- Saturday, 07 November 2009 13:15
In danger, in distress, in uncertainty, think of Mary, call upon Mary. She never leaves your lips, she never departs from your heart; and so that you may obtain the help of her prayers, never forget the example of her life. If you follow her, you cannot falter; if you pray to her, you cannot despair; if you think of her, you cannot err. If she sustains you, you will not stumble; if she protects you, you have nothing to fear; if she guides you, you will flag; if she is favorable to you, you will attain your goal….
(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Hom. II super Missus est, 17: PL 183, 70-71.)
- Friday, 09 October 2009 07:26
Until recently I really didn’t pay too much attention to
“new apparitions” of the Blessed Mother. I had all I can do to maintain what
knew or to explore what I wanted what I felt I needed to know about some of the
trends in Marian devotion. One more apparition of the BVM, even if current and seemingly
well-practiced, is not always interesting to me because of a perception that
yet another devotion to the Virgin Mary is creeping its way onto my plate
without ecclesial approval. Skepticism may be from the devil. I have raised the question about the truthfulness of this appearance of the BVM. But as Providence
would have, the apparitions of Mary from Medjugorje have found me. A few people
have written to me in the past suggesting that I have misread the situation
(perhaps I have) in a place like Medjugorje. Now I have a friend, a Franciscan
sister, keeping me informed on Marian visits. It’s all helpful, indeed and I
appreciate the feedback.
Reading the Catholic news services this morning I
noticed an article saying that the Bosnian cardinal, Vinko Puljic, thinks
someone at the Holy See (the pope?) is going issue a directive on Medjugorje’s claim
on the BVM making frequent visits there since the early 1980s. It is only speculation
at this point that the Holy See will say anything soon, but I do think he’s right in asking for such a directive to
appear for pastoral reasons. A little more guidance from the Holy See would be
extremely helpful. An evaluation of what has happened and what is happening
could set the record straight and help direct a reasonable pastoral response.
Throwing clichés and acidic words around on matters of doctrine, people
involved and spiritual practice is tantamount to spiritual malpractice. Plus,
fidelity to the teaching office of the Catholic Church is essential for true
Catholics. I just hope the Holy See takes Cardinal Puljic’s suggestion.
- Wednesday, 07 October 2009 05:45
O God, Whose only-begotten Son by His life, death and resurrection hath purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant we beseech Thee, that meditating on these mysteries in the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.
I want to recommend Ruth Rees’s The Rosary in Space and Time
which is an accessible and exceptional look into the most important devotional prayers we have: the Rosary
. She explores the biblical, liturgical, and practical dimensions of the rosary. A convert from Judaism and a professional actress and writer, Rees brings us (me) to a deeper appreciation of this compendium of the Gospels.
- Tuesday, 15 September 2009 13:06
Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, his
mother Mary stood by him, sharing his sufferings. May your Church be united
with Christ in his suffering and death and so come to share in his rising to
new life, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for
ever and ever. Amen.
Today’s feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary follows
yesterday’s feast of the Triumph of the Cross. As the liturgical year
progresses we see some things change in the liturgical atmosphere as we
prepare, believe it or not, for the end of the liturgical year: our focus on
the Paschal Mystery of the Lord (i.e., the life, death, resurrection &
ascension of the Lord) becomes more present to us.
Liturgically the Church dedicates
a day to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Jesus’ own mother. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows has not only a spiritual depth but a real human one: it strikes at the core of our heart. What human being goes through life
without some sort of pain? Like all mothers, Mary was wounded and pained at
various times in her life by the absence of her son and the pain and death he
had to suffer. No mother delights in her child’s misery, no mother sits by
while her child’s humanity is in jeopardy. Consider what the mothers of
soldiers go through waiting for her son or daughter to return from war. Imagine
the terrible, heart wrenching pain that many mothers felt when they were told
their child was killed in Iraq. I know of the pain my own paternal grandmother faced when her son was killed in a car accident more than 40 years ago; a pain that never truly healed nor spoken of…
The feast we observe today reminds us of the
humanity of not only Mary, but of Jesus. For as we know, Mary always points to
her son: the cross brought incredible suffering for Jesus while it saved all of
humanity by trampling down sin and death; Careful observing the suffering as Mary did requires our attention, too,
because Christ saved us in and through our humanity. This point is driven home
countless times a day as I walk past a replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta (see the pic above); I am
confronted with the sorrowing Mother Mary holding the dead body of her son in
her arms, the very arms which cuddled him as an infant.
The Cistercian monks
and Servite friars have given the Church an apt liturgical feast to indicate
the depth of humanity Mary had in standing by her son, an experience foretold
by Simeon. The feast has also be called Our Lady of Compassion, yet another
intersection of theology and human reality.
Here are the seven sorrows of
The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
The flight into Egypt (Matthew
Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
Mary meets Jesus
on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
Crucifixion and Death of
Jesus (John 19:25-30)
The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130;
Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56;
John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)