Okay, once again, God placed some breadcrumbs for me to follow these last couple weeks, and I absent-mindedly popped them into my mouth one-by-one, never even realizing I was being set up for a cool perspective that I could meditate on for a while.
A blogger I follow, Devin Rose, recently posted this entry regarding the Jewish lore regarding the Eastern Gate that I found particularly interesting. I'd never heard of this particular prophesy, so I dutifully followed his links and read the article written by Dr. Reagan.
I immediately went back to Devin's page with a flurry of thoughts:
Jesus, Himself, was (and is) the new Temple. When His Heart was pierced by the lance, couldn’t that be seen as the “opening of the Eastern Gate”?
After all, through this final wound, His Precious Blood and water flowed forth (which we now recognize as His Divine Mercy through Saint Faustina).
This would explain the other quotes from the article (which, BTW, mostly consist of OT prophecy). Jesus did, in fact, walk on the Mount of Olives. He now dwells with us forever through His Eucharist. And for as much as folks don’t like to picture His Passion as glorious, He gained for us salvation upon that gruesome Cross. His Death and subsequent Resurrection are about as glorious as it gets.
However, as I was thinking more on this over the next few days, I randomly came across this blog entry from Shameless Popery while I was looking for images of Jesus as the New Temple. Don't you know my line of thinking followed his, and he took it about 100 light years further than I!
He also brings up the possibility of the Blessed Mother being the Eastern Gate, which would make more sense than my idea that it might be Christ's Sacred Heart. After all, the Blessed Mother's womb certainly fits the bill! :)
So yeah - how wonderful that all these little things lined up to create a much fuller picture of Salvation History and God's promises fulfilled!
Mother of Sorrows, Pray for Us
***Disclaimer - this entry has the capacity to offend / upset sensible Catholics due to outside content.***
I found the following link through Father Z's WDTPRS page. The link will take you to the Huffington Post for a supposedly "tongue-in-cheek" piece by Larry Doyle (of Simpsons / Beavis and Butt-Head fame).
However, when I followed Fr. Z's link to the article in question, I was floored by the absolute disgust he wrote of Catholicism. I saw nothing "humorous" in his prejudiced, anti-Catholic tirade.
This has nothing to do with me "taking this personally" or "reading too much into it." I'm all for poking fun at stuff, and I've heard (and dished) my fair share of Catholic jokes. This, however, has a tone that is completely inappropriate, hostile and indecent.
Just offer up a prayer for Doyle, the fools laughing at this garbage, and those Catholics who commented bad dogma in a weak attempt to defend the faith. Oh, God... help us. We are in such need of guidance and wisdom!
How folks remain blind to anti-Catholic sentiment is beyond me. If this sort of banter had been leveled against any other group, the media would be all over decrying it (regardless of the false "satire" tag it gave itself to hide behind).
Deplorable. Yet we were warned, and for our part, we must take up the Cross of our Chastisement and move forward. Pray for these people. They truly are in need of the Holy Spirit.
Coolest Statue / Triptych EVER
So I stumbled across an incredible set of Marian art as I was looking for a picture to accompany a beautiful prayer I found. I had originally wanted to share the prayer only, but now I want to share the art with you, too!
These incredible works of art seem to be hybrids of statue and triptych. This style of art was apparently popular (at least for Our Lady) in the 15th and 16th centuries.
These pieces are called "Vierge Ouvrante," which roughly translates to "The Opening Virgin." They are also known as "Madonna Shrines."
Images inside these triptych statues include scenes from the Passion, Mysteries of the Rosary, lives of the Saints, and Old Testament stories.
Seriously - aren't these the coolest things ever? I want to commission a new set for myself. Ha ha.
The idea behind these is wonderful. God - the Eternal - is within each of us. However, He was, is and always shall be fully present within Our Lady because of her perfect Fiat. Our Lady, through the Annunciation and Incarnation, became Mother of the Eternal. Within her womb she carried the Fount of Life which cannot be constrained by place or time. Through her, we can know God. Through her, we can find the path to Christ.
Really - I am in love with these!!! I think they're absolutely brilliant!
And before I forget - here's the prayer!
Hail, Mary, beloved Daughter of the eternal Father!
Hail, Mary, admirable Mother of the Son!
Hail, Mary, faithful Spouse of the Holy Ghost!
Hail, Mary, my loving and dear Mother, my powerful sovereign!
Hail, my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul!
Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am all thine. But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou seest in me anything which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and to make thyself the absolute mother of all that is mine. Destroy in me all that may be displeasing to God; root it up and bring it to nought; place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee. Amen.
--by Saint Louis Marie DeMontfort
Photo of my silk-bouquets!
Father Z had an interesting post today that got the cogs in my little brain churning today.
Someone had asked him about the tradition of giving the Blessed Mother a bouquet of flowers during a wedding ceremony / Mass.
He basically answered, "I have no idea how it started, but since it's not in the rubrics, it shouldn't be done during a Nuptial Mass."
I'm neither here nor there with his answer, especially since he opened the combox for others to chime in since he wasn't sure of these traditions. I'd say that's fair.
However, I'd have to say I disagree with his assessment that it "shouldn't be done" at the Mass. As many of the commentators posted, this could easily be something as simple as a bride wishing to pray before a saint after Communion. So what if instead of just prayer offerings, she's got a little fistful of flowers?
For my own wedding, this was my most cherished moment. Considering I had planned my whole wedding around the Blessed Mother (month of May, my colors were "Blessed Mother Blue" and I got married at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, etc, etc, etc), I wanted to be SURE to pay her this respect during the Ave Maria reflection after Communion.
I know - 110% KNOW - she interceded for John and I. I know it. She's still doing it. So when I got down on my knees before her with my bouquet of flowers (the only real ones I used the entire day as my sister is allergic to them), I sobbed like a little baby in gratitude. It was the only time I cried that whole day. I was so elated, so thankful, so touched by her maternal love that I couldn't contain myself and needed SOME way to express my gratitude. My flowers, prayers, and tears were all I had to offer. I also entrusted my marriage to her then, too.
So there is, in my opinion, a beauty to that gesture. I can't speak for other brides, but that moment wasn't about me - it was about Our Lady and the knowledge that she interceded for our marriage at the Throne of God before we had even met. I really do believe that.
***BTW, I'd love to claim that I created those gorgeous bouquets, but I did not. My best friend, Mary, and her mother spent hours hand-crafting those beauties. They're silk flowers, believe it or not, because my one sister is allergic to the real thing! So they created 7 smaller bouquets, my larger, cascading one, 10+ boutineers, several corsages, and probably several pew arrangements, too!***
Pieta - by Jason Jenicke
Brace yourselves for yet another of Bl. Anne Catherine's visionary stupifiers!
