Category Archives: Mariology

Annunciation, the Ark of the Covenant, & Sts Joseph, Jerome, & Bernard of Clairvaux

image
-Annunciation, 1655, by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo

Among the early doctors of the Church, Saint Jerome is the staunchest defender of Saint Joseph’s honor and integrity. For he clarifies that Joseph feared to take Mary home as his wife not out of any fear that Our Lady had in any way sinned. Rather, Saint Joseph, the son of David, shared his royal ancestor’s fear of coming into overly close contact with the Tabernacle of the Lord, the Ark of the Covenant, wherein God dwells. “Who am I,” asked King David, “that the Ark of the Lord should come to me?” (2 Sam. 6:9).

“…Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God…David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing…Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”
-2 Sam 6:6-7, 9-12, 14-15

Joseph, believing fully that Mary had conceived by the power of God’s Spirit, feared to bring her into his home lest he be overcome by the majesty of the divine mystery and overwhelmed by the presence of such sanctity. This is why he chose to honor Mary’s secret, not to expose her mystery. His decision not to bring her into his home was born not out of envy but out of reverential fear. In this view, Saint Jerome is supported by the Mellifluous Doctor, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Love,
Matthew

Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us!!!

our-lady-mercy3

Our-Lady-of-Mercy-Logo

our-lady-mercy4

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

daniel-klimek
-by Br Daniel Klimek, TOR

“Heroine, cocaine, opium, marijuana, excessive alcohol, not to mention hallucinogenic drugs like mushrooms (psilocybin) and LSD – he consumed most of these before the age of 18, many before he turned 14, the addictions growing stronger as the existential emptiness deepened. What sounds like an introduction to a Hunter S. Thompson novel actually constitutes the autobiography of a Catholic priest. Fr. Donald Calloway of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception retells his dramatic and heart-wrenching life story in No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy.

As a destructive youth, Calloway spent his adolescence succumbing to temptations large and small, from sins of the flesh with constant promiscuity, to crimes against the law with thousands of dollars of grand theft in stolen merchandise, as well as nightly partying with friends consuming all forms of drugs and addictives while listening to heavy-metal music.

At one point, Calloway became a follower of the rock band the Grateful Dead, inspiring entrance into a psychedelic culture which—among other things—left him with a big Grateful Dead tattoo on his arm. To this day he has it, as a remembrance of the past he lived. The past he left. To this day he doesn’t have a clue how that tattoo got there, being stoned to oblivion during the night of its implementation.

During his youth, Calloway was such an angry and rebellious kid that he names a chapter in his book “Animal” in describing himself, his early mentality, his vicious ways. His family (especially his parents) suffered great emotional trauma as a result of their son’s behavior. For a while, they lived on a military base in Japan, for Calloway’s stepfather was an officer. This didn’t last too long. Running around with Japanese gangs, stealing tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise—from electric guitars to cars—got young Donald Calloway arrested and deported from the country. He was escorted through the airport by military guards with chains and shackles around his hands and feet, while he spat at his captors and threw out verbal obscenities to surrounding pedestrians, angrily cursing his way onto the plane.

Although, like any angst-filled adolescent, Calloway developed a strong hatred for his parents—notwithstanding their efforts to help their struggling son, praying for him and checking him into rehabilitation facilities numerous times—a guilt-stricken consciousness still haunted him about his younger brother, where a stronger bond existed. Fr. Calloway describes his feelings poignantly:

“The only bond that I had left with my family was with my little brother, Matthew. When it came to him, I felt terribly, almost inexplicably conflicted. Ten years younger than I, he would often plead, ‘Brother, play with me.’ A part of me wanted to stay home and be the big brother I wanted to be and thought he needed. But I was so preoccupied with my girlfriends and drug buddies that I didn’t want to commit to anything domestic.”

After returning from Japan and checking into an ineffective rehabilitation clinic in Pennsylvania, things did not get any better. For years the drugs continued, so did the promiscuity, the theft, and another arrest. In terms of his growing addictions, Calloway describes vividly what a poisonous rabbit hole he fell into, hitting rock bottom in what reads like a distant and dreary space.

“On one occasion, I even found myself in a crack house, crawling around on the rug on my hands and knees looking for any cocaine that might have fallen on the floor. There were cockroaches running around and maggots in the sink from all the unwashed dishes. A crying baby could be heard, unattended in a back room. Yet there I was on the floor, right along with the baby’s mother, searching frantically for white specs on the floor. If we found anything white, we’d put it in the bowl and smoke it, even if we didn’t know what it was.”

So, what on earth could have turned this rebellious youth, this struggling addict, this “animal” (as he later described himself), into a devout Catholic priest, not to mention into an eloquent author of books on theology and Mariology?

It all began one night in March 1992 when, to the surprise of his friends, Donald decided not to go out partying, as was the usual routine, but to stay at home for the night. He felt immensely depressed, a longing and emptiness occupied his very being. “I found myself sitting there alone in my room with nothing to do and no one to turn to. My existence was laughable. My life was a waste, and I was hoping it would somehow come to an end…I hated my life. I was restless and anxious about everything.” Looking for a way to fill the time, he began browsing his parents’ bookshelf, not to find anything to read but, preferably, land on a National Geographic for the pictures. Instead, his hand landed on something else, an odd book about a subject so alien and obscure to the teenager that it was intriguing enough to read. The book was called The Queen of Peace Visits Medjugorje.

Essentially, it was the story of the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje which brought on the crisis of his conversion. He was only one of the first of a long line of Christians who were to fall under the spell of the mystical Bosnian village, embracing that land of mystery.

“This book showed me a side of things I had never really heard of or experienced before, but I certainly could relate to the radical nature of the message…It wasn’t long before I realized this book was presenting me an offer to change my life and surrender to something greater than myself – to believe in God and be different. It was a revelation that required a revolution in my thinking. Could this be the way out I was looking for?”

He spent the whole night reading the book, until the early hours of the morning. In the process, the inner beings of his soul were transformed from the anxiousness and restlessness he previously experienced to a deep serenity and peace that radiated and pervaded his spirit. The messages of Medjugorje touched him on a higher level, the return to prayer, peace, fasting, a reconciliation with God and the need for conversion. For the first time, something offered him hope from his abusive past, from his life of sin and despair.

