Sunday, April 23, 2017

Low Sunday

It is Divine Mercy Sunday. Father Mark says it better than I ever could. To quote:
The Church is a community of wounded persons who have contemplated the glorious wounds of the Risen Christ. Our wounds are the means by which the mercy of the Risen Christ penetrates into the secret places of the soul. Those who have no wounds, or those who pretend to have none, shut out the healing mercy of Christ. A certain kind of virtue — self-sufficient and hard — renders one impenetrable to the balm of Divine Mercy. Those who know themselves to be wounded and who expose their wounds to the radiance of Christ’s glorious wounds, experience the power of his resurrection. These alone are sent forth by Christ to carry on his work of healing mercy in the world. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Novena to Our Lady of Good Counsel


The feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel is April 26. Let us pray for the Holy Father.


Holy Virgin, moved by the painful uncertainty we experience in seeking and acquiring the true and the good, we cast ourselves at thy feet and invoke thee under the sweet title of  Mother of Good Counsel.  We beseech thee: come to our aid at this moment in our worldly sojourn when the twin darknesses of error and of evil that plots our ruin by leading minds and hearts astray.

Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the victims of doubt and of error so that they may not be seduced by evil masquerading as good; strengthen them against the hostile and corrupting forces of passion and of sin.

Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from thy Divine Son the love of virtue and the strength to choose, in doubtful and difficult situations, the course agreeable to our salvation. Supported by thy hand we shall thus journey without harm along the paths taught us by the word and example of Jesus our Savior, following the Sun of Truth and Justice in freedom and safety across the battlefield of life under the guidance of thy maternal Star, until we come at length to the harbor of salvation to enjoy with thee unalloyed and everlasting peace. Amen.
(By Pope Pius XII, 23 January 1953)

Litany of Our Lady of Good Counsel
 
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father, pray for us.
August Mother of God the Son, pray for us.
Blessed Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, pray for us.
Living temple of the Holy Trinity, pray for us.
Queen of Heaven and earth, pray for us.
Seat of Divine Wisdom, pray for us.
Depositary of the secrets of the Most High, pray for us.
Virgin most prudent, pray for us.
In our doubts and difficulties, pray for us.
In our tribulations and anguish, pray for us.
In our discouragements, pray for us.
In perils and temptations, pray for us.
In all our undertakings, pray for us.
In all our needs, pray for us.
At the hour of death, pray for us.
By thine Immaculate Conception, pray for us.
By thy happy nativity, pray for us.
By thine admirable presentation, pray for us.
By thy glorious Annunciation, pray for us.
By thy charitable Visitation, pray for us.
By thy Divine Maternity, pray for us.
By thy holy Purification, pray for us.
By the sorrows and anguish of thy maternal heart, pray for us.
By thy precious death, pray for us.
By thy triumphant Assumption, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R. And obtain for us the gift of good counsel.

Let Us Pray.
V. Lord Jesus, Author and Dispenser of all good, Who in becoming incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin hast communicated to her lights above those of all the Heavenly intelligences, grant that in honoring her under the title of Our Lady of Good Counsel, we may merit always to receive from her goodness counsels of wisdom and salvation, which will conduct us to the port of a blessed eternity.
R. Amen.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Christ is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia!


I like the idea that beauty and holiness are the apologia for Christianity. The beauty of Christianity needs to shine out more; this is where the celebration of the liturgy becomes central. And the goodness of Christianity, i.e. the holiness of self-giving love (the witness of charity) and of prayer, needs to be sustained and developed. And this too, certainly: that the one thing Christianity has to offer is Easter. Simply: Christ is risen!Dom Hugh Gilbert (from A Conservative Blog for Peace)
The Regina caeli is said in place of the Angelus during Eastertide.
Queen of Heaven
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Regina caeli
V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.



Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holy Saturday

From Fish Eaters:
It was to the Limbo of the Fathers that Christ descended, a place of the dead that was emptied through His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, and no longer exists. By this "Harrowing of Hell," as His Descent is sometimes called, the doors to Heaven were swung open so that those who die in a state of grace may enter in, alleluia! Adam, Eve, Noe, Abraham, Moses, the good thief on the cross -- all the righteous were illuminated by the Presence of Christ in the place of death, making Sheol itself a paradise. They remained there with Him until His Bodily Resurrection when the the "bars of Hell" were broken down and they were later able to enter into Heaven itself with His glorious Ascension.

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began....He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him -- He who is both their God and the son of Eve.. "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son....I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead." [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR]
Because of this great silence, today there will be no Mass (until the Vigil Mass tonight, which technically is Easter); instead, there is a solemn service. Today is traditionally a day of abstinence in addition to being a day of fasting, until the Vigil Mass, when the Lenten Fast ends. Though this fasting requirement was abolished in the new Code of Canon Law, traditional Catholics follow the traditional practice. In some churches today, priests will bless Easter baskets containing the foods eaten tomorrow (in other places, the baskets will be blessed after the liturgy tomorrow). Baskets bearing Easter bread, Easter eggs, meats, butter, horseradish, and salt are brought to church, blessed, and taken home to await the great feast tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday


Fr. Mark quotes the Desert Fathers: 
Abba Joseph related that Abba Isaac said, 'I was sitting with Abba Poemen one day and I saw him in ecstasy and I was on terms of great freedom of speech with him, I prostrated myself before him and begged him, saying, 'Tell me where you were." He was forced to answer and he said, "My thought was with Saint Mary, the Mother of God, as she wept by the cross of the Saviour. I wish I could always weep like that."
The Divine Mercy novena begins today. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

"My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!...I gave you a royal scepter, but you gave me a crown of thorns." ~from the Improperia.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Holy Thursday


