Presentation Of The Holy Virgin —Maria Valtorta

Anna's purification and offering of Mary, who is the perfect Child for the kingdom of Heaven.

I see Joachim and Anna, together with Zechariah and Elizabeth, leaving a Jerusalem home of friends or relatives. They are on their way to the Temple for the Purification ceremony.

Anna carries the Child in her arms, wrapped all in bundles, all wrapped in a wide cloth of light wool, but which must be soft and warm. With how much care and love she carries her little creature! From time to time she lifts the edge of the thin, warm fabric to see if Mary is breathing at ease, and then covers her again to protect her from the frosty air of a serene but cold, midwinter day.

Isabel carries some packages in her hands. Joachim carries two white, well-fed lambs, already more rams than lambs, on a rope. Zechariah is wearing nothing, how handsome he is in that linen dress with a thick woolen cloak, also white, which gives a glimpse of him! It is a much younger Zechariah than the one seen at the birth of the Baptist, then already in full adulthood. Elizabeth is a mature woman, but still fresh in appearance; every time Anne looks at the Child, she curves ecstatically toward that sleeping face. Isabel is also very beautiful in her dress of a blue tending to dark purple and with the veil that covers her head and falls on her shoulders and on the mantle, which is darker than the dress.

And Joachim and Anne? Ah..., solemn in their festive dresses! Contrary to the norm, he does not wear the dark brown tunic, but a long dress of a very dark red (today we would say: St. Joseph red). The fringes of his mantle are beautiful and very new. On his head he also wears a kind of rectangular veil, girded with a leather band. All new and fine.

Ana... Oh, she is not wearing dark clothes today. She wears a dress of a very faint yellow, almost old ivory color, tight at the waist, neck and wrists, with a thick ribbon that looks like silver and gold. Her head is covered by a very light and damask-like veil, fastened to her forehead with a subtle, valuable ring. On her neck she wears a filigree necklace; on her wrists, bracelets. She looks like a queen, even by the dignity with which she wears her dress, and especially the mantle, faint yellow, bordered with a very beautiful embroidered fretwork, also yellow.

- You look to me as you did on your wedding day. I was little more than a child then. I still remember how beautiful and happy you looked - says Isabel.

- Well, I feel happier now... And I wanted to wear the same dress for this rite. I had always kept it for this... even though, for this, I had no hope of wearing it.

- The Lord has loved you very much? - said Elizabeth, sighing.

- That is precisely why I give him what I love the most. This flower of mine.

-And will you have the strength to tear it from your breast when the time comes?

- Yes, because I will remember that I didn't have it and that God gave it to me. In any case, I shall feel happier than I did then. And, knowing

that he is in the Temple, I will say to myself: "He is praying before the Tabernacle, he is praying to the God of Israel, and also for his mother". This will give me peace. And more peace still when I say: "She is all his. When these two happy elders, who received her from Heaven, are no longer in this world, He, the Eternal One, will still be her Father". Believe me, I have the firm conviction that this little one is not ours. I could no longer do anything... He placed her in my womb as a divine gift to wipe away my tears and to comfort our hopes and prayers. Therefore, she is his. We are the ones in charge, happy in charge, of taking care of her.... and may he be blessed for it!

You reach the walls of the Temple.

- While you go to Nicanor's Gate, I will warn the priest. Then I will catch up with you - says Zacharias; and he disappears behind an arch that leads to a wide courtyard surrounded by porticoes.

The retinue continues to enter the successive terraces (because - I don't know if I have ever said it - the Temple enclosure is not a flat surface, but rises in steps on higher and higher levels; each of them is accessed by stairs, and in all of them there are courtyards and porticoes and very carved gates, made of marble, bronze and gold).

Before arriving at the established place, they stop to unwrap the things they bring, that is, cakes - it seems to me - very spread, wide and thin, white flour, two pigeons in a small wicker cage and some large silver coins, so heavy that it was fortunate that at that time there were no pockets, because they would have been broken.

There is the beautiful Nicanor Gate; it is entirely embroidered in heavy bronze laminated with silver. Zacharias is already there, next to a priest who is all pompous in his linen dress.

They sprinkle Anna with lustral water - I suppose - and then tell her to go to the altar of sacrifice. She is no longer carrying the Child in her arms. Elizabeth, who has remained on this side of the door, has taken her in her arms.

Joachim, however, enters following his wife, and carrying behind him a wretched lamb.

Joachim, however, enters following his wife, and carrying behind him an unfortunate lamb that is bleating. And I... I do as for Mary's purification: I close my eyes so as not to see any kind of slaughter.

Anne is already purified.

Zechariah quietly says a few words to his fellow minister, who, smiling, gives a sign of assent and then comes to the group, redone again, and, congratulating the mother and the father for their joy and for their faithfulness to the promises, receives the second lamb, the flour and the cakes.

- So this daughter is consecrated to the Lord? May his blessing be with her and with you. Look, here comes Anna. She is going to be one of your teachers. Hannah of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Come, woman. This little one has been offered to the Temple as a host of praise. You will be her teacher. Under your protection she will grow up holy.

Anne of Phanuel, now completely gray, pampers the Child, who has already awakened and who observes all that whiteness with those innocent and astonished eyes of hers, and all that gold that the sun lights up.

The ceremony must be over. I have seen no special rite for Mary's offering. Perhaps it was enough to tell the priest, and especially God, in the holy place.

- I would like to give my offering to the Temple and go to the place where last year I saw the light - says Ana.

Ana de Fanuel goes with them. They do not enter the Temple proper. It is natural that, being women and being a child, they do not even go to where Mary went to offer her Son. But, yes, from very close to the door, which is wide open, they look towards the semi-dark interior from which come sweet songs of little girls and in which shine rich lamps, which spread golden light on two pictures of flowers of little heads veiled in white, two true pictures of lilies.

- In three years you will be there, my Azucena - promises Ana to Maria, who looks as if enraptured inside and smiles when she hears the slow song.

- It seems as if she understands - says Ana de Fanuel - She is a very pretty girl! I will love her as if she were the fruit of my womb. I promise you, mother. If age grants it to me.

- It will grant it to you, woman - says Zacharias - You will receive her among the consecrated girls. I will also be present. I want to be there that day to tell her to pray for us from the first moment.... - and he looks at his wife, who, having understood, sighs.

The ceremony is over. Ana de Fanuel withdraws, while the others, talking among themselves, leave the Temple. I hear Joaquin say:

-Not only two, and the best, but I would have given all my lambs for this joy and to praise God! I see nothing else.

Jesus says:

- Solomon puts into the mouth of Wisdom these words, "Let him who is a child come to me." And truly, from the rock, from the walls of her city, the eternal Wisdom said to the eternal Child: "Come to me". She was consumed to have her. After a while, the Son of the most pure Maiden will say: "Let the children come to me, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs, and whoever does not become like them will have no part in my Kingdom". The voices seek each other and, while the voice from Heaven cries out to the little Mary: "Come to me", the voice of Man says: "Come to me if you know how to be children", and in saying this he thinks of his Mother.

I give you the model in my Mother.

She is the perfect Child with the heart of a dove, simple and pure, She whom neither the years nor the contact with the world can make barbaric, corrupting her spirit or making it tortuous or a liar. Because she does not want it. Come to me looking at Mary.

You, who see her, tell me: is her infant gaze very different from the one you saw at the foot of the Cross; or in the jubilation of Pentecost; or in the hour when the eyelids covered her gazelle's eye for the last sleep? No. Here it is the uncertain and astonished gaze of the infant; then it will be the astonished and blushing gaze of the Virgin of the Annunciation, or beatific like that of the Mother of Bethlehem, or adoring, like that of my first, sublime Disciple; then it will be the pitiful gaze of the Tortured of Golgotha, or radiant, as at the Resurrection and at Pentecost; then it will be that veiled gaze: that of the ecstatic dream of the last vision. But whether it opens to see for the first time, or closes, tired, with the last light, having seen so much joy and so much horror, this eye is that peaceful, pure, calm little piece of heaven that shines always the same under Mary's forehead. Anger, lies, pride, lust, hatred, curiosity, never sully it with their smoky clouds.

It is the gaze that looks at God with love, whether it weeps or laughs, and that for love of God caresses and forgives, and bears all things; love for its God has made it immune to the assaults of Evil, which often uses the eye to penetrate the heart; it is the pure, reassuring, blessing eye that the pure, the saints, those in love with God have.

I have already said: "The eye is the light of your body. If the eye is pure, your whole body will be illuminated; but if the eye is dim, your whole person will be in darkness". The saints have had these eyes, which are light for the spirit and salvation for the flesh, because, like Mary, throughout their lives they have looked only to God; or, moreover, they have had remembrance of God.

I will explain to you, little voice, the meaning of these words of mine.