Today we celebrate the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day her parents brought her to the Temple and dedicated her to the Lord.
I ran across this brief reflection written by a seventeenth Norbertine priest, Leonard Goffiné. Unbeknownst to me, and probably to many of you, he’s quite a prolific, well-known, and much translated writer. The most recent edition of his Devout Instructions on the Epistles and the Gospels was edited an 2011 and is available at Amazon. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of him before. So fun to learn about an older brother in faith!
Leonard Goffiné was born in Cologne in 1648 and lived out his 71 years preaching and teaching in parishes and abbeys across the region and among Catholics and Protestants alike. Goffiné modeled his priesthood after the manner of the founder because “St. Norbert cared and worked so much for the salvation of souls.” Whereas so many had been led astray as a result of the Reformation, Goffiné wrote ten books of catechesis, mostly commentaries on the Mass and epistles and gospel for the daily readings. (Living the Liturgical Year, I’d say!) The first printing was in 1690. Widely read, it required an additional printing. It is said that aside from Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, (and the bible, of course) Goffiné’s books are the most widely translated writings in the Church. That says a lot!
The reflection below comes from Goffiné’s Devout Instructions on the Epistles and the Gospels. (A little bit more about Goffiné after this instruction.)
The Blessed Virgin was presented in the temple at Jerusalem by her pious parents, Joachim and Ann, there to be educated in the service and the law of the Lord in order that she might be guarded against the defilements of the world. From this we learn:
- Joachim and Ann offered to the Lord their only and most beloved child, and gave her up entirely to His service. Great as the sacrifice was, they yet made it. The preservation of the innocence of their daughter was to them above all else. Parents, God requires of you that you should not merely offer your children to Him in the temple, but that you should take care to keep them pure and holy, as living temples which have been consecrated in Baptism.
- Mary gives and dedicates herself to God as soon as she is capable of serving Him, and that without any reservation, for all time, and irrevocably. When, then, shall we give ourselves in earnest to God? True, we have been given to Him in holy Baptism, we have been consecrated as His temples, we have renounced the devil and the world, we have vowed to live only for God, and this vow we have, perhaps, often renewed; but have we kept it? What we gave with one hand, have we not taken it away with the other? Have we not defiled the temple of our hearts by shameful lusts, lived for the world and vanity more than for God? Ah, when shall we give ourselves up to God sincerely and forever? Perhaps when we are old! But will God accept our offering then? Will He be pleased that we begin to serve Him only when we can no longer serve the world? that we first begin to live for Him when our life is soon to cease? No; God is a jealous Lord, and is not pleased with a heart divided between Him and creatures. He requires us to love Him with all our heart and all our soul, and to serve Him with all our powers. Let us, then, do this, and do it from our youth; let us keep ourselves in body and soul undefiled for the Lord; such love, and such love only, will He reward as perfect.
O God, Who wast pleased that the blessed Mary, ever virgin, the habitation of the Holy Ghost, should on this day be presented in the temple, grant, we beseech Thee, that by her intercession we may deserve to be presented in the temple of Thy glory. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Epistle: Ecclesiasticus 24:14-16
From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling-place I have ministered before Him. And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. And I took root in an honorable people, and in the portion of my God His inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints.
Gospel: Luke 11:27, 28
And it came to pass, as He spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd lifting up her voice said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
By His answer Jesus would have us understand that His Mother was not to be blessed merely because she bore Him, the Son of God, but rather because she at all times endeavored to keep the word of God in her heart and to observe it in her life. If you would be blessed, learn to be not only a hearer, but a doer, of the word of God.
~ Goffiné’s Devout Instructions, (SOURCE: SQPN)
If you want to read more, you can download Goffiné’s Devout Instructions on the Epistles and the Gospels here. This might be a great resource to grow in faith during Advent. I’m sure we all have much to learn from these pages!
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! Anne