Presentation of the Virgin and E Pluribus Unum

Carpacio Presentation of the Virgin

Saints Joachim and Ann knew that they had a lovely daughter, the offspring of their flesh, a young lass of our human stock.

We, too, know some sweet young ladies, I am sure–of seven, or ten, or twelve. We know how reassuringly human they are, and playful, and funny. We cannot doubt that our Lady had those qualities, when she was a girl.

But Joachim and Ann, attuned as they themselves were to the interior life of prayer—they knew also that their daughter had an altogether unique and wonderful interiority.

In the gospel reading at today’s Holy Mass, we read how the Lord Jesus drove the merchants out of the Temple, saying: “this is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!” He could have been saying those words to us, referring to our souls. O fallen man, your soul is a house of prayer, but you have filled it with thievery! It takes a lifetime of penance to cleanse the temple.

But Joachim and Ann’s daughter, they could see, had no thieves in her interior temple. She could goof; she could laugh, like girls will do. But there was no grasping; there was no desperation; no unreasonable anger, no inconsistency of desire. The young Mary wanted one thing, focused on one thing, rested her whole heart and mind on one thing: God.

This girl belonged in the Temple. Everyone who knew her could see that she herself was a temple. When Joachim and Ann took her to the Temple to learn the things of God, the temple of a pure soul came to the Temple on Mount Zion.

President gave a speech yesterday evening. I must say that I was truly moved by the peroration. He painted the picture of the people we know, the fathers and mothers and children who deserve a better life than “it’s no fun being an illegal alien.”

Genesis Illegal Alien cdPresident Obama quoted Exodus. Our Catholic Bible offers a more precise translation: “You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt.”

The People of God know that this world offers no lasting city. Our true home lies above. ‘Resident-alien’-hood comes to us as a birthright, with Holy Baptism.

President said that our country is about more than what we look like and what our last names are. Amen to that. Then he added the usual throw-away phrase about religion: doesn’t matter “how we worship,” either.


How do we get where we want to be? That is: How do we get to the point where we embrace all men as brothers, because we have one common Father?

Only one human individual begotten of two human parents ever came into the world with that sentiment already at work in her beautiful soul. The rest of us have an intractable tendency to fight amongst ourselves.

America can only become the “America” of the beautiful vision by resting securely at the feet of the true patroness of this land, the Guadalupana, the immaculate Mother of God.

What we look like, and our last names, don’t matter. But how we worship not only matters, but is the key to everything. The religion that brings about e pluribus unum is the religion of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Jerusalem, Presentation of our Lady, Wings

The Lord longed to gather the city to Himself like a hen gathers her young under her wings. Christ the great king, the universal king, the omnipotent king—He rules the world like a mother hen, with a feathery embrace, rank with the smell of warm love.

bl-virg-detailThe Lord wept over the city, because the chicks just wanted to zig and zag their own way, cheep-cheep-cheeping after whatever caught their fleeting fancy. The mother hen knows and laments: little chicks cannot long survive alone in this strange, cold world without the canopy of warm wings.

In this very same city, Saints Joachim and Ann had taken their young daughter to the Temple, so that she could learn the ways of God. She opened her heart and mind altogether to the truth, never swerving from the path of learning.

Truth is, the wings of God always cover us. The hen has an infinite wingspan: the sway of divine wisdom reaches everywhere, forming and guiding everything according to the magnificent provident plan.

Isn’t that the great truth that our Lady learned and took to her immaculate heart? Namely, that this whole cosmos is a great, warm nest?

Sure, I can’t always feel the warm wings, because I am a goofy little chick, just getting used to using my senses. But the one thing I always know, the one thing I do not doubt: the Hen will take care of me.

The Lord wept because the chicks zigged and zagged, and soon destruction would befall the city made of stone. They killed the Messiah, and then the Romans leveled the whole town to the ground.

But the birds had taken flight by then. Mary our Queen reigns over the indestructible Jerusalem above. The day had long since come for her to fly, when the angel beckoned her to test her own wings: ‘See, you will bear the Messiah as your only son.’

Mary couldn’t see over the edge; she had no idea what was coming. But she leapt out, because she knew how big the mother hen’s wings are. Infinitely big.