While delving into the days before Our Lady's death, St. Anne saw her giving directives on what should happen to her few worldly possessions. One cloth, in particular, drew Bl. Anne's attention. This cloth had a supreme light about it, was woven of the finest materials and stark white where there wasn't large amounts of dried blood.
She was given to understand that this cloth was used by Our Lady as she cradled her Son in her arms after He was taken from the Cross. She tenderly wiped at His Blood stained Body, using her tears as cleansing salve. She lovingly removed the spittle, the sweat, and the dirt away from His Face with this cloth, which she then safeguarded as a precious relic.
Our Lady made known to Bl. Anne Catherine that this cloth was the original purificator. All cloths used since to wipe chalices are used in a similar manner. I wonder how many priests realize this! As they wipe the Chalice of Christ's Blood, they take on the role of Our Lady as she accepted the Body of her Beloved Son from the Cross. Just as they wipe away the traces of Blood and spittle, Our Lady did first as she caressed His Face and Body, allowing her tears to fall as rain over Him.
At Mass today, I could have wept as I saw our pastor using the purificator. I never realized just what that action meant until seeing it through Bl. Anne's eyes... through Our Lady's eyes.
The thought is so humbling, so moving, so heart-breaking that I could think of nothing else as I knelt after receiving. I'm so glad I found the above artwork (by Jason Jenicke, an incredible artist I found by absolute accident!). It is simply the perfect summation of my feelings - I think I'll see this image every time I see purificators now.
I have a friend who once was Catholic. She has since fallen away from the faith and considers herself atheist. She sometimes drops by this blog to chime in (through Facebook or e-mail threads) on current Church events that she hears about through mainstream media.
In all honesty, I think she just hears God calling her name now and again. :)
Anyway, she asked me a question and gave me permission to expound within the blog itself. Considering her tendency to only talk about things like abortion, the death penalty or women priests (sidestepping the child-abuse scandal), I was REALLY surprised to hear a question about the rosary spill out of her.
"Why do you talk about Mary and the rosary so much?"
Cue big cheesy grin.
My immediate response was, "Because I love them."
She responded with "Why?"
I took a moment. This friend, let's call her Lily, views the Blessed Mother, Jesus and pretty much all saints / religious figures as akin to Santa Claus. At one point in history, they probably existed in some form, but they've long since died and their legends morphed them into something very different from who they originally were.
Thus, her question of "Why?" is not a surprise. Even with her Catholic upbringing, she does not view the Communion of Saints possible. Thus, veneration of, or prayers to, spirits / souls is pointless. After all, wouldn't my time be much better spent serving others in a positive way?
So to answer her question, I needed to lay some groundwork.
First, I asked her ideas on what happens to a person upon death. Is death final?
She affirmed that was her belief. Upon death, we go in a box in the ground and that's that.
I asked if she was open to the possibility of a soul. She granted me an open mind and said there could very well be a soul that goes somewhere, but she simply doubted it.
A seed is all I need, baby.
Since my belief obviously sides with souls and an after-life, I logically hold that those who have died before me are living this "after-life." Those who lived exemplary lives, like the Blessed Mother and favored saints, are in Heaven. Those who didn't, well, we've got Purgatory and Hell.
Obviously, since Heaven is where us Catholics believe Jesus to be, that's where we, too, want to go. The truest example of a Heaven-bound soul is the Blessed Mother. Thus, if I wanted to be sure I got to Heaven, I'd go ahead and follow her example. Much like an amateur poker player might study up on Chris Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth or Dan Negreanu, us Catholics like to look to study up on the best of the best. Who better to follow than the Mother of Jesus, herself... the one we believe to be Queen of Heaven?
The rosary is an in-depth study of Our Lady. As I've said before, the rosary is the Photo Album of Christ. It is also the photo album of Our Lady. Though not depicted in each decade, she is spiritually present in each and every frame. Thus, in praying the rosary and going over the details of how Our Lady responded to these challenges and blessings, we come to understand how we, too, should respond to challenges and blessings.
So to answer the question, "Why do I love them?" I answer this:
I love Our Lady because she is a living part of the Communion of Saints who actively works to restore my inheritance with Christ in Heaven. Through her the gift of Salvation (Jesus) came into being, and through her I have the most perfect example of how to get my soul into Heaven. The Rosary, gifted to us by Our Lady, is a picture-map to Heaven. It is the most simplistic tool we have that directs us on how to enter Heaven. How could I not love that which teaches me so much? How could I not love the person who grants me so much?
Plus, she's so darn sweet. What is there not to love about her? :)
Upon completing this story, I dropped down to my knees and thanked God repeatedly for such a blessing. What could have been an absolute tragedy turned into the most blessed story of survival, heroism and happiness.
Now, the folks involved are acting as examples to others. Absolutely incredible! Guardian angels were working overtime for this family and those brave enough to rescue those children! Praised be God, and praised be His Most Blessed Mother who no doubt had a hand in such a grace!
Today is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. What a treat to start off the New Year in thanksgiving for the Mother of Salvation. :)
Our pastor delved into the mystery of Jesus being both fully God and fully human, taking His Divinity from His Father and His Humanity from His Mother. Though something we are unable to fully comprehend, this article of faith is one of the backbones of our religion.
Since today is Sunday, I also got to pray the Glorious Mysteries. Some thoughts that popped into my mind while praying...
Resurrection - Though Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus' resurrected Body, I can't help but wonder if Jesus didn't appear to His Mother interiorly. She understood the necessity of His Death, and probably had an inkling of His Triumph over death. I wonder if she understood it to be in this particular manner, though. Anyway, upon news of His Resurrection, confirming whatever interior visions she was given, she must have been absolutely elated. Oh, but how her heart must have longed to hold Him!
Ascension - So bittersweet again for Our Lady! No doubt she endured emotional torture as she watched her beloved Son again move beyond her physical realm. Unable to hug Him, kiss Him or hear His Voice, she must've clung to the Eucharist in a way most infathomable. No doubt she was spiritually linked to Him (as she was and always will be), but as any of us know, being apart from the one you love is painful... even if you're able to keep in touch via e-mail, Skype, or telephone.