Let us prepare for the Last Supper with Our Lord. Dom Gueranger writes of the Mass of the Lord's Supper in The Liturgical Year, Vol. VI:
The Mass of Maundy Thursday is one of the most solemn of the year; and although the feast of Corpus Christi is the day for solemnly honouring the mystery of the holy Eucharist, still, the Church would have the anniversary of the last Supper to be celebrated with all possible splendour. The colour of the vestments is white, as it is for Christmas day and Easter Sunday; the decorations of the altar and sanctuary all bespeak joy, and yet, there are several ceremonies during this Mass; which show that the holy bride of Christ has not forgotten the Passion of her Jesus, and that this joy is but transient. The priest entones the angelic hymn, Glory be to God in the highest! and the bells ring forth a joyous peal, which continues during the whole of the heavenly canticle: but from that moment they remain silent, and their long silence produces, in every heart, a sentiment of holy mournfulness. But why does the Church deprive us, for so many hours of the grand melody of these sweet bells, whose voices cheer us during the rest of the year? It is to show us that this world lost all its melody and joy when its Saviour suffered and was crucified. Moreover, she would hereby remind us, how the apostles (who were the heralds of Christ, and are figured by the bells, whose ringing summons the faithful to the house of God), fled from their divine Master and left Him a prey to His enemies.
Fr. Mark explains the mystery of the Sacred Triduum, saying:
The annual celebration of "the most sacred Triduum of the crucified, buried and risen Lord" is the liturgical, theological and spiritual center of the Church's life and "the culmination of the entire liturgical year." The Paschal Triduum begins with the Vesperal Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday, continues through the Friday of the Lord's Passion, reaches its summit in the Solemn Paschal Vigil, and comes to a close with Sunday Vespers of the Lord's Resurrection.

Gregorian Chant
As an integral element of the Sacred Triduum, Gregorian Chant takes its place in the complexus of sacred signs by which the Paschal Mystery is rendered present to the Church, and the Church drawn into the Paschal Mystery. The chant of the Church is thus essentially related to the Paschal Mystery and to the new life which it imparts. The transcendent value of liturgical chant, especially during the annual celebration of the Paschal Triduum, is properly theological and spiritual. The chants of the Paschal Triduum constitute therefore a point of reconciliation and unity "between theology and liturgy, liturgy and spirituality." What Father Alexander Schmemann wrote concerning the Paschal Triduum of the Byzantine liturgy and its hymnography is also true, mutatis mutandis, of the liturgy of the Roman Rite and of its proper chants:
The liturgy of the Paschal Triduum -- Holy Friday, Great and Holy Saturday and Sunday -- reveals more about the "doctrines" of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Death and Resurrection than all the other "loci theologici" together; and, let me stress it, not merely in the texts, in the magnificent Byzantine hymnography, but precisely by the very "experience" -- ineffable yet illuminating -- given during these days in their inner interdependence, in their nature; indeed as epiphany and revelation. Truly if the word mystery can still have any meaning today, be experienced and not merely "explained," it is here, in this unique celebration which reveals and communicates before it "explains"; which makes us witnesses and participants of one all-embracing Event from which stems everything else: understanding and power, knowledge and joy, contemplation and communion.
The Whole Person in the Whole Church
Participation in the sacred liturgy makes "witnesses and participants" of those who thus experience the Paschal Mystery as something revealed and communicated, men and women capable of saying, "We have seen the Lord" (Jn 20:24). Paradoxically, while each worshiper must enter personally into the Paschal Mystery, making a personal profession of faith at Baptism, and uttering a personal Amen to the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the effect of such a personal engagement is participation in the Body of Christ and the unity of the Holy Spirit. The saving mystery of Christ's death and Resurrection embraces and sanctifies the integral human person within the communion of the Church. The symbolic language of the liturgy therefore engages the human person bodily, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. (Read entire post.)


"And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer." Luke 22:43

Monday, April 10, 2017

Into the Harbor of the Sacred Passion

From Vultus Christi:
Most of us are repulsed by the Cross. We live in fear of suffering. We are willing to contemplate the Cross from a distance, willing to place it on our walls or to wear it on a chain over our hearts. It is quite another thing to be lifted up in its arms, to surrender to its embrace and to remain there naked, exposed and vulnerable. And yet, the saints are unanimous in testifying that for those who surrender to the embrace of the Cross and remain there, it becomes the Tree of Life, the Marriage Bed, and the Altar of Sacrifice.

My Yoke is Sweet
An ancient liturgical text describes the beginning of Holy Week as a ship coming into harbour. The Cross of Christ is our haven and our rest. Our Lord speaks to us and says: “Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-29).

The Will of the Father is Always Love
The sweet yoke of Jesus is fashioned from the wood of the Cross. Those whom He draws to Himself find rest with Him in the arms of the Cross. When we struggle and strain against the Cross, we condemn ourselves to a long and restless agony, saying with Job: “My heart is in turmoil and is never still” (Job 30:27). When we surrender to the embrace of the Cross, we rest with Jesus in the will of the Father. We discover that the will of the Father is always love, and so begin to pray: “Father, not my will, but Thine, be done” (Lk 22:42).

