The Visitation

The second Joyful mystery is the Visitation. This is when Mary goes and visits her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. It is found in Luke’s Gospel 1:39-56. After hearing that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant Mary went to visit her. Now Elizabeth lived a little some speculate it was south of Jerusalem, in Hebron or even in Ein Karem, wherever it was Mary traveled from Nazareth to visit about a 150 mile journey which would take a couple of days to get there. When Mary arrived Elizabeth was about six months pregnant and Mary stayed until she had given birth to John. The feast day is on 31 May for the Western Church and 30 March in the Eastern Church.

The feast was first celebrated by the Franciscans and by 1263 it was spreading around to other churches in the Franciscan Breviary. Pope Urban VI hoping to end the Western Schism in 1389 added it to the Roman calendar, the official list of feast days of the church. It wasn’t until 1969 when the feast was moved to May so that it would be between the Annunciation (25 March) and the Nativity of John the Baptist (24 June) to better align with the Gospels.

The fruit of this mystery is love of neighbor. As we approach the Christmas season we will expect to look out toward our neighbors and celebrate with them this great feast however how often is it that we care more about ourselves or what’s on the screens in front of us than those living next door. Let us all try to go out and meet our neighbors since we all live in a community and they are it.

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Presentation of Mary

Today is the feast of The Presentation of Mary or in the East The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Now this feast is unique as it is not based on anything in the Bible but come from the Infancy Gospel of James. This is a unique Gospel since it focuses on Mary it is a twenty-four chapter book which can be separated into three sections of eight chapters. The first eight focus on the birth of Mary to Anna and Joachim, as well as Mary’s childhood and her presentation in the temple. Now, Anna and Joachim were a childless couple when they received a heavenly message that they would have a child Anna and Joachim agreed that the child would be brought to the temple and offered to God like Hannah did to Samuel. In the second section Mary has come of age and is twelve and can’t stay in the Temple so Joseph becomes her husband, but he sort of begrudgingly agrees to be something more like her guardian. Mary becomes pregnant and they think Joseph is the father and there is a bit on that as well. The last section tells of the Nativity of Jesus along with visits from midwives as well as the hiding from Herod by Jesus and John the Baptist.

In the Orthodox Church it is one of the Twelve Great Feasts in their calendar. It began in the Orthodox Church and eventually adopted by the Catholic Church first by monasteries in Southern Italy in the 9th century however it wasn’t until 1472 when it was added to the Roman Missal, the feast was repressed for about 20 years in the 1500s. Pope Paul VI notes in his encyclical Marialis Cultus, that “despite its apocryphal content, it presents lofty and exemplary values and carries on the venerable traditions having their origins in the Eastern churches.”  So take some time and remember Our Mother and God-bearer on this day as we all turn our minds to the upcoming holiday season. Pick up a Rosary and pray it.

Diutirni Temporis

Diuturni Temporis is Pope Leo XIII’s last encyclical on Mary and the Rosary. This came out only a year since the previous one Augustissimae Virginis Mariae, and sort of continues on with the same themes. The second paragraph is one of my favorites as it reminds us that “have never ceased to encourage the constant use of the Rosary among Christians, by publishing every year since September 1, 1883, an Encyclical Letter on this subject, besides frequently issuing Decrees, as is well known.” Pope Leo then given an overview on all that’s been said on the Rosary so far “We first of all pointed out that the origin of this form of prayer is divine rather than human,showing it to be an admirable garland woven from the Angelic Salutation, together with the Lord’s Prayer, joined to meditation, and that this form of prayer was most powerful and particularly efficacious for attaining eternal life. For besides the special excellence of the prayers, it affords a powerful protection to faith and conspicuous models of virtue in the mysteries proposed for contemplation. We showed also how easy the devotion is and how suited to the people, offering an absolutely perfect model of domestic life in meditation on the Holy Family at Nazareth, and that therefore Christendom had never failed to experience its salutary effects.” This is a wonderful summation of the previous teaching on the Rosary.

Pope Leo continues offering history of how different Popes have evolved the idea of praying the Rosary from the dates of Gregory XIII and Sixtus V to today (1898). This document itself is just a big old teaser for an Apostolic Constitution Ubi primum, which was on the laws, rights and privileges of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary issued about a month later. I’ll get to this next week.