Pentecost - What bliss! Our Lady once more feels the presence of Her Spouse as He baptizes her with untold graces! Again, the Blessed Mother is there from the very beginning. She was the catalyst for the Savior's birth, and she was present for the birth of the Church. Can you imagine how all the apostles must have flocked around her as chicks to a mother hen? Our Lady held such love for all of them, and no doubt counseled them in countless ways. Our Church was forged by her Queenly hand, just as it was forged by the hands of the apostles.
Assumption - I imagine this to be Our Lady's happiest moment... probably even to this day (yes, even more than Christ's Nativity). I'd be willing to wager the only moment sweeter for her will be the Final Judgement, when all is completed and Her Son no longer must agonize over the sins of mankind. I've gone on and on about the Assumption several times, but honestly, I never tire thinking about how inexpressibly joyful that reunion must have been for her. Being corporeal, she'd've thrown herself into His Arms and no doubt He enveloped her with equal relish. To have been an angel (or even Saint Joseph!) looking in at that moment. All of Heaven must've been ablaze with their love!
Coronation - Our Mother - the Queen! I wonder which angels got to help prepare Our Lady for this event. I wonder if her own mother, St. Anne, were blessed to be there to brush her hair back, to place a veil upon her head, to adorn her perfect child with jewels. I wonder, too, if St. Joseph were there to process beside her as she made her way forth to the Throne of the Trinity. No doubt Jesus crowned her, probably just about besides Himself with joy. Oh wow.
I then imagined that Jesus granted her one favor as a gift for such a special occasion. Immediately I saw the gates of Purgatory open and thousands of souls come rushing into Heaven. The gift she requested was the freedom of souls - not for herself, but for Her Son who so loved them so dearly. Though Divine Justice dictates they make restitution for sin, Divine Mercy does not want it. A word from the Queen of Heaven is more than payment, and the joy of that blessed occasion must've reverberated throughout the earth.
Mind you, I'm not saying I saw these as true visions. My mind wandered over these things as I prayed the decades. I can't help but think Our Lady's graciousness extends infinitely towards all of us, especially those most in need of such kindness.
Mmmmm - I could dwell upon Our Lady forever with the dopiest look of love on my face, I bet. :) How blessed are we to have been gifted so great a blessing!
The above painting is an original done by an artist by the name of Mark Sanislo. I found it a few months back and was immediately struck by its beauty. Also, the Christ-Child looks just like my niece, Arianna!
Anyway, I wanted to share this truly unique painting with you. It speaks to me of the true Christmas message.
May all of you feel the Love and Peace of Christ, and may you hold Him close as our beautiful, Blessed Mother does.
Merry, merry Christmas!
John snapped this picture of Vince and I right before we left for Christmas Eve Mass. The church was packed with PACERs (those who attend only on Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas, Easter, or other Required events like weddings and funerals). Honestly, I'll admit to being really irritated by that at first. These folks were coming in droves to the church for what reason? A sense of obligation? Tradition? Sudden desire to rekindle a relationship with Jesus?
Then I realized I was honestly no one to dare exhale a huff from my lungs. Regardless of the reason, Jesus was no doubt happy to have folks come to see Him. Maybe a few were even moved by the Spirit and will become a fixture in our parish. Here's to hoping, right?
Anyway, on account of the church being packed like a sardine can, I couldn't hear or see anything. That meant Vince couldn't either. I was surprised he was as calm as he was. He behaved very well save for a short moment of refusing to share his book with another little girl beside him. After a quick "Angry Mommy" look, he handed the book over without question and then clapped, proud of himself for sharing.
During Communion, I made my way to Father's line and as I knelt down before accepting the Host, I saw Vincent stoop again beside me. The altar server holding the patten saw him stoop, too, as did several people in the pews as there was a moment of "awww" as I flushed with pride and gratitude. I was so proud that Vincent was picking up proper etiquette and grateful that God had pushed me to take him all this time (through you fellow bloggers!).
Anyway, we made our way back to the now empty cry room (apparently once Communion is received Mass is officially "over"). Vince had definitely had enough of being a "good boy" and chose that moment to run like a crazy person all over the place. I allowed him about a minute of energy-loss until I wrangled him in for the final blessing.
Due to the crowd and Vince's super-fidget, I thought it best to leave approaching the nativity to next week. All in all, a wonderful experience.
We're just waiting on you now, Baby Jesus! :)
I've always wanted to find a good picture of Our Lady and Eve. I came across this through a friend on Facebook. I honestly have no idea who the artist is, but I love, love, LOVE this! The only thing I wish I could change was Eve's expression. Upon meeting Our Lady and touching the Christ-child within her womb, Eve would've been overjoyed! The Blessed Mother is the one who was promised to Eve! Mary was the woman who would right the wrong of that original sin and restore Heaven to humanity.
The serpent, too, is accounted for in this portrait. In the presence of Our Lady (and Jesus within her womb!), he falls away from Eve, his power gone, and succumbs to the gentle majesty of the King and Queen of Heaven.
Merry Christmas indeed... the gift of Hope is victorious!
So I spoke with the friend of mine who originally posted this photo to Facebook. He told me a sister created this beautiful image. Doesn't that make your heart melt even more? He thinks its made of colored pencils. How cool is that?! LOVE IT!
And yes, this talented sister is still alive. I hope she's still creating beautiful art!
So yesterday was the feast of the Immaculate Conception. My regular church didn't have a mass that I was able to attend, so I checked out a neighboring church that I had found on the way to my son's daycare. I'd been eyeing it for some time now, curious to know what the inside looked like (because the outside was unique to me). Also, since it's dedicated to the Blessed Mother, I felt her feast day was the best time to find myself there.
I am so glad I did! It is a beautiful church! Truth be told, it is very small and has more of a "modern" feel (something I don't typically like, but can appreciate when it's done tastefully). The artwork was beautiful, and their statues were different from those I'm used to seeing. For instance, as opposed to Our Lady of Grace (typically the version of the Blessed Mother seen on her side of the church), there was a large state of Our Lady cradling Baby Jesus. Actually, if you take the following two pictures and combine their poses, then add infinitely more beauty, you've got the statue I'm referring to.
Anyway, aside from absolutely loving that statue of Our Lady (so maternal towards and adoring of that angelic little God-Child she held in her arms), I really liked the statue of her Assumption that was used during the Mass. Again, it was as if a painting were somehow sculpted into life so realistic she was!
The Stations of the Cross were full (though muted) colored, large and adorning the walls. A few smaller statues of St. Rita, St. Joseph, and St. Anthony were present. A beautifuly little Infant of Prague held Vincent's attention for much of the Mass. Finally, and MOST exciting for me, was the Adoration Chapel in the back of the Church. An ADORATION CHAPEL!!!
