Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's a New Year

Don't forget that as Catholics, we must attend Mass on Friday. It's a Holy Day of Obligation, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos).

How appropriate to start the new year honoring our Heavenly Mother! From whence all love comes. The "glue" that keeps us together is she and all mothers.

Hail Mary! Theotokos!

We turn to you for protection,

Holy Mother of God!

Listen to our prayers and help us in our needs.

Save us from every danger, glorious and blessed Virgin!

May God save us all in 2010!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Prayers to our Mother, O Holy Momma!

Everyday as my husband drives off to work, I say a little prayer for him. First I say the St. Michael prayer to protect my knight-in-shining-armour from the evils of temptation, and then I ask Mother Mary to keep him under her mantle of prayer and intercession.

How important is it that we make sure our families are well fed, clothed, and happy by our loving hands, how important is it that we make sure our children know that we love them and keep them close to our hearts every minute of our being, and how important is it that our spouses know how desirable and needed they are is the very reason we should turn to our Heavenly Mother for her much needed intercession to her Divine Son.

Our Mother, the very vessel of love and self sacrifice, gives us all her love and support from her holy place with Christ. As we care so deeply for our own families, our Mother cares for us. We are very blessed to be the beneficiaries of such love. Turn to her right now, remember to turn to her tomorrow and everyday. She is waiting for you!

Hail Mary, Full of grace!
The Lord is with thee!
Blessed art thou amongst women!

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!

Holy Mary, Mother of God!
Pray for us sinners now
and at the hour of our death!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

End of an Era

Yesterday I read the final post of Sherry Antonetti, a fellow blogger who has decided that, for personal reasons, she needs to stop blogging in order to focus on more immediate, pressing needs. I'll miss Sherri, especially her humor and her wisdom.

And yet, her post also inspired me to write this. For some time now I've had the sense that I need to simplify my current "engagement schedule" in order to make room for other things I should be doing (from washing the kitchen floor to getting ready for my podcast). Now that BYM has been out for almost two years, I've decided to conclude this tribute -- though it will remain here for anyone seeking a little encouragement or information about the Blessed Mother.

Thank you, readers. If ever you'd like to see what is going on at the Saxton house, be sure to check out "Mommy Monsters," which I will continue to update periodically. However, my primary blogging platform will be "Extraordinary Moms Network."
I leave you now with a few of my favorite "Mary links."

Sarah Reinhard's column series at Today's Catholic Woman
Cool quotes about Luther and the Blessed Mother at "Solus Christus"

Assorted blog posts about the Blessed Mother at "BlogFlux". There are so many other wonderful tributes out there about her going up all the time, a search engine really is your best bet!

Under the mercy,


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Purity of Mary

Lately I have had any number of discussions with various friends and acquaintances about whether the Blessed Virgin Mary struggled with the concupiscence of the flesh. Let us begin with the definition of concupiscence as given in the Catholic Encyclopedia:
In its widest acceptation, concupiscence is any yearning of the soul for good; in its strict and specific acceptation, a desire of the lower appetite contrary to reason. To understand how the sensuous and the rational appetite can be opposed, it should be borne in mind that their natural objects are altogether different. The object of the former is the gratification of the senses; the object of the latter is the good of the entire human nature and consists in the subordination of reason to God, its supreme good and ultimate end. But the lower appetite is of itself unrestrained, so as to pursue sensuous gratifications independently of the understanding and without regard to the good of the higher faculties. Hence desires contrary to the real good and order of reason may, and often do, rise in it, previous to the attention of the mind, and once risen, dispose the bodily organs to the pursuit and solicit the will to consent, while they more or less hinder reason from considering their lawfulness or unlawfulness. This is concupiscence in its strict and specific sense. As long, however, as deliberation is not completely impeded, the rational will is able to resist such desires and withhold consent, though it be not capable of crushing the effects they produce in the body, and though its freedom and dominion be to some extent diminished. If, in fact, thewill resists, a struggle ensues, the sensuous appetite rebelliously demanding its gratification, reason, on the contrary, clinging to its own spiritual interests and asserting it control. 'The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.'
According to Fr. John Hardon, S.J. in his classic work The Catholic Catechism: "From the time of her conception, Mary was freed from all concupiscence and also (on attaining the use of reason) free from every personal sin during the whole of her life." (The Catholic Catechism, p.158) In The Glories of Mary, St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, writes of Mary:
Mary certainly could not be tormented at death by any remorse of conscience, for she was always pure, and always free from the least shade of actual or original sin, so much so, that of her it was said: 'Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee.' From the moment that she had the use of reason, that is, from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, in the womb of Saint Anne, she began to love God with all her strength, and continued to do so, always advancing more and more, throughout her whole life, in love and perfection. All her thoughts, desires, and affections were of and for God alone: she never uttered a word, made a movement, cast a glance, or breathed, but for God and His glory; and never departed a step, or detached herself for a single moment, from the Divine love. (The Glories of Mary, p. 351)
Here are excerpts of what the Fathers wrote of Mary and her purity (one gets the distinct impression that they did not view her as a typical teenage girl):

Patristic writings on Mary's purity abound.

