Friday, February 29, 2008
I want to give special, deeply appreciative thanks to Cheryl Dickow at Bezalel Books for her hard work in getting the book in print so beautifully and quickly. For more information about Bezalel (perhaps you have your own Mary book that you want to put in print), click here.
I'd also like to thank Mary Kochan for running the two excerpts from Behold Your Mother on Catholic Exchange. You can find them here and here.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
As a child I remember a simple chorus that was a favorite of mine:
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus!
This invitation of childlike trust echoes inside me each time I receive the Lord in the Eucharist, asking Him to come by the Spirit, wipe away all traces of uncleanness, and take up residence there. Each time I do this, I echo Mary's "yes!" "Yes, Lord, I believe ... Yes, Lord, I am expectantly, unconditionally yours. Starting right here, this moment."
I've known many Christians over the years who pray a similar prayer (though without the Eucharistic graces associated with the sacrament) and mean it. They want to be like Jesus. They want to love like Jesus. They want the same intimate relationship with the Father that Jesus had.
But His mother, they'd just as soon forget, except to haul her out to sit beside the manger each year at Christmastime. My brothers and sister, this we must not do.
With His dying breaths, Jesus entrusted His mother to John. And the Scriptures say, "From that hour the disciple took her into his home." Protected her. Sustained her. Loved her as a devoted son, for the sake of Jesus. Honored her, just as Jesus does.
So ... if Jesus is living in our hearts, and we want to love as He loved ... we must begin with the Woman he loved most, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us welcome her into our hearts and homes. Not to worship her ... God forbid! But to acknowledge how grateful to her for her blind, obedient faith ... and for her continued ministrations to us, now that she beholds the face of God.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
"The most blessed Virgin can obtain everything from God, because she is His true Mother, and is so much beloved by Him; and she will do everything for us, because she is our Mother also, and loves us so much.
"Let us, therefore, always try to gain her friendship more and more; let us ingratiate ourselves with her more and more, by continually fostering in ourselves devotion towards her. Every day let us say her Rosary. Fast in her honor every Saturday. Observe the novenas and the fast before all her principal feasts. Practice some devotion also on all her smaller, even her smallest feasts. And let us, besides, in all our necessities, in all our misfortunes, have recourse to her, have confidence in her; and through her security in life, security in death, security through all eternity."
Monday, February 25, 2008
I received this quote this morning from Jean Heimann at Catholic Fire:
"The Rosary, especially prayed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, is a powerful means of spiritual grace. In all of our efforts to promote the sanctity of human life, prayer is our first and strongest resource. May we rely upon the power of our Lord's presence in the Blessed Sacrament and the intercession of His Blessed Mother to guide and help us in fostering a greater respect for human life and an end to abortion in our society..."
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Sarah at "Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering" sent me a link to a blog entitled "Holy Cards for Your Inspiration."
I was particularly struck by this unusual image of the Blessed Mother:
"Eve believed the devil
and the world perished!
Mary put her faith in the Angel of God
and the world was saved!"
St. Lawrence Brindisi
Saturday, February 23, 2008
For many people -- including, as I understand it, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benedict XVI -- this title was considered problematic for the simple reason that it is too easily subject to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. All Marian dogmas developed in relationship to our deepening understanding of the person, nature, and work of Christ. As the mother of the divine person, Christ, she herself was not (and has never been considered) divine by nature. And yet she is rightly called the Theotokos, God-bearer, because in giving birth to Christ, she in fact gave birth to God Incarnate.
It is very, very important to keep in mind that, even if the Church were to pronounce Mary "Co-Redemptrix" by virtue of her role in God's plan of salvation, the "Co-" would not signify -- could never signify -- that Mary shared an equal role with Christ, the Redeemer of the World. (As one person in the CE article commented, a "co-star" or "co-pilot" does not have the same level of importance as the star and pilot, respectively. It would be sacraligious to suggest that the "Trinity" could ever become a "Quadrinity."
Rather (as I understand it), those who are asking the pope to define this particular dogma seek to acknowledge that, from the beginning, Mary was to be the channel by which God's plan of salvation was realized. From all eternity, God determined that Mary would be the woman uniquely called, and distinctively prepared, to be the Ark of the New Covenant, the New Eve, the Mother of the Church.
None of this by her own merit (as she herself would no doubt tell you), but all of it sheerly by God's grace -- the same grace that infuses us with divine life in the Eucharist, and will utterly restore us to perfection in heaven. Mary was the first to experience this perfection ... and as Mother of the Redeemer, she is able to intercede for us no other mother can.
Here's the poem:
Ave Maria Stella (Hail, Mary of the Stars)
Hail thou star of ocean
Portal of the sky
Ever virgin Mother
Of the Lord Most High
O! by Gabriel's Ave
Uttered long ago,
Eva's name reversing,
Established peace below
Break the captives' fetters,
Light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore
Show thyself a Mother,
Offer Him our sighs,
Who for us incarnate
Did not thee despise
Virgin of all virgins
To thy shelter take us,
Gentlest of the gentle
Chaste and gentle make us
Still, as on we journey,
Help our weak endeavor,
Till with thee and Jesus
We rejoice forever
Through the highest heaven,
To the almighty Three
Father, Son, and Spirit,
One same glory be.Amen.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Church’s hagiography has inspired whole libraries of books, the best of which paint a distinctive portrait of one or more of our beloved spiritual mothers and fathers. We love to hear and tell these stories over and over, for these stories provide our only real connection in this life with our spiritual forebears, our only opportunity to know them as we would like.
