Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Mary

What Made Our Lady Great?

May 29, 2013 by encourageandteach

By: Deacon Marques Silva

Many of us spend most of our lives attempting to climb the corporate ladder. Most of us strive after money in order to live life on our own terms – let’s be honest, it is good to be in charge. Status has its privileges, but Our Lord desires something more from us.

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Holy Naming

Holy Naming

By: Deacon Marques Silva

vianneyThinking of names for your future children or grandchildren? How about considering a saint’s name? May is typically a busy month for baptisms – at least in my parish. Many are surprised to discover that the custom of given children a Christian saint’s name may be traced back to the infancy of Christianity. It seems that people of what are now modern day France and Germany were among the first to begin this practice, which quickly spread throughout Europe. The name of Jesus has typically been held in reserve by almost all cultures, with the notable exception of the Spanish.

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Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter: Training for Love

The following is the homily I preached Sunday. For those who heard me preach, you will notice that you did not hear everything that follows. I tailor for the audience but I have shared it in its entirety.

It is impossible to miss the theme of love in our second reading and gospel today. And, to be honest, it is a controversial topic. Clergy sometimes shrink when they see that the “theme” or “topic” is love. There are just so many controversies and questions surrounding the word. Some of the more common questions of course are:

  • What is love?
  • It is a feeling?
  • Is it a choice?
  • Where does it begin and end?
  • Can I fall out of love?

I think that it is so hard to nail down the meaning because of our woundedness. The fact is that we have so many difficulties answering these questions because we have what CS Lewis would call “mercenary hearts.” He said it like this in, As the Ruin Falls:

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you. I never had a selfless thought since I was born. I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through: I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek, I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin: I talk of love –a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek– But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

What is the mercenary heart? It is the heart that always must have its way, in its time on its terms. If we take a moment in honest reflection, we would see that all of us are mercenaries concerning our relationships, but especially with God. We so often use the people around us to get what we want and our Lord is no different.

Do you remember when you first encountered God? Maybe it was at work camp, a youth conference, a sunrise that took your breath away – or for the mothers present here today, the moment when you saw and held your first-born. Regardless of the circumstance, we encountered Him and He changed our lives. We then pursued Him because of the feeling He gave us. We were excited about prayer. We were excited to learn about our faith. All these consolations flooded in and it sustained us…for a time. And, as time progressed, the feelings faded, the consolations ended until we arrived at the point where we say, “I’m here Lord…where are you.” St. Therese for 13 years, praying multiple times a day said that very statement.

It is at this point, the saints tell us, that love begins to grow. When there is nothing left. When we feel abandoned. When we are not getting our way.

Many times though we give up and give in. We act like that two year old who throws a tantrum because they are not getting their way. But the truth is – we need all the feelings and warm fuzzes to be taken away.

Love is choosing that relationship when there is no reason to choose, when it is not convenient, when it seems like the worse decision ever. Could you imagine if our mothers, when the baby woke up at 3:00 am, said, “Oh let him/her cry! I need my sleep. I tried to feed them at 5 pm, it is their fault they chose not to eat.” We would all say that her reply is ridiculous and we would be correct.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we should realize that our mothers have provided us with a practical example of how we are called to live out our lives of prayer. It is an example that teaches us to think less of ourselves and more about those whom we serve. At this point, we begin to combat our mercenary hearts. In our spiritual life, wherever we may be in the journey, we need to be:

  • Dedicated to prayer regardless of our feelings. Commit to a time and hold to it.
  • Ruthlessly honest with ourselves concerning our sins.
  • Generous in receiving the grace of reconciliation. We must allow the love of the Father to bathe us in His glory.

All these begin a life of virtue. Do you know what Brian’s, Perry’s, the entire youth ministry team and clergy’s greatest fear for you is? That those who have been entrusted to our care will never grow up. My Alma mater, Franciscan University, years ago struggled with the issue that when students graduated, a significant number left the Church. Their reasons were concerning their new or perhaps old parishes. They went like this:

  • The music is bad.
  • The homilies were too short.
  • I didn’t feel loved.
  • The talks were not entertaining.
  • The Church didn’t look like a Church.

All these “reasons”, are tell-tale signs of incredible immaturity. If any of us here struggle with these, it means that we are still seeking the gift and not the Giver. It means we like to be entertained and not do the work of a disciple. It means we have not yet learned to love.

