It is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Theotokos at the Temple. The story of her Presentation is found in the Protoevangelium of James one
of the apocryphal books that is afforded some serious respect. We need to remember that just because books are not inspired doesn’t mean they have nothing to tell us. Not all the rejected books are gnostic or very dodgy in other ways.
There does seem to be some discussion on how old Mary was when her parents SS. Anna and Joachim took her to the Temple. Some traditions suggest she was as young as three while others suggest she had reached the age of reason and was around the age of seven.
As she was left there to be taught and cared for by the Temple women, I would assume she was as least seven.
It was here, called by God, that Mary took her vow of perpetual virginity. She was to serve God in all He called her to for all her life.
Jewish law did allow for such vows but once a girl’s parents had died and there was no male adult to care for her she was obliged to take a husband. According to tradition these men were often widows who were willing to be a guardian.
The Protoevangelium tells us Joseph was widowed and had sons. It has been suggested that these sons may have been some of the “brothers of the Lord” mentioned in Scripture. I am not so sure as I think the sons of Mary of Cleopas and Mary Salome wife of Zebedee seem to fulfil that role as there is evidence they were close relatives of Jesus. But there could have been sons of Joseph too.
When the Archangel Gabriel comes to Mary and says “Hail, full of Grace,” (thus naming her the Second Eve as the first Eve had been full of grace until she blew it) he asks her to be the mother of the Saviour. Mary asks how this can happen.
Mary was not an idiot. She knew where babies come from. She was not asking for a biology lesson on marriage. She asked how God was going to allow this when she was under a vow. Gabriel assured her that her vow was safe as the Holy Spirit would overshadow her.
She then said yes (her Fiat) and became the Theotokos – the God-bearer. The new Ark of the New Covenant, holding within her the Bread of Life, Prophet, Priest and King.
This is a beautiful feast day as we head towards Advent. .