Saturday, May 11, 2013

Devotion for today: A Mother’s Day prayer to Mary

O joyful heart of Mary,
What trembling bliss was thine,
Thy Son and God to worship
Within His humble shrine:
To watch His Infant footsteps,
To guard His infant rest,
Within thine arms to shield Him
And clasp Him to thy breast.

O mournful heart of Mary,
To meet that cruel day,
When rent and racked and tortured,
Upon the Cross He lay;
To feel His bitter anguish,
To hear His dying cry,
To see His death thirst mocked at,
And then to see him die.

O glorious Heart of Mary,
O wonder spot above,
Where God hath all surpassed Himself
In royalty and love;
For every pang a glory,
For every prayer a wreath,
His crowning grace above thee
His brightest saints beneath.

But sweetest and joyful Mother,
Mother of tears and woe,
Mother of grace and glory,
Thou still hast cares below:
Then bid us share thy rapture,
And bid us taste the pain,
And sing at last thy grandeur
In Christ’s eternal reign.
Fr. H. O’Laverty, B.A.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Devotion for today: Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

One of the most beautiful devotions we have in the Catholic Faith is the practice of Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As we have seen in our studies this month, everything connected with Jesus is connected in some way to His Mother. Catholic Churches have Mary altars near the main altars to show that wherever Jesus is, Mary is right there next to Him, even in our own lives. Jesus gives us Himself and His Mother at the same time. We adore the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and we venerate the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Why? Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Mary is the model of purity, love, meekness and devotion to her Son. We pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that our hearts may become like hers: filled only with love for Jesus. It is said that Mary first conceived Jesus in her heart, and then in her womb. We must give birth to Jesus in our hearts before we can bring that love into the world. Why do we emphasize her heart? There are several Scripture references to the Heart of Mary in the New Testament. In Luke 2:19 we read “Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart.” Again in Luke 2:35: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.” Luke 2:51: “His mother meanwhile kept all these things in her heart.”  
What is devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary? It is explained that :Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus focuses mostly on His divine love for mankind and encourages our humility, gratitude, obedience, and adoration; devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary focuses on Mary's love for God and encourages our emulating her humility, gratitude, obedience, and adoration. Mary as loving Mother of Jesus Who suffered for us; Mary as Mother of the Church; Mary as obedient daughter, Mary as our Gevirah (Queen Mother of Israel) -- we ponder her interior life in each of these roles, consecrate ourselves to Jesus through her, make reparations for offending her as our Mother, ask her intercession for us with her Son, and emulate her as the model of Christian perfection.
How did this devotion spread throughout the Church? Many early saints promoted devotion to the Heart of Mary. These include St. Anselm (d.1109), St. Bernard of Clairvaux (d.1153, St. Bernardine of Siena (d. 1444) and St. John Eudes (d. 1680). Devotion to Mary’s Heart spread rapidly after Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 and manifested to her the “Miraculous Medal.”  Mary herself reinforced this devotion when, on July 13, 1917, she appeared to the three little Fatima children and told them, “To save poor sinners, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” On the twenty-fifth anniversary of Fatima, in 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and assigned August 22 as its feast day. After Vatican II, the feast was moved to the “day following the Feast of the Sacred Heart” which is always the Saturday after the second Sunday after Pentecost (based on information found on
What does devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary include?  …in 1925, Mary appeared to one of the visionaries -- Lucia, who'd since become a nun -- and requested reparations for the various ways in which her Immaculate Heart was offended -- such as attacks against her Immaculate Conception, virginity and divine maternity, and for those who teach their children contempt of Mary or who insult her by desecrating her.  To make these reparations, she asked that we do 5 things, all with the intention of making reparation to her Immaculate Heart:
·         recite at least Five Decades of the Rosary every day
·         wear the Brown Scapular
·         offer our daily duty to God as an act of sacrifice (ie., make the Morning Offering)
·         make Five First Saturdays of Reparation to Her Immaculate Heart (see below)
·         The Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world, must consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart. Russia would be converted through this means and a period of peace to be given to the world. If this is not done (and it hasn't been done), Russia will "spread her errors throughout the world." This consecration must be of Russia -- not "the world," but Russia by name.
The "First Saturdays of Reparation" was not a new devotion, but it was even more popularized after Our Lady appeared at Fatima. It consists of, on the first Saturday of each month for five consecutive months: 
·         going to Confession (may be 8 days before the Saturday as long as one stays in a state of grace)
·         receiving the Eucharist
·         praying 5 decades of the Rosary, including the Fatima Prayer
·         "Keeping her company" for 15 minutes while meditating on all of the Mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to her. This can be done by reading Scripture or other writings relevant to the Mysteries, meditating on pictures of the Mysteries, or simple meditation.

