The St. Anna Series
5 Reflections on Anna at the Purification of Mary and Presentation of Jesus in the Temple as recounted in St. Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 2: 22-38.
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2: 36-38
…she was of great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow until she was eighty-four…
According to the gospel account, Anna was married less than a decade and widowed for over 6 decades. That is a long time to be independent when your hopes and dreams of family and a life built together with your spouse were just getting started. In the days of ancient Israel, widows had no means of making money and were on shaky financial ground. How in the world did Anna make it under those conditions for such a long period of time?
Forced independence is tough. Ask any widow or widower. Ask a single friend. Ask a single parent. Ask an orphan. One of the nicest things any friend has ever done for me happened during the second year after the death of my husband. A call and invitation to join her and her husband for their Valentine’s Day dinner that year still brings a tear of gratitude when I think of that night. Someone remembered me. Someone knew I might be really, really lonely and lost on a holiday marketed for couples and romance. Friends adjusted their plans to include me and make me feel comfortable as their guest. What a tremendous moment of Love I was shown by my friends.
I wonder if Anna had friends in her life that considered her feelings and situation and included her like my friends included me. I hope so. 60 years or more is a long time to be independent, especially if it is not by choice. Personally, I want to improve at being the kind of friend who remembers others whose lives have dealt them a large dose of unexpected independence.
St. Anna, widowed and independent, pray for us!
Picture: Anna at the presentation of Jesus (right), from Giotto, Chapel of Scrovegni.(photo: Public Domain)