Tag Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

The Rosary’s effectiveness, Mary’s maternity

We well know the Rosary’s powerful efficacy to obtain the maternal aid of the Virgin. By no means is there only one way to pray to obtain this aid. However, We consider the Holy Rosary the most convenient and most fruitful means, as is clearly suggested by the very origin of this practice, heavenly rather than human, and by its nature. What prayers are better adapted and more beautiful than the Lord’s prayer and the angelic salutation, which are the flowers with which this mystical crown is formed? With meditation of the Sacred Mysteries added to the vocal prayers, there emerges another very great advantage, so that all, even the most simple and least educated, have in this a prompt and easy way to nourish and preserve their own faith.

Pope Pius XII
Ingruentium Malorum

Protection of the Theotokos

Protection of the TheotokosWe have a busy liturgical day. The feast of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (the Little Flower) and the Slavic Byzantine Church honors Mary under the title the “Protection of the Theotokos.” AND we need her protection!!!

This medieval prose (i.e.,  a devotional poem for use in the liturgy) uses the sentiment of the “Ave Maria.”

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you, serene Virgin.
For lowly and great,
lion and lamb,
our savior Christ:
you have been his temple,
while still a virgin.

For the flower and rose,
the bread and the shepherd:
you queen of virgins,
a rose without a thorn,
you became their mother.

You are the royal seat of justice,
you are the mother of mercy,
from out of the depths of dregs and misery
hast seen Theophilus to grace.

The heavenly court praises you,
you the king’s mother and daughter;
O sweetest Mary,
through you the accused is forgiven.

O most pious Mary,
through you the accused is forgiven.
O most gentle Mary,
through you favor comes to the just.
For us always entreat Christ. Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows

detail of sorrowful motherScripture reveals that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, stood by the cross as her son died. This was foretold by Simeon in the Temple when Jesus was presented there. Hence, this feast acknowledges Mary as a martyr because of the intense pain of the sword piercing her heart. As you would expect, how could a mother not be with her son as he died? Her humanity was closely united to that of his.

Your lectio may lead you to pray with the following: Mark 15:22; John 19:18, 25-27; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:46

Grasping the seriousness of this event gave way to the incredible composition of the sequence of Stabat Mater. Most parishes don’t sing this poetic text any longer but it used to be sung on this feast day and on Good Friday. Sometimes you’d hear it at the Stations of the Cross.

If you are not familiar with the rosary devotion of Seven Sorrows of Mary you will want to visit this site. This devotion has its roots in the 12th century and was made extraordinarily popular in the 13th. People like Saints Anselm and Bernard advocated this form of the rosary; the Benedictines, Cistercians and then the Servite friars took up the devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows was placed on the Roman Calendar by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727 and observed on the Friday prior to Palm Sunday; at the revision of the liturgical calendar the feast moved to this date. But the feast does have a variety of observances in other parts of the Church.

This is yet another truly Benedictine feast as it draws us to the foot of the cross. Given yesterday’s feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, today gives us the perspective of the mother. Mary’s sorrows have become our own sorrows; this is a reasonable feast that recognizes as concrete the place of sorrow in our experience. But sorrow is not the final chapter in this life: sorrow gives way to peace and joy. I am thinking of the mothers who have lost a child to all sorts of circumstances (sudden death, miscarriage, addictions, murder, war, abortion). Saint Benedict and his sons and daughters help to point the way to salvation in Christ through the cross.

The great Cistercian abbot Saint Bernard directs our thoughts and prayer in the following homily.

The martyrdom of the Virgin is set forth both in the prophecy of Simeon and in the actual story of our Lord’s passion. The holy old man said of the infant Jesus: He has been established as a sign which will be contradicted. He went on to say to Mary: And your own heart will be pierced by a sword.

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.

Or were those words, Woman, behold your Son, not more than a word to you, truly piercing your heart, cutting through to the division between soul and spirit? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the master; the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself. How could these words not pierce your most loving heart, when the mere remembrance of them breaks ours, hearts of iron and stone though they are!

Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants.

Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.

Nativity of Mary, the Mother of God

Nat of BVMPrayer in honor of Our Lady’s Nativity by Saint Anselm

Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O sacred Virgin; give me strength against thine enemies, and against the enemy of the whole human race. Give me strength humbly to pray to thee. Give me strength to praise thee in prayer with all my powers, through the merits of thy most sacred nativity, which for the entire Christian world was a birth of joy, the hope and solace of its life.

When thou wast born, O most holy Virgin, then was the world made light.

Happy is thy stock, holy thy root, and blessed thy fruit, for thou alone as a virgin, filled with the Holy Ghost, didst merit to conceive thy God, as a virgin to bear Thy God, as a virgin to bring Him forth, and after His birth to remain a virgin.

Have mercy therefore upon me a sinner, and give me aid, O Lady, so that just as thy nativity, glorious from the seed of Abraham, sprung from the tribe of Juda, illustrious from the stock of David, didst announce joy to the entire world, so may it fill me with true joy and cleanse me from every sin.

Pray for me, O Virgin most prudent, that the gladsome joys of thy most helpful nativity may put a cloak over all my sins.

O holy Mother of God, flowering as the lily, pray to thy sweet Son for me, a wretched sinner. Amen.

Queenship of Mary

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, established by Pope Pius XII in 1954:

Whoever, therefore, reverences the Queen of heaven and earth – and let no one consider himself exempt from this tribute of a grateful and loving soul – let him invoke the most effective of Queens, the Mediatrix of peace; let him respect and preserve peace, which is not wickedness unpunished nor freedom without restraint, but a well-ordered harmony under the rule of the will of God; to its safeguarding and growth the gentle urgings and commands of the Virgin Mary impel us.

Ad Caeli Reginam, 51


On this Feast of the Queenship of Mary, let us for the Church and society:

Holy Mary, Queen of heaven, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ and of his Church, who forsakes no one and despises no one, look upon me with an eye of pity, and entreat for me of your beloved Son the forgiveness of all my sins; that, as I now celebrate with affection your holy and immaculate conception, so hereafter, I may receive the prize of eternal blessedness, by the grace of him whom you, in virginity, brought forth, Jesus Christ our Lord: who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, in perfect Trinity, God for ever and ever. Amen.

(A prayer from the book, Maiden and Mother)

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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