  • The Fathers call Mary the tabernacle exempt from defilement and corruption (Hippolytus, "Ontt. in illud, Dominus pascit me");
  • Origen calls her worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, most complete sanctity, perfect justice, neither deceived by the persuasion of the serpent, nor infected with his poisonous breathings ("Hom. i in diversa");
  • Ambrose says she is incorrupt, a virgin immune through grace from every stain of sin ("Sermo xxii in Ps. cxviii);
  • Maximus of Turin calls her a dwelling fit for Christ, not because of her habit of body, but because of original grace ("Nom. viii de Natali Domini");
  • Theodotus of Ancyra terms her a virgin innocent, without spot, void of culpability, holy in body and in soul, a lily springing among thorns, untaught the ills of Eve, nor was there any communion in her of light with darkness, and, when not yet born, she was consecrated to God ("Orat. in S. Dei Genitr.").
  • In refuting Pelagius St. Augustine declares that all the just have truly known of sin "except the Holy Virgin Mary, of whom, for the honour of the Lord, I will have no question whatever where sin is concerned" (On Nature and Grace 36).
  • Mary was pledged to Christ (Peter Chrysologus, "Sermo cxl de Annunt. B.M.V.");
  • it is evident and notorious that she was pure from eternity, exempt from every defect (Typicon S. Sabae);
  • she was formed without any stain (St. Proclus, "Laudatio in S. Dei Gen. ort.", I, 3);
  • she was created in a condition more sublime and glorious than all other natures (Theodorus of Jerusalem in Mansi, XII, 1140);
  • when the Virgin Mother of God was to be born of Anne, nature did not dare to anticipate the germ of grace, but remained devoid of fruit (John Damascene, "Hom. i in B. V. Nativ.", ii).
  • The Syrian Fathers never tire of extolling the sinlessness of Mary. St. Ephraem considers no terms of eulogy too high to describe the excellence of Mary's grace and sanctity: "Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity ...., alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body . . . . my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all-inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment . . . flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate" ("Precationes ad Deiparam" in Opp. Graec. Lat., III, 524-37).
  • To St. Ephraem she was as innocent as Eve before her fall, a virgin most estranged from every stain of sin, more holy than the Seraphim, the sealed fountain of the Holy Ghost, the pure seed of God, ever in body and in mind intact and immaculate ("Carmina Nisibena").
  • Jacob of Sarug says that "the very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary; if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary". It seems, however, that Jacob of Sarug, if he had any clear idea of the doctrine of sin, held that Mary was perfectly pure from original sin ("the sentence against Adam and Eve") at the Annunciation.
Paul Haffner in his book The Mystery of Mary offers a brilliant discussion about Mary and concupiscence which I recommend reading in full. Haffner says: Not only was Our Lady freed from original and actual sin, but also from concupiscence....The Angelic Doctor offers the various opinions of absence of concupiscence in Mary....Either that concupiscence was entirely taken away from her by her first sanctification or it was fettered. (The Mystery of Mary, pp 93-94)

As for the relationship of Our Lady and St. Joseph, St. Augustine of Hippo (who was not the first Calvinist as some people seem to think, but a Father, Doctor, Bishop and Saint of the Church) remarks that theirs was a true marriage, albeit unconsummated according to the flesh. To quote St. Augustine (I know, he would not be popular on the preaching circuit today):
The entire good, therefore, of the nuptial institution was effected in the case of these parents of Christ: there was offspring, there was faithfulness, there was the bond. As offspring, we recognise the Lord Jesus Himself; the fidelity, in that there was no adultery; the bond, because there was no divorce. [XII.] Only there was no nuptial cohabitation; because He who was to be without sin, and was sent not in sinful flesh, but in the likeness of sinful flesh, Romans 8:3 could not possibly have been made in sinful flesh itself without that shameful lust of the flesh which comes from sin, and without which He willed to be born, in order that He might teach us, that every one who is born of sexual intercourse is in factsinful flesh, since that alone which was not born of such intercourse was not sinful flesh. Nevertheless conjugal intercourse is not in itself sin, when it is had with the intention of producing children; because the mind's good-will leads the ensuing bodily pleasure, instead of following its lead; and the human choice is not distracted by the yoke of sin pressing upon it, inasmuch as the blow of the sin is rightly brought back to the purposes of procreation. This blow has a certain prurient activity which plays the king in the foul indulgences of adultery, and fornication, and lasciviousness, and uncleanness; while in the indispensable duties of the marriage state, it exhibits the docility of the slave. In the one case it is condemned as the shameless effrontery of so violent a master; in the other, it gets modest praise as the honest service of so submissive an attendant. This lust, then, is not in itself the good of the nuptial institution; but it is obscenity in sinful men, a necessity in procreant parents, the fire of lascivious indulgences, the shame of nuptial pleasures. Wherefore, then, may not persons remain man and wife when they cease by mutual consent from cohabitation; seeing that Joseph and Mary continued such, though they never even began to cohabit?
St Alphonsus Liguori has a more poetic approach (which is why I long ago took him for my spiritual father) especially when discussing anything to do with the Most Holy Virgin. Of Our Lady's marriage to St. Joseph he says:
By reason of her purity, the Blessed Virgin was also declared by the Holy Ghost to be beautiful as the turtledove : 'Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtle-dove's.'7 'Mary,' says Aponius, 'was a most pure turtle-dove.'8 For the same reason she was also called a lily : 'As the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters.' 9 On this passage Denis the Carthusian remarks, that Mary was compared to a lily amongst thorns, because all other virgins were thorns, either to themselves or to others ; but that the Blessed Virgin was so neither to herself nor to others, for she inspired all who looked at her with chaste thoughts. This is confirmed by Saint Thomas, who says, that the beauty of the Blessed Virgin was an incentive to chastity in all who beheld her. Saint Jerome declared that it was his opinion, that Saint Joseph remained a virgin by living with Mary ; for, writing against the heretic Helvidius, who denied Mary's virginity, he says, ' Thou sayest that Mary did not remain a Virgin. I say, that not only she remained a Virgin, but even that Joseph preserved his virginity through Mary.'3 An author says, that so much did the Blessed Virgin love this virtue, that to preserve it, she would have been willing to have renounced even the dignity of Mother of God. This we may conclude from her answer to the archangel: 'How shall this be done, because I know not man ?'3 and from the words she afterwards added: 'Be it done to me according to thy word,'4 signifying that she gave her consent on the condition that, as the angel had assured her, she should become a Mother, only by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. (The Glories of Mary, pp. 457-458)
I think we are safe in assuming that the love Our Lady and St. Joseph had for each other was the love of true spouses but the love which spouses share in heaven. Because of Mary and Joseph's unique mission as parents of the Son of God, they began to live the life of Heaven even amid the many perils, trials, and sufferings of earth.

Going Up! Happy Feast of the Assumption!

Today is the day we celebrate Mary's "homecoming," when she was taken into heaven at the end of her life. (For more details, go to Ginny Kubitz Moyer's blog post entitled "Body Talk, Mary Style."

Because of her special connection to Christ, Mary was the first to receive the glorified form that is the destiny of all believers, united body and soul with God in heaven, beholding the beatific vision with all the angels and saints.

I was thinking about this recently when I went to visit the grave of my friend, Father Roger Prokop, while I was in Elmira NY last week. While I knew that the pain and suffering he had endured with the brain tumor was over, it hurt to think of his body lying there under the soil. This is a natural human impulse, I think -- we were meant for eternal life, and so death in a certain sense goes against God's original purpose. It hurts.

Today we celebrate the fact that in a very real way, death has lost. The death and resurrection of Christ has paid our debt -- a debt we could never pay ourselves, no matter how "good" we were or how hard we tried. The Christian life, then, is about allowing those transcendent graces to seep into every pore, every sinew, every breath until (in the words of the great hymn) "changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place. Till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love and praise!"

