Tag Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

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. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; invoking her, you shall never lose heart.”

– St. Bernard of Clairvaux

This  feast was established by Pope Innocent XI in 1683, that the faithful may in a particular manner recommend to God on this day, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the necessities of His Church, and return Him thanks for His gracious protection and numberless mercies.

What gave occasion to the institution of this feast was the desire of all Christendom for a solemn thanksgiving which would commemorate the deliverance of Vienna, obtained through the intercession of Our Lady, when the city was besieged by the Turks in 1683. An army of 550,000 invaders had reached the city walls and was threatening all of Europe. John Sobieski, King of Poland, came with a much smaller army to assist the besieged city during the octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and made ready for a great battle. This religious prince began by having a Mass celebrated, which he himself desired to serve, his arms in a cross. After receiving Communion with fervor, he rose at the close of the sacrifice and cried out: Let us march with confidence under the protection of Heaven and with the aid of the Most Holy Virgin! His hope was not disappointed; the Turks were struck with a sudden panic and fled in disorder. From that time the feast day has been celebrated during the octave of the Nativity of Our Lady.

Reflection: If we, like the Christians of Europe in the 17th century, desire to appease by our prayers the divine anger which our sins have justly provoked, we must join the tears of sincere compunction to a perfect conversion of our habits. The first grace we should beg of God is that He will dispose us to maintain at all times a spirit of worthy penance. And to the invocation of Jesus it is a pious and wholesome practice to join our recourse to the Blessed Virgin, that, through Her intercession, we may more readily obtain the effects of our petitions. For this reason devout souls, with great affection and confidence, honor the Holy Hearts and invoke the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950); Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

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.

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.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

OLMCO most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in this necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Sweet Mother I place this cause in your hands. Amen.

Intimately connected with Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the Brown Scapular. Why not read a brief article on the scapular, a rather influential sacramental.

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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