What is important is what happens on this altar. That the King of the universe descends and is present among us. The spiritual life is not about entertainment. Youth ministry is not about entertaining you but training you to do the work of a disciple. It is boot camp before you are sent out into battle – whether you are ready or not. All activities we do have the singular goal of equipping you for heaven and evangelization.

Mary’s life was always about bringing Jesus to everyone she met. And that is more real than we probably could imagine. in fact, science tells us that when a mother is pregnant with he child some of the cells – even stem cells – remain in her for the rest of her rlife…And the same is true for all of you mothers present tonight. You will always carry your children within you…Mary truely brought Jesus to everyone because she was a living tabrenacle of His physical presence everywhere she went. We might even say that she was like a ciborium that still contained the fragments of the host that was just in it.

JRR Tolkien sums up the work of the spiritual life when writing to his son about how to make a good Holy Communion and grow in maturity. He wrote,

“make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children – from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn – open necked and dirty youths… Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand – after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.”

Jesus in the Gospel said, “Remain in my love” not cuddle with me. Love is a choice of sacrifice not fireworks and hugs. Our Lord’s example of love? The cross. Are you willing to persevere in love till it kills you?

Patronal Feast for St. Mary of Sorrows (Fairfax, VA)

Happy feast day to all the parishoners of St. Mary of Sorrows in Fairfax, Virginia. Today, is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows that celebrates its origin with the Order of the Servants of Mary or the Servite friars (Servites) in 1238. In fact, this is the principle devotion of the order. The devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows then was promulgated by the provincial synod of Cologne in 1413.

Two specific devotions have developed from the Servite spirituality which include:

May Our Lady richly bless you today!

 

The Holy Name of Mary

The Church, since 1684, celebrates today the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. This feast commerates the victory at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 during which the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Holy League) liberated the besieged Vienna on the fields of Kahlenberg. For the history buffs, this battle is noted as the largest calvary charge in history (20,000 men).

The Roman Martyrology speaks about this feast in the following terms:

The Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a day on which the inexpressible love of the Mother of God for her Holy Child is recalled, and the eyes of the faithful are directed to the figure of the Mother of the Redeemer, for them to invoke with devotion.[1]

John III Sobieski, King of Poland prior to the battle placed his troops under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To commerate this victory,
Pope Innocent XI inserted the feast in the General Roman Calendar, assigning to it the Sunday within the octave of the Nativity of Mary (8-15 September).
The feast was taken off the General Roman Calendar after the Second Vatican Council but restored in the Second Typical Edition of the Roman Missal.
Mary is the mirror of the Church. There is nothing that we can say about the Mary that we cannot say about the Church, and visa-versa. Her name is also said to be the terror of demons. At the sound of the Immaculate they flee from the one who by her own free will chose not to voluntary sin during her life. She is the proof that grace overcomes all and that the human person is capable of living a life free of sin by cooperating with the grace(s) of redemption.
May her name always be on our lips!

[1] “Martyrologium Romanum” (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)

Immaculate Birthdays

Many might ask why we honor the nativity or the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary on this feast day. While children around the globe held a birthday party for Our Lady, today is more than a celebration commemorating her birth.

The Nativity of Our Lady marks a decisive moment in human history. The first human being since Adam and Eve is born without the stain of Original Sin by way of an unmerited and singular act of divine grace. This divine act signaled the next movement of salvation history – the preparation for the Son of God to become a son of man so that, the sons of men may become sons of God.

We may thank Dun Scotus for providing a bit of insight into the how the Lord prepared this Daughter of Sion for her nativity. Author Daniel Joseph Barton summarizes it in this way:

Here’s an analogy of Mary’s Immaculate Conception: You are walking on a jungle path, and are approaching a covered up and camouflaged pit which is right in front of you. You fall in, and after a while a stranger comes by, reaches in, and pulls you out. You have mud all over your feet due to mud in the bottom of the pit. But the stranger had a bucket of water to wash your feet for you. On another path also with a hidden pit, a woman is walking. Just at the verge of tumbling over the edge of the pit, the same stranger grabs her and pulls her back from the edge. She too is saved from the pit and the mud, but in anticipation instead of after the fact. Both of you were saved from the pit and the mud (original sin) and both of you had a savior (God). But in the woman’s case, she was saved before being tainted. Hence Mary has every right to proclaim “God my savior”, even though she did not know about God’s special love for her.[1]

If that is not enough to give the glory to our Lord and His mother, maybe this might inspire us. The holy Father, reflecting on the line in the Magnificat that says,

All generations will call me blessed…

shares that this verse is not only prophetic but also a divine command. To not honor Our Lady is to disregard the admonition of Sacred Scripture. Much more could be said but that will suffice for today.