That, dear friends in Christ, is what we are celebrating today. Mary, the Queen of Heaven, has tossed the first crown at the feet of her Son!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Feast Day of Immaculate Heart of Mary reflection

Reading today in my June Issue of 'The Word Among Us,' I am reminded how Mary took everything quietly into her heart. Trusting that young Jesus followed them on the caravan and finding out that he didn't, caused them confusion and panic. The change in her 12 year old son had begun, part of the different phases a young boy/man goes through as he tries to figure out his true mission and destiny in life. He knew something was up at aged 12, but maybe he didn't know what it was. Mary, possibly had forgotten His purpose too, in all the days and years of being a mother to this young God/man. From the Annunciation, to the Magnificat, to the Presentation of our Lord to this moment, lots of mothering days and moments occurred. She bonded with Him as a mother should, loved him and cared for him, so much so that even these enormous moments in her history with this young lad could be buried deep in another realm not part of the real mechanics of daily life.

Fast film forward and we stand in the midst of modern day parenthood. I know these Biblical stories, I know that Our Lady is praying for me as a modern day mother of 3. She knows the struggles, bonding, love, and care that I put into being who I need to be for these 3 people. But what struck me today is that I don't take these things quietly into my heart as she did. I lecture, scream, panic, cry, mourn, and regret the ineviable, trying to change, reverse, and preserve the yesteryears of my children. Taking these changes quietly into my heart. No, I seem to continue to fight these invaders. Keep them at bay so that I and my knight can continue to enjoy the simpler days of parenthood. But now I see that I am selfish! These young people don't want to remain perpetually young and childish, they want to fly, flourish, and grow independent and free. They see what their parents have and want them too. Drive cars, have their own money (we have money!), they want their own homes, clothes, jobs and the freedom to make choices as adults do.

So, I must not fight these changes, but welcome them as doorways into a new realm of relationships. From being a 'mommy' to being 'momma', to recently being just plain 'mom'...they still call me when they need me. My job isn't going anywhere, just changing. My place in their lives is still important to them. With this, I am learning too.

Dear Mother Mary, Please keep praying for me.....I think they might finally be working. Amen

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mary Moments in May

This month, "Mary Moments" are back and will honor motherhood -- and all parenthood -- on Monday, May 25 at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering. The carnival will include a Mr. Linky or you'll be welcome to share in the comments if you don't have a blog or a website.

Mary Moments are where we share our Mary-inspired thoughts, reflections, tips, and everything related to our Blessed Mother. We'll focus on parenthood this time around, which doesn't mean you have to be a parent to participate. :) We all have an experience with parenthood, with someone who inspired us and helped us forward.

Spread the word and dig through your archives, if you don't have time to write something new (or if you haven't already written something in May).

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Great Way to Spend Your May

If you haven't ever dropped by Praying for Grace, hosted by the lovely Barbara, you should do so. During May, she's writing a Mary post every day.

Every day.

I admit, I'm impressed. I'm in awe.

And I'm loving them.

Which made me think that maybe you would too. :)

So go on over and check them out.

(Geeky technical note: that second link goes to what I think is the specific category for her Mary posts. The first link goes to the main page of her blog, which contains other good stuff, but may not take you right to the Mary posts.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kathy Sullivan Vandenburg, "womanpriest"

Today at Secretum Meum Mihi Press, Kristen West McGuire runs an interview with a "womanpriest" Kathy Sullivan Vandenburg.

Interesting interview. Kristen (who by the way does not condone Vandenburg's actions, but wanted to understand them better) conducted a good interview, which got inside the head of her subject and allowed us to see the progression of events that led this woman from the Catholicism of her childhood (pre V2) to her current state as an "ordained" minister under an excommunicated woman "bishop."

As a convert to the faith, as I read it I was reminded of why the concept of authority – handed down from Jesus to the apostles to their successors – is such a central teaching in the Church. People blame the Holy Spirit for all kinds of foolishness; sadly, we are susceptible to all kinds of self-delusions and rationalizations when we refuse to submit to the spiritual authority God has put there for our benefit. Once the hen is out of the proverbial hen house, she seldom sees the need to return until it is too late, and the fox is lurking at the door!

I don’t doubt that there are many, many women who have particular gifts that – in a man – would be useful in ordained ministry. And many gifts that women CAN legitimately use in ministry opportunities available to them. (God makes men and women equally valuable, but not interchangeable. Our calling – and our nature – is built into the fiber of our very being. Women bring life into the world and nurture it, and are a living representation of Bride. Men sacrifice themselves for the good of their families in other, but no less important ways, and are a living representation of the Eternal Bridegroom.)

The question, then, is why “ordained” ministry is so crucial in the minds of some women -- why they resent it that the Church is not authorized to ordained women priests. In most cases, sadly, the resentment stems from a disordered understanding of human nature ("male and female he created them"), as well as spiritually deadening tendencies toward envy and pride.

Like Ms. Vandenburg, I attended seminary as a graduate student alongside seminarians – but never once did it ever occur to me to covet their calling. The Dean of Students asked me about this once, if I wanted a priest’s vocation. My answer was immediate and from the heart.

“Why on earth would I want ANOTHER vocation? Most days it’s all I can do to handle the one I have!”

He laughed. Then he met my kids . . . and I think he understood.

One need only look at the Blessed Mother to understand the Lord's intention in selecting Twelve. She was present for some of the most crucial moments in Christ's ministry, and stood with Him strong and unmoving when all the others had fled. She was first to see Him enter the world, first on His heart after the Resurrection. Because her life -- like that of most women -- was largely hidden, we do not know how often she traveled with her Son physically, but she was clearly never far from His thoughts, nor He from hers.

How often we as women cheat ourselves when we give in to the temptation to be "just like men." God wants us to aspire to something altogether higher, for it is was what we were created to be: not an "ordained minister," but a life of ministry -- most of it unseen, unlauded . . . and noticed only by those who matter most. What reward is in store for those who are faithful to such a calling!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Contempla a Tu Madre": My First Spanish Review!

I'm very excited to post this link and offer my warmest thanks to Silvia Amador, who was kind enough to publish this glowing review at her Spanish-language blog, "Creciendo Unidos."

Thank you, Silvia!

Orders for the book in the United States may be placed through my website. Those outside the United States may be placed through

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Month of Mary

The month of Mary is the month of blessings and of grace, for, as St. Bernard, in company with all the Saints, assures us, all grace comes to us through Mary. The month of Mary is a continuous festival in honor of the Mother of God, which prepares us well for the beautiful month of the Blessed Sacrament which follows it.