The promise given by Mary to those who make the First Saturday devotion is her assistance at the hour of their death.

I end with a sweet reflection from our dear friend of this week, Fr. H. O’ Laverty in his book, “The Mother of God and Her Glorious Feasts”: When will people learn that it is very easy to secure the friendship of Mary and that her protection destroys all the wiles of the devil. The friendship of Mary is not passing, like so much worldly friendship, which is based often on love of self rather than on love of others. Our Blessed Lady only wishes to bestow graces upon us and to bring us within the Sacred Heart of Jesus. So many wish to be children of the world and children of Mary at the same time…. She does not ask her children to give up the world unless they are called to the religious life. She only wishes them to live interior lives in the midst of all their worldly occupations. This is very easily accomplished by purity of intention and by fervent and frequent prayers. For many years Mary performed only the ordinary duties of domestic life, but these years were all sanctified by her conformity with God’s will. It mattered not to her if she remained in the Temple or cooked a meal, so long as she did God’s will. She offered all to God, and she sanctified all her works by prayer….If parents would only consecrate their children to Mary, they would find that this sweet Mother would not desert them during their lives….The Immaculate Heart of Mary will so watch over them that they will become holy almost in spite of themselves. “O Mary, my Mother, so tender, so true, in all my afflictions, I hasten to you; your Heart is so gently, so loving so mild, you cannot reject your poor suppliant child.” (Tan Publishers, 1987).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Devotion for today: Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament

We all know that May is the month of Mary, but did you know that it is also called the month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament? It was Saint Peter Julian Eymard who gave this title to the Blessed Mother in May 1868 so that her relationship to the Holy Eucharist could become a role model for her children.

"Consequently, every time we approach the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharistic Liturgy, we also turn to her who, by her complete fidelity, received Christ’s sacrifice for the whole church. The synod fathers rightly declared that 'Mary inaugurates the Church’s participation in the sacrifice of the Redeemer.' She is the Immaculata, who receives God’s gift unconditionally and is thus associated with his work of salvation. Mary of Nazareth, icon
of the nascent church, is the model for each of us, called to receive the gift that Jesus makes of himself in the Eucharist."
Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 33

Fr. H. O’Laverty tells us in his book, “The Mother of God and Her Glorious Feasts”:
The month of May has been set apart by the Church for the special devotion to the Mother of God. This whole month has been given to Mary. It has recently been called the month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament….The Blessed Sacrament is the greatest of all the treasures in the Church. It is the source of practically all graces and the consolation of the faithful in this land of exile. We must thank Mary for the Blessed Eucharist. Mary gave Jesus to the world. She offered Him in the Temple on the feast of the Presentation, and she consummated or fulfilled that offering on the first Good Friday…. The title of the month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament is appropriate also for another reason. We always notice that those who are Mary’s children and those who give her some marks of their affection are also known to be specially devoted to the Blessed Eucharist. It would seem that Mary brings her children to this source of all grace and sanctification, and in the same way Jesus wishes that those who are devoted to Him should also be devoted to His own sweet Mother Mary….May the month of Mary be truly and sincerely devoted to Mary, and may this sweet Mother lead us to the feet of Jesus, and there we shall dwell within the very Heart of God and our faults shall be consumed in the flames of the love of the Sacred Heart….Mary’s children will still erect altars in their homes during Our Lady’s month, and the family Rosary will still be recited in the homes of the faithful. These little practices of devotion to Mary have sown the seeds of holiness in families, and the picture of Mary and the devotion to her has sanctified many humble homes and has been one of the best allurements towards a life of virtue and self-denial. (Tan Books and Publishers, 1987)
Bring Flowers of the Rarest
This hymn is sung during the "May Crowning" -- the crowning of a statue of Mary in May.

