Fatima 100 (June)

A couple of days ago was 13 June this was the second appearance of Mary to the children in Fatima. This time around according to the writings of Lucia, Mary appeared and told the children to continue praying the Rosary everyday but to add a prayer after each decade “O My Jesus, forgive us our sins , save us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need. ” Mary also asked to learn to read and write. The children asked if they would make it to heaven and Mary responded that Jacinta and Francisco will come soon, but Lucia will remain a little longer, for there is more for Lucia to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.

Let us all take out a rosary and pray it at least once a month since it is not that much to ask of all of us.

The Visitation

The second Joyful Mystery is when Mary goes and visits her cousin Elizabeth. This story can be found in Luke’s Gospel 1: 39=56. In the Western churches the feast is celebrated on 31 May and the Eastern churches celebrates it on 30 March.  The fruit associated with this mystery is love of neighbor, since at the Annunciation Mary learned that Elizabeth was with child. When Mary arrived Elizabeth was about six months pregnant and Mary stayed for three months. Sure, Mary and Elizabeth were family but the general idea of love of neighbor, going out on a mission of charity, would be a wonderful thing if we could all do something like this. These are sort of outlined by the works of mercy, as how to love your neighbor. Let us all be able to stir the spirit within our neighbors like Mary did for Elizabeth when she her the voice of Mary the babe leapt in her womb. We need to bring love into the world all too often we are surrounded by hate in the world and that is never fun.

Gloriosae Dominae and Bis Saeculari

“The Golden Bull” Gloriosae Dominae is an Apostolic Letter from Pope Benedict XIV way back in 1748. In Gloriosae Dominae, Benedict called Mary the Queen of Heaven and Earth and says that the sovereign King has in some way communicated to her his ruling power. It also honors the Sodality of Our Lady, this is like a confraternity sort of. the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary was formed in 1563 for school boys by a Jesuit at the Roman College. According to a Jesuit historian the young men from the college agreed to daily mass, weekly confession, monthly Communion, as well as to a half-hour of meditation each day and to some other pious exercises. They would also “serve the poor” and their patron was Mary. Later on Pope Sixtus V allowed non students to join in as well. Simply put it was a Marian society. Gloriosae Dominae is called the Golden Bull since Benedict used gold instead of the normal lead to seal the document in honor of Mary.

Bis Saeculari is an Apostolic Constitution from Pope Pius XII was issued for the 200th anniversary of “The Golden Bull” from Pope Benedict XIV. This was later quoted by Pius XII in Ad Caeli Reginam, which we will get to later. In Bis Saeculari, Pius praises the work of the Sodality and says that by propagating, spreading and defending Catholic doctrine they must be considered among the most powerful spiritual force in the world. Pius also calls for a revival of Marian congregations especially in the post war years. Many saints have been members of Marian congregations and we should follow their examples.

This is a nice way to end this Month of Mary

Pope in Fatima

This past Friday and Saturday, Pope Francis made a quick trip over to Portugal and canonize two of the three shepherds (Jacinta and Francisco Marto), Rocco Palmo over at Whispers in the Loggia has a great recap of all that happened. It began simply enough with Pope Francis bringing a Golden Rose  and bestowing it to our lady, it is Fatima’s third rose. The main event was Saturday the one hundredth with the Canonization mass. This bishop dressed in white delivered a message which had double meaning in the United States this weekend of “honoring your mother” since Mary is Mother to us all. The Homily at the Canonization I think gave the greatest reason why we should honor Mary.  Pope Francis echoes Mary’s message from 100 years ago and added to it a bit “Our Lady foretold, and warned us about, a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures.  Such a life – frequently proposed and imposed – risks leading to hell.” Sure Russia and the World have been Consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary several times but perhaps we need to do something about it rather than just says that it’s been consecrated. We need to pull out those Rosaries and get to praying.

The Blessed Virgin Mary Compared to a Window

Thomas Merton was an influential figure in the Monastic world but also the literary world as he was an accomplished writer. I think that everyone should take some time and read some of his writings as he offers a unique look at the world. He also wrote poems,

The Blessed Virgin Mary Compared to a Window

Because my will is simple as a window
And knows no pride of original birth,
It is my life to die, like glass, by light:
Slain in the strong rays of the bridegroom sun.