Because our vocation calls us to give special honor to the Holy Eucharist, we must not for that reason give any the less devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Far from it, he would be guilty of blasphemy who would say, "The Most Blessed Sacrament suffices for me; I have no need of Mary." Where, then, shall we find Jesus on earth if not in Mary's arms? Was it not she who gave us the Eucharist? It was her consent to the Incarnation of the Word in her womb that inaugurated the great mystery of reparation to God and union with us which Jesus accomplished during His mortal life, and that He continues in the Eucharist

Without Mary, we shall never find Jesus, for she possesses Him in her heart. There He takes His delight, and those who wish to know His inmost virtues, to experience the privilege of His intimate love, must seek these in Mary. They who love that good Mother find Jesus in her pure heart. We must never separate Jesus from Mary; we can go to Him only through her.
-- St. Peter Julian Eymard, Found of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marian Prayer Day by Day

I found this while I was working on our parish bulletin this morning. Wouldn't this be a great way to incorporate Mary into your daily prayer life, especially as we approach May, the month where we turn our eyes to Mary in a special way, to honor her and revisit our great love for her?

Mary, Mother of our Redeemer and Mother of the Church, we offer you the praise of the Angel of the Annunciation--Hail, full of grace! Through you the Holy Spirit gave this world Jesus its Savior--Son of God, Word made Flesh, Foundation of the Church.

Through you God's holy people, his Church on earth, appeal for light and strength in its pilgrimage of faith. You have gone before us on the same journey and are now glorified in heaven. Be for us who are still on that journey of faith a true Star of the Sea, leading us to the presence of your Son where he sits at the right hand of the Father, enthroned in glory.

You were the first to believe. You persevered in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room. You were a unique witness to the mystery of Jesus. All generations have called you blessed. Now in this Marian year God's holy Church looks yet again to you for inspiration and help.

Be our Mother. Share with us your limitless faith. Take and keep us within your protective arms in a world that has largely lost faith and abandoned hope. Petition for us from your Son--as once you did so powerfully at Cana of Galilee--an increase of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life so that the Church may flourish in our time and thereby magnify his name. Touch the hearts of all our youth that they may see in every walk of life an opportunity to serve.

Take from all our hearts the selfishness that sours relationships and keeps us centered only on ourselves. Give us hearts aflame with charity and filled with love. Make us, like the apostle John who was commended to your care, loving children of our heavenly Father, conscious always of your maternal presence in our lives.

Look favorably upon your children in our failure to provide the one flock under one shepherd for which Jesus prayed. Shine forth for us and for all the peoples as a sign of sure hope and solace as we strive to make our pilgrimage of faith hand in hand. Be our common Mother who prays for the unity of God's family. May we see in you our model of that obedience of faith which should be found in all who listen attentively to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.

He who is mighty has done great things for you. Humbly we ask that you in turn may do for us these things for which we pray in the name and through the power of that most Holy Spirit who lives and reigns in the unity of the Father and the Son, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-- written by Pope John Paul II and found via the University of Dayton

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mary Links

You have a lot to do, I know. Even so, I can't resist sharing two fantastic Mary-related links I came across in the last two weeks.

Among Women
“Among Women” is a podcast that celebrates the beauty and grace that women experience in their Catholic Faith and Life. We hope this “faith-sharing” program will be "faith building" ...inspiring women in their call to holiness by drawing closer to Christ and the Catholic Church, by living lives of prayer and loving service.

Mary, the Mother of God, is the patron. And if you are looking for an audio cup of tea and fine company, well then, this is the podcast for you!

Mary's Project
I heard about this gem on the SaintCast and when I looked up, just a minute ago, I saw that I had lost ten minutes! It's a fabulous compilation of Marian links, catechesis, resources, and articles.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mary at the Foot of the Cross

I just discovered this podcast by Dr. James Dobbins, and yesterday there was a new episode entitled "Mary at the Foot of the Cross." (You can download it via that link too, or find it in iTunes.) Though it was today (Saturday) before I listened to it, I found it just as striking and just as meaningful. Check it out for yourself.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Mourning

This morning I'm watching a documentary called "Jesus in India," which proposed that between the ages of 13 and 30 Jesus lived in India. Some contend that Jesus returned here after surviving crucifixion -- because the Lord's legs were not broken (Jn 19:33-37), they say, he could have been taken down from the cross unconscious but still alive.

According to the documentary, Muslims believe that Jesus must have survived crucifixion because God would not have allowed one of His prophets to die in this manner, as it would have been a sign of (the prophet's) failure. And indeed, on that terrible day following the crucifixion, before the Resurrection, it would have been difficult on a purely human level for the apostles and even the Lord's own mother NOT to feel let down that God would permit this horror to happen.

But then ... Sunday came. "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor 1:25).

The question of where Jesus was between the ages of 13 and 30 may be open to question; the Scriptures are silent on the subject (though it seems likely he grew up working alongside St. Joseph in Nazareth). That Jesus died, and rose to conquer death itself by the power of God ... is simply not open to debate. Two thousand years of Christian history rests upon this bedrock truth:

Christ has died,

Christ is risen,

Christ will come again!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Offer to Say Yes

Have you ever had an offer you just couldn’t refuse?

Maybe it was an opportunity that seemed to fall in your lap. Maybe it was something that just lined up perfectly. Maybe it was a dream come true.

Whatever it was, you couldn’t refuse.

Oh, you could have. You could have said no. But why?

Even though it would be a lot of work in the end, even though it would mean a lot of effort (and probably some pain), even though it would take you out of your comfort didn’t say no, did you?

When you feel the call, the one that gets a capital “C,” you have to make a decision: yes or no. Does saying no mean admitting that God doesn’t know best? Or does it mean recognizing that the offer you thought you couldn’t refuse wasn’t so great after all?

That offer is black and white. There might seem to be gray at the time, but when you look back, you’ll see the starkness between the “yes” and the “no.”

Do you remember how it felt when you said “yes”? Did you feel a shiver in your intestines, like you were in the front seat on the big hill of the roller coaster? Was there a moment where the time it took you to draw a breath could have been five milliseconds or five minutes? Were you scared, just a little?

Imagine how it was, on that day in Nazareth, the sun streaming through the windows as an angel made a simple -- and huge -- request of a young girl. She didn’t hesitate. It was an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Now fast forward 33 years. See that girl, still recognizable? See her there, clutching a young man, watching the procession of the Galilean with a cross? She’s sobbing...but she’s still saying yes.

What kind of homecoming must it have been three days later? How many tears did she cry as she saw her yes in front of her again, resurrected, smiling gently at her?

