Saturday, May 12, 2012

Madonna & Child
Sing of Mary
Sing of Mary, pure and lowly :
Virgin mother, undefiled.
Sing of God's own Son, Most Holy,
Who became her little child.

Fairest child of fairest mother :
God the LORD, Who came to earth:
Word made flesh, our very brother,
Takes our nature by His birth.

Sing of Jesus, son of Mary :
In the home at Nazareth:
Toil and labor cannot weary
Love enduring unto death.

Constant was the love He gave her :
Though He went forth from her side:
Forth to preach and heal and suffer,
Till on Calvary He died.

Glory be to God the Father.
Glory be to God the Son.
Glory be to God the Spirit.
Glory to the Three in One

Friday, May 11, 2012

Devotion for today: Mary, Mother of the Church

Scripture for meditation: John 19: 25-27
Near the cross of Jesus there stood his mother, his mother’s sister Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, there is your son.” In turn he said to the disciple, “There is your mother.” From that hour onward, the disciple took her into his care.

Fr. Robert Barron tells us:  Catholic theology has drawn a further implication from Mary’s status as Mother of God, namely, her role as Mother of the Church. If she is the one through whom Christ was born, and if the Church is Christ’s mystical body, then she must be, in a very real sense, the Mother of the Church. She is the one through whom Jesus continues to be born in the hearts of those who believe. This is not to confuse her with the Savior, but it is to insist on her mission as mediator and intercessor. At the close of the great prayer the Hail Mary, we Catholics ask Mary to pray for us “now and at the hour of our death,” signaling that throughout one’s life Mary is the privileged channel through which the grace of Christ flows into the mystical body. Here again, the principle of God’s noncompetitive transcendence is apposite. God is not threatened by his creation. On the contrary, he delights in drawing secondary causes into the dense complexity of his providential plan, granting to them the honor of cooperating with him and his designs. The handmaid of the Lord, who is the Mother of the Church, is the humblest of these humble instruments – and therefore the most effective. Hans Urs von Balthasar has argued that the Marian form is the matrix of all Church life and mystery. He means that her fiat (be it done to me according to your word) opens up the creaturely space within which God can work. Mary’s freedom, surrendered utterly to God, becomes the condition for the possibility of all forms of mission and outreach in the life of the Church. The Petrine ministry of office, the Johannine ministry of prayer and contemplation, and the Pauline ministry of theologizing and evangelization – the kingly, priestly, and prophetic offices, if you will – are all finally reducible to the Marian form. This is why in much medieval and early modern Christian art Mary is often depicted gathering all manner of life under her protective mantle. This is not sentimental piety, but a robust presentation of Mary, the Mother of the Church (Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith, Fr. Robert Barron, Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, 2011).

Prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among 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. Amen.

My thoughts: The Catholic Church today is under great attack, just as it has been throughout history. Caring only to bring all people to Christ, the Church has faithfully followed God's commands and teachings. It has always had opposition, since the world's ways are not necessarily God's ways. How wonderful it is to know Mary, our Mother, is the guardian of our way. Again, out of his unfathomable mercy, Jesus gave us his Mother as guardian of the Church. She covers us with her protective mantle, gives us strength and courage, and reminds us that none of us was put on this earth to fulfill our own plan, but to fulfill the plan of God. Just as a good earthly mother encourages her children to always have the strength to stand up against the temptation to "be like everyone else" and cave on doing the right thing, Mary encourages the Church leaders to follow her Son and "Do whatever He tells you." Just as Rome and other self-obsessed civilizations passed away, so, too, will ours. The Catholic Church, however, has always, and will always, stand firm. With Christ as our head, and Mary as our Mother, we need never be afraid.

Our prayer to God: Today, let us pray for Church leaders who are facing phenomenal opposition in speaking the truth. Let us ask Mary to hold them close to her motherly heart and give them the strength to continue to speak out on issues in opposition to the will of God. Then, let us ask her to do the same for us. When times were bad for God’s people in the Old Testament, He sent messengers and prophets to bring them back to him. He is doing that for us today. His own Mother has appeared so many times in so many places to ask her children to turn away from evil and come back to her Son. Let us ask Mary to find the way for us to become a beacon for the people around us, a beacon of light and love.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Devotion for today: Cana and Mary’s motherhood

Scripture for meditation: John 2:1-5
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had likewise been invited to the celebration. At a certain point the wine ran out, and Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” Jesus replied, “Woman, how does this concern of yours involve me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother instructed those waiting on table,” Do whatever he tells you.”