Because my love is simple as a window
And knows no shame of original dust,
I longed all night, (when I was visible) for dawn my death:
When I would marry day, my Holy Spirit:
And die by transsubstantiation into light.

For light, my lover, steals my life in secret.
I vanish into day, and leave no shadow
But the geometry of my cross,
Whose frame and structure are the strength
By which I die, but only to the earth,
And am uplifted to the sky my life.

When I became the substance of my lover,
(Being obedient, sinless glass)
I love all things that need my lover’s life,
And live to give my newborn Morning to your quiet rooms,
-Your rooms, that would be tombs,
Or vaults of night, and death, and terror,
Fill with the clarity of living Heaven,
Shine with the rays of God’s Jerusalem:
O shine, bright Sions!

Because I die by brightness and the Holy Spirit,
The sun rejoices in your jail, my kneeling Christian,
(Where even now you weep and grin
To learn, from my simplicity, the strength of faith).

Therefore do not be troubled at the judgements of the thunder,
Stay still and pray, still stay, my other son,
And do not fear the armies and black ramparts
Of the advancing and retreating rains:
I’ll let no lightning kill your room’s white order.

Although it is the day’s last hour,
Look with no fear:
For the torn storm lets in, at the world’s rim,
Three streaming rays as straight as Jacob’s ladder:

And you shall see the sun, my Son, my Substance,
Come to convince the world of the day’s end, and of the night,
Smile to the lovers of the day in smiles of blood;
For though my love, He’ll be their Brother,
My light – the Lamb of their Apocalypse.

Ubi Primum and Deiparae Virginis Mariae

Ubi Primum and Deiparae Virginis Mariae are a unique set Encyclical since it isn’t a typical Encyclical but in it the Pope asking the bishops of the world along with all the clergy and lay people if it is wise and prudent that the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption should become Dogma. It is pretty cool to see some “working documents” on these points of dogma.

In Ubi Primum Pius IX in 1849 writes to the bishops of the increase of Marian devotion both public and privately took place during Pope Gregory XVI’s reign (Pope before Pius). Gregory’s reign was also a time when people began pressing for a definition of Immaculate Mary. Yet the entirety of the Encyclical is asking if the Immaculate Conception should be made dogma.

In Deiparae Virginis Mariae Pius XII in 1946 almost 100 year later begins that there have been calls about making the Assumption dogma for about the same amount of time, Pius notes that there are several petitions from 1849-1940 have been compiled in a two volume and these came from just about everyone. So in the steps of Pius IX he thought to ask if the Assumption should be made dogma

 

 

Wedding Feast at Cana

As we continue our way through John Paul II’s additional mysteries to the Rosary. The second Luminous Mystery we hear about the first miracle and the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. Here we have Mary and Jesus at some wedding, and they have run out of wine, which is a small problem. As the story goes Mary informs Jesus that the wine is running out he snaps back with “What concern is that to me, my time has not yet come.” Then Mary tells the servants to do as Jesus tells them. Jesus tells them to fill the empty purification jars with water and take it to the chief steward. The remarkable thing here is that Jesus doesn’t touch the water or really do anything to it yet it turns into the finest wine of the evening.

Now, Pope Benedict offers a unique observation of this miracle in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, saying that the miracle of producing  a lot of wine for a wedding can be seen as a sign of the greatness of the love we find at the core of salvation history: “God lavishly spends himself for the lowly creature, man. (…) The superabundance of Cana is therefore a sign that God’s feast with humanity, his self-giving for man, has begun”. This in a way points toward the heavenly banquet where all are welcome. We also have an interesting role for Mary as it is where she always is pointing us towards Jesus. She is our signpost in life on our path toward heaven. I hope that we all can take Mary’s advice and do whatever he (Jesus) says.

Mary in Islam

Last week we looked at the important role Mary plays in the Anglican Church now we turn from Christian religions and explore how Mary is looked at in the Muslim world.