The Catholic Saints Prayer Book reminds us of another important reason to ruminate on the lives of the saints. This reason is perhaps best summed up in the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the spiritual mother of the author of this charming little book: “The Church of God needs saints today. This imposes a great responsibility on us. We must become holy not because we want to feel holy, but because Christ must be able to live His life fully in us” (p.10).
Each of the thirty-two saints contained in this book remind us that the pathway to holiness is not easily traversed. It is a way of suffering. Of grief. Of struggle against our basest impulses. In the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola, “There is no better wood to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross.”
Above all, it is a way of prayer. And for this, The Catholic Saints Prayer Book provides a simple yet eloquent resource for those who want to grow closer to our heavenly family. Each chapter includes a list of patronages, brief biography, and closing prayer to lead you gently yet deeply into that “blessed communion, fellowship divine.” Delicate illustrations are scattered throughout, making this a wonderful gift for birthdays, Mother’s Day … or simply for your own prayer corner.
Heidi Hess Saxton
Editor, “Canticle” Magazine
Author, Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert
If you want it autographed, just send me a note and let me know whose name you want printed inside. Thanks!
I grew up Catholic but never had any true devotion to Mary. As I look back back, I never really had a relationship with Jesus either.
We went to church on Sundays and I went to CCD classes but that was the extent of my faith life. In 1998, I had a conversion experince (long story) that changed my spiritual life forever. I began a relationship with the Lord I now knew personnaly (before I only knew ABOUT Him). I prayed everyday, "Lord, Help me to know you better."
It is only in hind sight that I can tell you that His answer to that prayer was to introduce me to His mother. As my relationship with her developed, my love for Jesus increased too. I have many Mary stories. None of them seem extremely miraculous but since one of my many prayers is for Holy Indifference, I'm sure I won't see the results of most of my prayers this side of Heaven.
Oh Mary, conceived without sin. Pray for us who have recourse to thee!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Yes, dear Kate, I believe the Blessed Mother smiled down on you both at that moment! She never had a daughter ... but she understands that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
During WWII, my grandfather was in the army. He was on the battlefield and ordered to run across the line. There were cannons blasting everywhere, and most of his buddies were dropping like flies. He prayed to Our Lady and began running as ordered.
He saw a cannon fire, saw the ball coming towards him ... and then it dropped, right there in midair. All the other cannons misfired and he was able to reach his destination safely. Ever since, he has had a special devotion to Our Lady.
My grandmother is named Carmella after Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and every year on July 16th we would go to Hammonton, NJ for the procession of saints, Mass, and festival. It was a tradition until my grandfather passed away and my grandmother moved to Florida.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Dear Anne: I understand where you are coming from, simply because I've been there myself. In the first chapter of "Behold Your Mother," I tell the true story of how I begged God not to let anything happen that I could take as a "sign" that it was OK to talk to Mary, if it was displeasing to Him that I do so. Three times I prayed this prayer. Three times my request to Mary was granted.
1. Because of the Incarnation. Mary's "yes" set the wheels in motion for the Word of God to come to earth and make it possible for us to be come children of God by adoption ... He is our brother, His Father is our Father, and He made His mother our mother as He died upon the cross (John 19:26-27). He continues to have that body in heaven (albeit in glorified form), and because of her obedience ... so shall we. She is our first and most perfect model of faith.
2. Because of the communion of the saints. Christians honor the saints both for their earthly example (including the writings many of them left behind to guide us) as well as their intercessions on our behalf. The Bible refers to the intercession of the saints in Revelation 5:8
When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Similarly, our understanding of Mary's motherhood developed over time (in response to the Christological dogmas). In the fourth century, St. Ambrose wrote: "Let, then, the life of Mary be as it were virginity itself, set forth in a likeness, from which, as from a mirror, the appearance of chastity and the form of virtue is reflected. From this you may take your pattern of life, showing, as an example, the clear rules of virtue: what you have to correct, to effect, and to hold fast." (Concerning Widows, Book II, Chapter II).
Here we have the first reason to cultivate a relationship with Mary: to follow her example, just as we learn about how to be a wife and mother from our own mothers. As Mary's daughters, we try to emulate our mother especially in our eagerness to assent to every aspect of the revealed will of God.
Here I am, Jesus. I want to please You in everything I do, everything I think, everything I am. Because I love you, I want to honor those You honor, and love those You love. You love Mary, and I want to love her, too. I know that You perfectly fulfilled the Scriptures, and honored both your Father and mother. Show me how I can honor Your mother in a way that gives joy to Your Sacred Heart. Amen.
Sarah Reinhard is a wife and mother, author of the popular Catholic blog "Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering" and contributing writer to "Canticle" magazine.
"Someone challenged Blessed Mother Teresa about her devotion to Our Lady. She replied that Our Lord loves His mother, and we should follow His example. Once we love Our Lady more than He, THEN we should stop!"
(Her blogs are dedicated to Our Lady as Cause of Our Joy: Mount Carmel Bloggers, Cause of Our Joy)
(Thanks to Leticia for linking to the Station Churches of Rome on her "Cause of Our Joy" blog. A great resource for Lent!)
(Photo of Mother Teresa and little Joseph courtesy of Joseph's mother, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle)
Saturday, February 16, 2008
"When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba, Father!' So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir."
"Imagine having such a miracle and taking another 54 years to complete conversion. All is in our Gracious Lord's time. I had a malignant growth removed and, today, had a bit of plastic surgery because of an infection. Sadly, it was the return of cancer, after a 4 year hiatus. I'd appreciate prayers."
Dear Holy Mother Wisdom, pray for your dear daughter Wenonah-Kateri, who is facing a dark place in her path right now called
Cancer. Make her way bright enough to follow, and shady enough to cause her to look to the one who called Himself "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." You who can intercede with wisdom born of empathy, pray for us. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!