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.