I didn't think I had one anywhere near me!!! BUT I DO! I almost cried!
Again, truth be told, I was emotional anyway. It's a feast of thanksgiving for Our Lady - a gift I am endlessly grateful for. I realized it was fitting this feast is during Advent. The coming of Our Lady marked a true Advent of sorts. With the Mother of God on her way into the world, Jesus was not far behind. God is certainly a Master of time, right? :) I smiled at that realization.
This Mass also made my heart sing due to the love the priest had for Our Lady. He used much Latin in the Mass (something new for me, but I loved it!), and he spared nothing in his homily lauding this gift of the Blessed Mother. He praised her with such fondness, such gratitude, such conviction that folks were in the pews nodding their heads in agreement. When he solicited a Hail Mary at the close of the homily, folks really put their heart into the salutation. It is a true blessing to partake of a Mass with so loving and charismatic a priest.
Because of the feast, the priest also chose to distribute Communion under both species! BOTH! I haven't been so privileged in years. I hadn't realized that until last night. Also, I noted that Father relegated the two EMs to the chalice, only allowing himself and the deacon to distribute the Hosts. I LOVE THIS GUY!
I took Vince up during the Eucharist and Father was kind enough to impart a blessing. I then moved to take my place in the chalice line. I was the last person there, and luckily there was just enough left for me to partake of. Vincent was gold the entire time, and I almost cried again from feeling so honored to have been graced with such a gift. I said to Our Lady "This is YOUR feast day, and here I am getting all the gifts!"
An adoration chapel close to home, a traditional, Marian priest who truly teaches when he preaches, the Eucharist under BOTH species, and a son who was beyond exemplary for the first time during a Mass... I was beyond grateful!
I can't wait to take advantage of that chapel now. Goodness... I could even go for a half hour during lunch it's so close!
Anyway, what a wonderful celebration of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception. I truly hope all of you who practice enjoyed a similarly beautiful experience!
I realize it's not Saint Patrick's Day, but I couldn't find any other picture that expressed exactly how I feel right now.
I figured out the perfect gifts for my CCD class, and they're going to arrive in time for Adoration this week!!!
So yes, I am doing a jig. I'm doing several jigs. My jigs are doing jigs.
I was so ridiculously proud of them for how they behaved themselves in the Church that I wanted to make their first Adoration experience extra special. I couldn't quite think of how to do. Suddenly, my phone started ringing. I reached down into my purse to grab it, but for some reason, it wasn't in its normal side pocket (I'm nerdily organized like that). Instead, it was in the back pocket where I keep my prayer book.
The call ended up being a fluke (my name is not Martin and I do not need a rental truck), but I think that wrong number was meant to answer my query. Since I had to reach into my "prayer book pocket" I inevitably brushed against my Pieta Book (by far my most favorite, well worn and trusted prayer book ever).
So, as you probably guessed, I went ahead and purchased more than a dozen Pieta Books. However, upon entering the site, I saw a sale on Benedictine medals as well. Jackpot!!!
I am so excited for my class now! I cannot wait to arrange their little prayer packets atop their desks for immediate use at Adoration. I sincerely hope they get as much mileage out of theirs as I do mine. I'm going to ask our wonderful pastor to bless the medals as well.
How nice was the Holy Spirit to place that idea into my mind? Apparently He's a big fan of the Pieta Book, too. Ha ha ha. No doubt, considering how many beautiful prayers and meditations are contained within its pages.
For those of you unfamiliar with this incredible prayer booklet, may I direct your attention to this site which has many excerpts from it. If you'd like to purchase a copy for yourself, feel free to pick up a copy for yourself for a mere $2.50 here. Doubtful you could spend a better buck and a half!
We've all got one (or two!)... a person with whom any sort of interaction leaves us feeling like we want to punch a wall, scream into a pillow, or pray for a special sort of smiting that only God can occasion.
I kid, I kid. Sorta.
In all seriousness, though, even a simple act of greeting that person is a test of our charity. I know for myself, it's also a test of humility (and I've been known to fail that test, repeatedly, for years).
I've done a lot of reflection on this. Once again, those Sorrowful Mysteries haunted my meditations, and visions of Our Lady opening her heart to those who crucified her Son shamed my over-inflated ego. Now that I understand the "cold shoulder" and "angry silence" are the result of pride, I can no longer continue to rely on them. I need to break myself of these bitter habits if I fancy the idea of doing right by Jesus.
So I resolved to remain cheerful and say "Hello" despite the immense well of irritation that bubbled away beneath my calm exterior. And I was successful, but again, only "sorta."
What do I mean by that? Well, for starters, though I'd say "Hello" I wasn't exactly cheerful. It was almost a quick "Hi" just to get it over and done with so I could pat myself on the back and go "Good job, you did your civic duty!" On top of that, I'd also high-tail myself away from any further discourse as I doubted my own ability to remain civil for more than the reflecting two syllable response.
Not exactly the Christian way of acting like a loving person, huh?
I quickly realized that I couldn't just "go through the motions" of loving my enemy. I really had to reach for the Love of Christ in order to grow. So I relied on Our Lady. I looked to her for the example I needed and poof... I got my lightbulb moment in the form of a fleeting image.
Our Lady was standing at the foot of the Cross. No doubt she was agonizing in unison with her Beloved Son. However, upon His Death, as the soldier standing guard proclaimed that He was, in fact, the Son of God, her heart must have leapt in joy. Yes! Another soul has been touched by my Son. Another soul has seen the Light and will journey back to God!
This soldier who pierced the Side of Christ - we know him as St. Longinus - who promptly proclaimed the Truth of the Savior... would she have coldly shut him away from her heart while struggling against the crushing weight of desolation, loss and pain? Never. Our Lady rejoiced that another soul - so dear and loved by Jesus - was again on the road towards reconciliation.
Thus, if the Blessed Mother, even in such sorrow... even with every right to turn angrily away from those who killed her Son... if she was able to continue to open her heart joyfully towards these people, how can I do any less, especially when I have less reason to be angry, hurt or sorrowful?
So I thought on this some more. How could Mary rejoice in souls who had hurt her so? The answer was Jesus. She rejoiced because these enlighened souls were now going back towards Jesus, and that is Christ's singular desire - to have souls come back to Him. As always, the Blessed Mother leads me to my answer, and that answer is always "Jesus."
Jesus resides in every single human soul. Regardless of how wicked, evil or thoughtless they are, God's ruah- His life-breath- resides within their souls. Thus, in opening our hearts to even those who most hurt us, we open our hearts to Christ.
