Friday, June 27, 2008

Greetings and Salutations

Hi everyone! After I brainwashed her - I mean, after I went on an itty-bitty road trip with Heidi, in which we both invoked the Blessed Mother, oh, hourly, I'm honored to be here and blogging. I'll be piping in every so often, helping with Mary Moments, and, in general, doing my bestest to give my Heavenly Mother a big shout-out! :)

Traveling Mercies

When I wrote "Our Lady of Perpetual Help" a few weeks ago, I didn't realize it would post on the very day we concluded our seven-day cross-country road trip, which at the outset we titled the "Jet Setting is for Sissies Road Tour 2008."

This trip has been one long adventure in motherhood ... particularly in relying upon the spiritual motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Each day we found reasons to send an SOS heavenward.

And today ... we've already started up the litany. For we are heading home.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
As cries of starvation and parchment resound, pray for us.
As whining for more videos and treats abound, pray for us.
As tempers flare, and mothers dare
to contemplate tying small children
to rooftop luggage racks, pray for us.

Keep us safe. Keep us alert.
Keep us from going from good to worse.
Keep our screaming in our heads,
until we get them all in their beds.
Oh, Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

For more about the icon, click here or here.

The beauty of an icon is not (or at least not primarily) sensible, but representational. Not the colors alone, but what those colors represent. It's not about passive receptivity, but active discovery ... the affirmation of truth.

In this image, the Theotokos is clad not in her signature blue tones, but the red of martyrdom. She gazes upon us resolutely, patiently ... yet with an unmistakable measure of pain. Her Son (not the helpless Babe of the Infancy narratives, but the inquisitive Man-Child found in the temple with His Father) gazes not upon us, but upon the instruments of His Passion. He does not run away from them ... but draws upon the maternal embrace to steady Him, keep Him on course.

One cannot fully appreciate the dynamic of the Passion unless the full humanity of Christ is kept fully in our sights. I believe it was Jerome who said it: "Only that which had been truly assumed, could have been truly redeemed."

An unfortunate -- and common -- fallacy that creeps into the thinking of some Christians when they detach themselves from the maternal heart of Mary is that they lose sight of the full humanity of her Son. It was she who gave Him the curve of His jaw, the color of His eyes ... the emotional and rational landscape that, undiminished by sin, blossomed into all that is truly human. Her humanity that joined Him unalterably ... to us.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!
Take us within your mantle and show us
How to navigate unchartered waters ...
to the shores of the New Jerusalem.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mary Moments: A New Carnival!

While we were on our road trip together, Sarah suggested to me that I think about hosting a regular "Mary Carnival" here in order to give other people a chance to share their love for the Blessed Mother.

So ... starting in July, "Mary Moments" will run on the 15th of each month. Submissions should be in my box by the 10th of each month. You do NOT need to be Catholic to participate ... but host (that would be me) reserves the right to ignore posts that are disrespectful of Mary, or deliberately goading toward those who love the Blessed Mother. (Honest questions welcome, so long as you are willing to listen to the answer.)

After all ... no girl lets anyone diss her mother!

If you would like a call for submissions sent on the 5th of each month, drop me a line at hsaxton(at)christianword(dot)com. I look forward to hearing from you ... and thanks for helping me spread the word!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Road Trip That Almost Wasn't: A Mary Story

This week at "Mommy Monsters," I'm blogging about the Catholic New Media Celebration and the Road Trip I'm taking with Sarah Reinhard (and our kids). We've dubbed it the "Jet Setting is for Sissies Road Trip 2008," and both of us are already considering next year's trip (with or without each other).

Last night, we were heading out of the Convention Center, on our way to a cabin at Lake Altoona, where my parents were taking care of Christopher and getting ready to celebrate Dad's 68th birthday. We were about to get on I-285 around Atlanta, when we heard that it had been closed until 7 p.m. that evening because of a car accident.

Up until that time, Sarah and I had been relying upon "Gertrude," my GPS system. Gertrude was adamantly insisting that we make a U-TURN and get back on the Interstate. We were not about to do that ... but we are also VERY bad at reading maps. So, what to do, what to do.. "Get on 20W, then 61N," my Dad suggested.

But how? I'll let Sarah tell the rest of the story now ...

