Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception has this as its sole significance: that no human being can set in motion salvation by their own powers alone, but that their Yes is wrapped around and supported by that divine love which comes first and before all else.

Joseph Ratzinger

May  Our Lady intercede for the United States of America!

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

The Unifying Self-Offering of the Theotokos

Depending on the liturgical tradition you follow today’s Marian feast has a few names. The Latins will call this the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary while the Christian East will call the feast the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. Whether you say Presentation or Entrance there is little difference. The key is that Mary deepens her relationship with God by this gesture.

Those of us who are Benedictine Oblates, today is a day to renew our oblation to the monastery of our promises. We commit ourselves to Stability of Heart, Fidelity to the Spirit of the Monastic Life and Obedience to the Will of God.

The great Mother of God is our witness; she is the model of our Benedictine witness. She shows us what it means to show good zeal (Cf. Rule of Benedict, 72).

Here is a mediation by Sister Vassa:

“The most pure Temple of the Savior; / the precious Chamber and Virgin; / the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, / is led today into the house of the Lord, / bringing with her the grace of the Spirit. / Therefore, the angels of God praise her: / ‘Truly this woman is the abode of heaven.’” (Kontakion-hymn, Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple)

Today, those of us on the “New” Calendar celebrate the Most-Pure Virgin “being led,” at three years of age, into the Temple; and those of us on the Older Calendar – the feast of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Powers (i.e., the invisible creation of angels, archangels, seraphim, cherubim, etc.). Thankfully, the above-quoted hymn allows me to reflect on both feasts, as it also mentions the angels.

The angels praise with us the self-offering of the little Jewish girl from Nazareth, who is “led” like a lamb into the earthly temple, henceforth to live separately from her beloved parents and to be prepared for Her unique vocation, of serving as “the most pure Temple of the Saviour.” Her self-offering makes possible the bringing together of the human and the divine in the Person of Jesus Christ, and also of the visible and invisible creation. Today let me praise the merely-human little girl from Nazareth, who for all our sakes takes the first little steps toward Her unique cross today, of serving as the “heavenly ladder” between us and the rest of God’s creation, both visible and invisible. Let me let myself be drawn in to Her all-unifying, all-embracing Motherhood, letting myself participate in its “wholeness” or “salvation.” “Most Holy Theotokos, save us!”

Blessed Herman the Crippled

Today is the feast day of Blessed Herman the Cripple (also known as Hermannus Contractus, or Herman of Reichenau, 1013-1054), monk, 11th century scholar, composer, musical theorist, mathematician, and astronomer.

Blessed Herman composed the Marian prayers Alma Redemptoris Mater, and the Salve Regina (also known as the “Hail Holy Queen”) which we pray each time we pray the Holy Rosary. Despite significant physical limitations and suffering, the bright and contemplative mind of Blessed Herman advanced not only our understanding of the physical world, but furthered our devotion to Our Blessed Mother. His contributions to both science and faith remind us that regardless of appearance or apparent physical abilities, we each possess immense God-given gifts and talents! He was called “The Wonder of His Age.”

A hundred years after Blessed Herman died, Saint Bernard added the O Clemens, O Pia, O Dulcis Virgo Maria to the Salve Regina, genuflecting three times as he processed to the altar in the cathedral of Speyers in 1146 on a mission from Pope Eugene III as his legate to Emperor Conrad III in Germany.

(DG sourced)

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today we honor Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. This feast is so intimately connected with yesterday’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. You know the image of the Mother of God, the mother of a son, at the foot of the cross in great pain, sorrow, yet hope that all is not lost. Personally, I also recall the fact of Our Lady of Sorrows when I pray for a family who is grieving the loss of a loved one; and in a more extended way for me, OL of Sorrows is the prime patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross (who educated me in high school and in university). In this latter fact, I hope and pray Mary is watching over the the CSC and Notre Dame in a keen way especially these days of spiritual combat. Nevertheless, Mary’s real, concrete experience the Life-Saving Cross is crucial to my understanding the mysteries of life and death.

The great Cistercian abbot and author of many works on the Holy Virgin, St. Bernard of Clairvaux has this to say to us:

Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus—who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours—gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.

~(Sermo in dom. infra oct. Assumptionis, 14-15: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 5 [1968}, 273-274) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15.
~(The image was written by Connecticut iconographer Marek Czarnecki.)

Holy Name of Mary


“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps”

– St Bernard of Clairvaux.

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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