Bring flowers of the fairest,
Bring flowers 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.

Refrain: 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 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.


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.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Devotion for today: Never be too proud to ask for help

Our Lady Help of Christians
This week I would like to take a look at Our Lady’s many titles which show the various ways she has either appeared to visionaries throughout the ages, or by which she pleads for us at the foot of her Son, or under which we honor her. We begin today with the title given to Mary by Pope Pius VII, “Our Lady Hope of Christians.”  According to, Pius VII was ordered by Napoleon to be held a prisoner, first at Savona, then at Fontainebleau France, beginning on July 5, 1808. He was set free on March 17, 1814 and attributed the victory of the Church during these troubled times to Our Lady’s intercession. He returned home to Rome after the battle of Waterloo on July 7, 1815, and to give thanks to God and Our Lady, he instituted the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians to be celebrated on May 24th. Although it is not on the universal calendar, St. Don Bosco, founder of the Salesian Congregation, dedicated the mother church of his congregation at Turin, Italy, to Our Lady Help of Christians, and it has been carried by the Salesian Congregation to their numerous establishments.

Fr. H. O’Laverty explains this feast to us in his book, “The Mother of God and Her Glorious Feasts”:
It is most fortunate for the Church and for each individual soul that we have an advocate or a helper in all time of sorrow and trial. The Church calls this advocate the “Help of Christians,” and this helper and protector is Mary, Our Mother and the Mother of Jesus. This sweetest and most consoling of all her titles… brings to our mind in an instant what a great source of grace and consolation she is in time of trial or temptation…. She [Mary] is the advocate of each soul and the helper in every temptation and the refuge of all sinners. The poor unfortunate sinner purposely turns away from God and will not accept His blessings…. The sinner has left the sweet embrace of Jesus. He has deserted his father’s house and in his terrible plight he seems hopelessly lost. Oh, what a misfortune it would be for the unfortunate sinner if he were forgotten by all the court of heaven, but he is not forgotten. The sweet Mother Mary will never desert the sinner, even till the very last moment of his life. She is the hope of the hopeless, and she still clings to the poor sinner and invites him to return to the merciful arms of Jesus. Oh yes, she is the Star of Hope, and as soon as the sinner gives the least indication of his desire to return once more, then is his sweet Mother Mary ready to intercede for him and to bring him to the feet of Jesus…. Some struggle for a lifetime to overcome temptations and often fall into sin because they will not go to this sweet Mother and there lay all their cares in her maternal heart. She will obtain for them grace to overcome all their temptations, and she will carry them in her arms to the feet of Jesus.  Some, after a life of sin, are anxious to return once more to Jesus, but fear their sinful habits might bring them back once more to the paths of error where their passions might be too strong for them. Oh, if these souls would only throw themselves at the feet of Mary, she would take them in her arms and protect them….(Tan books and publishing, 1987)

We are all the sinners Father talks about in this passage. Let us never be too proud or self-centered to ask Mary for help. She will always, always lead us home. We need only ask.