Tree of Life, Marriage Bed, and Altar
The Cross is the “tree that is planted beside flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves never fade” (Psalm 1:3). Incandescent with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Cross is the bush that Moses saw “burning and yet not consumed” (Exodus 3:2). The Cross is the marriage bed upon which Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride, the Church consummate their love. The Cross is the altar from which ascends a fragrant sacrifice: the immolation of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

The Mass
How do we pass over from struggle to rest, from the tempest to the harbour? How do we pass over from the barren desert to the Tree of Life, from isolation to communion? How do we pass over from the threshold to the altar, and from the altar to God? By the Cross. Holy Week is the time of our great passover: from darkness to light, from sadness to joy, from time to eternity, from death to life. If you would leave behind the rot of your sins, and the darkness of untruth, and the horror of all that attacks innocence and outrages the Face of Love, then let yourself be drawn to the Cross. To each of us, and in every Mass, Our Lord offers the healing wood of the Cross. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the place, and the means, and the price of our Passover; the Mass is the Church held in the embrace of the Cross. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday


After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb. Apocalypse 7:9-10
It is the triumphant entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem as He comes there to die. Let us grasp the palms which celebrate His martyrdom and our own. I have always loved Palm Sunday, since I was a small child. There is a sense during this week of weeks of being transported beyond time and space into the Jerusalem of old. All Christians become citizens of Jerusalem during Holy Week as we watch the greatest drama in the history of the world unfold. The Passion of Our Savior is the source and center of all tragedy, of all poetry, of all great art, of all the love, hope, and tears that ever were and that ever will be. We are confronted with our own weakness and sin as we see ourselves not only as helpless but as guilty. It is only in immersing ourselves in the bitter suffering and abandonment of Our Lord Jesus Christ that the chaos, turmoil and useless agony of life and the world make any sense at all.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Passiontide

Source
Today we veil the statues and pictures of our home altar with purple cloth, in observance of Passiontide. Although the Fifth Sunday of Lent is not designated as "Passion Sunday" on the new calendar, it is still permissible to cover the statues and sacred images during this week and the next. It really helps to create a spirit of mourning in honor of the sufferings of Our Lord. The Church offers a treasury of beautiful hymns which draw the soul into the mystery of Christ's passion and death.

As Abbot Gueranger writes in The Liturgical Year, Vol VI:
Let us hope that, by God's mercy, the holy time we are now entering upon will work such a happy change in us, that, on the day of judgment, we may confidently fix our eyes on Him we are now about to contemplate crucified in the hands of sinners. The death of Jesus puts the whole of nature in commotion; the midday sun is darkened, the earth is shaken to its very foundations, the rocks are split; may it be that our hearts, too, be moved and pass from indifference to fear, from fear to hope, and, at length from hope to love; so that having gone down with our Crucified to the very depths of sorrow, we may deserve to rise with Him unto light and joy, beaming with the brightness of His Resurrection, and having within ourselves the pledge of new life, which shall then die no more.
During Passiontide, it is good to reflect upon the nature of envy and jealousy, for it is envy and jealousy which killed Jesus.
Envy disrupts social life generally. It sets the child against the father, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and nation against nation. It kills friendship, undermines business relationships, and hinders reconciliation. It is one of the chief sources of misunderstanding, criticism, hatred, vengeance, calumny, detraction, and perverse attacks upon private life.

Envy and greed, the source of the world's unrest and wars, are sins against charity, because they make us seek what belongs to others. Often, even at the cost of harm to our neighbor, we want what does not belong to us....The envious person becomes distrustful, unjust, suspicious. Envy makes its victims ill-tempered, sad, and unapproachable....

Jealousy implies the fear of being displaced by a rival, or of being deprived of that which is rightfully ours or of that which we think ought to be ours. Jealousy is anther form of envy. Jealousy has to do with our own possessions, whereas envy has to do with the possessions of others. We resent an intrusion upon that which belongs to us, and we are prone to become vengeful at this disregard of our rights and claims.

Jealousy goes a step further than envy; it not only tries to lessen the good opinion others enjoy and criticizes those who are praised and rewarded, but is characterized by an excessive love of our own personal good and brings on a fear that we will be deprived of it. Jealousy prefers to see good left undone rather than lose a single degree of praise.
(Excerpt from The Hidden Power of Kindness by Father Lawrence Lovasik, Sophia Institute Press, 1999, pp.62-63)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Laetare Sunday

Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. (Psalm) Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Gloria Patri.
Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. (Psalm) I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. Glory be to the Father.
It is Laetare Sunday. As Fr. Mark explains so well:
Jerusalem is, according to the psalmist, “the dwelling of all joy” (cf. Ps 86:7). In Rome, where the Lenten liturgy is celebrated in ancient stational churches, the Mass of Laetare Sunday is set in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. In that context, the great cry, “Jerusalem!” has a special resonance. You may ask why this basilica came to be called “in Jerusalem” when, in fact, it stands in Rome. In antiquity, it was called simply, “Jerusalem.” To go to the Basilica of the Holy Cross was to go “up to Jerusalem.” When, in the year 326, Saint Helena returned from the Holy Land, laden with relics, she had with her the most astonishing treasure: she had filled the entire hold of a ship with earth excavated from the holy places in Jerusalem. She had this sacred earth from Jerusalem deposited beneath the Sessorian palace that, enriched with relics of Our Lord’s blessed Cross and Passion, was to become her own church. Saint Helena’s church became “Jerusalem come to Rome.” Today’s stational celebration is a way of going “up to Jerusalem” without leaving Rome and, in a very real sense, a going up to the joys of heaven, a foretaste of the joy that lies beyond the gates of heaven thrown open by Christ the Prince of Life. The psalm that accompanies the entrance antiphon sings just that: “O my joy when they said to me: Let us go up to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 121:1). To go up to Jerusalem is to go up to the highest joy. The psalmist prizes Jerusalem “above all his joys” (cf. Psalm 136:6).(Read more.)
Here is a meditation from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B.:
This Sunday, called, from the first word of the Introit, Lætare Sunday, is one of the most solemn of the year. The Church interrupts her lenten mournfulness; the chants of the Mass speak of nothing but joy and consolation; the organ, which has been silent during the preceding three Sundays, now gives forth its melodious voice; the deacon resumes his dalmatic, and the subdeacon his tunic; and instead of purple, rose-coloured vestments are allowed to be used. These same rites were practised in Advent, on the third Sunday, called Gaudete. The Church's motive for introducing this expression of joy into today's liturgy is to encourage her children to persevere fervently to the end of this holy season. The real mid-Lent was last Thursday, as we have already observed; but the Church, fearing lest the joy might lead to some infringement on the spirit of penance, has deferred her own notice of it to this Sunday, when she not only permits, but even bids, her children to rejoice!...
The blessing of the golden rose is one of the ceremonies peculiar to the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is called on this account Rose Sunday. The thoughts suggested by this flower harmonize with the sentiments wherewith the Church would now inspire her children. The joyous time of Easter is soon to give them a spiritual spring, of which that of nature is but a feeble image.
 Hence, we cannot be surprised that the institution of this ceremony is of a very ancient date. We find it observed under the pontificate of St. Leo IX (eleventh century); and we have a sermon on the golden rose preached by the glorious Pope Innocent III, on this Sunday, and in the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem. In the middle ages, when the Pope resided in the Lateran palace, having first blessed the rose, he went on horseback to the church of the Station. He wore the mitre, was accompanied by all the Cardinals, and held the blessed flower in his hand. Having reached the basilica, he made a discourse on the mysteries symbolized by the beauty, the colour, and the fragrance of the rose. Mass was then celebrated.
After the Mass, the Pope returned to the Lateran palace. Surrounded by the sacred college, he rode across the immense plain which separates the two basilicas, with the mystic flower still in his hand. We may imagine the joy of the people as they gazed upon the holy symbol. When the procession had reached the palace gates, if there were a prince present, it was his privilege to hold the stirrup, and assist the Pontiff to dismount; for which filial courtesy he received the rose, which had received so much honour and caused such joy. ~ Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol. V