Blessed John Paul II explains: [Cana] clearly outlines the new dimension, the new meaning of Mary’s motherhood…. [It is] a new kind of motherhood according to the spirit and not just according to the flesh, that is to say Mary’s solicitude for human beings, her coming to them in the wide variety of their wants and needs. At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a small one of little importance (“They have no wine”). But it has a symbolic value: this coming to the aid of human needs means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ’s messianic mission and salvific power. Thus there is a mediation; Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. She puts herself “in the middle,” that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as Mother. She knows that as such she can point out to her Son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she “has the right” to do so. Her mediation is thus in the nature of intercession: Mary “intercedes” for mankind. And that is not all. As a Mother she also wishes the messianic power of her Son to be manifested, that salvific power of his which is meant to help man in his misfortunes, to free him from the evil which in various forms and degrees weighs heavily upon his life…..Another essential element of Mary’s maternal task is found in her words to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.” The Mother of Christ presents herself as the spokeswoman of her Son’s will, pointing out those things which must be done so that the salvific power of the Messiah may be manifested. At Cana, thanks to the intercession of Mary and the obedience of the servants, Jesus begins “his hour.” At Cana Mary appears as believing in Jesus. Her faith evokes his first “sign” and helps to kindle the faith of the disciples…. The episode at Cana in Galilee offers us a sort of first announcement of Mary’s mediation, wholly oriented toward Christ and tending to the revelation of his salvific power(Redemptoris Mater, nn21-22).
Fr. Michael Gaitley tells us in “33 Days to Morning Glory” (Marian Press, 2011): I’d like to highlight a few important points from this passage for us to ponder. (1) Not by necessity but by God’s choice, “the handmaid of the Lord” who does the Father’s will perfectly has a “right” as mother and mediatrix to point out to her Son the needs of mankind. Shouldn’t we have recourse to such a powerful Mother of Mercy with regard to our own needs and intentions? (2) Mary needs servants who will obey her words, “Do whatever he tells you.” Are we ready to be her servants so Jesus can begin his “hour” in our day? (3) It’s clear from the words “Do whatever he tells you” that Mary’s role is “wholly oriented toward Christ” and tends to the revelation of his saving power. Mary’s mediation, therefore, is in union with and subordinate to the one mediation of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Prayer: The Memorare
Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of Virgins my Mother. To thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

 My thoughts: Blessed John Paul II and Fr. Gaitley have clearly spelled out for us today the role of Mary as our mediator and mother. The Feast at Cana in Galilee allows us to see how Jesus wants us to go to His mother, implore her help, and allow her to present our petitions before her son, blessed with her love and kindness. Isn’t this what we do with our earthly mothers? “Mom, you ask him for me. He'll listen to you.” Haven’t we all said this as a child? Let us remember today that Mary is truly our mother, and she will go to Jesus for us if we but ask.

Our prayer to Mary: Mary, Mother of God, hear our prayers, and present them to your Son for us, please! Amen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Devotion for today: in praise of Mary's fiat

Scripture for meditation: Genesis 3:15
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”

Scripture for reflection: Revelation 12:1-5, 9
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head, a crown of twelve stars. Because she was with child, she wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky: it was a huge dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns; on his heads were seven diadems….Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, ready to devour her child when it should be born. She gave birth to a son - a boy destined to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out; he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him.

