The Sorrowful Mother Stood

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 whole world was made radiant”: A reflection on an ancient antiphon from today’s Lauds

mary2The 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.

Happy birthday Mary

mryToday we celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We remember in a special way that day that she was born into this world some 2000 years ago, but we also remember with great joy the day she was born into our hearts. She is born there every day. You know, Ann Beattie, a novelist, once wrote that we remember the moments but forget the years. Today we celebrate one key moment in Mary’s life, just as we celebrate many of them throughout the year–her conception, her birth, the visitation, the assumption, etc. But let us be on the lookout every day of our years for Mary’s birth in our world, in our hearts, in our lives of faith. She is all over the place so long as we, like Joseph, aren’t afraid to take her into our homes.

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Fly, my soul, with Mary fly,
Soar beyond the golden sky,
Mount to Mary’s throne on high.

Bright the queenly crown she won,
Sweet the reign she has begun,
As she stands beside her Son.
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly.

How endure this long delay?
Living here how can I stay
From such beauty far away?
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly.

Sad my lot is here below;
Who can hope or life bestow?
Who will help or pity show?
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly.

But though far away from me,
Still our sovereign Queen will be
Full of love and clemency.
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly.

With a mother’s loving care
She will lift those hands so fair,
And will save us by her prayer.
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly.

Mother’s heart can ne’er forget
That we are her children yet,
By such dangers fierce beset.
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly.

Gently, still, she bends her eyes
On the soul that longs and sighs
For her love, the heavenly prize.
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly.

Blest the soul who, like the dove
Borne upon the wings of love,
Follows her to heaven above.
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori
Grimm, Eugene, editor. The Glories of Mary. New York: Redemptoris Fathers, 1931.

Some wisdom from St. Josemaria Escriva

msgr_josemaria_escriva200Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei.  He has written several books. The only one I’ve read is Christ Passing by, and I highlighted about every line. I thought I might share a few of his wonderful words here.

  • “Have confidence. Return. Invoke Our Lady and you’ll be faithful.”
  • “You don’t know how to pray? Put yourself in God’s presence and as soon as you’ve said, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray,’ you can be sure that you’ve already begun.”
  • “To be happy, what you need is not an easy life but a heart that is in love.”
  • “Get rid of that ‘small-town’ outlook. Enlarge your heart till it becomes universal, ‘Catholic.’ Don’t flutter about like a hen when you can soar to the heights of an eagle.”
  • “He did not say you would not be troubled, you would not be tempted, you would not be distressed. But he did say you would not be overcome.”
  • “I am asked for very little compared to how much I am being given.”

Is there room for the Holy Spirit in our hearts?

The collect for today’s Mass begins this way: “O God, who prepared a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit In the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary…”

What made Mary’s heart immaculate? There was room for the Holy Spirit in in it, it was filled with and totally animated by the HS. Mary shows us that when we leave room for the HS to take his rightful place in our hearts, He fills our veins, our lives with the gifts and fruits of the spirit…courage, piety, knowledge, wisdom, peace, love, joy etc. And then, suddenly, we realize that our  hearts are bigger than we ever thought they could be. They too can, in some important ways, become sacred, immaculate.

Pope Francis has consecrated the entire world to the immaculate heart of Mary. Why? Because the ministry of reconciliation we hear about in the first reading is most effectively achieved through the loving intercession of Mary. As we continue this Mass, we will use the EP 2 for reconciliation. Let us entrust the needs of this whole bloody world to the heart of our lady. She’ll take care of us.