Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE—COMMONLY CALLED THE PURIFICATION OF SAINT MARY THE VIRGIN, 1941.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
At the Nativity of Our Lord, the Virgin Mother saw her Divine Son presenting Himself to the world to be the Saviour of the world.
At the Presentation her Divine Son was offered to the Father as the spotless Lamb to be the propitiation for our sins.
On the Cross of Calvary the Virgin Mother saw her Divine Son consummate the oblation of Himself once offered, to be a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world." The Manger, the Temple, Calvary were the scenes of the oblations in which the Virgin Mother watched over her Son.
The mysteries were made known to her on the day of the Presentation. Simeon said unto Mary, "Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser, she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Israel."
The Only-Begotten Son of God was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. The Virgin Mary was Virgin before, during and ever after. She had no need of the ceremonial rite of purification. Yet in all humility she came to the Temple, as did every Jewish mother, for the fulfilment of the required ceremony. In the throng she was unobserved. So she was at Bethlehem. So she would be at Calvary.
Her life was hidden in the life of her Son. The glories which are hers are only seen and known in part. They will be seen in their fulness only when her Son comes again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end.
Our Lord, the only-begotten Son of God, was presented in the Temple in substance of our flesh in order that we may, through Him, be presented unto God with pure and clean hearts.
So the Collect gathers up the aspirations and the petitions for our observance of the Presentation and Purification. We need to remind ourselves constantly that we are called to identify ourselves with the mysteries of Our Lord's life. We offer and present ourselves to Our Lord that He may present us, through His merits and mediation, to the Father.
This is what we do in each Communion. This is the work of grace which works in us day by day, in the life of probation, the life of testing, which marks our present stage of existence. This is the redemption for which we look. This is the redemption which Our Lord has merited for us.
The Holy Child was offered and presented in the Temple for us men and for our salvation. Every moment of His life was an offering for us. In every offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the perpetual memory of His precious death and sacrifice is presented on our Altars in our earthly temples.
In Heaven Our Lord ever liveth to make intercession for us. In the Heavenly Temple He offers Himself that we may be presented with Him. In every Eucharistic oblation we are offered in union with Him, and accepted through Him.
We have next to transfer our thoughts reluctantly to the flight into Egypt. This will be the last chapter in the history of the Infancy. It is a dark and terrible one. Our thoughts will turn to the children who have fled from their homes seeking homes in a strange land, in our land, in our day. We shall offer for them, in our prayers, the flight of the Holy Child. We shall commend them to His holy keeping. For His sake we shall do for them what lies in our power.
Upon His intercession for them we shall trust that when all danger is past, He will lead them safely to their homes, even as He was brought safely to Nazareth.
Affectionately in Our Lord,