With that in mind, I've been much more successful in dealing with "enemies." I no longer view them as enemies so much as souls who need to feel the potential for reconciliation. Had the Blessed Mother turned her eyes coldly upon those centurians, would they have felt absolution possible? Would they have retained their faith in Jesus that Love could, in fact, triumph?
No. That is why we must follow Our Mother's example and open our hearts to everyone - joyfully - in the hopes that they, too, feel something of Christ's love. And if we still harbor some bitterness, at least do Christ the honor of greeting Him through the person He chose to create. If He deemed this person worthy of not only love, but love through death on a cross, who are we to deem them differently?
First things first - I found this letter while attempting to locate a graphic for today's entry. Upon reading it, I was forced to simply meditate on it for a few moments. I couldn't do anything else!
How humbling... how painful. The truth of those words weighs heavily on me. They should weigh heavily on all who acknowledge their part in the Church of North America. I wanted to share it with you because of how much it touched my very core.
Anyway, onwards to my original topic - Thank You Letters to Jesus!
Last night for class, I had my students write Thank You cards to Jesus. I requested that they express gratitude for at least five things they are thankful for this season. Before they began, I had them do a brief exercise. The exercise was as follows:
Close your eyes and think of the Blessed Mother. Really picture her in your mind. What is she wearing? Where is she? Is she standing, sitting, kneeling? What is around her? Has Jesus already been born, is she pregnant, or is she a young girl in the Temple?
Now that you have her image, imagine that she is writing a Thank You letter to God. What do you think she'd thank Him for?
Upon opening their eyes, I had them begin. Their ideas, so innocent and sincere, astounded me. Everyone was generally thankful for the basics: family, friends, food, homes, etc. There were some gems, however. One kid was thankful for his ability to play soccer because he was able to meet friends that way. Another was thankful for his grandmother's illness because it gave her a chance to say goodbye to her. Still another was thankful for being able to share things with siblings ("even though they're really bad and annoying sometimes" - ha!).
I can't wait to read through the rest of them. For homework, they'll be reading their Thank You Letters at Thanksgiving (as well as choosing a prayer for Grace). I'll collect them during our next class. Oh, my heart swelled with so much pride and love for them. :) In my own letter, I thanked Jesus for my awesome class. Really... they are fabulous. :)
As promised, here's the entry I alluded to yesterday. All I can say is - thank God for Google.
Sorry again for the fuzziness, but the detail to your right is from a painting I posted yesterday by an artist known as "Master of Wilten." The painting depicts the Presentation of the young Blessed Mother.
Curiously, these two animals seem to be a secondary focus of the painting in the central foreground. This struck me as odd, so I did a cursory search thinking I'd find a quick explanation of their significance. No dice.
I located the artist of the original painting and, of course, he's anonymous, himself. He is presently known only as "Master of Wilten" and lived in the 15th century. Nothing more is known about him other than the paintings he left behind in his workshop detailing scenes from Our Lady's life. Go figure.
So back to the painting I went. At first, I thought the two animals were a dog and a lamb (especially considering the latter's elongated muzzle and white coloring). However, the tail of the supposed "lamb" extends much longer than any lamb I've seen. That tossed "lamb" out the window. So I looked up the possible symbolism of dogs at the Presentation of Our Lady. The only recurring reference was that these two animals were "Barocci's cat" and "Bassano's dog."
That didn't sit comfortably with me since neither looked like a cat. Dutifully, however, I researched both Barocci and Bassano in the hopes that I could glean what their chosen symbols represented.
Federico Barocci, it turns out, just really loved cats. No symbolism there. He'd sneak one into most of his paintings, which is why any cat cropping up in random works of art became known as "Barocci's cat." This reminds me of Trigun's cat, but hey... that's a whole different story.
Jacopo Bassano was similarly inclined towards dogs, but upon further research, I learned that dogs were associated with fidelity and contemplation. What's more, two dogs quarreling sometimes signified dueling theologians (kinda like Plato and Aristotle pointing up vs. down).
Ah ha! Another piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Just to be on the safe side, however, I tried to find out if these two artists had any sort of feud. No such luck. I also did a quick search to see if either had been tutored by the same guy. Also no luck, though I did note that, while Bassano studied under an artist by the name of Titian (who also enjoyed painting dogs), Barocci trained a pupil who had the same name as one of Bassano's sons. I couldn't locate proof that the two men were, in fact, the same person (since Giovanni's last name, Battista, was ridiculously common at the time), but it was still interesting enough for me to note.
However, since I was burning rubber through search engines quicker than the ever-balding tires of the General Lee, I shifted gears and did a Bible search for the word "dog." I wanted to find biblical references to the animal in the hopes of gaining some insight into its literary value.
Apparently dogs are mentioned in several places throughout the Bible! Go figure.
These Old Testament dogs were called "pariahs." Guess who went and googled "pariah dog" with impressive results? *Grin*
That's right! Pariah dogs look EXACTLY like the one portrayed in the above painting! This wasn't just ANY dog... this was a pariah!!! So I went and did some research on pariah dogs. It turns out pariahs were associated with evil in the Old Testament because of their savage and wild behavior.
So with half the puzzle making sense, I decided to figure out if the other dog's breed held symbolism. I started with what I thought the dog looked like - a toy poodle. I cycled through the history of how poodles came to be bred into their "teacup" sizes so wealthy Englishwomen would be able to carry them around as personal hand-warmers (I wish I were kidding). This article mentioned, however, that these pups didn't really begin to be "bred smaller" until the 1600s. That's a good 150 or so years after the puppy in question was painted. That ruled out poodles.
So I went back to the drawing board and did an image search for "toy dogs." One of the first pooches to grace my screen once again looked like the subject of my confusion - a bichon frise! Immediately, I began delving into this breed and learned they are, in fact, descendants of poodles and are valued for their natural loving temperament and keen intelligence.
Armed with this new information, I once again cycled back to the painting. The bichon is engaged with the pariah, but from their stance, the bichon clearly has the upper hand. Thus, I concluded that these two animals were symbolic of the fight between good and evil, with the "good" clearly outmatching the "bad."
I was still slightly confused as to the prominence of these bickering animals. Instead of focusing on Our Lady, everyone (even St. Anne!) seems to be paying attention to the quarreling dogs. The Blessed Mother, for her part, also is casting an eye back to them!
