Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the current Divine Office, it’s been reduced to a third-class feast, but I have decided to celebrate Marian feasts as real feasts in my chapel! So I sang the hours according to the older Antiphonale Monasticum, which has it as a second class feast (not that I really understand all those little distinctions, but I have a general idea, and I can follow what the book says!).
The fourth reading for vigils (matins) was the following, which I found really touched me:
From the Book Upon the Orthodox Faith, written by St John of Damascus.Bk. iv. chap. 15.
Joachim took to wife that most eminent and praiseworthy woman, Anne. And even as the ancient Hannah, being stricken with barrenness, by prayer and promise became the mother of Samuel, so likewise this woman also through prayer and promise received from God the Mother of God, that in fruitfulness she might not be behind any of the famous matrons.
And thus grace (for such is the signification of the name of Anne) is mother of the Lady (for such is the signification of the name of Mary.) And indeed she became the Lady of every creature, since she hath been mother of the Creator.
She first saw the light in Joachim's house, hard by the Pool of Bethesda, at Jerusalem, and was carried to the Temple. There planted in the Lord, the dew of His Spirit made her to flourish in the courts of her God, and like a green olive she became a tree, so that all the doves of grace came and lodged in her branches. And so she raised her mind utterly above the lust of life and the lust of the flesh, and kept her soul virgin in her virgin body, as became her that was to receive God into her womb.
I just love those highlighted parts, especially “she became a tree, so that all the doves of grace came and lodged in her branches”. When I read that last night during vigils, I just had to stop and ponder it for a moment.
And she “kept her soul virgin in her virgin body…” I don’t know that I have ever considered that a soul might not be kept virgin even if the body is, but as soon as I read it, I knew.
"The dew of His Spirit..." ahhh...yes...may I receive some of that dew, too!