Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Inspired from on high by God’s Spirit,
the apostles convened from all over the world,
in honor of you, O Mother of light!

And all heaven’s powers stood by the Master,
filled with awe and love,
as they prepared to welcome you,
in whom the Word of God had dwelt.

With joyful voices they sang forth their hymns of praise:
Today, all creation rejoices,
for the Queen of all,
the very handmaid of the Lord, is nigh!

Open wide, all your portals on high:
Make way for the Mother of light to enter in,
for through her all the world received salvation,
from this Maid who exceeds all praise,
for her greatness is beyond all understanding.

So the, O fairest Lady,
we, too, celebrate your holy Dormition.
Now that you dwell in everlasting glory with your divine Son,
we give you thanks on this glorious day and we bless you,
for you never cease praying for us!

The above text from Vespers sung by Byzantine Church which celebrates a vigil of the Dormition, as they call the feast. They use the term for the vigil as the “foretaste” of the Dormition of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. Hymn texts are very great communicators of what the Church believes to be beautiful, good and true. Like music, sacred art has an interesting way to move a believer to know a truth. In the image I placed with the text was painted by the Dominican Fra Angelico (Blessed John of Fiesole). You’ll notice the dormition (the falling asleep) of Mary and her Assumption, an act seemingly happening at the same moment. From a dogmatic point of view, the Catholic Church never definitively taught whether Mary experienced death, or not. Pope Pius XII left it an open question. Perhaps it is a both/and point.

Today is a day to Bless Herbs. This is the blessing used by the Byzantines. More info: the Blessing of Herbs AND another Blessing.

Our Lady of the Angels and the Portiuncula Indulgence

Today the Church observes a Franciscan feast of Our Lady of the Angels on which the “Portiuncula” Indulgence is offered. You may not be encountering this feast in a lot of places, but it is very worth knowing. You can also read last year’s post on this feast.

As you know from the personal history Poverello, he repaired three chapels, the last of which is typically called the Portiuncula or the Little Portion, dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels. The chapel now exists within the larger basilica church as seen in the picture. It is here that Franciscans identify their spiritual home. Moreover, it’s here that Saint Clare professed her vows on Palm Sunday in 1212 and where Francis died on October 3, 1226.

The Franciscan tradition tells us that Our Lord accompanied by Our Lady appeared in 1216 Francis who was encouraged to requested from Pope Honorius III to grant an indulgence to all who visited the Portiuncula chapel. Later popes expanded the indulgence to include churches administered by the Friars, and now the indulgence is offered to anyone who fulfills the obligations (see below) in any church.

The usual conditions to receive a gift of a plenary indulgence:

  1. detachment from sin:  a true sorrow for, and repudiation of, all one’s sin, mortal and venial;
  2. sacramental confession within a week of the feast;
  3. reception of Holy Communion on the day the indulgence is sought;
  4. prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father (see the blog entry on August 1 for the intentions) on the day the indulgence is sought (recitation of the creed, 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary suffice, or any other suitable prayer).

If these conditions are not met, the indulgence will be partial.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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I was asking myself why today’s feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a universal feast of the Church. But, why, then, is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary a widespread feast? Because of the popularity of the devotion is a good approximate answer. Go to Mary for help is a certain gesture of dependence.


The feast recalls a 1226 victory over enemies of the Church and the Carmelite friars, and it also recalls the reception of the scapular by Saint Simon Stock on this date in 1251.


By the 14th century the proposed feast received approval of the Roman Pontiffs Honorius III and later by Sixtus V; over the years it has been questioned by ecclesiastical figures and found to be appropriate for the Carmelite order with a proper vigil Mass and a privileged octave.


Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s feast is another feast of the Virgin Mary that focuses our eyes on the Lord. And, we can never have a enough of that.


You may be interested in reading this piece on scapulars.

Our Lady of the Atonement

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Today, is the feast of Our Lady of the Atonement. Under her patronage do the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement live their vocation. I was happy to celebrate with a favorite Atonement Sister today!

The Founder of the Franciscans of the Atonement, the Servant of God Father Paul, said of Mary’s part in the Atonement:


“She is necessarily “of the Atonement” since it was the will of God that she play a necessary part in the atonement or redemption. This is not to say that without her man would have remained unredeemed but that God’s plan gave her a large share in the redemptive work…Mary, although her part is in no way similar in nature to that of her divine Son’s, cooperated with Jesus Christ, as no other creature did, in his work of reconciling man with God. Her claim to this high title rests most solidly on the fact that she consented to become, and became the mother of the Redeemer; that she suffered with Jesus during the passion; and that all graces merited for mankind by Christ have come to us through Mary.

When we, therefore, give to our Blessed Mother the title of Our Lady of the Atonement we mean: Our Lady of Unity. As she sits enthroned, as the great wonder of heaven, wearing a crown of twelve stars, clothed with the sun, the moon her footstool, she presents to the universe the highest possible approach of a creature to intimate and exalted union with God.


More on Fr Paul Wattson and the devotion to Atonement.

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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The generosity of the young Virgin Mother of our Savior is honored today. As the prayer below says, Mary was moved by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we also ought to make God’s greatness known, loved and imitated.

On this feast I want to pray for 4 things:

1. for Giovannimaria, 7, who died yesterday after a prolonged illness;

2. for my friend Fr Edward Oakes, SJ, who was recently diagnosed Type-4 pancreatic and liver cancer;

3. for the Order of the Visitation

4. for those who need visit from a person and who lives a lonely existence.

Mary tells us of God’s mercy given to all generations.

With the Church we pray,

Almighty ever-living God, who, while the Blessed Virgin Mary was carrying your Son in her womb, inspired her to visit Elizabeth, grant us, we pray, that, faithful to the promptings of the Spirit, we may magnify your greatness with the Virgin Mary at all times.

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]yahoo.com.
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