As we approach the Easter Triduum, commemorating the Lord’s Passion, death, and Resurrection, there’s an offer waiting for us. In the washing of our feet, we have the opportunity to humble ourselves to those around us. In the outstretched hug from the cross, we have the chance to suffer with joy. In the glory of the Resurrection, we have the security of trusting in God’s judgment.

I’m going to try to say “yes” this week with the same continued devotion that Mary did. Rather than be intimidated by her perfection, I’m going to be inspired by her constancy. Whether I’m embracing my cross or celebrating new life, struggling in daily life or enjoying small comforts, sobbing from frustration or laughing with hilarity, I’m going to remember that my Mother walks beside me, encouraging me to say “yes.”

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Way of the Palms

I just received word that "Hawaii Mom" Esther Gefroh's father passed away suddenly. Please keep Esther, her father, and their whole family in your prayers.

Today we commemorate what must have been the longest and most tumuluous week of Mary's life. Catholics believe that Mary was kept from sinning, through the graces merited by her Son. And yet, we also know that she was truly a mother.

So as her only Son entered Jerusalem like a king, riding on a donkey and hailed by a joyeous crowd, her heart must have raced at the sight. Her own cries must have rang out above the rest, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" In her excitement, perhaps she even wondered if her Son, the Messiah, was about to pull off a bloodless coup, a true revolution of grace. See, how all the people loved Him!

But it was not to be. In just a few days, she would listen in horror and wonder from the kitchen as Jesus anticipated His betrayal and death, first washing His disciple's feet -- the job of the lowliest servant -- then infusing the familiar Passover rite with unprecedented light. He would be with them until the end of time, no matter what ... but first He must debase Himself by dying a criminal's agonizing death. Not for the grateful crowds that chanted His name today ... but for the mocking masses that spat upon Him as He hung there, helpless.

And through it all, Mary stood close by, waiting for Simon's sword to find its mark.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mary in the Stations of the Cross

Father Jay Fineli shared a version of the Stations of the Cross in a special episode this week at iPadre (also available from SQPN). It's inspired by the writings of Anne Catherine Emmerich, a mystic who witnessed the Passion (and whose writings inspired the Mel Gibson movie "The Passion of the Christ").

But that's not all, and, actually, that's not the part that "got" me the most. Closing each station, there's a different voice, a female voice, speaking as Mary. I kid you not: I felt like Mary was reaching through my earbuds and talking to me. It was amazing!

There's a download button, you listen from your computer, or you can subscribe in iTunes. It's going to play a part in my Holy Week, that's for sure!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mary, the Refuge of Sinners: a Guest Post

I have been honored to participate at Today's Catholic Woman as a weekly columnist on reflections inspired by the various titles of Mary. In writing these weekly reflections, one of the invaluable resources in my life (and one of the few people who is privy to my terrible first drafts) is my parish priest, spiritual director, and good friend, Father Patrick Toner. This week, I'm working on a reflection inspired by Mary's title as Refuge of Sinners. Father Pat gave me permission to share his reflections here, with you, and I hope you find them as moving as I did.
The Catechism starts by reflecting on our desire for God that is implanted in the human heart. We seek refuge from a world made hostile by sin. Eden was such a world before sin caused our loss of innocence. I go back to the garden to recall my innocence. I go to find peace in a world filled with stress. I go to renew myself. I find that refuge in my daily holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. I need peace in my life as I go about life in the world.

We find our refuges in the Eden of our past. The church has always been a place where I felt at peace. We cannot live in the past. What we seek is in our future, heaven. It is a touch of heaven from the past that fills my soul.

There are three women who are important in the life of every priest: his mother, Holy Mother Church, and the Blessed Mother. We can all recall resting safe in the bosom of our mother. Her voice and presence can bring calm and peace into the midst of our broken world. Mary comes to me bringing that promise of heaven, “Everything will be fine.” She is a link to what God has planned for me. She seems always to be prayerful and peaceful. I always find her in the church, taking my hand and leading me to her Son.
Thanks, Father Pat, for sharing these reflections with all of us.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Little Crown

Recently, I read -- no, devoured -- a great book. It was one that I would have never picked up (or not so soon, anyway), had it not fallen in my lap.

The book? True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by St. Louis de Montfort. If you haven't read it, you should. Not only is it enlightening, it's easy to read. (That last reason is the exact opposite of what I was expecting.)

In that book, St. Louis mentions a prayer that caught my interest, the Little Crown. I shared the outline of it (from what I remembered and was using from the book) with a friend who did some research and came up with this link.

And then, because we were working on a moms dinner, she got all crafty and made up special chaplets and I made up a prayer card. We've received feedback from some of the women that this prayer has been such a blessing for them. I thought you might find it to be as helpful as they did (and as I have), so I'll share it with you here. I use my fingers, but you could also (if you're crafty) make your own chaplet.

First, pray the introductory prayer:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle within them the fire of Thy love! Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. Let us pray. O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit dost instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant us by this same Spirit to relish what is right and ever to rejoice in His consolation, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Then, pray this pattern:
One Our Father, followed by four Hail Marys, one Glory Be, and one O My Jesus.
Repeat for a total of four times.

For more information and to find the complete prayer with additional praises to follow each Hail Mary visit

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mary and Confession

I can always tell when it's time for Confession. Everything starts to annoy me, from the colors of the world around me to the smallest thing said by my preschooler. I'll find myself wondering what I thought was so great about, oh, anything really. The true litmus test is when I start getting annoyed with my husband, who isn't just nicknamed Prince Charming for his good looks but is, in fact, a charming and easygoing guy.

Lately, I've noticed that when I ask Mary for help, she is good for it. When I recently asked my Heavenly Mother for guidance, for a pointer to what I should improve, it became clear to me that Confession was what I was supposed to focus on.

Needless to say, I procrastinated. I made excuses. I got reeeaaaallll busy.

But there was no avoiding it.

But wasn't just a call to Confession. It was a call to frequent Confession. Going once wasn't going to get Mom off my back.

Lent is a great time to start a new habit, but I often find (when will I learn?) that God has a plan for me that's slightly different than the plan I have for myself. I've been talking to Mary more of late, asking for her advice and guidance and, most of all, her prayers. It's no surprise, but it's still a pleasant experience, that she leads me, time and again, back to a closer relationship with the sacraments. My new fervor for the sacrament of Confession (or Reconciliation or Penance...whatever you want to call it) has done good things for my life, and not just my prayer life (though that too).

When I'm paying attention to myself through the lens of frequent Confession, I can honestly strive to be more like Mary...because I'm trying to sin less, to grow closer to her Son, to act more in accord with how God wants me to act. Confession opens me to the graces of the other sacraments that are a part of my life, including my marriage and the Eucharist.