Fidentem piumque animum

Fidentem poumque animum is another encyclical on the Rosary by Pope Leo XIII. This one is pretty short and simple one. It starts with the whole general idea of Pope Leo reminding everyone that we’ve sent out numerous Encyclicals about how important the Rosary is and how everyone should be praying it especially in the month of October. This turns into a look at how important prayer in general is everything. Leo notes “The Fathers and Doctors in subsequent times have taught that this is a matter of such grave necessity, that if men neglect it they hope in vain for eternal salvation.”  Leo continues that the Rosary is a deeply Christ-centric prayer. It concludes with the request to pray the Rosary during October. This is basically the entirety of the Encyclical

Quamquam Pluries

Quamquam Pluries is an Encyclical by Leo XIII on the Devotion of Saint Joseph. I know you might be asking isn’t this supposed to be about the Rosary since it is October now, well yes you are right but this concerns the Rosary as well. The Encyclical begins although we’ve said it before yet again it seems like it is necessary for special prayers to be offered up “chiefly when every lawlessness of act seems permitted to the powers of darkness” we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Leo urges praying the Rosary as it turns us to Mary. We should also remember Joseph, the Patron of the Church, for his dignity, holiness, and glory. Since in the ties of marriage, Mary and Joseph became one and “its essence imparts a community of gifts between those that by it are joined together. Therefore God appointed him as a participator in Mary’s sublime dignity. It goes on like this talking about Joseph, how work is a vocation and that the family is the foundation of Christianity and society. These topic were picked up again in Rerum Novarum, which I’ll get to later on. Leo ends this Encyclical by asking for the Rosary to be prayed but to end it with a prayer to St. Joseph in the month of October. It also made his feast day, 19 March, a Holy Day of Obligation. St. Joseph’s feast day is still a Holy Day in some places as it is one of the ten set forth in canon 1246.

The prayer is as followed I think that during this month I will be adding it.

Prayer to Saint Joseph

To thee, O blessed Joseph, we have recourse in our affliction, and having implored the help of thy thrice holy Spouse, we now, with hearts filled with confidence, earnestly beg thee also to take us under thy protection. By that charity wherewith thou wert united to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly love with which thou didst cherish the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray that thou wilt look down with gracious eye upon that inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by His blood, and wilt succor us in our need by thy power and strength.

Defend, O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, the chosen off-spring of Jesus Christ. Keep from us, O most loving Father, all blight of error and corruption. Aid us from on high, most valiant defender, in this conflict with the powers of darkness. And even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Shield us ever under thy patronage, that, following thine example and strengthened by thy help, we may live a holy life, die a happy death, and attain to everlasting bliss in Heaven. Amen.

Dormition and Assumption

Today is the Feast of the Assumption and the Dormition of Mary in the Western and Eastern Churches respectively. They are technically the same event but there are nuances between the two. At the Assumption Mary is brought up to heaven at the end of her life body and soul, while during the Dormition Mary falls asleep (dies) and is bodily resurrected before going to heaven. I don’t see that big of a difference between the two. In the Orthodox Church today marks the end of the Dormition (Theotokos) Fast which began on the first of August. This is a Holy Day of Obligation in most of the world. If you have some time perhaps take out and pray a rosary today.

Wedding at Cana

The second Luminous mystery is the wedding feast at Cana, the place where the first miracle took place. It is found in John’s Gospel (2:1-11) the story goes that Jesus and Mary were invited to a wedding and the party ran out of wine. Mary told Jesus to do something about this and he said “My hour has not yet come”, so Mary goes to the servants and tells them to do what he tells you. The servants fill up containers with water and then give it to the chief steward. The steward after tasting it goes to the bridegroom remarks that usually the best wine is usually served first. The fruit of this mystery is to Jesus through Mary. The whole Mary thing is a tough part for Christians to understand about Catholics but Mary is a conduit between mankind and to Jesus. As these words of Mary are the last time we hear from her in the Bible “Do whatever he tells you.” This is something that we need to remember we need to listen to what Jesus says.

Fatima 100 (July)

On 13 July 1917, the children shepherds yet again were visited by the beautiful lady. This time around the children had a vision in which they saw three things, the Fatima Secrets and these weren’t nice things. The first two secrets were first written by Sister Lucia in 1941 in her third memior, the final one was kept a secret until 1944 when she wrote it down and it was eventually sent to the Vatican, which finally revealed it in 2000. The lady told them to continue praying the Rosary adding the Fatima prayer, to come back next month and the next until October when the Lady said she will tell them who she it.

The first secret that they saw was a vision of Hell “…we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now following back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me do). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals….”

The second secret comes from the first the Lady continued “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night (28 January 1938) illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.” To prevent this, she asks for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If these suggestions are heeded Russia will be converted and there will be peace if not Russia will spread “her errors throughout the world” yet in the end “My Immaculate Heart will triumph. Now this secret has some problems with it as there is the mention of Pius XI who wasn’t Pope until 1922.

The final secret is different as it starts with an Angel with a flaming sword, it cried out “Penance, Penance, Penance!” while pointing toward the earth. “Then they saw a bishop dressed in white (the Holy Father) along with a crowd of other bishops, priest, as well as men and women religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks…before reaching the cross the Holy Father went through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.” Now the Vatican has implied that this is about the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981, however added to this reveal was a commentary by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) which he says “the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction.”

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.