From a homily delivered at the Council of Ephesus by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop: Mary, Mother of God, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole world’s reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held him whom no place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy gospels could say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We salute you, for in your holy womb he, who is beyond all limitation, was confined. Because of you the holy Trinity is glorified and adored; the cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; the demons are put to flight; the devil, that tempter is thrust down from heaven; the fallen race of man is taken up on high; all creatures possessed by the madness of idolatry have attained knowledge of the truth; believers receive holy baptism, the oil of gladness is poured out; the Church is established throughout the world; pagans are brought to repentance. What more is there to say? Because of you the light of the only-begotten Son of God has shone upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; prophets pronounced the word of God; the apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles; the dead are raised to life and kings rule by the power of the Holy Trinity. (Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Compiled and edited by John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1988)

Prayer: Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve,
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley, of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile show unto us the
blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

My thoughts: It is so awesome to see the results of Mary’s fiat! St. Cyril of Alexandria points out events which occurred because Christ came into the world. Mary had to say “yes” before that could happen. It makes me realize how important every life is to God, how a mother’s “yes” to the birth of her child can change the world. Our ‘yes’ to God in all aspects of our lives can do the same. It was not easy for Mary to bear the Son of God. In fact, in her time, she faced a death by stoning since she was unwed and pregnant. In our world, bearing the truth about God and His word can bring ridicule and scorn upon us. We can be outcast for trying to uphold the sanctity of life at all stages, for believing in a moral plan for life, for openly living and practicing our faith. Let us remember the words of St. Cyril which bring to mind all the marvelous events which came from the birth of the Savior, and let us vow to let God’s will be done in us. It isn’t easy, but I don’t recall anyone ever saying that saving the world from itself would be easy!

Our prayer to God: Today, let us reflect on the courage and strength of Mary. If we are facing a difficult decision, especially one that we feel God is calling us to make, let us turn to Mary, our Mother, and ask her to help us find the inner conviction of our beliefs, and then to do the right thing.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Devotion for today: Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for us

May is the month of Mary. Let us spend time this week reflecting on our most holy Mother, Mary, the Mother of God.

Scripture for meditation: Luke 1:27
And the Virgin’s name was Mary

Scripture for reflection: 2 Corinthians 6:4
On the contrary, in all that we do we strive to present ourselves as ministers of God, acting with patient endurance amid trials, difficulties, distresses, beatings, imprisonments and riots….

St. Bernard of Clairvaux tells us: Let us now say a few words about this name, which means ‘star of the sea’ and is so becoming to the Virgin Mother. Surely she is very fittingly likened to a star. The star sends forth its rays without harm to itself. In the same way the Virgin brought forth her son with no injury to herself. The ray no more diminishes the star’s brightness than does the Son his mother’s integrity…. She it is whose brightness both twinkles in the highest heaven and pierces the pit of hell, and is shed upon earth, warming our hearts far more than our bodies, fostering virtue and cauterizing vice. She, I tell you, is that splendid and wondrous star suspended as by necessity over this great wide sea, radiant with merit and brilliant in example. O you, whoever you are, who feel that in the tidal wave of this world you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales than treading on dry land, if you do not want to founder in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star. When the wind of temptation blows up within you, when you strike upon the rock of tribulation, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary…. In angers, in hardships (2 Cor 6:4), in every doubt, think of Mary, call out to Mary…. Follow the example of her life and you will obtain the favor of her prayer. Following her, you will never go astray. Asking her help, you will never despair. Keeping her in your thoughts, you will never wander away. With your hand in hers, you will never stumble. With her protecting you, you will not be afraid. With her leading you, you will never tire. Her kindness will see you through to the end. Then you will know by your own experience how true it is that “the Virgin’s name was Mary.”… Devoutly contemplate this twinkling star (Bernard of Clairvaux: Homilies in Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Cistercian Publications, 1993).

Prayer: Alma Redemptoris Mater
Loving mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. You, who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.

My thoughts: St. Bernard of Clairvaux gives us a beautiful picture of Mary as Star of the Sea. The sea of our lives is very much tossed with trials, sadness, tests and temptations. Sometimes we really do feel as though we may sink. At other times we are so lost we feel certain we will never find our way again. It is at these times that we turn to the guiding star in the sky, our mother in heaven. It is she who loves us as only a good mother can, who will never abandon us nor will she ever let us wander away from the path to her Son. We just need to turn our boats toward her, anchor them in her guidance and love, and drift in the peace of her love. Mary, the Star of the Sea, will gently lead us home.