If it's been a while since you've been to Confession, why not consider praying a rosary for the grace to go? Mary's just waiting for you to ask for her help. She's right over there, past your elbow, eagerly waiting for you to tap into her experience and knowledge. Isn't that what a mother's for?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Annunciation: Guest Post from Ginny Kubitz Moyer

In honor of the Feast of the Annunciation, here's a guest post from Ginny Kubitz Moyer over at Mary and Me. She celebrates Mary's "yes" -- and reflects on what, exactly, might have led this very young girl to make such a very courageous choice.
"The Annunciation" by Henry Tanner.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Finding the Calm

Have you read Marialis Cultus (For the Right Ordering and Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary), by Paul VI? Don't feel badly if the answer is no...I only picked it up recently because, well, because I was doing research and it was there and...yeah, you see how it is. Church documents always seem so...intimidating, so hard-to-understand, so inaccessible to me.

I've discovered few things could be farther from the truth. Granted, I haven't attempted Aquinas or Augustine, but Marialis Cultus is a gem and Paul VI has a style that's...well, I don't know. It's deep, yes, but it's also enjoyable. I wouldn't call it easy reading, but it was well worth my time.

In paragraph 57, he writes:
Contemplated in the episodes of the Gospels and in the reality which she already possesses in the City of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary offers a calm vision and a reassuring word to modern man, torn as he often is between anguish and hope, defeated by the sense of his own limitations and assailed by limitless aspirations, troubled in his mind and divided in his heart, uncertain before the riddle of death, oppressed by loneliness while yearning for fellowship, a prey to boredom and disgust. She shows forth the victory of hope over anguish, of fellowship over solitude, of peace over anxiety, of joy and beauty over boredom and disgust, of eternal visions over earthly ones, of life over death.
How often do you find yourself torn? When do you find yourself facing the smallness of yourself, the boundaries of what you can do, the impossibility of life? Where are you divided, by a tough decision, by a faith choice, by a concern?

Paul VI reminds me to turn to Mary, who offers hope and peace. I can feel her cool hand on my fevered brow when I read that phrase "calm vision and reassuring word." Isn't that just what we all need nowadays?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our Lady of the Links

I never expected to golf. It has always seemed like a sport that’s for, well, other people. My husband, though, expressed an interest a few years ago, found a used set of clubs, and began going to the driving range and the less expensive golf courses with his brothers.

Over the course of a year or two, I started to get curious. When our oldest daughter was toddler-aged, I started to also long for more time with him. When our second daughter was born, I started to plot and plan ways to spend afternoons together.

Enter my conversion to the world of golfing.

We’re both outside people, though hiking isn’t something we generally enjoy together. (He insists I set out to attack the trail; I maintain that he could walk faster since he has much longer legs than I do.) After I officially owned a set of very cheap golf clubs, I became Bob’s golf partner.

We’re at about the same level of expertise, somewhere between stink and laughable. When we get a few hours to golf, we’ll go to a local driving range or to the par 3 kiddie course down the road from his mom’s house, where we leave the kids.

I’ve heard people rave and rant about the game of golf. I used to make fun of it myself, but now that I understand it a tiny bit better, I am downright mocking...of myself. There’s nothing to instill humility in my day like the fourth hole. There’s nothing to inspire me to listen to the amazing man I married like the silence of the course. There’s nothing to make me rejoice like one of us beating par.

Humility, listening, and rejoicing are things I experience regularly during Mass, in church, at prayer. But it’s when the holy is inserted into the everyday that I find myself transformed a bit.

In that transformation, in that shift that’s a piece in my ongoing conversion, I am nudged closer to my Mother’s arms. She’s out there with me on the golf course, patting me on the back when I hold my tongue from the word that almost slipped out, inspiring me to look past my failure and to joke about the “net profit” of golf balls found versus lost.

Our priest, who’s an avid golfer, often tells us, before he leaves the office, that he’s going to “pray the 18 stations.” I used to laugh about that. I still laugh, but I understand it more now.

There’s praying to be done wherever we are, and the true gift is in opening ourselves to the grace to experience it, to let go of our agenda and give in to God’s.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Irish Envy" ... Guest Post by Ginny Moyer

Today we received this guest post from Ginny Moyer, author of Mary and Me.

She writes:

"In honor of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I have a very bad case of Irish Envy.

"I think it dates back to my Catholic elementary school days, when a girl named Maureen came to school on March 17th wearing an Irish beret. It was just so darn cool. She looked jaunty and insouciant (words that I did not know back then, but which I certainly would have used if I had). ..."

For the rest, why don't you head on over to Ginny's blog, "Mary and Me"?! Technically, it's not a Mary post ... but it certainly honors one of her favorite sons!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We Have Winners!

Thanks to everyone who linked to the latest Mary Moments carnival and to everyone who left comments.

Winning The How-To Book of the Mass, by Michael Dubruiel...
Janet LaPlante

Winning A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about The Passion of the Christ...
Lisa Pate

Winning Violets for Mary, by Norma McCulliss...
Almost Empty Nester

Please email me at peerybingle at gmail dot com with your mailing address, and we'll get your prizes in the mail this week!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mary Moments Carnival: Lent/Easter Edition!

Happy Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent!

And welcome to the Lent/Easter 2009 edition of the Mary Moments Carnival! Thanks to Twitter, we have quite a few new faces in the lineup this time. My deepest thanks to everyone who participated!

Although she was unable to post to this Carnival, our fearless administrator Sarah is offering the following "Carnival special."

Sarah says, "I have copies of each of these:

(1) The How-To Book of the Mass, by Michael Dubruiel

(2) A Guide to the Passion (100 Questions about The Passion of the Christ)"

(3) I'd also like to throw a book into the ring: Violets for Mary, by Norma McCulliss. This charming little children's book teaches children to love the Blessed Mother ... and to be kind to others. Makes wonderful family reading!

If you'd like a chance to win any of these books, just leave a comment here or drop Sarah a note at (You can get an additional entry by linking to this MM Carnival post to your own blog -- just email Sarah to share the link or leave it in the combox). Thanks for your help in spreading the word about the Carnival ... and about this blog!

And now, without further ado, we give to you ... the Lenten/Easter Mary Moments Carnival!

"Getting to Know You..."

