“Embrace Mary for she is the very gate of Heaven"
Our Lady of Good Success expressed her desire on numerous occasions requesting that her name be Mary of Good Success of the Purification and Candlemas and that this date, February 2, should be especially remembered since this date had always brought “great gifts and mercies” from Our Lady.
In the first antiphon during the Procession on Candlemas, it is written:
“Embrace Mary for she is the very gate of heaven
who brings to you the glorious king of the new light”
It is this feast in which we recall how Simeon was the first to “embrace” Mary as he took the Infant Child into his arms and said: “Now my eyes have seen my salvation…” accepting Christ as the Savior of all men.
Our Lady specifically asked that her feast of “Good Success” coincide with the feast of the Presentation for it is both joyful and sorrowful. It is found as the “Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary and also the First Sorrow of Mary in the “Seven Dolors (Sorrows) of Mary.”
Hence, this mystery of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Presentation of Our Lord is both joyful because it was the actual documented moment of the realization of the Savior being physically present amongst His chosen people - a moment that had been prayed for and dreamt about for centuries by the Jewish race. Yet it was sorrowful, since it was also the recognition of Our Savior’s sorrows, heartaches and pains that were to occur during the course of His life - culminating in the ignominious death of the cross. Thus by Divine inspiration, at the moment of Simeon’s words “thy own soul a sword shall pierce”, Mary understood and accepted all of Her Son’s future grief as her own and offered it as a sacrifice.
On January 20, 1610, Mother Mariana was praying to Our Lady when she received another visit from Heaven. However this time, the visit of Our Lady of Good Success was preceded by a visit from the three Archangels, St. Michael, St Gabriel, and St Raphael. Inundated with supernatural light, Mother Mariana perceived that they were accompanied by “armies of angels.” Each of the three archangels came forward and bestowed a special gift upon Mother Mariana. This was done because Heaven deigned to have her fulfill the mission of the making of this statue of “good success” which she had been procrastinating to accomplish.
St. Gabriel bestowed upon Mother Mariana a heavenly light that penetrated her mind so that all doubts she had about these apparitions would be erased and she would know the truth. Then St. Michael imparted a splendid light into her heart to strengthen and expand it so that she would be able to receive numerous graces and virtues most notably, humility. Finally, St Raphael conferred upon this good sister a radiant light to cure her blindness of her mind so that she would see the veracity of these apparitions.
These angels had been sent by Heaven to give Mother Mariana the necessary assistance to accomplish this special mission of “good success” given to her, for this devotion would be needed in the future to console “the devout faithful (the chosen ones of His Heart) who would live in those times during which Hell would be unleashed and many souls would be lost”
Mother Mariana thanked her heavenly visitors for the gifts they had bestowed upon her. She asked them to return to Heaven to tell Our Lord and Our Lady that she was docile to the plans they had in store for her. After this apparition, Mother Mariana was so filled with the love of God from these gifts that she should have died from the intensity of the divine fire inflamed in her heart. However, God sustained her.
For St Alphonsus de Ligouri says of this day in the Glories of Mary:
“Thus, Mary not only offered her Son to death in the Temple but she renewed that offering every moment of her life for she revealed to St Bridget that the sorrow announced to her by the holy Simeon never left her heart until her Assumption into heaven. In the Presentation how much more deeply did she submit to God’s will and repeat ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to Thy word’” (Luke 1:38)
St Alphonsus goes onto say:
“The wills of Christ and Mary were then united, so that both offered the same holocaust; she thereby producing with Him the same effect, the salvation of the world.”
By meditating on these Divine mysteries of the Presentation, the feast of Candlemas, and then comparing these apparitions of Mother Mariana, it can be said that Our Lady of Good Success had special designs upon Mother Mariana’s good heart and humble soul, desiring her to imitate her in her own way.
So, too, then, it can be suggested that not only is this a feast of the commemoration of Mary’s courageous sacrifice of Her Infant Son to His Heavenly Father in reparation for sinful Mankind, but also a feast in which Our Lady and Christ ask each one of us to partake in as we witness the Church’s passion and death in these times. They are asking us to imitate and share in this mystery like Mother Mariana, each in our own way, by offering our life with all of its joys and sorrows in union with our Blessed Mother and Our Savior. Additionally, we can meditate on the idea that we have been called to witness the Church’s Passion and to stand by the Cross as Mary did so let us implore Heaven that we may one day enjoy the Church’s Resurrection- Her Restoration and Her Triumph! Here again the joyful and the sorrowful are intermingled to make a most bittersweet feast day for all concerned.