Tag Archives: Ann

Praying with Mary and Ann

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Western Wall, Jerusalem

Yesterday’s  Feast of Saints Ann and Joachim, the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus, July 26, reminds us of the role parents and grandparents play in raising children.  A few years ago I visited the ancient ruins of the temple in Jerusalem from the time of Jesus and  Jewish women were fervently praying with their daughters before the temple’s western wall. They were probably praying the psalms.

Ann and her daughter Mary must have prayed here too.

Temple

The picture above is a model of the temple from Jesus’ time at the Israel Museum. Tradition says Ann and Joachim were closely connected to the temple and may have lived nearby.  A church honoring St. Ann stands today near the Pool of Bethesda, where  a paralyzed man was healed by Jesus. (John 5, 1-18) The church (below) and the remains of the pool are to the right of the temple.

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Church of St. Ann, Jerusalem

A statue of Ann and her daughter Mary, common in many Catholic churches,  can be found in the Jerusalem church. Ann is teaching her daughter at her side.

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What is she teaching her? Some statues I’ve seen show her teaching Mary the scriptures. I’ve seen a statue showing Ann teaching her the ABCs and numbers. (below)That’s what parents and grandparents do: they teach children life’s basics: how to live and how to pray.

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Cathedral, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It’s still the same today. Parents and grandparents, the next generation is at your side. Ann and Joachim pray for us; show us the way.

Passing On The Faith

Basilica of St. Ann, Jerusalem, 11th century

Devotion to St. Ann began in Jerusalem, probably at a 5th century basilica near the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus cured the paralyzed man waiting to get into its healing waters. Ruins of the basilica can be seen today in the ruins of the Bethesda pool. The present basilica of St. Ann, begun in the 12th century, stands nearby.

Would the early basilica be near the place where Joachim and Ann lived in the city, or was its site chosen for convenience? The ancient stories of the Protoevangelium associate Mary’s family with the temple and describe Joachim participating in the temple sacrifices. I wonder if we dismiss these stories too quickly as “myths.”

The Protoevangelium says that Mary was presented in the temple and dedicated to God as a child. At the least, this indicates that Mary would be well acquainted with the temple, its worship and the teachings of Judaism. If we accept this reconstruction, Mary would be far from a peasant girl from Nazareth. She would be better formed in Judaism and particularly in temple worship than we sometimes think.

Mary’s family was related to the family of John the Baptist, whose father Zachariah is a priest in the temple. (Luke 1,3-25) They live in the hill country near Jerusalem. Mary’s visit before Jesus’ birth to Elizabeth, Zachariah’s wife, connects her closely with them.

Later, as a young boy Jesus engages the teachers of the law on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Luke 2,41-52) He amazes them with his wisdom. Could some of that  wisdom have come from a mother’s teaching?

“And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and man,” (Luke 2,52)

Mary and Joseph, Ann and Joachim certainly contributed to his growth.

Today at the novena, I’m going to talk about how Mary and Ann may have taught Jesus about the temple and what to do there. Like them, we must pass on our faith to others, particularly to the next generation.

Basilica of St. Ann, Jerusalem