I admit to being puzzled, but then I realized my error. Little Mary is at the center of the painting. Though she is caught between the Temple and her people, she is ever-moving towards the Holy of Holies. She does not turn a blind eye to the struggles we on Earth endure. Instead, she acts as our mediary (Mary, Mediatrix!), always calling us to follow her lead and walk towards God. In the end, good will triumph, and Mary's entrance into the Temple... Mary's acceptance of God's Divine Proposal... Mary's perfection which already embodies God before His willing Incarnation... all of that brings to pass the promises made by God to Adam and Eve upon their expulsion from Eden. A woman would come who would, indeed, bear forth a child that would forever strike at the head of sin. Through her, all Life would spring forth, and all Life would return back into the Hands of its Creator.
Ah, the mysteries of Mary!
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast marks the fulfillment of the promise made to God by Sts. Joachim and Anne upon learning they were blessed with a child. At the age of three, little Mary was to be consecrated to God in the service of the Temple.
No doubt, when she hit 3 years of age, Sts. Joachim and Anne led her to the Temple, awash in feelings of both gratitude and sadness. I can't even begin to fathom how bittersweet that moment must have been.
I like the painting to the right because it shows St. Anne walking her daughter, Mary, up the steps of the Temple. Family and friends, having gathered in celebration to wish her well, look on from the foreground. You can see by the folds in her veil that little Mary was already looking up towards those priests who would act as her guardians and teachers in the coming years. Oh, St. Anne... how did your heart break with pride and love? How did you manage to walk up those steps to hand over your daughter who only spent three short years in your arms? Truly you understood the gift God granted you, and truly you are an example of what it means to take part in Divine Providence.
God granted this special child to you... but you understood she was not only yours to love. She was not only yours to see the face of God through. So humbly, painfully... proudly... you took her by the hand and without complaint watched as your heart walked into the Temple to remain there. What a selfless example of gratitude.
This final painting makes me smile. I wish I could've found a clearer version for you, but this will have to suffice. In the foreground, we see Sts. Joachim and Anne, as well as family and friends who have gathered to see her off. She's going up the "15 steps" which signify her ascent to God's throne (the Holy of Holies in which the Ark of the Covenant rests). This is Our Lady's wedding celebration to God... it is in this ceremony that she accepts His Proposal and willingly submits to His Divine Will for all eternity. Our Lady is seen entranced, expectant for the Lord she knows is beckoning her to Himself. She doesn't turn back to cast a glance behind her. She willingly leaves everything behind in order to follow His Call.
Interestingly, I couldn't figure out what the two animals were in the foreground. I did a bit of research and will dedicate my next blog to my findings. :)
Anyway... for more information on The Presentation, feel free to take a look at this excerpt from the Venerable Mary of Agreda's The Mystical City of God.
Cool it with the Medjugorje haterade, people!
Geez! You'd think after the countless times children have been attacked for "stupidity" or "imagination" only to be later vindicated folks would be a little more willing to hold their tongues on condemning!
I saw some super-angry commentary over at a blog I love and respect. Folks were only too happy to condemn Medjugorje as "the work of satan" or "people looking to get rich."
How heartbreaking that we have become so jaded as to ignore the spiritual fruits blossoming there...
I'm all for taking time to delve into reported messages to question their validity. I'm all for eyeballing the visionaries under a microscope for even the faintest sliver of dishonesty. Above all, I'm in full support of making a decision - for yourself - on the truth of ANY supposed apparition.
What I am NOT okay with, however, is this suspicious attack on everything pertaining to Medjugorje. It seems as if folks are refusing to even discuss the possibility that Our Lady would come to us in such a manner. In fact, one of my least favorite arguments against Medjugorje is that Our Lady "prayed the Our Father" with the children. Of course, this was one of the first "SEE? Medjugorje HAS to be a fake!!!" Apparently the Blessed Mother reciting the Our Father is simply blasphemous. He was angry because Mary never had any trespasses to be forgiven, nor does she need "daily bread" since she's in Heaven. Obviously, for the Blessed Mother to utter such a prayer, Satan must be behind it!!!
I guess this guy (and all others who subscribe to this belief) forgets that Jesus, Himself, gave us that prayer. Would this fellow like to explain to me the trespasses Our Lord was guilty of? What "daily bread" was He in need of?
What people tend to forget is Our Lady, much like Christ, comes to us as an example of how we are to live our lives. A large part of our lives should be prayer, and what better example of prayer do we have than Our Lady? Her entire life was (and is) a prayer, magnifying her God in so perfect a way as to please Him eternally. Thus, if Our Lady prays the Our Father, calling us to follow her example, who are we to turn away?
Plus, Our Lady is full of humility - even in Heaven, she knows she would not exist if not for the Love of God. Thus, her "daily bread" is very much His Love, is it not?
And let us not forget that both Our Lord and Our Lady died. They BOTH suffered the effects of sin not because they were guilty of sin themselves. On the contrary... both were sinless from conception (or incarnation) until death. She understood that death was God's means to reunite humanity to Himself. Through death, eternal life once again becomes our inheritance. Thus, Our Lady followed the same path of Her Perfect Son, that she may offer even her death for the salvation of sinners.
Again... Mary is our perfect example.
We all need God. Yes, even the Mother of God. If the Queen of Heaven humbles herself to acknowledge this... to follow every example He gives, who are we to arrogantly place ourselves above her?
That is, by far, my least favorite argument against Medjugorje. It just doesn't make any sense. None. Of COURSE Our Lady would pray the Our Father... as should we all.
She was in the Church, standing before the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, heartbroken. In her hands, she carried a beautiful red rose perched precariously in a cracked, though ornate, vase. She openly wept, oblivious to the others milling about in awkward silence.
Finally, a gentle old woman, Rita, moved towards her, hoping to find the source of such heavy grief. Softly, the older woman placed her hand upon the crumpled body of the younger and asked, "Why are you crying?"
Looking up, almost confused by the question, she answered, "My tears humbly go where my words dare not." Bowing her head again, the tears fell full and fast.
Not content to leave such a gaping wound with no salve, Rita eyed the chipped vase cupped in those trembling hands. "Such a beautiful flower," she whispered.
"I broke it. The Blessed Mother gave it to me and I broke it."
Rita thought for a moment. "You haven't broken the flower, dear."
"No, but I broke its vase. It's leaking, and the rose is already starting to brown. I've pieced it back together so many times, but the cracks are too deep, the shards too many. All I can do is watch it die. So here I am, begging God to perform a miracle."
Rita smiled, then. The chapel florist, she knew a thing or two about flowers and vases. She affirmed, "Your flower truly is a gift. It is unique and special beyond compare. I believe Our Lady entrusted this to you because she knew the goodness of your heart. She knew you'd protect this rose, and she knew you'd come to God if ever you felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of nurturing such a special gift. And here you are."
