“Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God’s word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.”—CCC 149
This week we celebrate the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when, according to Tradition, Joachim and Anne presented the young Mary, their only child, to serve in the Temple at Jerusalem until she became a young woman. According to one tradition, Mary was put in the care of Anna, who later rejoiced at the birth of Mary’s Son (see Lk 2:21-38).
St. Augustine of Hippo described faith as thinking with assent. In so saying, he reminds us that there are really two vital parts to the act of faith, one intellectual and one volitional. The grace of faith must for that reason perfect both the intellect and the will. What God reveals to us about himself is not just information that might leave us as cold as a mathematical formula would. God’s revelation of himself happens in time and in history and has consequences in our lives that call for action. Whether we choose to swim with the tide of this revelation or against it, it demands a response, a “yes” or “no” to the God who is the Lord of history. Faith is the “yes,” “a personal adherence of the whole man to God” (CCC 176).
Mary, of course, is the “purest realization of faith” in every sense. She is the ponderer of God’s history par excellence. Twice in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 2:19 and 2:51) he speaks of her as keeping and pondering in her heart the things connected with the infancy of her divine Son. Her beautiful canticle called the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55) is a celebration, an extended fiat (meaning, “let it be done”), to the whole plan of God coming to realization in Christ, an event to which she had already consented at the Annunciation (Lk 1:38). Mary’s faith was such that she never withdrew that complete “adherence of the whole” of herself to God’s plan from crib to cross and beyond, and so we rightly say that she “most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith” (CCC 148).
The Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is traditionally observed as a special day of prayer among cloistered religious. Consider what you might do to honor women religious—whether cloistered or serving the Church in the world—this week.