Why does Lumen Gentium credit only Mary with the Presentation at the Temple?

I’ve just read Peggy Frye’s summary of Mary as Coredemptrix and I have some problems with it. The problem I’d like to discuss here is an excerpt from Lumen Gentium, which she quotes, in paragraph 61:

[Mary] conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ. she presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross. In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in giving back supernatural life to souls.

Now we regard the Gospel According to Luke: [BIBLEDRB]Luke 2:22-24[/BIBLEDRB]
“They” is used, i.e. Joseph and Mary. Lumen Gentium credits Mary with the act, but it is often said how little women were regarded, and how powerful the men were, the man standing in place of the family (as one possible interpretation of Jesus feeding the 5000, it could have been 5000 men and their families), making me think Joseph would have been the primary actor here – instead Mary is credited, and the surrounding context appears to establish that Mary alone is being credited, particularly excluding Joseph. Why? I am tempted to think Pope Paul VI went too far, overstepped Sacred Scripture, and so I’m seeking patience, understanding and humility.



  1. This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to His death it is shown first of all when Mary, arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her belief in the promise of salvation and the precursor leaped with joy in the womb of his mother.(288) This union is manifest also at the birth of Our Lord, who did not diminish His mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it,(10*) when the Mother of God joyfully showed her firstborn Son to the shepherds and Magi. When she presented Him to the Lord in the temple, making the offering of the poor, she heard Simeon foretelling at the same time that her Son would be a sign of contradiction and that a sword would pierce the mother’s soul, that out of many hearts thoughts might be revealed.(289) When the Child Jesus was lost and they had sought Him sorrowing, His parents found Him in the temple, taken up with the things that were His Father’s business; and they did not understand the word of their Son. His Mother indeed kept these things to be pondered over in her heart.(290)

  2. Predestined from eternity by that decree of divine providence which determined the incarnation of the Word to be the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin was on this earth the virgin Mother of the Redeemer, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross. In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in giving back supernatural life to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace.

Paragraphs 52-69 are about the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Church, as the title says. St. Joseph has nothing to do with this part of the document and, therefore, is not mentioned. Scripture is not directly quoted, because the document is looking at one aspect of the presentation in the temple, that of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Maybe it did change.

From Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presentation_of_Jesus_at_the_Temple

“In the Roman Catholic Church, it is known as the “Presentation of the Lord” in the liturgical books first issued by Paul VI,[2] and as the “Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary” in earlier editions.”

“Within the Roman Catholic Church, since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasised in favor of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.”

“In the Eastern and Western liturgical calendars the Presentation of the Lord falls on 2 February, forty days after Christmas. In the Church of England it may be celebrated on this day, or on the Sunday between 28 January and 3 February.
The date of Candlemas is established by the date set for the Nativity of Jesus, for it comes forty days afterwards. Under Mosaic law as found in the Torah, a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain for three and thirty days “in the blood of her purification.” Candlemas therefore corresponds to the day on which Mary, according to Jewish law, should have attended a ceremony of ritual purification (Leviticus 12:2-8). The Gospel of Luke 2:22–39 relates that Mary was purified according to the religious law, followed by Jesus’ presentation in the Jerusalem temple, and this explains the formal names given to the festival, as well as its falling 40 days after the Nativity.”

The phrasing undermines the action of St. Joseph, does it not? “In this singular way” includes the phrase “She presented Him to the Father in the Temple”, thereby suggesting that St. Joseph did not “present Him to the Father in the Temple”.

So what did St. Joseph do, exactly?

I don’t know Jewish law or custom, but it appears to be Church tradition that it was the Blessed Virgin Mary’s place to present Him and ‘buy Him back’.

From franciscans.org.au/sfo/sfo03/02present.htm
(site has a virus attached to it(which my software blocked), so I copied most of it here)


The Presentation of the Lord - 2 February

The purification of Mary, the circumcision of Jesus and the presentation of the first-born son in the temple show us the normal humanity of Jesus. Considering how much the humanity of Christ meant to St Francis, this celebration must have been dear to him.

The fact that Jesus was fully human is vitally important for our salvation.

Jesus sought no exemption from the usual requirements of the law and he was given none. The young couple, Mary and Joseph, were doing what all Jewish parents had done for their first-born son for hundreds of years.

