The Presentation of Mary is celebrated in the Church on November 21, one of the final feasts before the Advent season begins.
While the connection might not appear obvious, 19th-century writer Dom Prosper Guéranger saw in the Presentation of Mary a preparation for Advent, as he explains in his Liturgical Year.
[O]ur Lady’s Presentation also opens new horizons before the Church. On the Cycle of the Saints, which is not so precisely limited as that of the Time, the mystery of Mary’s sojourn in the sanctuary of the Old Covenant is our best preparation for the approaching season of Advent.
Mary, led to the Temple in order to prepare in retirement, humility, and love for her incomparable destiny, had also the mission of perfecting at the foot of the figurative altar the prayer of the human race, of itself ineffectual to draw down the Savior from heaven.
She was, as St. Bernardine of Siena says, the happy completion of all the waiting and supplication for the coming of the Son of God; in her, as in their culminating point, all the desires of the saints who had preceded her found their consummation and their term.
Presentation of Mary
Guéranger refers to the tradition that Mary was presented to the Temple by her parents. According to Fr. Alban Butler, this was a custom of some Jewish parents at the time, “Religious parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to the divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some amongst the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the Temple, to be lodged in apartments belonging to the Temple, and brought up in attending the priests and Levites in the sacred ministry.”
This event corresponds to Advent in an essential way. It looks to Mary’s own preparation in the Temple as an example for us, to use Advent as a time of patient waiting and prayer.
Mary’s Presentation challenges us to think ahead to what God is preparing for us and to take advantage of Advent as a special spiritual season of preparation.