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lady Day

 From A Clerk of Oxford:
Today is the feast of the Annunciation, 'Lady Day'. As I explored last year, the medieval church considered 25 March to be the single most important date in history, at once the beginning and the end of Christ's life on earth: it was the date of the Annunciation, the Crucifixion, the eighth day of Creation, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the sacrifice of Isaac, all profoundly meaningful events in the carefully-crafted divine story of salvation history. Its resonances reached even unto Middle Earth, as Tolkien aligned the downfall of the Ring to this most auspicious of dates. (Read more.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Glory of St. Joseph

Here is a beautiful meditation given by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira:
Saint Joseph—prince of the House of David, prince of a royal family that, although dethroned and decadent, was at its apogee because from it was born the Hope of the Nations—knocks at the door and is rejected! But in this rejection is his first glory....He took the first step of his martyrdom: he led Our Lady to a cave suitable only for animals, where the Child Jesus was born.

To this glory—which was certainly a negative one—were added many others: the glory of being considered a person of no consequence although all public honors were due him; the glory of taking upon himself all the humiliation, all the ignominy and all the weight of the opprobrium that was to fall upon Our Lord. From the very beginning, he had the special bliss of being refused for his love of justice and his grandeur of soul. (Read more.)

Third Sunday of Lent

It is Scrutiny Sunday.
Formerly, on this day, candidates were examined in preparation for Baptism on Holy Saturday. The first effect of Baptism is to free the souls from the power of the devil. The house of which Jesus speaks, is the human soul before His coming, degraded by idolatry, by sensuality, under the tyranny of the evil spirit. Mary holding the Infant...is a symbol of our Baptism. Mary gives birth to us as members of the Mystical Body of her Christ. Moreover, like her, "blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it" (Gospel). These baptismal duties of death to sin and life in God (Epistle are meant to gladden, not to oppress the human heart (Offertory), intended by God for Divine possession (Communion Verse), safe from diabolical obsession. (Read entire post.)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Visions of St. Patrick

Saint Patrick had many visions during his life. He once spent forty days and forty nights in deep prayer on a mountain, in imitation of Moses. According to New Advent:
His only shelter from the fury of the elements, the wind and rain, the hail and snow, was a cave, or recess, in the solid rock; and the flagstone on which he rested his weary limbs at night is still pointed out. The whole purpose of his prayer was to obtain special blessings and mercy for the Irish race, whom he evangelized. The demons that made Ireland their battlefield mustered all their strength to tempt the saint and disturb him in his solitude, and turn him away, if possible, from his pious purpose. They gathered around the hill in the form of vast flocks of hideous birds of prey. So dense were their ranks that they seemed to cover the whole mountain, like a cloud, and they so filled the air that Patrick could see neither sky nor earth nor ocean. St. Patrick besought God to scatter the demons, but for a time it would seem as if his prayers and tears were in vain. At length he rang his sweet-sounding bell, symbol of his preaching of the Divine truths. Its sound was heard all over the valleys and hills of Erin, everywhere bringing peace and joy. The flocks of demons began to scatter, He flung his bell among them; they took to precipitate flight, and cast themselves into the ocean. So complete was the saint's victory over them that, as the ancient narrative adds, "for seven years no evil thing was to be found in Ireland." The saint, however, would not, as yet, descend from the mountain. He had vanquished the demons, but he would now wrestle with God Himself, like Jacob of old, to secure the spiritual interests of his people. The angel had announced to him that, to reward his fidelity in prayer and penance, as many of his people would be gathered into heaven as would cover the land and sea as far as his vision could reach. Far more ample, however, were the aspirations of the saint, and he resolved to persevere in fasting and prayer until the fullest measure of his petition was granted. Again and again the angel came to comfort him, announcing new concessions; but all these would not suffice. He would not relinquish his post on the mountain, or relax his penance, until all were granted. At length the message came that his prayers were heard:
  • many souls would be free from the pains of purgatory through his intercession;
  • whoever in the spirit of penance would recite his hymn before death would attain the heavenly reward;
  • barbarian hordes would never obtain sway in his Church;
  • seven years before the Judgment Day, the sea would spread over Ireland to save its people from the temptations and terrors of the Antichrist; and
  • greatest blessing of all, Patrick himself should be deputed to judge the whole Irish race on the last day.
Such were the extraordinary favors which St. Patrick, with his wrestling with the Most High, his unceasing prayers, his unconquerable love of heavenly things, and his unremitting penitential deeds, obtained for the people whom he evangelized.
Saint Patrick, although he did not die for the faith, came very close to red martyrdom.
He tells us in his "Confessio" that no fewer than twelve times he and his companions were seized and carried off as captives, and on one occasion in particular he was loaded with chains, and his death was decreed. But from all these trials and sufferings he was liberated by a benign Providence. It is on account of the many hardships which he endured for the Faith that, in some of the ancient Martyrologies, he is honoured as a martyr.
The reward of his sufferings was an extraordinary vision that was granted him before he died.
He saw the whole of Ireland lit up with the brightest rays of Divine Faith. This continued for centuries, and then clouds gathered around the devoted island, and, little by little, the religious glory faded away, until, in the course of centuries, it was only in the remotest valleys that some glimmer of its light remained. St. Patrick prayed that the light would never be extinguished, and, as he prayed, the angel came to him and said: "Fear not: your apostolate shall never cease." As he thus prayed, the glimmering light grew in brightness, and ceased not until once more all the hills and valleys of Ireland were lit up in their pristine splendour, and then the angel announced to St. Patrick: "Such shall be the abiding splendour of Divine truth in Ireland."
Many in Ireland said, after Saint Patrick passed from this world, that the night was no longer as dark as it had been before.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Second Sunday of Lent

