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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
“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
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.
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 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
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.