Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Frank Duff and the Legion of Mary

Frank DuffLikely only a few would recognize the name of Frank Duff (1889-1980). He was the founder of the Legion of Mary on this date in 1921 in Dublin. It was First Vespers of the Nativity of Mary 94 years ago.

Frank Duff’s cause for sainthood is being considered.

The Legion of Mary had a rather simple work to do: honor the Virgin Mary, promote sanctity, and evangelize the culture. Prayer was key –especially to the Trinity– and doing the hard work of spreading the faith by personally visiting people. They did as Saint Benedict would say, “listen with the ear of the heart.” Frank knew instinctively that the patient and diligent care for others on the level of prayer and listening to the concerns of the people would lead people to Christ.

The Legion of Mary has a meeting format that is similar to that of  other “successful” Communion and Liberation, Focolare, St. Vincent de Paul Society: a weekly meeting, prayer, spiritual talk, personal sharing by each member on the work done. Always focussed on the work of God. To be a member of the Legion you can’t just pray the rosary, you have to do the work of sharing the faith with others. The spirituality is apostolic and contemplative following the guidance of Saint Louis de Montfort.

The Legion of Mary has fallen into disuse in this area but there are eager souls willing to carry the torch. Perhaps in disuse BUT NOT irrelevant. When I worked at a parish in NYC we started a Legion of Mary group and I think it prospers. My friend Ken in NYC is faithful to charism of the Servant of God Frank Duff & the Legion, he assures me that it will do good work in the years to come. May the Holy Virgin Mother of God richly bless the Legion and lead us all together to God.

Our Lady of Monte Vergine

OL of Monte VergineOn these U.S. shores a devotion to the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Monte Vergine is unknown by most people. There are, however, those of us who know Italy and the presence of the Benedictine abbey on Monte Vergine that inspires us to use this title to Mary. From the image herewith it is difficult to grasp that the icon is quite large, with a height of over 12 feet and width of over 6 feet; it shows the Mary seated on a throne with the Infant Jesus seated on her lap. Historians call icon of the Mother and Child, “of Constantinople” (because it is said to have been brought to Italy by King Baldwin of Jerusalem) given to the Benedictine monks in 1310. King Baldwin. The image is dark, so the icon is often referred to as one of the “Black Madonnas”; a title given to several images of the Holy Virgin Mother.

The famous Benedictine sanctuary located in the village of Montevergine (of Campanian region of Italy); the “Monte Vergine” comes from the religious history going back to the pre-Christian era when there was a temple of Cybele existed. A chapel of the Blessed Virgin was built in the seventh century. In 1119, Saint William of Vercelli founded the monastery that still exists. Saint William was a hermit who came back to his native Italy after making a pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).

Saint William had the reputation for sanctity inspiring many to live in cells on the mountain. Monasticism still is present there. The first true church was constructed in 1126, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.

Today, it is reported that over one-and-one-half million pilgrims yearly pay homage to Our Lady of Montevergine. The most popular day is Pentecost. There have been numerous miracles attributed to this portrait of the Mother of God and her Divine Son.

National 54 Day Rosary Novena

54 day rosary

Will you join other people across the United States for the 2015 National 54 Day Rosary Novena???

This novena’s primary intention is “For Family and Marriage.”

Would you pray the rosary every day during the 54-day novena (August 15-October 7) for the intention of holy marriages and holy families.

October 7th is the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.

“The National 54 Day Rosary Novena serves as a Message of Hope in response to the spiritual crisis in our culture and nation regarding marriage and family, and in response to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops call to unite in prayer for the intention of the sanctity of marriage and family life. While a novena normally consists of nine consecutive days of prayer, this 54-day rosary novena could be considered an extended novena for this specific intention.”

Mary’s transitus to heaven

AssumptionThe perfect union of the Blessed Virgin Mary with God
Mid-August finds a good many of the Eastern and Western churches commemorating the move of Mary to heaven. In the East the feast is called the Dormition (koímesis); in the West it is called the Assumption (assumptio). This is a favorite feast for me.

St. Germanus of Constantinople preached: “You, O Mother, are close to all and protect all, and though our eyes cannot see you, we know, O Most Holy One, that you dwell among us and make yourself present in the most varied ways… Your virginal body is entirely holy, entirely chaste, entirely God’s dwelling place so for this reason it is absolutely incorruptible. It is unchangeable since what was human in it has been taken up in incorruptibility, remaining alive and absolutely glorious, undamaged, and sharing in perfect life. Indeed, it was impossible that the one who had become the vase of God and the living temple of the most holy divinity of the Only Begotten One be enclosed in a tomb of the dead. Rather, we certainly believe you continue to walk with us.”

The observance of the feast dates back to the first millennium and defined in the 20th century. Mary is a figure of the heavenly Jerusalem!

We know from liturgical historical scholarship that Several Armenian lectionaries found in Jerusalem witness to a celebration of Mary as Theotókos on August 15; the documents tell us this feast arose in the fifth century, probably after the Council of Ephesus in 431. The Eastern feast was imposed on the entire Byzantine Empire by the Emperor Mauritius at the end of the sixth century. It spread to the West and since the eighth century it has been known as the “assumption” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In comparison, the Coptic Church liturgically commemorates the Virgin’s death and assumption on two different days. You will recall that the Catholic official teaching –definitely defined– happened not in the early centuries of Church history, but on November 1, 1950. Pope Pius XII taught that according to the tradition Mary was raised body and soul to the glory of heaven was proclaimed a dogma.

The 4 canonical Gospels do not speak of Mary’s later years. But it’s the apocryphal Gospels which speak  of Mary dying with the apostles gathered around her, and of her later appearing to them as they celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice. What do we have about Mary’s ultimate existence on earth? The Church uses the apocryphal Gospels together with the fact that no certain relic of Mary’s body exists thus giving the Church room to contemplate the last moments of Mary’s life on earth in the light of Christ’s victory over death. Hence, we bless flowers and herbs on this feast (indicating no mortal remains was left in the tomb carved for Mary) and we teach that what was gifted to Mary is gifted by the Savior to us who believe in Him.

Virgin of Mt Carmel teaches complete fidelity

Elijah on Mt CarmelSaint John Paul II said in 2000: “As I look at these mountains, my thoughts turn today to Mount Carmel, praised in the Bible for its beauty. We are, in fact, celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On that mountain, located in Israel near Haifa, the holy prophet Elijah strenuously defended the integrity and purity of the chosen people’s faith in the living God. On that same mountain some hermits gathered in the 12th century after Christ and dedicated themselves to contemplation and penance. The Carmelite Order arose from their spiritual experience.

Walking with the Blessed Virgin, the model of complete fidelity to the Lord, we will fear no obstacles or difficulties.

Supported by her motherly intercession, like Elijah we will be able to fulfill our vocation as authentic “prophets” of the Gospel in our time… May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we call upon today with special devotion, help us tirelessly climb towards the summit of the mountain of holiness;  may she help us love nothing more than Christ, who reveals to the world the mystery of divine love and true human dignity.”

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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