the one placed in charge of little Mary in the temple. Venerable Mary of Agreda tells us: “The holy priest [my note: Simeon, I imagine] appointed as her [Mary’s] mistress the prophetess Anna, who had received from God particular graces to fit her for this office.”

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