Valerie, an adoptive mother of two young adults, sent me "A Miracle," which she had recently reprised on February 25 at "I Am My Kid's Mom." Valerie recalls the moment she first turned toward Mary ... just as her mother had. She writes:

"I was able to compose myself enough to follow TP down to the PICU unit. When we arrived, they told me I had to wait in the waiting room for about 20 minutes until they could get her situated in her bed. I kissed her hot forehead, and her eyelids fluttered in response. I went into the waiting room, and just dropped into a chair. I was aware of other people looking at me, but it didn't matter. It was at that point in time that I began to pray feverishly. I found myself talking to Mary, realizing she KNEW what I was going through, because she had watched her Son suffer so much as well. I don't remember all that I said to her or what I prayed to God, but in a matter of a few minutes, I found myself saying the Rosary."
Ginny Moyer, author of Mary and Me, contributed this piece about her trip to Lourdes while on her honeymoon in 2002. "Lourdes ended up being the catalyst for my first real, adult reflections on Mary. In the weeks following the trip, she began to figure more and more prominently in my thoughts. I won’t go into the details here, mostly because it’s just too much to fit into a blog posting. I do hope to tell that story in my next book."

"Learning to Like You, Hoping that You Like Me..."

Jane at "Philaneglus" sent in this reflection about the Holy Family. In a world where we often feel misunderstood and even judged for the decisions we make as parents, it helps to know that the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph intercede for us with understanding and compassion.

Pam Pedler sent me this wonderful story of her pilgrimage to Lourdes. "Lourdes: From Tourist to Pilgrim Guest" was first published in the "Denver Catholic Register," and Pam generously agreed to let me post it at "Streams of Mercy" and include it in this month's Carnival ... Thanks, Pam!

"...You are Precisely My Cup of Tea!"

And at "Mommy Monsters," I've posted "Limping Toward Lent" as a gentle reminder of the ultimate purpose of the season: To offer ourselves -- our strengths and weaknesses and struggles and all -- to God. This offering, even to one as holy as Mary, must have seemed an impossible task at times, simply because of the enormity of it. At such times, only by the grace of God can we hope to persevere.

Finally, at "Catholic Fire," Jean posts these practical ideas for how to observe Lent. While not strictly a "Marian" post, it addresses a theme that IS very much "in the spirit of Mary" -- how to live our lives in imitation of Christ, whose Passion and Death we recall during this holy season.

Happy Lent!

Lyrics to "Getting to Know You" from The King and I by Oscar Hammerstein

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Mary Moments" Carnivals ... Thanks, Sarah!

One of the hardest parts of being a writer is figuring out where to spend your time. The Internet presents many wonderful opportunities ... and yet, this "virtual connecting" must be balanced with our real-life responsibilities: family, home, work ... and most important of all, time with God.

I'd like to thank Sarah Reinhard for all the wonderful work she's done this past year on the "Mary Moments" Carnivals. She has been a real gift to me, and it's been a privilege to watch her considerable writing talents showcased in my little book blog. These talents are being increasingly recognized in other venues -- she now has a regular column at "Today's Catholic Woman" on, for example -- and so it's time for her to reevaluate some priorities.

Starting this month, we'd like to reduce the "Mary Moments" Carnivals to quarterly instead of monthly --

* Lent/Easter Carnival Feb 15 (this one will be a little late this year), deadline for posts this year 2/20. I will be hosting this Carnival this year, with the intent to post it by 3/1.
* Mother's Day Carnival May 15 (these would also include Father's Day tributes to St. Joseph), deadline for posts 5/10.
* Mary's birthday/Assumption Carnival August 15 (deadline for posts 8/10), and
* Advent/Christmas Carnival in November 15 (deadline for posts 11/1).

If you would be interested in hosting one of the quarterly Carnivals -- either here at BYM or on your own blog, with a link here -- please let me know.

If you've enjoyed these Carnivals, please feel free to drop Sarah a note -- either here in the comments or to her personally at She's been feeling a bit under the weather this past week, and I'm sure she'd appreciate the "attagirls." God bless you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Help in Healing: Faith and Family Live!

Today at "Faith and Family Live" Lisa Hendey has a lovely article in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes, whose feast we celebrate today! Read it here: Help in Healing: Faith & Family Live!

Posted using ShareThis

Photo credit: Sacred Destinations

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Presentation of the Lord

Adorn thy bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ the King. Salute Mary, the gate of Heaven; for she beareth the King of Glory, Who is the new Light....

Antiphon for feast of the Presentation of the Lord

On the fortieth day after Christmas we celebrate the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, where He is offered by His Mother and St. Joseph to the Eternal Father for the sins of the world. Many prophecies were fulfilled that day, unknown at the time except to Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, all persons of prayer and of special consecration to God. In a time of great darkness there was suddenly and quite publicly a great light, to be received only by those whose hearts were open. A small Child is the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of humanity, but He is not alone; He is with His family. The Holy Family stand between us and utter chaos and despair. Like the Child Jesus, we do not make our offering alone, we make it with Mary and Joseph, we make it in the context of our own families.
Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. --St. Luke 2:34-35
The "Purification of Our Lady" as the feast is traditionally called, is a feast of the Virgin as well as the Virgin's Son. We marvel at the humility of Immaculate Mary who submits to the ritual of purification for all Jewish mothers, although she herself had no need to be purified. It is also known as Candlemas Day because since early times, candles have been blessed and carried in procession in honor of Christ, the Light of the World.

At Christmas, we adored Him with the shepherds at dawn; at Epiphany, we rejoiced in the brightness of His manifestations to the nations; at Candlemas, with the aged Simeon, we take Him into our arms. With the prophetic words of Simeon, the day also becomes a preparation for Lent and the Passion of Our Lord. We must offer ourselves with Jesus to the Father; we must embrace our own purification.

This feast day links Christmas with Lent, the joyful mysteries with the sorrowful mysteries. Mary's Heart is pierced as Simeon's prophecy is uttered, for a mother suffers for her child, especially when that Child is God. Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. wrote so magnificently of this feast in his book Divine Intimacy:
O Jesus, through the hands of Mary, I wish to offer myself today with You to the eternal Father. But You are a pure, holy, and Immaculate Host, while I am defiled with misery, and sin....O Virgin Most pure, lead me along the way of a serious and thorough purification; accompany me yourself, so that my weakness will not make me faint because of the roughness of the road.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dog Tired...: A Meditation on "Pethood"

Last night as I was letting Maddy out for the umpteenth time last night (she likes to lie down on the front stoop to cool off when the flannel duvet cover on our bed gets too hot for HRH's delicate undercarriage), the thought occurred to me: "Did Mary let Jesus have a puppy?"