The Transfiguration by Alexander Ivanov
Moses and Elias witness the Transfiguration.
The Gospel is from St. Matthew 17:1-9. This momentary vision of Christ, in his glory, was given in order to strengthen the three principal Apostles to face the trials to their faith, which the sufferings and crucifixion of their beloved master would bring on them. For the very same reason it is retold to us today, in the early part of Lent, to encourage us to persevere in our Lenten mortification. It reminds us that, very soon, the Easter bells will be ringing out their message of joy once more. If we are sharers with Christ in his sufferings, we shall be sharers with him in his glory as St. Paul reminds us.
This is a truth we all too easily forget, namely, that we cannot and do not get to heaven in a limousine. Our spell on earth is the chance given us by our heavenly Father to earn an eternal reward. This reward surpasses even the wildest imagination of man. We could never earn it, but God accepts the little we can do and provides the balance of his infinite mercy. And yet there are many, far too many, who refuse even that little bit that is asked of them, and are thus running the risk of not partaking in God's scheme for their eternal happiness.
And are they any happier during their few years on this earth by acting thus towards the God of mercy? Can they, by ignoring God and their duties towards him, remove all pain, all sorrow, all sufferings, from their daily lives? Death, which means a total separation from all we possessed and cherished in this world, is waiting around the corner for all of us. Who can face it more calmly and confidently —he man who is firmly convinced that it is the gateway to a new life, and who has done his best to earn admission through that gateway, or the man who has acted all his life as if death did not exist for him, and who has done everything to have the gate to the new life shut forever in his face?
Illnesses and troubles and disappointments are the lot of all men. They respect neither wealth, nor power, nor position. The man who knows his purpose in life, and is ever striving to reach the goal God's goodness has planned for him, can and will see in these trials of life the hand of a kind father who is preparing him for greater things. His sufferings become understandable and more bearable because of his attitude to life and its meaning. The man who ignores God and tries to close the eyes of his mind to the real facts of life has nothing to uphold him or console him in his hours of sorrow and pain. Yet, sorrow and pain will dog his footsteps, strive as he will to avoid them, and he can see no value, no divine purpose in these, for him, misfortunes.
Christ has asked us to follow him, carrying our daily cross, and the end of our journey is not Calvary but resurrection, the entrance to a life of glory with our risen Savior. The Christian who grasps his cross closely and willingly, knowing its value for his real life, will find it becomes lighter and often not a burden but a pleasure. The man who tries to shuffle off his cross, and who curses and rebels against him who sent it, will find it doubles its weight and loses all the value it was intended to have for his true welfare.
(Read entire post.)
Here are some profound reflections from Fr. Mark in Ireland:
 It is a curious fact of liturgical history that originally the Second Sunday of Lent had no Mass of its own. The Roman clergy and people were tired from the long night vigil that began on the evening of Ember Saturday and ended at dawn with the Holy Sacrifice. Only when the solemn night vigil was pushed back to Saturday morning did it become necessary to put together a separate Mass for Sunday morning.

In Rome, the stational church is Saint Mary in Dominica, originally a Roman deaconry, that is, a dispensary for the poor. For us, this means, that today’s Mass is a kind of pilgrimage in honour of the holy Mother of God, the Virgin of the Poor, who accompanies us throughout the Lenten journey. Our Lady is the dispensatrix of the graces of God: divinarum gratiarum primaria dispensatrix. We enter today’s Holy Mass, then, as poor people enter a dispensary to wash, to find warmth, and to receive food, medicine, clothing, and shelter. It is the Mother of God herself who presides over this dispensary and she, being the humble handmaid of the Lord, places herself at the service of all who come seeking relief, for she «receives all guests who come like Christ Himself» (RSB 53). (Read more.)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Novena to St. Joseph

Today begins the nine-days of intensive prayer to Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the patron and protector of fathers and of families, and of the dying. The month of March is dedicated to Saint Joseph. Let us beg his direct intercession. His intercession is powerful; all those who have experienced his intervention know what I am talking about. Really, he will help in any dire situation. I love Saint Joseph. Here is another little prayer as well:
Dear Saint Joseph, you who have the power to render possible that which seems impossible, come to our aid in our present trouble and distress. Take this important and difficult affair under your particular protection that it may end happily.
Dear Saint Joseph, all our confidence is in you. Let it not be said we have invoked you in vain. Since you are so powerful with Jesus and Mary, show that your goodness equals your power.
Divine Providence did provide. Divine Providence can provide. Divine Providence will provide. Amen.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Faith

Here is a meditation on the Eucharist by a Carmelite tertiary who shall be known on this blog as Mi Amigo
If God, by His Word, who incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth, created the world, if He breathed into each of us His life, why cannot God submit Himself in all His fullness into bread and wine so that we may eat with Him in communion? If He chooses this manner of giving Himself to us, this simple and humble form of communion that, in our “advanced” modern age, really makes more sense than any other way, if He chooses this manner to feed us while at the same time forming us by His sustenance into a temple in which He desires to dwell, we who so earnestly desire His presence, what is there to doubt? 

