The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola are best suited for prayer during a silent retreat. However, Ignatius knew that they could also be effective when employed in a less isolated environment. It is the hope of the authors of this blog that you, the reader, find the meditations that we offer here useful in your own search to encounter Christ in prayer in your daily life. The meditations are intended to be prayed in order, from as close to the beginning as possible, perhaps over the course of a dedicated time such as the season of Lent. (more…)
Grace: To imitate the humility, forgetfulness of self, and patience exhibited in the saints who follow Christ.
Text for Prayer: Lk. 2: 22-38
Reflection: Today’s meditation is on the mystery of Our Lady’s purification and the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. We take time during our prayer to imagine how Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus make their way from Bethlehem up to Jerusalem in order to fulfill the law. They get in line just like everyone else—without privileges or exceptions. They offer two turtledoves: the sacrifice offered by the poor unable to afford a larger animal. They meet Simeon, who has been promised that he would see the Savior of Israel before passing away and Anna, an untiring servant of the Lord who passes her day praying in the Temple. These individuals allow us to ponder what it truly means to be humble, selfless, and patient.
At the time of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Mary has already completed a major part of her mission: she has said Yes to the angel and has become the Mother of God by bringing the Christ child into the world. What is she to do next? What more does her mission require of her? First, we should consider that Mary remains humble even to the point of submitting to the purification requirements of the Mosaic Law which held that women were ritually unclean in the week following childbirth (Leviticus 12). Obviously Mary had no need for purification being herself conceived without sin and conceiving Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, but she nevertheless chose to obey the Law, a true mark of her humility before the Lord.
Grace: For an intimate knowledge of our Lord Jesus who offered Himself to us so that we might know how to offer ourselves to Him.
Prelude: Journey to Jerusalem with the Holy Family. Listen to their conversations. Eat with them. Hold the Child for Mary every once in a while. Watch as Mary and Joseph dedicate their Son to God with care and devotion. Our first baby boy, He’s Yours, Lord! How do they respond to Simeon’s comment and Anna’s excitement?
Text for Prayer: Lk. 2:21-38
Reflection: Since we have reached the midway point of the Lenten season, let’s recall all the little (or big) sacrifices we have made so far. This meditation on the Presentation puts into perspective the meaning of “giving something up.” Joseph and Mary, after risking their lives to preserve the life of Jesus, did not claim Him for themselves, but dedicated this Gift to the original gift Giver.
Giving back to God what He gave to us sounds a bit odd, but it’s not the same thing as going to customer service to make an exchange for damaged or inadequate merchandise. After the Presentation, Mary and Joseph return home with the same Gift, and their responsibility for Him has not changed. A sword will still pierce Mary’s heart (soul). Things are not going to get easier, but in offering up their firstborn Son, the center of their lives, the best of all that they have, they become even more disposed to offer up whatever God asks of them.
Grace: I ask for intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus who for me lived as an infant under the faithful and tender care of Mary and Joseph.
Text: Luke 2:22-38
Reflection: After Jesus is born and circumcised Mary and Joseph take their newly first-born son to Jerusalem. This is in order to live in accordance with the law that they received from Moses: all first-born sons shall be presented to God in the Temple so that they may be consecrated to Him. The law indicated that children should be presented within forty days of birth.
We can take time during our prayer to imagine how Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus make their way from the area of Bethlehem up to Jerusalem in order to fulfill the law. They get in line just like everyone else—without privileges or exceptions. They offer two turtledoves: the sacrifice offered by the poor unable to afford a larger animal. Here we see the gentle, humble, and unassuming faithfulness of the Holy Family.
Grace: To share in the gratitude of Mary for the Gift given her by the Father.
Text for Prayer: Lk. 2:21-38
Reflection: Mary knew from the very beginning that God acts. That God takes the initiative. She knew that better than anyone ever has. And she trusts His divine action. She said yes at the Annunciation, even though there was reason to fear. She rejoiced and glorified the Lord at what He had done at the Visitation. She stayed focused and confident in the Father’s care throughout the Nativity and the fleeing into Egypt. And that same spirit of humility and trust is operating again in Mary at the Presentation of “her” child at the Temple.
She has known from the beginning this child belongs to God, as every child does. But in a special way she knew that to be the case now. Her focus remains on the goodness and the generosity of the Father and she acknowledges that in offering the child Jesus into the hands of the Father as soon as He was born. She would be there again, later on, at the foot of the cross, when Jesus would freely offer his own life into the hands of his Eternal Father.
The fulfillment of the long awaited promise to Israel is initiated here. Simeon and Anna give beautiful testimonies to this fact. A plan that has its roots deep in history, is coming to fruition here. What is anticipated, what has been hoped for, longed for, is made present now, in the flesh.
Questions: In what way might I be being asked to “present” what is precious in my life to the Lord who has given it to me in the first place? When I have I abandoned myself to the Father’s care in the past? Do I remember the freedom that came with it, even if it felt scary? Do I have enough trust in my heart to present to the Father what I most love and put it all at His service? How can Mary guide me and be model for me in this trust?