Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. As usual, I start thinking about what I might say in a Sunday homily somewhere in the middle of the week. Last week I spent my day off in the garden, preparing my plot and putting the tomatoes and peppers and all that in there. I got quite muddy. I left my muddy cowboy boots on the porch, which prompted Msgr to call and leave a voicemail asking, “Mike, do you know anything about the muddy cowboy boots on the porch? It looks like Cowboy Bob was raptured. OK, bye.” hahahah. I’ve listened to that about a hundred times.
Anyway, I was thinking as I was gardening about how motherhood is a lot like gardening. A mother plants, a mother waters, fertilizes, weeds out the problems around the plants. She gives the plant life, she nurtures it, and watches it grow and produce fruit. This is motherhood! I say this partly to tell you: everything we, your sons and daughters turn out to be, you helped to make. Whatever good fruits we produce, it is because you planted us and helped us grow. That’s one motherly thought from today.
Now, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the Wedding Feast at Cana. I’ve had a lot of weddings lately, praise God! The wedding feast at Cana was Jesus’ first documented miracle. And that miracle happens at Mary’s request. The wine runs out at the party, and Mary tells Jesus to take care of it. From the very first miracle, Our Blessed Mother has cooperated in the miracles of Jesus! She still does. Which is why we pray TO GOD THROUGH HER. She intercedes and requests miracles for us. This is nothing new: it is biblical and REAL! I’ve seen it all over the place….in my life and in the lives of parishioners. As Pope Francis said yesterday, “To be Christian is to be Marian!”
A happy new year to all! In today’s first reading from Numbers, God speaks to us an ancient and beautiful blessing: The LORD bless you and keep you!The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! Beautiful! It is God’s desire to bless us in this new year. We thank God in this Holy Mass for all our blessings from 2016 and pray his blessing upon our 2017.
But I want us to think about a couple years way back. Continue reading
To Mary Immaculate
O Lady, garbed in priestly white,
Hark to the prayer of thy humble knight.
Thou hast, an ever gracious queen,
Walked through my childhood days serene.
Thy mantle of the sky-blue gleam
Has somehow tinged my every dream.
Thy pale soft hands so strangely strong
Have gently guided me so long.
When deepest sorrows darked my road,
Thy love still like a beacon glowed.
Thy queenly kindness, mother-maid,
With gentle force has always swayed
My destiny…and so it be eternally.
Frederick M Lynk, SVD
Hail Mary, full of grace, help me find a parking place. Hail Mary, full of grace, help me win this rambler race. Hail Mary, full of grace, kick the devil in the face. There are tons of these. That’s good. We recognize Mary as the one who is so flooded with grace that can help us with anything. We had St. Ambrose’s feast yesterday, and he said Mary is in fact the Mother of all graces. Today we celebrate that, in point of fact, Mary was conceived without sin, and so she is perfectly filled with grace, that she is filled with godliness, power, stainless beauty–that she is holy and without blemish as our second reading says, that she is without spot or wrinkle as today’s preface says.
Mary is full of grace and today we celebrate she always has been, from the moment of her conception she has been. Msgr. Charles Pope takes a look at this. He looks into the root of the phrase “full of grace.” That phrase is our translation of the Greek word Kecharitomene. Msgr. notes that that word is a perfect passive participle (e.g., abandoned house, spoken word, sold car, etc). Like any participle, the perfect passive participle is basically an adjective. Further, because the participle is perfect, this action happened in the past, and since it is also passive, the action happened to whatever noun it is modifying. What does this mean? Msgr.: “Thus Gabriel, in using this word, was confessing that Mary had already been graced.”
Our Blessed Virgin has been filled with grace, filled with spotlessness since the start, and she is thus the perfect path God has prepared for the Lord to enter the world. The same blood that filled her veins would fill the Lord’s in her womb. No wonder she had to be filled with grace from the start. Today we thank our good God for Mary’s presence in our lives and as that with her help, we too might be filled with grace and become channels through which our God comes to this earth.
St. Ambrose lived in the fourth century. He had a fierce devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He popularized the title “Mother of Salvation.” Other Church Fathers came to appreciate that title as years went on. His point was that we have the opportunity for salvation because we have Jesus. And we have Jesus because we have Mary, because she gave her fiat. It’s interesting to consider: everyone in heaven owes, in no small part, his placement there to Mary’s Yes. We also are called to say Yes to things, and the salvation of others might just depend upon our saying Yes.
Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. We remember Mary’s seven sorrows: 1) The prophecy of Simeon, 2) The flight into Egypt, 3) The loss of the Child Jesus at Jerusalem, 4) Meeting Jesus on the road to Calvary, 5) The standing at the foot of the Cross, 6) The descent of Jesus from the Cross, and 7) The burial of Jesus. This is one of a small handful of days of the Church year where we have a sequence. The text has been chanted during the Mass on this feast day since the Middle Ages. It recounts for us Mary’s deep sorrows as she stands beneath the cross as her son dies. We share in her sorrows; she shares in ours. The title of the sequence is Stabat Mater Doloroso, which is English for the Sorrowful Mother Stood. She stood in her sorrows. She did not collapse, give up, run away, faint. She stood. So must we in our sorrows.
The second antiphon of this morning’s Lauds reads: “When the most holy Virgin was born, the whole world was made radiant; blessed is the branch and blessed is the stem which bore such holy fruit.” Beautiful! Mary made the entire world radiant when she was born 2000 some years ago. Everything was made beautiful, clean, pure, glorious. What a sight it must have been!
Good thing for us we can see it. When we make room in our hearts and lives for Mary as Joseph did (who was not afraid to take her into his home), she will purify and sanctify and cleanse and glorify our lives, our relationships, our everything. The more we let her in, the more radiant every part of our lives will be, the more beautiful….such that we might even become “holy fruit” ourselves–that is, we might just become a holy part of that family tree listed in the Gospel. What a beautiful thing.