Prayer to Our Lady Help of Christians, by St. John Bosco

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christian,
how sweet it is to come to your feet
imploring your perpetual help.
If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children,
how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me?
Grant then to me, I implore you,
your perpetual help in all my necessities,
in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations.
I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering.
 Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.
Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life.
Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians,
that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Devotion for today: joy mixed with sorrow

Like most of you, I have a set prayer life. My day starts with prayer before I even get out of bed. I follow with daily Mass, the Rosary, the Angelus at Noon, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 pm, another evening Rosary and I end my day with the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Why do I save this for the end? Well, this chaplet brings me much comfort and allows me to fall asleep in great peace. It shows me many things. First of all, many of Mary’s joys were mixed with great sorrow. Imagine taking your blessed baby to be baptized and having the priest tell you this child will suffer greatly and your heart will be pierced with a sword! Immediately a joyful mystery turns into one of the seven sorrows of Mary! Again, you find Mary getting ready to return home and share her baby with her parents and family, only to be told she had to flee because soldiers wanted to kill him. Even worse, she had to go to a strange land where no one would wait to welcome her and lavish love on her new son. There is a joyful mystery which has us share Mary’s joy in finding Jesus in the temple, but the seven sorrows reminds us of the anguish Mary felt when she discovered her son was missing, and she was in agony for three days wondering if he was safe. Isn’t this so much like our own lives? Sometimes we experience an event which brings us such joy, only to have it turn into a source of sorrow. Sometimes we anticipate a wonderful, peaceful time in our lives, only to have family illness or crisis turn it on its head. Here is the second lesson I have learned from Mary as she proceeded through her joy coupled with sorrow. I see Mary doing exactly what we must do: put one foot in front of the other; look no further than we can see; place all of our trust and faith in God, and then act in love. That’s all. We can’t become obsessed with worry over terrorists or financial crises or family members living in sin or even the weak and failing members of our families. We must follow Mary as she spent time listening to God in prayer, seeking His will in all things. Then we step ahead, one foot at a time, in complete faith and trust. Mary could not spend time wondering if it was really necessary to go to Egypt; she went. She could not cave into worry about all that could have happened to Jesus while not in her care; she trusted in God and searched for Him. That is Mary. She followed her Son to Calvary even though the pain was intense. She stood with Him as He died, and held Him until He was placed in the tomb. So must we embrace our sorrow, and know that joy will return. Jesus died, but He rose. We may be crushed, but we will be whole again. Have faith, and let Mary lead the way.

 Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:
The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50) 
Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

I end with one of my favorite poems:

“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I'll pelt.'

They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”

To Our Lady of Sorrows
O most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion, and awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings, as well as a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that being disengaged from all undue affection for the passing joys of this earth, I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforward all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed towards this one most desirable object. Honor, glory, and love to our divine Lord Jesus, and to the holy and immaculate Mother of God. Amen

Monday, May 6, 2013

Devotion for today: …those who do the will of God live forever

For meditative Monday, I have chosen a passage from 1 John which gives praise to all people who have chosen God. It also gives a gentle reminder that to be attached to the things of this world is to be attached to wind. They all blow away in the end, and we are left with a) a virtuous life to present to God or b) a sinful life to present to God when we die. It doesn’t get much easier to understand. A priest at my parish pointed out the other day that people want to say to God, “But it doesn’t matter that I am living in sin. I am a good person, so I should be ok when I die.” God responds, “Your definition of good, or mine?”

1 John 2:12-17

 I am writing to you, little children,
    because your sins are forgiven on account of his name.
 I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young people,
    because you have conquered the evil one.
I write to you, children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young people,
    because you are strong
    and the word of God abides in you,
        and you have overcome the evil one.
 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world.  And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever

The passions of the soul are pride, avarice, ambition, strife, envy; the vices that cling to the body are the desire for eating, prodigality of wantonness and licentiousness. Temperance greatly restrains the ardor of these passions. It first tempers the spirit with sobriety and moderation, and informs the mind; then it also reins in the bodily fierceness through abstinence from pleasures. Temperance is therefore a teacher who shows the way of corrective discipline, reining in desires. St. Ambrose.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Devotion for today: It gleamed with the splendor of God!

The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no temple in the city
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gave it light,
and its lamp was the Lamb.

When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrow or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete.
-- St. Augustine