"So ... we were toodling around, trying to figure out how to get to 20, and Heidi says, 'Mary, you love children, and we have a baby on board who is at the end of her rope. Not to mention the baby's Mommy. Not to mention the three other kids. We need help to figure out how to get home. Can you send us a sign, or some help or something? Hail Mary, full of grace..."

No sooner did we get the last words out, then we saw the bright blue sign. "To 20..."

Thanks, Mary.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Behold Your Mother - New Cover!!!

I'm excited to announce that Bezalel Books recently decided to recover Behold Your Mother ... and bring out a SPANISH edition of the book at the same time! I'm so happy with this decision, and ask that you pray with me that this book will continue to touch hearts.

I love the new cover, which features images related to the meditations contained in the book, including both Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Czestochowa. And of course Mary's Immaculate Heart.

The Spanish edition should be available by the end of the summer. Thanks, Cheryl!

A Story of Faith: from Vacation Bible School...

Bible School Week: Day Three

This week a small army of us are teaching the children of our parish to SHINE for Jesus:

S = Receive the Sacraments
H = Help Other People
I = Imitate the Saints
N = We Need Each Other, Together in Christ
E = Evangelize: Invite a Friend to Church!

As I was talking to one of the parents today, she told me that she related to my story about Mary and how she reached out to me at a dark time in my life. She told me that after she became Catholic, she prayed very hard for her husband to become Catholic -- but he never saw the point. He had been raised without going to church, and didn't see any reason to change that.

Then, inexplicably, their eight-year-old daughter's eyes began to cross. She was scheduled for an MRI, and the parents were terrified that it was a brain tumor. For the first time since she had known him, her husband began to pray. "Lord, if it's a tumor, give it to me instead."

Just as suddenly as they had come, the symptoms subsided. A year later, the husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The husband had two options: get a simple biopsy, or elect to have immediate surgery to remove the mass.

That week, for the first time since they were married, the husband went to Mass with his family. "Give us a sign, God, of what to do," the couple prayed.

When our young priest gave his homily, he spoke of the sacrament of reconciliation and why it is so important to the spiritual life. "When you have cancer, you don't mess around. You go in, have surgery, and get it all removed as quickly as possible ..."

They got their sign. Shortly thereafter, the husband signed up for RCIA. Three years later, he is a cancer-free Catholic.

There are times in every life when we go through dark patches, when we don't understand the reasons for the struggle. Don't understand why we have to endure so much pain, such injustice ... such excruciating and seemingly unending periods of waiting.

But in the grand economy of eternity, nothing is wasted. Nothing takes God by surprise. Heaven's tears water the earth, bringing new life wherever they fall. If we permit ourselves to rest in that Mercy, hold on to that Hope, secure in that Love ... We will discover (if only from the perspective of Heaven) the unfathomable riches of God's Grace.

A school of another kind... God bless you!

Thursday, June 5, 2008 give-away: Lovely Mary necklace!

Lisa asked me to help spread the word about a wonderful give-away going on today at Click here for details!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Prayer to Mary: From "The Service of Authority and Obedience"

This is an excerpt from a document recently published at the direction of the Holy Father, which addresses the nature of obedience in the context of religious orders and of missions.

I found the concluding prayer to Mary especially sweet:

“O sweet and holy Virgin Mary, with Your believing and perplexed obedience, at the announcement of the angel You gave us Christ. At Cana with Your attentive Heart You showed us how to act responsibly. You did not wait passively for the action of Your Son but You anticipated it, making Him aware of the need and with discreet authority taking the initiative to send the servants to Him.

“At the foot of the cross, obedience made You the Mother of the Church and of believers while in the Upper Room every disciple recognized in You the gentle authority of love and service.

"Help us to understand that every true authority in the Church and in consecrated life has its foundation in being docile to the will of God and help each one of us become in fact, authority for others with our own life lived in obedience to God.

“O merciful and compassionate Mother, ‘You who did the will of the Father, ever ready in obedience', make our lives attentive to the Word, faithful in the following of Jesus, the Lord and Servant, in the light and with the strength of the Holy Spirit, joyful in fraternal communion, generous in mission, prompt in our service to the poor, looking forward to the day in which obedience in faith will flow into the feast of Love without end”.