The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Marquis of Austria and Confessor (entered heaven in the year 1136)

Dear Preston,

You shouldn’t agonize so much over your decision.  I know that sounds strange, since your vocation is the most important decision you’ll have to make in your life.  But even if it sounds strange, I hold by it. If you’re agonizing over it, something’s wrong; you’re thinking about it all wrong.  It’s not as if God is sitting back and watching to see if you’ll mess up, so he can gleefully make fun of you and turn your life into misery.  Just the opposite. He has been gently guiding your steps throughout your whole life up to now, honoring your freedom and still, mysteriously, leading you closer to himself.  Is he going to stop all of a sudden? Is he going to abandon you and leave you to make do with only your own puny, human resources? I don’t think so. That’s not how he works.  Today’s feast reminds us of that.

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the Temple is one of those odd memorials that sneaked into the liturgy even though there is little historical evidence supporting the actual fact of its occurrence.  Some of the apocryphal (non-canonical) Gospels depict the scene, describing how Joachim and Anne (Mary’s parents) took the child Mary to the Temple when she was three years old, and the priest kissed and blessed her, and she danced on the altar’s steps, and she stayed there in the Temple from then on, serving the Lord until her betrothal to Joseph.  Only later in the game (the sixth century in the East and the eleventh century in the West) did the commemoration become regular and widespread.

But even if the historicity is questionable, it reminds us of an undeniable spiritual truth: God has a plan for each of our lives form the very beginning of our existence.  He doesn’t create us and then later on try and come up with something for us to do. Not at all. In his mind, our lives are one with our mission within the Church. Just as a master architect knows in advance how every stone will fit into the Cathedral and oversees the production of every detail of the edifice, so our Lord makes each of us with a particular mission in mind.  The drama of life, then, consists in freely discovering and embracing this plan, this unique mission that only I can fulfill, this singular role that only I can play in the history of salvation. The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary illustrates this truth by showing how her special place in God’s story was known even before she had reached the age of reason. Thanks be to God she decided to cooperate fully in her mission once she did reach the age of reason.

So you don’t have to figure it all out on your own at all; you need to keep your prayer life healthy and do your part (spiritual direction, frequent confession, and communion…), but God will lead you.  He is even more interested than you in your happiness – that’s why he created you! Trust him. Listen to him. Follow him, one step at a time… That’s all he asks, and that’s the solution to your “agony”.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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