“The Virgin Mary was saying things that were so clear and captivating that I found myself moved and literally experiencing emotion in a deep way. This was a kind of emotion I hadn’t experienced since I was a little boy who really loved his mother and wanted to make her happy. And yet the Virgin Mary was saying that she was my mother, that she was the mother of those who had gone astray and was calling us back to God, to Jesus. She made it clear that she was not God, but she was pointing to her Son and saying He is the Messiah, the Savior of the world. I found myself totally falling in love with this mother, this woman.”

The aesthetical quality was sublime. He was experiencing a beauty he hadn’t felt in a very long time. In this Woman, the Virgin Mary, he found a beauty that was not poisonous and sinful—like his past encounters with women—but pure and refreshing, an immaculate gentleness that offered a ray of hope and emanated a radiant light into Donald’s darkened world. Spiritual and sublime, this attraction led Donald to a small prayer of the heart, in which he revealed his longing for this mysterious presence in front of him.

“As I continued to read, I said to her in my heart, ‘I want to believe. I really do. You are piercing the little bubble of my world and offering me something more than I ever heard. I need this.’”

This inner need, this spiritual longing, was being satisfied. As he continued reading, a strange, but wondrous, rebirth from death to new life occurred. “Although I was in serious despair about my life, as I read the book, I felt as if my heart was being melted. I hung on to each word like it was transmitting life straight to me.”

Then a new day came. “Early in the morning, when I closed the book, I said, ‘The message in this book is life-changing. I have never ever heard anything so amazing and convincing and so needed in my life.’ One might say that this was my first prayer. Whoever this Virgin Mary was, I believed what she was saying – that she was my mother and came from heaven for me.”

Instantly, after telling his overwhelmed mother about the experience, Donald—though not a Catholic yet—ran off to Mass for the first time in his life, speaking to a priest afterwards, confessing his entire past to the man. When he came back home, Donald began throwing out all of his filthy possessions from his past life, from drug paraphernalia to pornographic magazines ranging from his Playboy and Penthouse collections, to his heavy metal records, and his water bongs and pipes. Six 30-gallon bags were the result.

After clearing his space of all distractions, Donald knelt by his dresser and deeply desired to go into prayer. But he didn’t know how to pray. As he recalls, “Until earlier that day, I had never said a prayer in my entire life.” This did not stop him, however, from falling into an overbearing ambiance of deeply healing and purifying tears. His past was still very prominent in his mind and the remorse, the regret that was felt was overwhelming – the need for forgiveness encapsulated his entire being.

“In fact, I started crying so hard that I could hardly breathe. I had to literally gasp for air because I was crying so uncontrollably. There were torrents of liquid coming out of my eyes. Before long, the clothes I was wearing were soaking wet.”

Hours of such excruciating crying led to inexplicable tears of joy and, all of the sudden, Donald felt an immense peace in his heart, a tranquility that surpassed understanding. “I started to feel almost bubbly and giddy, almost like a child being tickled by his father. Suddenly, I was animated. I had life again and felt so much different. My body tingled all over. I was so wrapped up in Jesus that I became aware of how much I was loved.”

This purifying peace led to something inexplicable, a mystical—if not downright supernatural—experience. Like thousands of patients who have reported undergoing near-death experiences, Donald left his body.

“But all of a sudden something below me and within me – this is very difficult to explain – knocked me out of my body. I literally felt as if I had left my body. My physical form remained on the couch, but my soul or spirit had left.” The experience paralyzed him, as he gradually saw his body farther and farther away from him, his spiritual presence being slowly removed from the physical. Out of desperation, he led out a penetrating, spiritual cry to that person who had just touched his soul. “Mary!” What happened next was phenomenal. Donald was “violently slammed back” into his body.

“After I got over the shock of the impact, a feeling of peace overwhelmed me, a peace that was tangible. Then I heard a voice, the most pure feminine voice I have ever heard and ever will hear. It was within me, it was outside of me, it was like liquid love being poured over me. It was pure maternal love. It said, ‘Donnie, I’m so happy.’ That’s all I heard, but I knew who it was. Nobody called me Donnie but my mother. Nobody. I knew this was the voice of Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was so at peace that I felt like a little boy snuggled close to his mother’s breast. I was so at peace, so loved, and so at rest that I went into a deep sleep. I hadn’t slept like that since I was a young boy.”

The phenomenon that Donald experienced, in addition to leaving his body, is called an interior locution (locution cordis), the mystical grace of hearing a spiritual presence – in this case, Our Lady – in an interior way through the depths of the soul.

After his profound spiritual experiences, an official conversion to Roman Catholicism followed. What also followed was the desire for the priesthood. Not just any priesthood. Donald wanted to become a Marian priest, both for Our Lady and for the reason that the Marians of the Immaculate Conception are the official promoters of the Divine Mercy devotions of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun and mystic who experienced visions of Christ in the 1930s. Donald saw himself, through his past, as the poster-boy for Divine Mercy. For, through the grace of God, he received the greatest mercy after a life of sin.

Becoming a priest meant going back to school. For this high school dropout, this wasn’t the easiest task.

Notwithstanding, through his subsequent education and efforts, Donald was able to encounter some of the most eminent Catholic intellectuals and scholars in the world. After earning his GED and spending some time in community college, the Marians sent Donald to study at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where he earned his B.A. in theology and philosophy. It was at Franciscan that he encountered some of his favorite professors, including the prominent Catholic intellectuals Scott Hahn and Mark Miravalle. Donald admits that Professor Hahn had an influential impact on his studies, implementing a deeper love of God in his mind.