"Yes. Here I am, still with a broken, bleeding vase."
"Ah, but here I am, too! You don't need a miracle; you need a remedy. I believe that I am your remedy. The gift is yours, and you've done well to nurture it all this time. Sometimes, however, we need help protecting those things most dear to us, even when we think the responsibility is solely ours. I can help with this."
Rita then pulled a handkerchief from her pocket. After dampening the cloth in a font, she gently removed the rose from its crippled vase. With deft fingers, she wound her cloth around the stem. She said, "This will keep your rose well guarded while you choose a new vase. It should be simple and strong. An ornate vase has too many parts that chip and fall away, and it detracts from the humble beauty of the flower itself."
Then, while handing the flower back to her, Rita added, "Showcase this rose for what it is... not for what you think it ought to be."
Grateful, the young woman nodded her head, dried her tears, and hurried to find a simple vase, having left the broken one at the Feet of the Lord. He and Saint Rita smiled gently after her.
News Photo of Our Lady of Zeitoun
I've always followed the stories of Fatima and Lourdes. Still follow the apparition accounts from Garaband From a young age, I was obsessed with the idea that Our Lady and Jesus still came back to earth to appear to lucky folks who were tasked with spreading their messages far and wide.
I also developed this desire to have apparitions, myself. I wanted to experience seeing Our Lady. My friend, Mary, and I would sit in front of a statue of the Child Jesus and swear His Eyes moved, or that His Hand twitched.
I remember one night, after seeing a documentary on Noah's Ark, I went to bed shaking in my boots because I was SURE God was going to appear to me. I cried into my pillow saying, "God, please don't come. I'm sorry. I'm scared to see You!"
I look back on that now and smile, shaking my head in disbelief at how my mind sometimes worked. I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade at the time, but my desire to (and fear of) seeing God hasn't really changed all that much. Ha ha ha.
The photo above was taken by a reporter for an Egyptian newspaper (still in business!) called Watani ("My Homeland"). For more information on that particular apparition, click the photo above. Turns out Our Lady has been appearing again in that part of the world in an apparent attempt to comfort the Coptics after a recent massacre they endured at the hands of their Muslim neighbors.
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I realized I harbored a jealousy towards those folks who have been bearing witness to these events. "How blessed are they!" I thought to myself. "How lucky to be able to have such concrete proof that God exists and is an active, willing participant in our lives!"
A thought then struck me, and I was both shamed and full of gratitude.
How blessed am I? THAT is the question I should have been cycling repeatedly in my mind. I never really needed to see an apparition of Christ (or His Mother) to accept His Presence. The Holy Spirit had opened my heart from a young age to simply accept God. I always felt His Presence. I always saw His Movements in my life. I never needed "physical confirmation" of my faith. And as He said to Thomas upon being prodded in disbelief, "Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (John 20: 29).
In all reality, I am blessed. Such a gift I was given, and I've just been taking it for granted. So many other folks struggle deeply with their faith. I may have struggled with certain aspects of my faith, but I never had to contend with atheism (or agnosticism). Faith is a gift, and the ability to see (some) of His Actions in my life was also a gift.
So instead of harboring even slight jealousies of these visionaries, I should instead count myself as one of the blessed to be able to see Christ in a different, most intimate way.
And once more, special thanks to the Holy Spirit for such a kind revelation. :)
“Jesus, I hand You over all my concerns in this matter in confidence so that the problem is now Yours to resolve according to Your most Holy Will.”
Just came across this prayer (given to a visionary by Jesus, Himself) and fell in love with it. I said it, laughing, because I have no doubt Jesus fully expects us to hand over issues and forget about them. After all, He's the master puzzle-maker. That makes Him the master puzzle-solver, too. :)
I remember, as a child, my sister would get so frustrated attempting to undo a knot in her shoes. She'd basically hurl the shoe at our mother and say "Ugh, fix this!" and my Mom would quickly untie the laces. I sometimes catch myself doing the same thing with John. Instead of laces, though, it's typically jars of sauce, sippy cup lids, or new bottles of apple juice. I get so frustrated with my inability to open these things that I basically toss the confounded things at him with a disgusted, "Open this before I take a hammer to it!"
I always feel a mix of laughter and irritation at the ease in which he opens the things I toss at him. I laugh because I realize immediately how stupid my anger was, and I'm irritated because it seemed so dang easy for John to do after all the struggling I endured. Ah well. It would be good to remember that Jesus is capable of handling even the toughest of jars, and with a lot more efficiency than John. Ha. So in all honestly, I think I'll be keeping this prayer about me a lot more often. It certainly gives me peace of mind considering their source. :)
Oh, and I think I may have spoken of this title of Our Lady's before, but just in case, this painting is of Mary, Undoer of Knots. The example of my mom reminded me of this. Our Lady is also wonderful at patiently unraveling the knots we create for ourselves (or the knots we've been given by others). When in doubt, lay your lamentations at her feet, and rest assured she'll calmly unlace them in her expert hands.
Though not my favorite painting of Our Lady, the title and the imagery used is definitely a top 10 contender. :)
See these three beauties? They're my other children - Piper, Zoey and Lucy. Piper and Lucy are sisters we found behind our work-building when they were about 5 weeks old. Zoey came two years later, a banged up kitten of 5 weeks with two impossibly broken legs and a horrible respiratory infection.
Anyway, I've had tabby cats all my life. I find them to be the most beautiful of all cats with their interesting markings and special relation to the Blessed Mother. What relationship is that? Well, there's a old legend that goes a little something like this:
The night Jesus was born, the air was very cold and damp. Little baby Jesus was shivering, and the Blessed Mother was unable to warm Him enough. Even the oxen who crowded around their God could not provide enough heat for Him. In walks a beautiful tabby cat who hops into Christ's cradle and curls up beside Him, sharing his warmth and lulling Him to sleep with constant purrs of love and gratitude. The little Christ-Child was soothed and warmed, and as a result of this act of kindness, the grateful Mother raised her hand in blessing over the humble creature.
This is why tabby cats are honored with the familiar "M" mark on their foreheads. It denotes the special blessing Our Lady imparted to them through the generosity of the small cat who wandered in to pay homage to his King.