Our being, and its development during the short period of our lives, alone, is a miracle in itself. We take in food to give our bodies sustenance, as He determined from the beginning of ages; how simply, magnificently meaningful, that He has determined to build and sustain each of us as His temple to receive His presence by giving Himself to us as food?

Giving Himself to us in consecrated bread and wine is Wisdom: the Wisdom spoken of and anticipated by Moses, Noah, David, Solomon, Daniel, Ben Sirach, Elijah who was fed by the raven, and Isaiah, among others, and possibly most notably, the Wisdom that Melchisedec celebrated with Abraham. This Wisdom calls us to step out onto the water and keep our gaze fixed on His, knowing and trusting in His power, His fidelity, His interest in our individual and communal fulfillment, trusting that this world, after all, is His, to step out of our comfort zones walled in by insubstantial pride, to follow after Him with trust and love, without shame or fear, and to experience, live and share, the continuing miracle, the gift, the freedom, of His being, His life, the answer to the human inquiry, "what is love?"

This is the day the Lord has made; this is the way He has chosen to give Himself to us, Himself being the Way. Faith.

In a world in which we take pride in our technological advancement, cell phones, internet, medicine, political correctness, and a short period of relative self-dependence that ends in the earth from which it emerged, God gives Himself to us in the simple elements of bread and wine, a Stone upon which the proud trip and stumble.

"If deliberately cultivated, doubt can lead to spiritual blindness." CCC 2088

First Sunday of Lent

From Vultus Christi:
If you want to experience the grace of Lent this year, go boldly into the desert of your weakness, into the wilderness of your sins, into the wastelands of your fears and brokenness. Make a good Confession and do it soon. It is there that the Lord Jesus waits for you. He comes to meet us in our deserts in order to lead us back into The Garden.

When you are lonely, when you are weak, when you have fallen into sin, the only way out is to remember that Jesus chose to experience the desert with us and that He awaits us there, to take us by the hand and lead us out.

Saint Athanasius tells us that when the great Saint Anthony of Egypt was living in the desert in fasting and prayer, the devil assaulted him with violent and frightening temptations. Anthony struggled and fought to the point of exhaustion. Soon after, Our Lord appeared to him. Bewildered, Anthony asked: “Why did you leave me alone in this desert waste to fight off the Evil One and struggle against his attacks?” Our Lord answered: “Anthony, you were not alone. I was invisibly present to you in your temptation and it is through Me and because of My grace that you came through your trial victorious.”

So it is in our lives. No matter how dark the night, no matter how terrifying the desert, no matter how miserable our weakness or how shameful our sins, Jesus Christ is invisibly present to save and deliver. “Christ . . . died,” said Saint Peter in our Second Reading, “the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 P 3 :18)

What begins in the confessional is perfected at the altar. In every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Christ, Warrior and Prince, Priest and Victim brings us to God. Receive His Body and Blood and you will pass through Him and with Him out of the wastelands of sin into the Garden of the Father’s delight. In Paradise Lost the old Adam heard the grieving Father ask, “Adam, where are you?” (Gn 3:9). In the Mass — the very heart of Paradise Restored — the New Adam raises His voice to offer the Father the one answer He has been waiting for: “Father, the hour has come.” (Jn 17:1). And to the voice of the New Adam, a New Eve joins her voice: it is the voice of Mary His Virgin Mother. It is the voice of the whole Church, and in it the Father hears your voices and mine. (Read more.)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday

Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.
Our forty days of penance commence with the reception of blessed ashes. The words from the book of Genesis (3:19) help us to think of the shortness of life, of our last end, and of that moment when each shall come before God to be judged. "Remember," wrote Saint Teresa of Avila, "that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; that there is only one glory, which is eternal."

Since Old Testament times, ashes have been a symbol of sorrow for sin. "For I did eat ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping." (Psalm 101:10) In the early Church, only "public" sinners, those guilty of murder, adultery, or idolatry, who had formally repented, would receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. During Lent, they would humbly kneel at the doors of the church, not entering until they were given absolution on Holy Thursday. The famous liturgist, Abbot Gueranger, gives a description of the ceremony "of the Wednesday in Quinquagesima:"
Before the Mass of the day began, they [the penitents] presented themselves at the church....The priests received the confession of their sins, and then clothed them in sackcloth, and sprinkled ashes on their heads...the clergy and the faithful prostrated themselves and recited aloud the seven penitential psalms. A procession, in which the penitents walked barefooted, then followed; and on its return, the bishop then addressed these words to the penitents: 'Behold, we drive you from the doors of the church by reason of your sins and crimes, as Adam, the first man, was driven out of paradise....' The clergy then sang several responsories, taken from the book of Genesis....The doors were shut, and the penitents were not to pass the threshold until Maunday Thursday, when they were to come to receive absolution. (The Liturgical Year, Vol IV , p 204-205)
During the Middle Ages, it became the custom for all of the faithful to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. We are blessed that so many indulgences can now be gained with very little effort on our part. How light are the penances now demanded of us; what little fasting is required of us! Perhaps the best penance is the patient and loving endurance of hardships and sorrows which come our way; those unchosen mortifications can be heavy enough. Interiorly, we can share the contrition of the brave penitents of old by receiving the ashes with great love for Christ and a determination to follow Him, no matter what. It is time for a new beginning, and for trying, again, to be a disciple.