Animals served a utilitarian function in that society ... and made regular appearances in the life story of the Lord. He was born among cattle, and laid in a manger. He spoke of sheep and goats, and chicks and hens. He was Himself called both the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd. (Admittedly, His references to dogs are devoid of His characteristic compassion and kindness: Mark 7:27-28; Matthew 7:6, 15:26; Luke 16:21).

Still, I think that -- given the opportunity -- Jesus would have had a soft spot for anything that made a child smile as much as a creature with a wagging tail and a hyperactive tongue. And I think Mary would have willingly done the 3 a.m. "potty patrol" just to see her Son on the business end of a rousing game of "fetch."

But in reality, if Jesus had a pet, it was most likely ... a lamb. Every year at Passover families had to sacrifice a lamb "without spot or blemish." The wise parent, however, would probably have tried to prevent the kids from having too much contact with it. In Behold Your Mother, I envisioned one such scenario:

The fuzzy head bleated with indignation.
"He wants his mother," young Jesus observed,
scratching the animal behind its ears. Joseph chided,
"Come ... It's almost time.
Tonight we remember, as God commands,
how we gained our freedom in Egypt.
For a price."

Later, Jesus scampered into the kitchen
as Mary bent over the coals' rosy glow.
"Mother! Where's the lamb? I want to feed him..."
Then stopped as he saw the bloody wool.
Turning, Mary saw his chin tremble. "Oh, Son!
It was born for a task: to help us remember
that first sacrifice."

To order the book, click here. Makes great Lenten reading!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Blessed Mother: the Heart of Hispanic Peoples Everywhere!

Today on the Women's Channel at Catholic Exchange, Cheryl Dickow is running an excerpt of "Contempla a tu Madre."

Please pass this along to any Spanish-speaking friends and family members. This little book makes wonderful Lenten reading!

(Of course, the English language is still available for the rest of you ... You can order both editions -- Spanish and English -- directly through my website.)

God bless you!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reflecting on Mary after the Nativity

Elizabeth Foss reflects on Mary and her relationship with the Baby Jesus in a recent article for the Arlington Catholic Herald.

During the Christmas season, it's so easy to imagine Jesus as a baby. From there, we can imagine Mary, a young mother who assented to God's holy will and held the baby so tenderly in the stable cave. Then, almost suddenly, the liturgy brings us to Jesus as a grown man being baptized by His cousin John. This year, with a new baby of my own, I've been considering those "hidden years," the years when Jesus was physically the center of Mary's life and during which theirs was the closest possible relationship.


He came as a baby for her. There is no experience like that of mothering an infant that so completely requires incessant self-giving, while at the same time filling and nurturing the one who gives. The first lesson in holiness that the Blessed Mother learned was to go to her God again and again and again, day and night. She learned to keep Him with her, probably right up against her chest, all the time. We know this to be the foundation of growing in sanctity as mothers: keep Him with us all the time. He taught her to love completely and fully and He filled her with Himself. And then, He was a 2-year-old.

Do go read the entire thing!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mary, Inspiration for Modern Women

Back in 1974, in his apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus (For the Right Ordering and Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary), Paul VI mentions concern about Mary being and outdated example to the modern woman.
The picture of the Blessed Virgin presented in a certain type of devotional literature cannot easily be reconciled with today's life-style, especially the way women live today. In the home, woman's equality and corresponsibility with man in the running of the family are being justly recognized by laws and the evolution of customs. In the sphere of politics women have in many countries gained a position in public life equal to that of men. In the social field women are at work in a whole range of different employments, getting further away every day from the restricted surroundings of the home. In the cultural field new possibilities are opening up for women in scientific research and intellectual activities.

In consequence of these phenomena some people are becoming disenchanted with devotion to the Blessed Virgin and finding it difficult to take as an example Mary of Nazareth because the horizons of her life, so they say, seem rather restricted in comparison with the vast spheres of activity open to mankind today. In this regard we exhort theologians, those responsible for the local Christian communities and the faithful themselves to examine these difficulties with due care. At the same time we wish to take the opportunity of offering our own contribution to their solution by making a few observations.

This is something I've struggled with reconciling and explaining to others. How, exactly, do I relate to a young girl, probably only a teenager when she was first pregnant, who, though sharing the vocation of motherhood, differs from me in background, experience, and all sorts of other ways? Just what do we have in common? How can she teach me things that are specifically useful to my modern way of living?

I found wonderful inspiration in what Paul VI had to say about this (emphasis and breaks in text are mine):
[O]ur own time, no less than former times, is called upon to verify its knowledge of reality with the word of God, and, keeping to the matter at present under consideration, to compare its anthropological ideas and the problems springing therefrom with the figure of the Virgin Mary as presented by the Gospel. The reading of the divine Scriptures, carried out under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and with the discoveries of the human sciences and the different situations in the world today being taken into account, will help us to see how Mary can be considered a mirror of the expectations of the men and women of our time.

Thus, the modern woman, anxious to participate with decision-making power in the affairs of the community, will contemplate with intimate joy Mary who, taken into dialogue with God, gives her active and responsible consent,(102) not to the solution of a contingent problem, but to that "event of world importance," as the Incarnation of the Word has been rightly called.(103)

The modern woman will appreciate that Mary's choice of the state of virginity, which in God's plan prepared her for the mystery of the Incarnation, was not a rejection of any of the values of the married state but a courageous choice which she made in order to consecrate herself totally to the love of God.

The modern woman will note with pleasant surprise that Mary of Nazareth, while completely devoted to the will of God, was far from being a timidly submissive woman or one whose piety was repellent to others; on the contrary, she was a woman who did not hesitate to proclaim that God vindicates the humble and the oppressed, and removes the powerful people of this world from their privileged positions (cf Lk. 1:51-53).

The modern woman will recognize in Mary, who "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord,"(104) a woman of strength, who experienced poverty and suffering, flight and exile (cf. Mt. 2:13-23).

Why do I always think I have to come up with the answers on my own? Here it was, all along, and quite purely by "accident" (in quotes because I think it was a little divinely inspired, me finding this online yesterday) I found it.

How else do you find, as a modern woman, that you are inspired by Mary? Comments welcome.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Being More Like Mary

I found this delightful piece on Mary over at Karen Edmisten's place, and though I'm including a little snippet here, you'd do well to go read the entire piece. What an excellent reminder to us all!
I dislike comparing myself to Mary, because it's akin to holding my Sculpey creations next to Michelangelo's Pieta and asking what kind of artist I am.

The differences are painful to see and ultimately laughable. But, I do it anyway, because it's good spiritual exercise.

Mary was a wife and mother, as am I. Mary cooked meals, cleaned house, and did laundry, as do I. There the comparisons end.