In the Islamic world Mary or Maryam is considered one of the most righteous and greatest women as she is the only woman mentioned in the Quran. In fact she has a larger role in the Quran than in the New Testament and even has an entire surah (chapter) named for her. We are treated to the life of Mary from her birth to the birth of Isa (Jesus). According to the Quran, Mary’s parents, Hannah and Imran, were old and childless yet one day as Hannah saw a bird tending its young her desire for a child grew. Hannah prayed to God to grant her desire for a child and if so the child would be dedicated to God’s service. Hannah eventually conceived and bore a daughter and according to tradition she was born without the touch of Satan. Mary was raised by her uncle Zechariah at the temple. Mary grew up and an angel appeared to her, this story unfolds similar to that in the Gospel of Luke. The birth of Jesus is a bit different as from the birth it is said he was talking from the cradle, but we will get to that at a later time.

So Mary is an important figure in the Islamic world as well, and we all should keep her as an example of how to be faithful to God. Therefore we aren’t all that different from one another as Rumi points out “All religions, all this singing, one song. The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight looks a little different on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different on this other one, but it is still one light.”

Lady Chapels or Mary in the Anglican Church

In the Anglican Church the Lady chapel is a chapel which is to the east of the main altar in Cathedrals or the side altar in smaller church which is dedicated to Mary. Mary plays a unique role in the Anglican Church.  Since England was a stronghold of Marian devotion before the reformation. It is here where the feast of the Assumption was first celebrated in 1060. The Carmelite Simon Stock is said to have received the brown scapular from Mary at Cambridge, England also is home to Richard of Chichester, Edmund of Canterbury, Thomas Becket as well as the great Anselm of Canterbury who all were devotees of Mary. Anselm wrote books and prayers about “the spotless Ever-Virgin Mother of Christ.” England itself since the middle ages, roughly 1350 or so, has been called Mary’s Dowry and even Pope Leo XIII noted this while he was addressing a group of pilgrims in 1893.

At the time of the English Reformation, devotion to Mary was still big although Mary was no longer a mediatrix with Jesus and overt devotion to Mary ended. However there were still five Marian feast (Conception of Mary, Nativity of Mary, Annunciation, Visitation, Purification/Presentation) on the calendar of the Church of England. In the 16th century the Magnificat was apart of Evening Prayer and lady chapels started appearing. As the 17th century came the writers took a look at the Catholic and Orthodox devotion of Mary and this sort of inspired the Oxford Movement, which saw the Anglican Church as a branch of the Catholic church with the other branches being the Roman Church and the Greek. One of the leaders of this movement was John Henry Newman.  This movement lead to the revival of interest into pre-Reformation ideas like that of Our Lady of Walsingham, which has become quite the pilgrimage site for Anglicans, Catholics and Orthodox faithful. Currently, Mary holds a new prominent place as she is now name in the liturgy and even August 15 has become a feast day for Mary herself. Even some Marian devotions have crept back like the Rosary, Angelus and Regina Coeli.

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

We always begin the year with this Holy Day of Obligation and there is good reason for it. Sure Mary plays a role in the Christmas story but she sometimes get lost, since we’ve got Jesus and the shepherds, Joseph, animals, a little drummer boy, those kings all figure prominently in songs. Sure Mary is mentioned “the babe the son of Mary” but of the songs about Mary vary greatly. We have the Kingston Trio in Mary Mild singing about a child Jesus wanting to play at ball and making a bridge with the beams of the sun. Then we’ve got the song which is from Mary’s point of view, Breath of Heaven, this is a decent song from Amy Grant and is sort of like Michael Card’s Joseph’s Song which is kind of about being the parent of the Son of God. Finally we have the worst in my opinion Mary, Did You Know?, it has been covered by a whole bunch of artist, and the simple answer is that Mary learns of most of this in a vague since at the Presentation roughly forty days after the birth, when she meets Simeon “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35)

By turning towards Mary as we begin the year is a way for all of us to look towards someone to aspire to since Mary points us toward Jesus. The Theotokos is honored in Eastern Orthodox Church on December 26th as Father Alexander Schmemann, notes “the Church points to Mary as the one through whom the Incarnation was made possible. His humanity—concretely and historically—is the humanity He received from Mary. His body is, first of all, her body. His life is her life.” Honoring the mother and child at the birth is something that we should all do. Sure we all celebrate our birthday but we weren’t the only ones there, our birth partners, our mothers, are an important part of the event. Let us all remember our heavenly Mother this year and especially our own mothers on the date of our birth.