Lent is like a retreat for the entire church in which all Christians strive more vigorously against the world, the flesh, and the devil, our spiritual enemies. The three works which Holy Mother Church exhorts us to perform during Lent in order to overcome those enemies are prayer, fasting, and alms giving. Through prayer, we grow in strength to conquer the evil one. It is important to make more time for prayer during Lent because it arouses compunction, charity, humility, and other dispositions without which the other two practices would be empty of merit.

We fast in order to imitate Our Lord's forty day fast in the desert. Unlike Him, we need to tame the concupiscence of the flesh, acquire self-discipline, and atone for our personal sins. It was by breaking God's commandment to abstain from eating a certain fruit that Adam and Eve lost the earthly paradise. Both Moses and Elias fasted for forty days before encountering the living God. (Exodus 24:18 and 3 Kings 19:8)

In former times, every day of Lent (except for Sundays and first-class feasts) was a fast day. Now, only two fast days remain -- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of abstinence from meat, as are all Fridays of Lent. Many people think that the Second Vatican Council did away with Friday abstinence, but it did not. Every Friday of the year is a day of abstinence from meat unless the bishops of the country decide to substitute another form of penance. In the United States, it is up to every individual to perform some other Friday penance if they are not able to abstain from meat. However, every Friday of Lent remains a day of strict abstinence.

The third Lenten good work is almsgiving, by which we overcome the "world," that is, the love of riches, luxuries, and honors. Through almsgiving we not only help the poor, the missions, and the temporal needs of the Church, but we mortify any inordinate desires for material things. By having Masses offered, our alms can assist the "Church Suffering" in purgatory. As the aged Tobias said to his son: "Prayer is good with fasting and alms more than more than to lay up treasures of gold. For alms delivereth from death, and...purgeth away sins." (Tobias 12:8-9) As Jesus commands in the Gospel for Ash Wednesday: "Let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing." (Matthew 6:3) It is most important that all our good works are accompanied by charity, humility, and the desire to please God alone.

(Artwork courtesy of Micki)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Preparing for Lent

Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Here is a meditation by a Carmelite tertiary who shall be known on this blog as Mi Amigo:
Our first parents ate, against the will of our Father, the forbidden fruit. What is the fruit? We might consider, "Is the 'fruit' of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil the birth of “conscience”? Prior to eating the fruit, Adam and Eve did not have any knowledge of evil in their nakedness. Was their realization of “something wrong” in their self-exposure the birth of human conscience?
The Banishment of Adam and Eve by Masaccio 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1776, states, "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment….For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God….His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."

In the human heart, God inscribes his Law. In the heart, we are either single-minded toward the will, the law, of God, or we are double-minded, divided in ourselves between God and the world. The season of Lent is upon us, a time of reflection, to turn within to our most secret core and sanctuary, our conscience, and listen to the voice of God echoing in our depths, a time to repent from our double-mindedness and, a time of conversion, to re-commit ourselves with single-mindedness to the will and love of God in those areas of our life to which our conscience directs us.

This Lenten season, let us turn within and from our hearts pray as Thomas a Kempis, "O God my Truth, make me one with you in eternal love. Often I become weary with reading and hearing many things. You are all that I want and desire. Let all teachers be mute and all creation keep silence before you. Speak to me, You and You alone."
Jesus in Gethsemane by Carl Bloch

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday is the feast of the Holy Face of Jesus. Don Marco has some excellent meditations on this beautiful devotion. To quote:
Face and Person are synonymous, not only by reason of the Greek etymology, but even more because there is nothing more personal, nothing more precious, nothing dearer than the face of a loved one. The psalmist’s cry, “I long to see Thy Face” (Ps 26:8), is the cry of every lover to his beloved, the cry of child to parent, of parent to child, and of friend to friend. The most poignant moment in the rites of death and burial comes when the face of the deceased is covered for the last time. We cherish photographs of those we love, but what is a photograph without a face? The relationships that we call “heart to heart” never tire of the “face to face.”
The Holocaust that took place during the Second World War was, at the deepest level, an attempt to erase the dignity and uniqueness of each person, a sin against the Face of Christ, the Holy Face mirrored in millions of Jewish faces. Every sin against the dignity of the human person is a sin against the Face of Christ. Every act of violence, irreverence, or scorn directed against the human person is a sin against the Face of Christ. The abortion that prevents a child’s face from seeing another human face in the light of day is a sin against the Face of Christ. Torture and cruel ridicule are sins against the Face of Christ. The hard, stony gaze that looks at a person without seeing him is a sin against the Face of Christ. The eyes that judge, the look that condemns, is a sin against the Face of Christ. The refusal to see Christ in the faces of the sick, the stranger, and the immigrant is a sin against his Holy Face.
Reparation is the prayer that seeks to make whole what is fragmented by putting love where there is no love, by gazing with reverence upon what has been disdained, by allowing our eyes to rest on “One from whom men hide their faces” (Is 53:3). The extraordinary thing about the prayer of reparation is that it is healing not only for the one offended but for the offender as well. If by sin we offend the Face of Christ, by reparation to the Holy Face we are healed of our sins. “Thou has set our iniquities before thee,” says the psalmist, “our secret sins in the light of Thy Face” (Ps 89:8).

The prayer of reparation is most at home in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The light that shines from the Eucharistic Face of Christ heals us sinners, and heals those against whom we have sinned. The love we bring to the Eucharistic Face of Christ reaches every human face. The prayer of reparation is the veil of Veronica lifted to the face of Christ in His Passion; it is the hand that seeks to wipe away every disfiguring stain of filth, of blood, and of tears. (Read more.)
The image to the left is the representation of the imprint of Our Lord's face on the Veronica veil, as it is venerated in the Carmelite Order, and propagated by Sister Marie de Saint Pierre and Venerable Leo Dupont.