Professor Miravalle, a theologian and Mariologist, is a leading figure in the Marian movement, and also played a great influence on Donald. Miravalle is the president of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, a movement within the Catholic Church that hopes to gain papal approval to deem Mary as the Co-Redemptrix, becoming the fifth Marian dogma. Interestingly, Miravalle’s own connections to Medjugorje are not small. He has written numerous books on the subject and, when he was a doctoral student in Rome, his dissertation was called, The Message of Medjugorje: A Postconcilar Formulation of Lourdes and Fatima. The dissertation showed how the messages of Medjugorje align with Chruch tradition, ranging from the Gospels to the teachings of the early Church Fathers in their foundational elements and, of course, to Vatican II and other approved apparitions. The thesis was successfully defended in the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome in 1984.

Beyond inspirations like Professors Hahn and Miravalle at Franciscan, Donald went on to study with other greats. He received both his M.Div and S.T.B. at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., and then earned an S.T.L. at the International Marian Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio. At the Institue, Donald studied with such prominent theologians and Mariologists as Fr. Luigi Gambero and Fr. Eamon Carroll. Most remarkably, Donald took the last class that the great French theologian and Mariologist Rene Laurentin taught at the Institute. Laurentin himself has been one of Medjugorje’s greatest supporters for years, with countless of books on the apparitions.

Donald’s S.T.L. dissertation concentrated on the Mariology in the diaries of St. Faustina Kowalska, combining his love for Our Lady with his love for the Divine Mercy devotions. The dissertation was over 200 pages long, contained over 700 footnotes – in Latin, French, Polish, Italian, and Spanish – and, years later, was published into a book called, Purest of All Lilies: The Virgin Mary in the Spirituality of St. Faustina. He even graduated summa cum laude with his S.T.L.

The former drug addict, convicted criminal, and high school dropout graduated summa cum laude with an advanced degree, studying with some of the most renowned theologians in the world, and publishing his work into a book about the Mother of God. Today, Father Calloway is the House Superior for the Marians of the Immacluate Conception and their vocations director. He preaches his story throughout the world, reaching countless of hearts. His life story is an example of grace and divine mercy in motion, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and particularly her continuing work in Medjugorje. No Turning Back constitues a powerful and poignant testimony about one man’s journey, being led out of a tunnel of darkness and despair into the radiance of hope and belief in something purer, truer, and warmer than the temptations of contemporary culture – what the human soul longs for, spiritual sublimity and meaning in one’s existence.”

“Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.” -Jn 11:25-26

Love,
Matthew

Jan 22 – Bl William Joseph Chaminade, SM, (1761-1850) – Founder of the Marianists, A Man of Faith

chaminade-conti

To the south of Bordeaux a road leads down across the Pyrenees into Spain. This was the road Father William Joseph Chaminade followed into exile in September of 1797. He was a French priest in disguise, escaping the enemies of the Church in his native land. Close by lay the danger of arrest. Other priests had already died as martyrs. But Father Chaminade was at peace. He was a man of faith.

The night before his journey into exile Father Chaminade wrote: “What is a faithful man to do in the chaos of events which seem to swallow him up? He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God. Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good.”

The Vision
In Saragossa, Spain, near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Father Chaminade settled down to wait out his exile. Here he prayed and planned for his future work. And here he received from Our Lady a special message. He was to be Mary’s missionary. He was to found a society of religious who would work with her to restore the Faith in France.

So vivid and detailed was the inspiration given to Father Chaminade, that years later he could say to his first religious, “As I see you now before me, I saw you in spirit at Saragossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it.”

Two of Father Chaminade’s favorite prayers reveal the intensity of his love of God and of Mary:
“The most just, most high, and most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!”
“May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.”

The beginning work . . .
Father Chaminade returned to Bordeaux in 1800. There he established Sodalities of OurLady which spread their influence throughout France. He considered himself a missionary of Mary. Strong in his love for Our Blessed Mother, he gathered men and women around him who dedicated their lives to her service.

Working together, these men and women of Faith began to rebuild the Church which had been destroyed. The Society of Mary and the Daughters of Mary sprang from the sodalities of Father Chaminade. These groups continue to do Mary’s work in countries all over the world. Because Chaminade’s work was the work of Mary, it remains. And the words of this man of Faith still speak to us today.

From the Chapel of the Madeleine as from a fountain, grace poured throughout the entire city of Bordeaux and southern France. To this day the Madeleine, in the old down-town section of Bordeaux, is a center of Christian life. There Marianist priests and brothers, members of the religious congregation Father Chaminade founded, minister to the people. Many come to pray, to receive the Sacraments, or to seek spiritual refreshment.

All kinds of people involved . . .
From the beginning Father Chaminade invited people from varied backgrounds to work with him. There were husbands and wives, teachers, business men, young men and women, seminarians, priests, and representatives of every class.

-Together they worked to rebuild the shattered Faith in France.
-Together they found a deepening of their own Faith in the imitation of Jesus.
-Together they responded to the words of Mary at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Father Chaminade called this group the Family of Mary. Their outstanding characteristic was a deep spirit of Faith. For Chaminade, Faith expresses itself most perfectly in the imitation of Christ:

“A true Christian cannot live any life but the life of Our Savior Jesus. When we try to imitate Him the divine plan is carried out in our lives. The Blessed Virgin is our Model. She is a very exact copy of her Son Jesus. When we are devoted to Mary we will imitate Jesus.” “YOU MUST TASTE WHAT YOU BELIEVE.”- Father Chaminade

The importance of Mary
Father Chaminade never tired of speaking about the strong, victorious Virgin Mother of Christ:
“Jesus made Mary the companion of His labors, of His joy, of His preaching, of His death. Mary had a part in all the glorious, joyous, and sorrowful mysteries of Jesus. The deposit of the Faith is entirely in Mary. At the foot of the Cross she held the place of the Church. The mysteries which were announced to Mary were accomplished because she believed.”

History of the beatification cause
Chaminade died January 22, 1850. He was buried in the Carthusian cemetery in Bordeaux. In 1871 his remains were removed from the priest’s vault to a large square plot where a monument was erected to his memory. Father John Lalanne, the first Marianist, spoke on the occasion. He said, “We were witnesses during our younger days of his life and words. We affirm that we never saw him spend a day, not even a single hour at anything which did not relate directly to God and to the welfare of souls.”

Before long people began to come to his tomb. Some of them remembered him as a saintly old priest. Others knew only that a holy man was buried there.