The Book of Leviticus sets out the legal requirements for the purification of a woman after childbirth (Lev 12:2-4): “If a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy, she is to be unclean for seven days … On the eighth day, the child’s foreskin must be circumcised, and she must wait another thirty-three days for her blood to be purified. She must not touch anything consecrated nor go to the sanctuary until the time of her purification is over.”

So we read in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 2:21) that, “When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus [which means ‘God saves’]. And when the day came for them to be purified [thirty-three days after his circumcision] as laid down by the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.”

Luke was not Jewish and is not accurate here regarding Jewish practice. Only the mother needed to be purified. The child had to be bought back from God, or redeemed.

This was in accord with the law stated in the Book of Exodus (Ex 13:1), where God said to Moses: "Consecrate all the first-born to me … Whether man or beast, this is mine. Of your sons, every first-born of man must be redeemed (that is, the life of an animal sacrificed instead of your son). And when your son asks you ‘What does this mean?’, you will tell him: ‘When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, God killed all the first-born in the land of Egypt, of man and beast alike. For this I sacrifice to God every male that first issues from the womb, and redeem every first-born of my sons’’ (Ex 13:14-16).

Mary and Joseph at the presentation in the Temple were like all the other Jewish couples. They were reliving, through the presentation of their first-born, God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt and throughout their long history.

The presence of Jesus at these rituals in the Temple of Jerusalem was momentous in the history of salvation. But no one among the noisy crowd noticed the young couple and their child except two saintly old people, Simeon and Anna. Actually, there was nothing to distinguish them. Like all other Jewish mothers, Mary was ritually purified; and like all other Jewish first-born sons, Jesus was consecrated to God and redeemed by animal sacrifices.

The Book of Leviticus laid down the appropriate sacrifices: “a lamb one year old for a holocaust, and a young pigeon or turtledove as a sacrifice for sin. If she (the mother) cannot afford a lamb, she is to take two turtle doves or two young pigeons” (12:8).

Mary presented the offering of a poor woman, “a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons” (Lk 2:24). Here is scriptural confirmation of St Francis’s devotion to the poor Virgin and her son. He wrote in his Letter to All the Faithful, “He was rich beyond measure, and yet he and his holy Mother chose poverty” (Omnibus, p.93). It is clear that the mother of Jesus and the mother of the Church knows our needy human condition.

Jesus, having taken on our flesh and blood, underwent circumcision in the flesh. After that, “he has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin” (Heb 4:15). He was made like us in everything.

  1. ewtn.com/library/MARY/CANDLEMS.HTM

  2. catholic-forum.com/saints/gdi212.htm

From jewfaq.org/birth.htm

“A firstborn son must be redeemed after he reaches 31 days of age. Ordinarily, the ritual is performed on the 31st day (the day of birth being the first day)”

St. Joseph did an awful lot for Jesus, including things that Mary didn’t do. But he didn’t conceive, bring forth, and nourish [ie, breastfeed] Baby Jesus, and he was dead by the time Jesus was on the Cross. So yeah, he didn’t participate in all three sets of actions listed in the text, and thus Mary was indeed singular in having done all three sets.

Expect very very long sentences, and very long sets of statements, in Church documents. Theologians love that sort of thing, and the Latin and Greek languages (which they study) encourage huge sentences like that. They break them up in English these days, but only for sanity’s sake. :slight_smile:

As for the rest, Leviticus 12:6 says that it’s the woman’s job to spend X many days being purified after the birth of her kid, and to offer a sacrifice of two turtledoves or two pigeons. So “they” brought Jesus to the temple, and “they” probably bought the sacrificial animals out of their joint funds. But Mary by Jewish law was the one who gave the sin offering of birdies. (And much pondering ensued, on the sheer irony and faithful obedience of a sinless woman and a sinless baby being involved with sin offerings.)

So Paul VI isn’t the one you should be mad at… it’s Mosaic law. :slight_smile:

However, it would have been Joseph who would normally have brought Jesus to the Temple on the 31st day, to redeem him with five shekels – except we don’t hear this from Luke. Possibly something happened to keep Jesus from going with Joseph then; possibly it was a sign that God wasn’t giving up this firstborn; possibly everything happened on schedule, and it’s just not part of the story. This is the sort of thing theologians used to speculate a lot about.

Mintaka’s statement reminds me a lot of Luke 11:27…