The Presentation and Offering

A blizzard hit Milwaukee last night and I've been home all day. I have plenty of things to do but the snow invites me to spend a little more time in solitude and quiet. One of my favorite books for prayer is "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD. There are two versions of this work that many consider a classic. One is the original version in one volume and the other is a more contemporary version in four volumes that follow the current calendar of the liturgical year and include reflections from the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Both versions are great for daily meditations.

As I read today's reflection for the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, I especially enjoyed a prayer from St. Bernard with which the reflection ended. In this prayer we hear how this feast, when Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the Temple, is a reminder of all that Mary and Jesus offered to us, and how our natural response should be to make an offering of our lives. Both--the first offering of Jesus for and to us and the offering of ourselves--are very Eucharist, and you can hear the Eucharist overtones in this little prayer. Here it is:

O holy Virgin, you offer your Son, the blessed fruit of your womb to the Lord. For the reconciliation of us all you offer the holy victim that is pleasing to God, and God the Father will at once accept this new offering, this most precious victim, of whom he himself says: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased..."

I too, O Lord, will willingly offer you my sacrifice, since you freely offered yourself, not through any need on your part, but for my salvation. I have only two poor possessions, O Lord: my body and my soul; would I could worthily offer you these two poor pittances in a sacrifice of praise! It would be better, much better for me to offer myself to you than be left to myself. In fact, if I remain alone, my soul is troubled, but in you my spirit is exultant as soon as it offers itself to you in complete dedication. Lord, you do not wish my death; shall I not then freely offer you my life? In very truth, that is ... an offering which please you, a living offering.