Here is the prayer of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux to the Holy Face:
O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men, a man of sorrows," I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.
Another site with everything about the Holy Face devotion is HERE.

Relic of the Veronica Veil at St. Peter's Basilica
Here is a formula from the ancient Ambrosian liturgy, as quoted by Abbot Gueranger in The Liturgical Year for Shrove Tuesday:
Sweet is this present life, but it passes away; terrible, O Christ is thy judgment, and it endures forever. Let us, therefore, cease to love what is unstable, and fix our thought on what is eternal: saying: Christ, have mercy upon us!
Now the time has come to go into the desert, the desert of Lent.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Quinquagesima Sunday

It is Quinquagesima Sunday. According to New Advent:
The period of fifty days before Easter. It begins with the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, called Dominica in Quinquagesima....
For many early Christians it was the beginning of the fast before Easter....For some, Quinquagesima marked the time after which meat was forbidden....In many places this Sunday after and the next two days were used to prepare for Lent by a good confession; hence in England we find the names Shrove Sunday and Shrovetide.
As the days before Lent were frequently spent in merry-making, Benedict XIV by the Constitution "Inter Cetera" (1 Jan., 1748) introduced a kind of Forty Hours' Devotion to keep the faithful from dangerous amusements and to make some reparation for sins committed.
In the words of Dom Gueranger for Quinquagesima Sunday:
We are commanded to use this world as if we used it not; to have an abiding conviction of our not having here a lasting city, and of the misery and danger we incur when we forget that death is one day to separate us from everything we possess in this life.
~from Abbot Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol. IV
More HERE.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Reverence at Prayer

From Vultus Christi:
Grace seeps into what is inward through what is outward. For this reason Tertullian says Caro salutis est cardo, that is, “the flesh is the hinge of salvation”. Scholastic philosophy frames it this way: Nihil est in intellectu quod non sit prius in sensu, “Nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses”. Outwardly, then, the monk will take great care to do all things with attention and dignity: standing, sitting, walking, bowing, signs of the cross, prostrations, raising one’s eyes heavenward, the way one holds one’s hands, the way one holds one’s book and turns its pages. In the carrying out of the Opus Dei there must be nothing rushed, nothing small or cramped, nothing routine and formalistic. The sign of the cross, for example, must be generous, majestic, and grand; no furtive flapping of the hands about one’s face and shoulders. The profound bow from the waist, holding the torso and head straight, is part of the sacred choreography of the Opus Dei; it signifies a man’s complete submission to the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. It is more than a mere lowering of chin to chest. Every bodily attitude and every gesture is significant; the smallest details are sacramental. For this very reason, I put Romano Guardini’s classic, Sacred Signs, on the reading list for postulants. Another book, Maurice Zundel’s The Splendour of the Liturgy, complete’s Guardini’s little book. (Read more.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Honoring the Mother of God

Caravaggio (1571-1610) - Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Detail)
Here is a meditation on Our Lady by a Catholic writer who wishes to be known as Mi Amigo.
All Christians, Protestants and Catholics, as the Christian family seems to be divided, or defined, these days, have one thing in common: all believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. In the matter of honoring his mother, Mary, with devotion and imitation, however, the commonality dissolves. Why?

All believe that In the beginning was the Word, that the Word is God, that woman and man are creatures made in the image and likeness of the Word, and that the Word incarnated on earth as a man in the fullness of God, as Jesus, born of a virgin known as Mary, to save us by the forgiveness of sins.
Mothers, imagine your child is the incarnation of the Word. An angel appears to you, and tells you that you are favored by God, for He sees that you are full of grace, so that He will overshadow you by His Spirit and bless you with His Presence so that you will bear....wait....Himself?….yes, Him.
Mothers, imagine that your child is born, and you are visited by kings, wise men, who bow down to your child and present Him with gifts representing royalty, prophecy and priesthood.

Mothers, imagine that your child is presented to the High Priest in the temple, and he looks you directly in the eyes with love and compassion, with thankfulness that you have blessed him with the opportunity to hold your child in his arms, and he tells you that your child will be a stumbling block to your nation, even while a Savior of the world, and that you, yourself, will be pierced in the soul.

Mothers, who are you? Who is Mary? You are the bearers, teachers, protectors, nurturers of the bodies of humanity bearing His breath of life, of us bearing his image and likeness, and we are eternally grateful in love to you for you. Mary was also the bearer, the teacher, the protector, the nurturer of a child: He who made you and us, your children, He from whom, in whom, and through whom we were made and now exist, and have the promise of eternal life.

Mothers, your children listen to you, follow you, and obey you (at least ideally, or for the most part hopefully!). Jesus did the same in respect of his mother. How much more proper was it that Mary listened to, followed, chased after even, and obeyed her Lord? Mother, here is your son, and son, here is your mother.

Mothers, imagine knowing, not only because the angel of God told you before your child was born, but because you saw with your own eyes, and touched with your own hands and soul, every day of your child's life, from infancy to young adulthood, the blind given sight, the lame walking, the feeding of thousands with only a few loaves, the dead brought back to life, the condemned forgiven....imagine knowing that your child, yes the child to which you gave birth, is God come to save us.

Mothers, imagine witnessing, before your own eyes, your child condemned by false witness, He who was Truth, whipped, bruised and battered, and then nailed to a cross, hanging in front of you on the trunk of a tree, praying for his persecutors, thirsting, fulfilling His purpose.

Mothers, can you imagine that this child is yours?

Why? Again, I ask, why? It seems to me that only the one of us who stands in Mary’s shoes has any standing to respond with any considerable answer. Anybody? Why?

As brothers and sisters, at least, certainly, we can recognize Mary our common mother, because, if for no other reason, Jesus is our brother.

We honor Mary with singular devotion because no ark has ever borne the Covenant like she did.
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