Our prayer to God: Let us spend some time today taking St. Bernard’s advice, and contemplate Mary as the twinkling star in our lives. Let us ask for help, thank her for her love, and give her our lives. Our ships will sail on smooth waters if we do.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Devotion for today: prune us and help us live!

Let us take a look at this past Sunday’s readings.
Scripture for meditation: 1 John 3:23-24
His commandment is this: we are to believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, and are to love one another as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him and he in them.

Christ tells us: John 15: 1-5
“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinegrower. He prunes away every barren branch, but the fruitful one he trims clean to increase their yield. You are clean already, thanks to the word I have spoken to you. Live on in me, as I do in you. No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, can you bear fruit apart from me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Deacon Tom Yehle of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, VA shares this wisdom: … It is this life that Christ speaks of in today’s Gospel. Here he does not call us only to believe in him, but to become one with him as branches on a vine are one with the vine. It is the life given us in Baptism and renewed in the Eucharist. It calls us to follow the commandments, to become one with the risen Lord in obedience to God and service to one another. Just as the branches receive life through the vine, so too do we when we draw close to Christ and live our life more closely with him. And as the vine branches bear fruit, so too do we when we follow the way of the commandments that God marks out for us. As Christ was obedient to God in going to the cross so that we may have new life, so too do we find the path of new life along that of obedience to God…. The pruning or chastising or humiliation or great and perhaps even enormous sacrifices that we are often called to make on behalf of life and love of God and the Church are often the places where God wishes to prune us. This pruning may be painful at first, but it is done so that we may grow back stronger, stronger in ways that matter, ways that bear great fruit in our world that lasts beyond our abilities to comprehend. So let us seek to follow Christ and draw close to him. Let him be not the copilot, but the captain of your life. Let him strengthen you in the sacraments and prayer and community and living a life that patterns itself on He who loves us (Excerpts are from Sunday’s homily, St. Ambrose Parish, May 6, 2012).

Prayer: Father and Vine Grower, you planted your vine in the hardened earth of sinful humanity and caused it to grow through death to life. Unite us in Christ, in faith and love, that we may bear much fruit. We ask in his name, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen. Magnificat Magazine, May, 2012)

My thoughts: I have been working in my garden this spring, have planted some pretty flowers, have pulled many weeds, have pruned my bushes and trimmed my trees. Everything is beginning to look beautiful. It is hard work on my part, but the end result is truly worth it. Our souls are God’s garden. He is hard at work, planting new graces, pulling out the weeds of sin, pruning us of our prideful ways and trimming back our selfish desires. The end result, a beautiful heart filled with the beauty of God’s love living in us, is well worth the effort. Let us provide the fertile soil for God’s handiwork. Let us bear the pain of letting go and letting God…and let us remember what Deacon Yehle told us in his Sunday homily, “Let us live a life that patterns itself on He who loves us.”
Our prayer to God: The branches I cut off my trees died when I left them on the ground, severed from their life source. Once God has pruned us, let us leave the sins and imperfections behind us, and let them die. Then let us fill the empty spots with the new life which will enter from our life source: Jesus Christ himself. Ahh, just feel the beauty growing in your heart! Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, help us to become a breath of life in this dying world. Help our hearts to bear fruit and flowers which we can share with our fellow man on this journey of life. Let us bring forth beauty, goodness and kindness wherever we go. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Bring Flowers of the Fairest
Bring flow'rs of the fairest,
Bring flow'rs of the rarest,
From garden and woodland
And hillside and vale;
Our full hearts are swelling,
Our Glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest
Rose of the vale.
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.
Our voices ascending,
In harmony blending,
Oh! Thus may our hearts turn
Dear Mother, to thee;
Oh! Thus shall we prove thee
How truly we love thee,
How dark without Mary
Life's journey would be.
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.


O Virgin most tender,
Our homage we render,
Thy love and protection,
Sweet Mother, to win;
In danger defend us,
In sorrow befriend us,
And shield our hearts
From contagion and sin.

O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Of Mothers the dearest,
Oh, wilt thou be nearest,
When life with temptation
Is darkly replete?
Forsake us, O never!
Our hearts be they ever
As Pure as the lilies
We lay at thy feet.
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.