“We offer Thee, O Lord Jesus, this fourth decade in honor of Thy Presentation in the Temple by the hands of Mary, and we ask of Thee, through this Mystery and through the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, the gift of wisdom and purity of heart and body.” (St. Louis de Montfort)
The Presentation (also known as the Purification of Our Lady) is a mystery showing us it is God’s will for all of us to be pure. In the time when Mary was alive, the custom was that a woman had to be “purified” 40 days after giving birth. This was also the day the infant was to be presented to the priest. As Jewish law and custom had it, the parents were to hand over their firstborn son to the priest, showing that they were giving the child to God. Afterwards, the child is returned to the parents showing that indeed God has entrusted the child to the parents and it is their responsibility to bring God’s child up in His ways. And it was necessary that the mother be “purified” to raise her child as a child of God.
What does our faith teach us about purity? The Cathechism of the Catholic Church states: ” ‘Pure in heart’ refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity, chastity or sexual rectitude, (and) love of truth and orthodoxy of faith. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith.” (CCC 2518)
Indeed, the Church shows us how important purity is. She tells us that only through purity can we see others through the eyes of God and through faith. We can see, through the eyes of God, people’s true worth and how each person was made in the image and likeness of God. The Church’s views on faith are the same, for only with purity as your filter can you believe God’s teachings and apply it to the things around you. As the Holy Trinity is three Gods in one, separate yet inseparable, each form of purity both relies on and strengthens the other two in their own “trinity of purity”.
Mary, we all know, was perfectly pure in all three ways. Firstly, Mary was pure in charity. As we already covered in the Visitation, we learned how Mary not only acted out of compassion for her cousin, but she was able to bring with her Christ Himself within her womb. She had no secret motives save that of doing the will of God.
Secondly, Mary was pure in body. From her conception, she was protected from temptations that surround most people when it comes to impure thoughts and deeds. While she was spared these things, she was also completely modest in her dress, to avoid bringing any unintended impure attention to herself.
Thirdly, there is purity in faith. Mary never wavered from her faith. She trusted in Him in all things and was not tempted to bend the rules to fit her personal likes, nor was she one to question whether she must go through her own purification ceremony.
She shows us we are to not exercise our freedoms to go pick and choose which parts of our faith and other faiths we like and assemble our own place of worship. Instead, we use our purity in all three areas to study further the doctrines of our faith, that we may more clearly see God’s plan for us all.
Purity today is a hard virtue to come by. But perhaps that is because it is so easily misunderstood. Most people think of strictly the second form of purity; that of sexual purity. But all three are so intertwined, you cannot have one without having them all. The CCC illustrates this trinity of purity perfectly for us: “the faithful must believe the articles of the Creed so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying they may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.” (CCC 2518)
“Grace of the mystery of the Purification, come down into my soul and make it really wise and really pure.”
Copyright 2010 Cassandra Poppe