In 1973 Pope Paul VI proclaimed that Father Chaminade had practiced virtue in a heroic degree. This proclamation of the Church is an official step toward the beatification and canonization of Father Chaminade.

Prayer +
O God, light of the faithful and shepherd of souls,
who set blessed William Joseph Chaminade in the Church
to feed your sheep by his words and form them by his example,
grant that through his intercession
we may keep the faith he taught by his words
and follow the way he showed by his example.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For One Pastor)

Love,
Matthew

The first beatitude & Protestantism

14167-blessed_is_she_luke145_ibelieve

marcellino-d'ambrosio
-by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, PhD

“The Beatitudes rank high on the list of all-time favorite Bible passages. But what is “beatitude,” anyway? In the bible, a “blessed” person is someone who has received gifts of the greatest value, gifts that lead to true fulfillment and lasting happiness.

If I were to ask you to name the first beatitude, you’d probably say “blessed be the poor in Spirit.” According to St. Matthew’s gospel you’d be right, but not according to Luke. At the very beginning of his gospel, Luke reveals that the very first beatitude is uttered by a woman filled with the Spirit, speaking of another woman overshadowed by the Spirit. Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed.” (Luke 1: 45).

Is Marian devotion important in Christian life? This has been a bone of contention between Christians for nearly five hundred years.

Let’s look at the evidence in just the first chapter of Luke. First, the Angel Gabriel honors her with the greeting “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:29). Then Elizabeth prophesies “blessed are you among women.” Next the prophet John leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. Then, in her response to Elizabeth, Mary prophesies “all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

But it is Elizabeth’s final words to Mary that provide the key to understanding why Mary is to be honored, namely, her faith.

One of the battle-cries of the Protestant Reformation was “Faith Alone!” One key conviction that united the many disparate strands of the Reformation was that it is impossible to earn God’s favor by our good works . . . that rather we receive His love as a pure gift, a grace, through faith.

Now consider Mary. Did she crisscross the Mediterranean planting Churches like Paul? Did she give eloquent sermons like Stephen (Acts 7)? Did she govern the Church like Peter? No. Her claim to fame is that she simply said yes to God. She believed He could do as He said and would do as He said.

But true faith is not just intellectual conviction that God exists or that He can do thus and such. Faith involves entrusting oneself, abandoning oneself to God, willing to submit to His will. That’s why Paul talks about “the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). Mary surrendered her plan for her life, and yielded to God’s plan. And she did this not once, but again and again, even when He left her behind to begin His public ministry. And when that ministry led to the horror of Calvary, Mary’s faith stood its ground at the foot of the cross.

So Catholics honor Mary for being the perfect example of the greatest Protestant virtue. Ironic isn’t it? And the deepest meaning of that disputed doctrine, the Immaculate Conception, is that it was the grace of God working mysteriously from the moment of her conception that made possible Mary’s exemplary life of faith. Even her faith is a gift of His grace. It’s all grace, according to Catholic doctrine.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Mary, of course, knew this. That’s why she responded to Elizabeth’s praise with the humble, exuberant prayer known as the Magnificat: She is like the crystal-clear pool that reflects the sun’s rays back to the heavens. So no one needs to fear that honor given her will detract from the majesty of her divine Son. She deflects all the praise given her right back to God, the source of her greatness.

So the answer is that Marian devotion is necessary in Christian life. But what is true devotion to Mary according to the fathers of the Second Vatican Council? Not sentimental piety or gullible preoccupation with every rumored apparition, but rather, imitation of her virtues, particularly her faith (Lumen Gentium 67).”

Magnificat anima mea Dominum,
et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo,
quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae.
Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies
timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo,
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui;
deposuit potentes de sede
et exaltavit humiles;
esurientes implevit bonis
et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum,
recordatus misericordiae,
sicut locutus est ad patres nostros,
Abraham et semini eius in saecula
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
et in Saecula saeculorum. Amen.  – Lk 1:45-56.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of His servant Israel
for He has remembered His promise of mercy,
the promise He made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.  Amen. -Lk 1:45-56.

Love,
Matthew

Dec 18 – Our Lady of the Expectation

our-lady-of-the-new-advent-image3

While no longer celebrated in the Roman calendar, this feast day is a joy, literally, to remember.

Br_Thomas_Davenport_OP
-by Br Thomas Davenport, OP

“One week until Christmas. Decorations are everywhere. Shopping is shifting from hurried to frantic. There are preparations for travel and guests, for parties and feasts. The expectation is palpable.

Even the Church, in her liturgy, has shifted into high gear. The normal flow of Advent, already overflowing with a sense of longing and preparation, was preempted yesterday eight days before Christmas. The gospel readings begin to recount the events immediately preceding the Nativity and the great “O” antiphons place us in the mindset of the Old Testament prophets, using their Messianic imagery to beg the Lord to come. Here too, the expectation is palpable.

Since the seventh century, this day, one week from the feast of the Nativity, has had a particularly heightened link to this anticipation in that it was set aside to honor the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Expectation. It has been some time since the feast of the Annunciation (March 25), which celebrates Mary’s “Fiat” and the coming of the Word of God in the flesh, but we have not yet reached Christmas, which rejoices in His birth and first manifestation to the world. This feast of Our Lady of the Expectation takes the opportunity to contemplate the great longing and anticipation of Advent, in which “all creation is groaning in labor pains,” through the eyes of her who, above all creatures, longed to see the face of Christ, and whose expectation truly was palpable in every fiber of her body.

The bond of mother and child is one of the most powerful and significant human experiences. Physically speaking, the new life depends on the mother for every bodily need and the body of the mother reorients itself, recreates itself, to accept this new life and provide for it. Psychologically, the child’s very first sensations and memories are of the safety and security of its mother’s womb. There is the feeling of warmth and confinement as well as the sound of the mother’s heartbeat and voice. And these feelings of safety and comfort persist in a new way after the child is born. The mother, too, is disposed to love her child whose being and welfare are as present to her mind as they are to her body. This maternal love is a supreme natural image of pure and unconditional love, an image of the love of the Creator for His creation.

All of these insights into motherhood in general apply in the most eminent way to Mary and the Word made flesh, made from her flesh and being formed in her womb for nine months. As great as this natural, maternal bond was, the Fathers of the Church considered Mary’s spiritual union with her Son, her discipleship, as even more important. According to St. Augustine, “She kept truth safe in her mind even better than she kept flesh safe in her womb. Christ is truth, Christ is flesh; Christ as truth was in Mary’s mind, Christ as flesh in Mary’s womb; that which is in the mind is greater than what is carried in the womb.” From the moment of the Annunciation, every aspect of Mary’s humanity, body and soul, was suffused with love for her Son and more and more perfectly united to Him. As His Nativity approached, that love overflowed in a calm yet powerful longing, an expectation, to look on the face of her Son, the Word made flesh.

The word of the Gospel does not simply come forth fully formed from the mouth of preachers without any preparation. To truly be fruitful there must be a period of contemplation, of silent preparation during which the Word takes shape in the preacher’s mind and, more importantly, he is drawn ever closer to the Word. This is especially true of the student brother in formation, whose Dominican life has been conceived in the profession of vows, but has not yet been born, has not yet been made manifest to the world in preaching. This period of waiting can sometimes feel simply busy but not productive. In truth, this formation is meant to be a time of inner growth and activity, laying the foundation for a healthy Dominican life, united to and overflowing with the Word.

While the festivities of Christmas last only a short time, the love that Mary had for her Son, which overflowed in such expectation, did not end at His birth but continued to grow and deepen in new ways. In these last days of Advent, may we unite ourselves to Our Heavenly Mother and ask her to teach us the patience and docility needed to bear Christ in our hearts, trusting that the Word will bear fruit in our lives.”

Sister Maria Philomena, MICM
-by Sister Maria Philomena, MICM

“In Spain, this feast day is Nuestra Senora de la O: Our Lady of the O, the “O” coming from the expression of longing said in the office of the Mozarabic Liturgy. In the Latin Rite, today’s feast comes in the middle of the “O” Antiphons (where we get the words for the hymn Veni, Veni, Emmanuel — in English O Come, O Come Emmanuel).

All this reminded me of a poem combining these ideas that I discovered some years ago when I was doing research for an English Literature class. I found it in the book, I Sing of a Maiden – The Mary Book of Verse, edited by Sister M. Therese of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Savior, Macmillan, 1947. Since the book is out of print, I feel justified in sharing the following with you.

Lady of O
-by James J. Galvin

By the seven stars of her halo
By her seven swords of woe
Oh Holy Spirit anneal my pen
To utter sweet words for the ears of men
In praise of Our Lady of O.

With seven O’s we salute Thee
Each evening as Christmas comes;
We hail thee adazzle with sunset gold
Repeating prophecies new and old
Like salvoes of guns and drums.

O Woman, the Word in Thy keeping
Thy secret from God most High,
Shall soon be whispered over the earth
And men shall listen and leap for mirth
Like stars in the Christmas sky.

O Lady, lone tent in the battle
Where our Leader awaits His time;
Though the day grow darker and Satan scorn
The tide of battle shall veer at morn
When He sallies forth to the cheer of horn
And trumpet and timbrel-chime.

O Stalk on the brink of blossom,
Shooting green through the frosty mire;
The peoples pray for thy Spring to come
And the mighty ones of the earth go dumb
For the Flower of the World’s Desire.

O Tower of Grace untrespassed
Since Eden by God’s decree;
At thine ivory spire and jasper gate
The pining kindred of Adam wait
For the turning of Christ the Key.

O Damsel more welcome than morning
To a world gone blind since the fall;
The stars go pale at Thy sandals’ sound
And skylines glimmer, and men peer round
For a virgin in simplest homespun gowned
With the Sunrise under her shawl.

O milk-and-honey-run Mountain
Whence the crystal Cornerstone
Shall issue unsullied by tool or hand
The Stone that shall fasten each race and land
Together like flesh and bone.

O City ashine on the hill-tops
The nations uplift their eyes
From rainy island and sunken sea
And the ends of the earth they throng to Thee
To dwell in thy Christ-lit skies.

By the seven stars of Thy halo
By Thy seven swords of woe
Forgive us, O Lady, these phrases worn
In praise of Thy season with God unborn
O ineffable Lady of O.”

Love & full of joyous expectation,
Matthew

Oct 7 – Our Lady of the Rosary & Victory & grace of & prayers for a happy death.

victories-2

O my Lord and Savior, support me in my last hour by the strong arms of Thy sacraments and the fragrance of thy consolations. Let Thy absolving words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal me; and let Thine own body be my food and Thy blood my sprinkling; and let Thy Mother Mary come to me, and my angel whisper peace to me, and Thy glorious saints and my own dear patrons smile on me, that in and through them all I may die as I desire to live, in Thy Church, in Thy faith, and in Thy love. Amen. Bl John Henry Cardinal Newman

O Dearest Lady, sweet Mother mine, watch the hour when my departing soul shall lose its hold on all earthly things, and stand unveiled in the presence of its Creator. Show thyself my tender Mother then, and offer to the Eternal Father the precious blood of thy Son Jesus for my poor soul, that it may, thus purified, be pleasing in His sight. Plead for thy poor child at the moment of his (or her) departure from this world, and say to the heavenly Father: Receive him (her) this day into Thy kingdom! Amen.

Through your help I hope to die a happy death. O my Mother I beg you, by the love you bear my God, to help me at all times, but especially at the last moment of my life. Do not leave me, I beseech you, until you see me safe in Heaven, blessing you and singing your mercies for all eternity. Amen, so I hope, so may it be.St Alphonsus Ligouri

Grant unto us, Lord Jesus, ever to follow the example of Thy holy Family, that in the hour of our death Thy glorious Virgin Mother together with blessed Joseph may come to meet us and we may be worthily received by Thee into everlasting dwellings: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Lord Jesus, pour into us the spirit of Thy love, that in the hour of our death we may be worthy to vanquish the enemy and attain unto the heavenly crown: Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that in the hour of our death we may be refreshed by Thy holy Sacraments and delivered from all guilt, and so deserve to be received with joy into the arms of Thy mercy. Through Christ our Lord.

hyacinth_grubb
-by Br Hyacinth Grub, OP

“It was not too long ago that I stood in a hospice center praying at the bedside of a friar in his final hours. At one point the social worker on duty came in to offer some surprising advice: leave him be. She told me that some people prefer to die alone, and that they’ll hold on until the room is empty. She described dying as “a wonderful expression of our autonomy.” Our society celebrates autonomy in all its forms, but this advice seemed particularly audacious. Especially because the limits of autonomy are most transparent at the end, when suffering and death strip away our illusions of ultimate power and self-determination.

It’s not that we don’t have a real power to choose, or that our will isn’t free, or that our choices are unimportant. Though, in a certain sense, the many choices we make throughout our lives on earth are really many acts of just one choice: the choice to pursue God or to pursue ourselves. We are continually deciding whether to worship God or ourselves, to follow His will or our own, and, ultimately, whether to accept His gift of Himself (heaven) or reject it (hell). In this way we are faced with the same choice that the angels had, but we decide it differently. For the angels are more noble beings, and when they were created they chose in a single act of the will. We, as men and women living in time and constrained by our physical natures, have to make this choice throughout our lives, in our daily acts. Our choice, and how each of our acts moved us toward it, will be the subject of our particular judgment.

Every act of ours is therefore a movement giving primacy to God’s will or to our own will. And in this sense it could be said that the most autonomous souls, the most independent, are those deepest in hell. Having chosen to reject every help, they have chosen instead to be utterly alone.

To speak of autonomy at someone’s deathbed is a futile grasp at a failing value. But what is proper to speak of, then? It’s not an academic question — we will all be there sooner or later. When we reach our end, facing a fate that seems to be a final defeat, what do we cling to? (For we should cling to something other than ourselves.) We should cling to our Savior and trust in His mercy.

We cling to Jesus and His Mother Mary, and especially to the lifeline that they have given to us in the rosary. Holding onto the rosary, we are pulled out of darkness and into light. Through the rosary we anchor ourselves in the mysteries of Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection; in those chains of beads we are tangled up within His salvific love, we are bound to His divine life. There is a reason that Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Victory are two names for the same feast day. For in repeating the Hail Mary we repeat the names of Jesus and Mary, and we recall that in the Incarnation God “emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:6) We ask Mary to pray for us, now and until the end. We ask her to be with us, and to not leave us to face the sting of death on our own. So that, remembering Christ’s victory over death, we can echo the bold words of St. Paul: “Death, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)

What better way to live and to die than in the rosary, in the continual repetition of those two holy and sweetest names of Jesus and Mary? What better way than by begging, again and again, for Mary’s intercession? So we stayed by our brother’s side in his final moments, praying the rosary when he could not. And in such a way may “the angels lead [us] into paradise,” may the martyrs receive us into the Holy City of our God, with the names of Jesus and Mary sounding in our ears and written on our heart.”

Love,
Matthew

Sep 15 – Improperia (The Reproaches), Our Lady of Sorrows

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother: “This Child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.”
-Luke 2:34-35

And with “Woman behold your son.”  And, “Son, behold your Mother.”  cf Jn 19:26-27, Mary became our mother, and the mother of the Church.

Good Friday is a day of mourning, remembering Christ’s death, and so is not typically a day of songs and hymns. During the Veneration of the Cross, the following Antiphon and verses known as “The Reproaches” (Improperia) are sung. Individual parts are indicated by no. 1 (first choir) and no. 2 (second choir); parts sung by both choirs together are indicated by nos. 1 and 2.

The Reproaches (Improperia)

Antiphon 1 and 2:
We worship You, Lord,
we venerate Your cross,
we praise Your resurrection.
1: Through the cross
You brought joy to the world.
1: (Psalm 66:2)
May God be gracious and bless us;
and let His face shed its light upon us.

Repeat Antiphon by 1 and 2:

The Reproaches:

I.

1 and 2: My people, what have I done to you
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I led you out of Egypt,
from slavery to freedom,
but you led your Savior to the cross.

2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!
1: Holy is God!
2: Holy and strong!
1: Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

1 and 2: For forty years I led you
safely through the desert.
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to a land of plenty; but you led your Savior to the cross.

1: Holy is God!
2: Holy and strong!
1: Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

1 and 2: What more could I have done for you.
I planted you as my fairest vine,
but you yielded only bitterness:
when I was thirsty you gave Me vinegar to drink,
and you pierced your Savior with a lance.

1: Holy is God!
2: Holy and strong!
1: Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

II.

1: For your sake I scourged your captors
and their firstborn sons,
but you brought your scourges down on me.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I led you from slavery to freedom
and drowned your captors in the sea,
but you handed me over to your high priests.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I opened the sea before you,
but you opened my side with a spear.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud,
but you led me to Pilate’s court.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I bore you up with manna in the desert,
but you struck me down and scourged me.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I gave you saving water from the rock,
but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: For you I struck down the kings of Canaan.
but you struck my head with a reed.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I gave you a royal scepter,
but you gave me a crown of thorns.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

1: I raised you to the height of majesty,
but you have raised me high on a cross.
2: My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

Love,
Matthew

Jun 27 – Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (Help)

ourladyofsuccour
mother_of_perpetual_help_by_theophilia-d559ghb

Mother of Perpetual Help, Woman of Eternal Hope, your wordless gaze tells us so much about you. Knowing eyes look upon us with tender love. The slight bend of your head reveals such maternal concern. While your left hand supports the Child, your right hand is ready to receive us, too. Just as He feels the beating of your heart, so you encourage us to lead a life of hope and holiness. Just as His sandal will fall on your lap, through your intercession may God pick us up as we stumble and fall. Never let us be parted from you and your Son, Jesus. Lady of love, you invite us to place our hand where His fingers touch yours — near a heart of endless hope — so that we may be united often in prayer here on earth and joined forever with you in heaven. Amen.

Mother of Perpetual Help, your very name inspires confidence. We come before your holy picture in praise and thanksgiving to God seeking your intercession with Jesus, your Son, for all the needs of our lives today. We celebrate your holy motherhood as we proclaim Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer.

You answered when called to be mother of our Lord. Obtain for us the grace to be alive to our baptismal call and especially to embrace the gospel of life and to respect all life on earth.

You wondered as your Son grew in wisdom, knowledge and grace. Intercede for us so that we may welcome the Word of God in our lives and be bearers of the good news to everyone.

You delighted as your Son healed the sick. Intercede for our sick that they may receive good health and that they in their turn may be healers to others.

You enjoyed peace as your Son comforted the afflicted. Intercede for all who suffer so that they may know that we carry their burdens with them and in this way we keep the law of Christ.

You rejoiced as your Son forgave sins. Obtain for us the forgiveness of our sins and lead us to unbind others and set them free.

You suffered at the wounds your Son endured for our salvation. Help us to bind up the broken hearted and to give hope to the down trodden.

You exulted in your Son’s resurrection. Obtain for us the grace to persevere in His way all the days of our life and be granted a place in heaven.

You are the first of all the disciples and saints. We trust in your motherly love and care. Obtain for us all the graces we need to fulfill God’s plan each day in our lives. Amen.

Courage of Single Parents,
Determination of Widows,
Woman of Confidence,
Help of the Worried,
Model for Parents of Teenagers,
Mother of Prisoners,
Lady of Grace,
Hope for the World,
pray for us!!!

Mother of Perpetual Help,
with the greatest confidence
we come before your holy picture
to be inspired by the example of your life.

We think of you at that moment when,
full of faith and trust,
you accepted God’s call
to be the mother of His Son.
Help us, your children,
to accept with joy our own calling in life.

When you learned that your cousin Elizabeth was in need
you immediately went to serve her
and offer your help.
Help us, like you,
to be concerned for others.

We think of you, Mother,
at the foot of the cross.
Your heart must have bled
to see your Son in agony.

But your joy was great
when he rose from the dead,
victorious over the powers of evil.

Mother of Sorrows,
help us through the trials and
disappointments of life.
Help us not to lose heart.

May we share with you and your Son
the joy of having courageously
faced up to all the challenges of life.

Amen.

Thanksgiving Prayer

O Mother of Perpetual Help,
with grateful hearts we join you
in thanking God
for all the wonderful things
he has done for us,
especially for giving us
Jesus, your Son, as our Redeemer.

O God, our Creator,
we thank you for the gift of life
and all the gifts of nature:
our senses and faculties,
our talents and abilities.

We thank you for creating us
in your image and likeness
and for giving us this earth
to use and develop,
to respect and cherish.

Despite our failures,
you continue to show your love for us today
by increasing the life of your Spirit in us
at the Eucharistic table.

Finally, we thank you, loving Father,
for giving us Mary,
the Mother of your Son,
to be our Mother of Perpetual Help.

We are grateful for all the favours
we have received through her intercession.
We pray that those past favours may inspire us
to greater confidence in your loving mercy
and to seek the aid of our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Amen.

Mother of Perpetual Help, today we face so many difficulties. Your picture tells us so much about you. It reminds us to reach out and help those in need. Help us understand that our lives belong to others as much as they belong to us.

Mary, Model of Christian love, we know we cannot heal every ill or solve every problem. But with God’s grace, we intend to do what we can. May we be true witnesses to the world that love for one another really matters. May our daily actions proclaim how fully our lives are modeled after yours, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favored by God. you became not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but Mother of the redeemed as well. We come to you today as your loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and God’s mercy is from age to age on those who love God. Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Oh Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying. Purest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, Blessed Lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you. In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary. What a consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of yours! I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering your name. Let my love for your name prompt me ever to hail you Mother of Perpetual Help.

Prayer for Financial Aid

Realizing, dear Mother Mary,
that thou art our Perpetual Help not only in spiritual but likewise in temporal necessities,
we approach thee with submissive and humble hearts,
because we have a child-like confidence in thy power and goodness,
beseeching thee to assist us in our present financial worry.
Owing to untoward circumstances which have arisen in our lives,
we are in dire want, being unable to meet our honest debts.
We are not asking, dearest Mother for wealth,
if possession of it is not in accordance with the holy will of God;
we merely beg for that assistance which will enable us
to satisfy our pressing obligations.

We believe, dear Mother,
that thou art the Queen of heaven and earth,
and, as such,
the instrument and special dispensation of thy Son Jesus Christ;
that thou hast acquired by virtue of thy wonderful dignity,
a sweet jurisdiction over all creation.

We believe that thou art not only rich and bountiful,
but extremely kind and generous to all thy loving children.
We plead with thee then, dear Mother,
to obtain for us the help we so urgently need in our present financial difficulty.
We thank thee, dear Lady and promise to publish far and wide,
the marvels of thy glorious Picture.
Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Jan 1 – Mater Dei

theotokos_moses

-Theotokos, “God-bearer”, icon, 16th century, Moses before the burning bush, notice the Christ seated on His mother’s lap who IS the burning bush of the OT before whom Moses kneels & removes his sandals.

In the few meaningful, thoughtful exchanges I have had with Muslims & Jews regarding the Christian belief, once in Kuwait, where a small Kuwaiti man in local attire held my hand as we walked back to his camera shop, men holding hands and walking is not a sign of erotic attraction but purely of friendship, photos of US Presidents &  Saudi kings walking hand-in-hand, are plenty & current, and then with a rabbi in Chicago, the objection is NOT the Resurrection!  A man rising from the dead, no problem!!!  It is the Incarnation.  That God would have to take a shit, Muslim objection.  Let alone suffer horribly?  Meekly?  At the hands of his enemies?  God?  Is 55:8-9.  Or, a Perfect Man?  Not within the Jewish tradition.  David, the best of Jewish heroes, was a bastard!  Bathsheba was just the cherry on parfait.  Apologies for any interpreted, unintended, vulgar pun.  Read your OT.


-by Br Alan Piper, OP

“Of all the traditional titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary—e.g., “Tower of David,” “Gate of Heaven,” “Queen of Angels”—perhaps the most impressive is “Mother of God.” The transcendent omnipotence of divinity is entrusted to the gentle intimacy of maternity, even to a certain unassuming and gentle young woman. It’s not, of course, that Mary was the source of God as such (the opposite is the case). The meaning of “Mother of God” is that the person to whom she gave birth in human flesh, whom she nursed and raised, was and is God.

But the maternity of Mary is real only if Jesus is also really human, and only if he received his humanity from her. The early Church had to withstand the mistaken idea that God’s dignity cannot allow that the Word’s embodiment and suffering be more than a mere appearance. St. John writes, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 Jn 1:7). In opposition to this error stands the Mother of God. One could apply the phrase “a body you have prepared for me” (Ps 40:6) both to the immaculate Mary and to the body that she was prepared to provide for Jesus. She is the only human being to whom Jesus had an immediate family tie. And she is the only one to whom he bore a true family resemblance. In the face of Mary we perceive something that will be reproduced in the embodied God.

There are a few texts that seem to diminish the importance of Mary’s motherhood but actually further disclose it. Once, when a woman from the crowd cried out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you!,” He corrected her, saying, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk 11:27-28). The wonderful irony is that no one was more attentive to that word and more obedient to it than the mother of Jesus. What is perhaps her most distinctive utterance comes at the start of her motherhood: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum—”be it done unto me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). In Mary’s obedience and in her meditation on the word, we begin to see the deeper meaning of her familial relation to Jesus: “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk 8:21).

Called to be the mother of the Son, Mary came to share by grace in the life of the so-called divine family that is the Trinity. At the scene of the Incarnation, Mary is surrounded by the Holy Trinity: “The Lord is with you,” which arguably refers to the Father; “you will bear the Son of the Most High”; “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” (Lk 1:28, 32, 35). The Son became man in her, and in the Son Mary came to share by grace in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). This is the purpose of the Son’s coming: “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman . . . so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5). Here Mary’s motherhood is interwoven with her daughtership.

As daughter of God, Mary is the pattern of our own glorification. As mother of God, she is also mother of her Son’s body, the Church. She intercedes for us and continues to give birth to Him in our hearts. This is part of the message of today’s feast. The Church repeats to us what Jesus said to John: “Behold your mother” (Jn 19:27).”

Love,
Matthew

Sep 15 – Our Lady of Sorrows

our-lady-of-sorrows

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”   -Lk 2:34-35

justinmarybolgerop

-by Br Justin Mary Bolger, OP

“An old man’s cold prediction of a sword thrust through her heart; a rough journey to Egypt with her newborn; losing her boy on the road from Jerusalem to Nazareth; meeting her bloodied son on the road to Calvary; watching him die; a gratuitous lance in his side; the laying of his lifeless body in a tomb: Mary’s sorrows – at least the seven ones traditionally associated with her which the Church remembers today as the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. There were – no doubt – other sorrows. From the moment Simeon prophesied the sword, it must have lingered in her imagination. Sometimes she felt the blade pierce her, which is why these sorrows are often portrayed as seven daggers in her heart. Other times her eye caught its flash, reminding her that she would not escape unscathed from her son’s destiny. She was playing a part. This sense of looming danger must have been a source of distress for Mary.

In his book called The Lord, Romano Guardini has a chapter called “The Mother” in which he explores another sorrow: that chasm which began to yawn between mother and son upon Jesus responding to his worried parents in the temple: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). We read that Mary does not understand this response, and with good reason. A typical twelve-year-old child would run to his parents’ arms upon being lost for three days. Jesus, even at that age, is already setting out on the path his Father has for him. Despite their closeness, there is a growing gap between Mary and her son. This too must have been a source of sorrow for Mary.

But what does Mary do with these sorrows? How does she respond to pain? She does not lash out at circumstances. Nor does she run away from hardship. The encounter in the Temple is one of the occasions for Mary to ponder in her heart some experience she has. She contemplates the sorrow, just as she ponders joy in other moments in her life (Luke 2:19).

But above all Mary responds to her sorrows as a faithful disciple. She is a disciple of her Son regardless of the circumstances. In fact, Mary is the model disciple. Throughout her life she is with Christ. And she is not merely journeying with Christ because she is his natural mother. Jesus preaches that those who hear and do the word of God are blessed (Luke 8:21). No doubt Jesus had natural affection for his mother and relatives. But to be a true disciple is another order of blessedness. And Mary becomes the exemplar disciple, for, hearing and doing the Word of God, she bears the Word within her. The temporal scope of the seven sorrows reveals this fidelity. The sorrows begin with Jesus as an infant, and end with his burial. And the sorrows are always related to Jesus. They are not disconnected from his mission. They are uniquely caught up with it. And they serve to show a response to sorrow – one of fidelity and discipleship.

We also see that Mary went through human emotions just like anyone. Some pretty heavy emotions too. “Emotional rollercoaster” comes to mind. We can see this by looking at Mary’s sorrows in the context of the Rosary. One of the Joyful Mysteries is the Presentation. This liturgical dedication of Jesus must have been a joy to Mary, and we meditate on it as such. But this joy is tinged with sorrow, for it is here Mary also hears Simeon’s prophecy that she too will suffer. Another joyful mystery is the finding of the Christ child in the temple. But directly before finding Jesus, Mary was in sorrow because she had lost him. And then as Guardini proposes, there was also sorrow in Jesus’ response to Mary. So Mary experienced the full range of emotions. Of course this range exceeds the typical experience: Mary had the joy of bearing Christ and the sorrow of burying him. It’s hard to imagine greater extremes. But still, we have a model in Mary not only for saying yes to God, but in how we respond to sorrow and pain.

No one is exempt from sorrow. By faith and following Christ as a disciple our pain can be redemptive for ourselves and for others. We follow Christ through sorrow just like Mary did because we know ultimately how the story ends. That’s why we can definitively sing at Easter: “Be joyful Mary!” And that’s why we can pray to her in this vale of tears. She has known sorrow like us. And now she knows the joy that comes with Christ’s redemption. She accepted God’s plan for her life, followed Christ on earth, and now lives with him among the Blessed. So then, Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.”

Love,
Matthew