Ever since hearing that story as a small child, I'd bless my tabbies by placing my thumb over the "M," thanking Our Lady for her blessing, then praying a Hail Mary over my furbaby asking for her continued protection. I'd repeat this every so often with ALL my tabbies. Zoey's my first cat who isn't a tabby. She's all black! Ha ha. So when I pray over my two girls with the familiar "thumb over the 'M' motion," I feel like I'm sorta leaving Zoey out of the mix. Of course I ask Our Lady to bless her, too, but it doesn't feel the same.
Ha ha. Ah well. I realize that's silly, but just something I was thinking about tonight after snuggling up with my girls. It reminded me to share the story of the Nativity Tabby with those of you who might not have known it otherwise! :)
They sky is absolutely beautiful this morning. Clear, with only a fluffy cloud here or there lazily floating about. It occurred to me that the sky matches a shade of blue I always refer to as "Blessed Mother Blue." It's calm, soothing and rich.
Another realization popped into my head, then. Of course it'd be Blessed Mother Blue. After all, Our Lady constantly protects us, covering us with her maternal mantle. That being the case, when we look up at the sky, all we see is her protective cover draped over us! That thought made me smile.
As I dwelt on that thought a bit longer, another slid in comfortably on its heels. We can only see the sun because of the unique properties of our sky. The sky (atmosphere) offers protection from the full effects of the sun since we, as humans, cannot withstand the glorious power behind that ginormous ball of light. Just as we could not withstand the glory of Christ on our own, the protection of Our Lady affords us the ability to appreciate the graces that reach us, while shielding us from those stronger, more ferocious rays that we are more than deserving of through our transgressions.
She really is the crystal that allows us to look at, study and appreciate God without blinding ourselves in the process. She is the key to understanding the mysteries of God's Love since she lived, expressed and still does express that Perfect Love in harmony with His Will.
Mmmmmm... it was a nice set of thoughts to have this morning. God forbid the day our skies ever lose this brilliant shade of blue. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for your constant intercession.
The Blessed Virgin is the spoiled child of the Blessed Trinity.
She knows no law. Everything yields to her in heaven and on earth.
The whole of heaven gazes on her with delight.
She plays before the ravished eyes of God himself.
The detail to your left is taken from a painting titled La Nascita della Vergine by Guido Reni. It depicts the joyous celebration of the birth of the Blessed Mother. All the women bubbling about in the picture are overjoyed for Sts. Joachim and Anne. Why? They had passed their childbearing years. They were considered to be infertile and cursed, and they pleaded with God to bless them with a child. After years of petitioning God through prayer and sacrifice, God blessed them with a child.
Boy did they not realize just what God had in store for them!!!
In their years pleading for God's aid, they were being prepared for a blessing incomprehensible! They were tasked (unwittingly) with bringing the Ark of the New Covenant into the world. Theirs was the responsibility of raising up the Mother of God... the Queen of Heaven... the Woman Clothed with the Sun! While they understood this child was, indeed, uniquely blessed, I wonder how aware they were of just how perfect and special she really was...
Can you imagine, though, what that day must have been like? Since God wanted to keep this most perfect gift a secret from even the angels themselves, I wonder how they reacted when St. Michael the Archangel was tasked with protecting this little one ('cause in my mind, St. Michael was always the Guardian of the Blessed Mother). Did St. Michael understand who it was that He protected? Did any of the Guardian angels that were present at her birth understand? Did they understand that this babe was their Queen? That she would bear forth God as Man?
Incredible. But all those present were probably blissfully unaware of the amazement of the angelic choirs surrounding them. None were aware of how God's own Heart must have rejoiced in this, His Most Perfect Creation... the creature called upon from all eternity to be His Mother, the bridge between human and divine.
Happy Feast Day, Blessed Mother. May the world rejoice in the promise of Life that you bring!
Hail Mary, Full of Grace!
We echo the most majestic greeting given to Our Lady by the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation. This greeting (reserved for royalty!) reminds us that we are addressing our prayer to the Queen of Heaven and Earth - of Love, Truth and Mercy Incarnate. She is full of Grace Itself as God takes refuge within her most holy womb.
The Lord is With Thee.
The angel, understanding this, awaited her "Fiat." As soon as she uttered her humble, trusting acceptance of God's plan, no doubt he knelt before her, adoring not the Blessed Mother, but the Child she then accepted into herself through the Holy Spirit. God had always surrounded this humble Virgin. He always resided joyfully within her heart and soul. Now, He took physical shape within her body, and henceforth they became inseparable in a wholly unique way.
Blessed are Thou Amongst Women
Here we are faced with the words given to Our Lady by both Angel Gabriel and her cousin, Elizabeth, during the first moments of the Visitation. Elizabeth, deeply moved by the Holy Spirit, cries out the Divine Revelation that Mary, her young cousin, unknown to any man, was the dignified spouse of God spoken of in Psalm 45, verse 17: I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever. Indeed, the Blessed Mother acknowledges her blessings once more through her Magnificat in stating "All generations shall call me blessed."
And Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus.
Ah, here we are at the exact center of the prayer. Who do we find? Jesus. After all, Jesus is at the center of all Mary is. Her very existence is to both bring Jesus into the world, and bring the world back into Jesus. Thus, at the center of even her most revered prayer, Jesus is the foundation on which it is built. Jesus was the reason for the angel's majestic greeting. Jesus was the reason for Elizabeth's inspired emotion. And it is through Mary's intercession that we hope to reach the heart of Jesus.
Yet we are also reminded that Jesus is both God and Man. He is, after all, a product of both God (the power of the Holy Spirit) and Man (through the Blessed Mother's physical bearing and tending). Thus, it is fitting to call Jesus the Blessed Fruit of HER womb. For as much as God did to create Himself within her, she also did her part in ensuring He grew and was born into the world safely.
Holy Mary, Mother of God
We acknowledge her unique place as Queen Mother (a topic I could devote several blog entries to!), and in doing so, trust that our next request is placed in capable and loving hands.
Pray for us Sinners now and at the Hour of Death.
Like children lost and in need of help, we turn to our Heavenly Mother for guidance and assistance. We understand that, as the Mother of God, her intercession is strong. She is not to be swayed, and knowing how much she loves her Son... how much she, too, sacrificed for the salvation of humanity, God cannot say "No" to her. Nor would He, as her intentions always reside peacefully within His Will.
The word "amen" is a Hebrew word meaning "Have faith and believe." Once we adopted this word for Christian use, we taped it onto the end of our prayers to add conviction. The "Amen" places our stamp of firm conviction on the Hail Mary, reaffirming our beliefs that the statements we make (and all the nuances they carry) are true. So true, in fact, that we would be willing to stake our lives on their validity.
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