Just a short reflection on one of the important people associated with today’s very special celebration – and that is the Prophetess, Anna.
As we read St. Luke’s account of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Mary and Joseph, our attention is drawn very much to holy Simeon – the floodlight is as it were, centred on him. But of no less importance is the Prophetess Anna. All we know of her is told in just three verses – 6 lines in all, and then there is no further mention of her in the Gospels – yet all the essentials of someone living a dedicated contemplative life, are present in these few lines.

Indeed, had Anna lived in the time of St. Dominic or thereafter, she would surely have had a kindred spirit with him. I could not help pondering on her embracing our way of life with a holy eagerness. Be that as it may, we do know that from the time of her early widowhood, perhaps when she was in her early to mid-twenties, she gave herself to the service of God in the Temple.

Just to reflect on a few vital facts which St. Luke elucidates for us: …..’she never left the Temple serving God night and day with fasting and prayer’ – and then as Mary and Joseph brought in the Child Jesus…’Anna came by just at that moment and began to praise God….and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem’.

As we reflect on our Dominican motto – To Praise, to Bless and to Preach – it is all there in holy Anna’s life in the Temple – the prayer of praising, blessing and the preaching – Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare.

It is quite possible to conjecture that Anna and Mary knew each other from earlier years. We know from the Church’s tradition that Mary was presented in the Temple as a child by her parents. Anna would almost certainly have been there at the time and could have been Mary’s Guardian. She could have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to whom she was so attuned, as to the whole mystery of Mary’s future divine motherhood – for St. Luke tells us: ‘she spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem’.
Reflecting on these highlights of the Prophetess, Anna, the words of Fr. Fernandez O.P. in his letter to the nuns quoted in our Constitutions, seem most appropriate:
‘Faith teaches the singular excellence of that form of life in which one can devote oneself without hindrance to praising God, to begging unceasingly for the Graces necessary for the salvation of the world and to the embracing of everyone in the heart of Christ.
This is our call – Anna also lived a similar life to the full in the Temple.

On this day set aside for those consecrated to God in the Religious Life, we can surely take inspiration from her and invoke her patronage as we strive to live ever more fully our motto – Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare.