Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

OL Mt CarmelToday, the Church honors the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This feast, historically, is clearly a feast recognizing Mary’s patronage of the Carmelite order. What does this feast say to us today? The Marian feast of Carmel is pointing us to Mary’s interior life, her life of prayer –her contemplation by holding all things concerning her Son in her heart. The Church gives witness that all Christians are called to pray and to enter into contemplation according to the grace given by God.

Only later did the feast get connected with the giving of the brown scapular to Saint Simon Stock for the members of the order, and later to the laity. According to Stock’s vision of Mary, in use of the brown scapular Mary there’s the promise to the wearer that she will intercede with her Son to have mercy at the time of death. The scapular is the outward sign (a sacramental) of the consecration one makes to the Blessed Virgin who leads the person to the Savior.

The Congregation of Divine Worship (at the Holy See) said in 1996, “Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.”

Moretto da Brescia BVM of CarmelDiscalced Carmelite Father Kieran Kavanaugh, said,

“The scapular is a Marian habit or garment. It is both a sign and pledge. A sign of belonging to Mary; a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death. As a sign, it is a conventional sign signifying three elements strictly joined: first, belonging to a religious family particularly devoted to Mary, especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order; second, consecration to Mary, devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart; third an incitement to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity, and spirit of prayer.”

As you know, all Marian theology points to Christ. Key in historical theology is the work of Saint Leo the Great who does not speak to the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel but he does contexutalize our teaching on Mary’s role in salvation history by making the crucial criterion of understanding her role viz. giving the Eternal Word, the Savior of All, human personhood.

Saint Leo is credited with forming the dogma of the Incarnation and taught by the weight of the argument and only then by his office the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon regarding the person of  Jesus Christ: that Jesus has two natures—divine and human—united in one person, “with neither confusion nor division,” known in technical theological language as the hypostatic union.

What follows is a portion of a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, a Roman pope who reigned from 440 to 461; his feast day is November 10; the first to be called “Great.” Mary points to Christ, our Savior!!!

Mary conceived in her soul before she conceived in her body

A royal virgin of the house of David is chosen. She is to bear a holy child, one who is both God and man. She is to conceive him in her soul before she conceives him in her body. In the face of so unheard of an event she is to know no fear through ignorance of the divine plan; the angel tells her what is to be accomplished in her by the Holy Spirit. She believes that there will be no loss of virginity, she who is soon to be the mother of God. Why should she lose heart at this new form of conceiving when she has been promised that it will be effected through the power of the Most High? She believes, and her faith is confirmed by the witness of a previous wonder: against all expectation Elizabeth is made fruitful. God has enabled a barren woman to be with child; he must be believed when he makes the same promise to a virgin.

The son of God who was in the beginning with God, through whom all things were made, without whom nothing was made, became man to free him from eternal death. He stooped down to take up our lowliness without loss to his own glory. He remained what he was; he took up what he was not. He wanted to join the very nature of a servant to that nature in which he is equal to God the Father. He wanted to unite both natures in an alliance so wonderful that the glory of the greater would not annihilate the lesser, nor the taking up of the lower diminish the greatness of the higher.

What belongs to each nature is preserved intact and meets the other in one person: lowliness is taken up by greatness, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt of our human condition, a nature incapable of suffering is united to a nature capable of suffering, and true God and true man are forged into the unity that is the Lord. This was done to make possible the kind of remedy that fitted our human need: one and the same mediator between God and men able to die because of one nature, able to rise again because of the other. It was fitting, therefore, that the birth which brings salvation brought no corruption to virginal integrity; the bringing forth of Truth was at the same time the safeguarding of virginity.

Dearly beloved, this kind of birth was fitting for Christ, the power and the wisdom of God: a birth in which he was one with us in our human nature but far above us in his divinity. If he were not true God, he would not be able to bring us healing; if he were not true man, he would not be able to give us an example.

And so at the birth of our Lord, the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to his people on earth as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. If the angels on high are so exultant at this marvelous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?

(Sermo 1 in Nativitate Domini, 2.3: PL 54, 191-192)

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Polish mosaicIn actual matters of the liturgical calendar June 27 is reserved for the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, but since we observed the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus yesterday, the Mother of God’s feast is pushed to today (the day following the Sacred Heart is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary).

Never despair, always ask your mother for help: Mary hearing our pleas brings them to her Son.

The text for our meditation is the second Kontakion for Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Kontakia are poetic texts used during the Byzantine liturgy. The text and image cohere nicely for we remember the words of scripture: Mary is the highest member of our race.

Through the intercession of Mary, may we live according to our baptismal consecration, particularly building up the Mystical Body of Christ.

A merchant of Crete knew of your icon, this precious jewel,
for it was beautiful and famous for many miracles.
He took it from the church,
hid it in his vessel and set out for sea.
O Pure One, you are our most precious treasure;
therefore we go through the sea of life
toward a happy ending, our heavenly city, singing alleluia!

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

visitationToday, the Church celebrates the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the event of Mary visiting her council Elizabeth after the news from the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she was to become the mother of Our Lord. Mary went from Galilee to Judea to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, the soon-to-be the mother of John the Baptist. The biblical narrative is found in Saint Luke 1:39-56.

Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Mary’s  song of praise liturgically called the Magnificat, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”

For us, John the Baptist is the final prophet of the Old Covenant and Jesus the first and the beginning of the eternal New Covenant.

Our Lady of Fatima

Fatima Statue in GuildfordOn May 13, 1917 three Portuguese children –Lucia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta Marto – playing at the Cova da Iria in the village of Fatima, saw a beautiful Lady which they described as being dressed in the ‘shining white of the Sun … indescribably beautiful face’. Her folded hands a rosary. The Lady told the children to return to that place every 13 months, promising to take them to heaven. She also asked them to pray the rosary for the intention of reparation of offenses against God and for the conversion of sinners. The children followed the advice.

In the third appearance, on July 13, the Lady asked the children to pray the Rosary for an end to the war and gave them a secret that consisted of three parts: the first was the vision of hell, the second referred to the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the third woman’s vision was flooded with Sun that counter-acts the forces of evil and the persecution of the Church by Governments atheists. “The good will be martyred,” said the Lady, “the Holy Father will have much to suffer and various Nations will be annihilated. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted, and the world will be granted a period of peace.”

On October 13, about 60,000 people in attendance saw the Sun spinning, known as “the Miracle of the Dancing Sun,” was seen as fast as a gigantic wheel of fire and dash zig-zagged across the sky. The whole thing lasted about ten minutes, then the globe returned to the point from which it was dropped.
Mary renewed her call to penance and prayer, commending devotion and consecration of persons to her immaculate heart.
It must be noted that on this date in 1981 the Turkish citizen Ali Agca shot Pope John Paul II. The bullet was deflected and the Pope later traveled to Fatima embedding that bullet in the Crown of the Virgin.
Francisco and Jacinta Marto, died in 1919 and 1920, were beatified on 13 May 2000. Lucia became a Carmelite nun and died on February 13, 2005 at 97 years old.
Tonight, at St George Church in Guilford, CT about 150 gathered for Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the rosary and a procession with the Fatima statue on the town green (the pic above). The unique thing about this procession at St George’s is that it’s likely the only parish in the Archdiocese of Hartford, indeed in New England, located on a town green (in a former very Protestant area).

Nine Month Novena in Honor of the Virgin of the Incarnation

Annunciation AAllori 1603A friend of mine sent me an invitation to join her and others in praying this novena. It was given to her by a mutual friend a decade ago. Julie reports “each year, I am overwhelmed by the reports of the novenas prayed and the amazing prayers answered. Please seriously consider praying this quick prayer with me for the next nine months. I promise you: it will revolutionize your relationship with Our Lady, and your prayers will be heard and answered.”

Julie has confidence in the regular prayers of the novena when she says:

If you do take it on, I further promise you: you will likely fail.  You’ll forget a day; you might forget several days.  Do what you must to remind yourself—stick the prayer to your bathroom mirror, and pray it while you’re brushing your teeth! Place it by your bed, inside or on top of something that you will look at every night. If (WHEN) you fail, then simply double up, or say it five extra times, if it makes you feel better. Whatever! Just do NOT give up.  Run to your Mother, confide in her, and be certain that she won’t disown you when you fall down. God bless you and thank  you for praying with me!

I am doing the same here: please join me in this sacrifice of prayer.

Nine Month Novena in Honor of the Virgin of the Incarnation

Prayed each day from the Solemnity of the Annunciation the Solemnity of the Nativity, March 25 – December 25. In this novena offer to Our Lady three intentions.

  • Salve Regina (the Hail, Holy Queen…)

O Virgin of the Incarnation, a thousand times we praise thee, a thousand times we greet thee, for the joy thou didst know when the Son of God became flesh in thy womb. Because thou art most powerful, O Virgin Mother of God, grant what we beseech thee for the love of God:  (here name the three intentions).

  • Memorare (Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary…)
  • Hail Mary

May the heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world and in the hearts of all men, even until the end of time.  Amen.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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