Anyway, just a few thoughts on our Lady’s birthday.


[1]Barton, D. (2007, January 07). My Belief in the Immaculate Conception Doctrine Part I). Retrieved from http://home.earthlink.net/~mysticalrose/barton1.html

The Glory of Mary

Well, in my diocese, the obligation has been dispensed for this beautiful Solemnity. That being said, don’t let that stop you from celebrating and proving the naysayers wrong by going to Mass.

The following reflection is provided to us by the Congregation for Clerics. Enjoy!

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Ap 11:19; 12: 6-10; Ps 44; 1 Cor 15:20-26; Lk 1:39-56)

The celebration of the Assumption is a day of joy, it is the feast of God’s greatness and of the greatness of man in Him. Today the Magnificat resonates joyfully, this extraordinary poem emerges from Mary’s heart and flourished on her lips. The Gospel canticle is a portrait of the Madonna, through which we can see her just as she is. It starts with the acclamation: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’ that really means ‘proclaims the greatness’ of the Lord. Mary wants God to be great in the world and in her personal life. She is not afraid that the Lord can be a rival, she doesn’t fear that God in His greatness may take something of her liberty away. Mary knows very well that, if God is great, then we are also great. Our life is not impoverished, rather it is elevated, enlarged and enriched by God’s greatness and becomes great in the glory of the Lord.

In the fact that our first parents thought the opposite, we precisely grasp the core of the original sin. They feared that, if God was too great, he would take something from their lives. They thought to put Him aside to have more space for themselves. This is also the great temptation of every man! This is also the great temptation of every ideology. However, where God disappears, man doesn’t become greater, rather he loses the divine dignity, the glow of heaven on his face. Only if God is great, then man is also great.

Mary’s joyous humility invites us to understand that it is this way. We must beware of distancing ourselves from God. We are better to recognise that we are great in His presence and so we must ensure that He becomes important in our lives! It is important therefore that God is great also between us in both our private and public lives. Like Mary, we must make space every day for the Lord in our lives, starting with ones prayer and giving time to God. We don’t lose our time if we offer it to Him. If the Lord enters ‘our’ time, all our time becomes fuller and richer. Our poor time becomes God’s time and touches eternity!

Today’s Solemnity reveals to us that God, in Christ, has definitively overcome and won the time and space for man, introducing him into His eternity. Our ‘eternity’ is based on his merciful love. He who is loved by God and welcomes His love doesn’t ever die. In Him, in His thoughts and His love we are always preserved and therefore become immortal in all our personal being. This love is the bearer of the immortality that we call ‘heaven’. God is so great as to have a place also for us. This is the meaning of the dogmatic expression of the ‘bodily Assumption into heaven’ of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The faith doesn’t promise only the salvation of the soul but announces the eternal value of what occurred on this earth. Nothing that is precious and dear to us is lost: ‘But even the hairs on your head are numbered.’ (Mt 10:30)

This truth that gives us a profound joy today: the Most Holy Virgin Mary, with her Assumption into heaven, testifies to the authentic meaning of our existence.

God has assumed into heavenly glory Her who was given to us by the Son at the foot of the cross. The Virgin Mary is close to each of us and she knows our heart, she listens to our prayers and she is close to us in our necessities and sustains us with her maternal goodness.

We can always trust our entire lives to this sweet Mother. We thank the Lord for the gift of His masterpiece, the heavenly Mother assumed into glory and we pray so that the Church, by showing Mary’s beauty, may help mankind to recognise his own unprecedented dignity that is reflected in God’s majesty.

Journeying through the Day with the Mother of God

After the Divine Office, many mark the day through the recitation of the Angelus. Now that we have entered Eastertide (Easter to Pentecost) we pray the Regina Caeli (To be more precise, it is prayed from Holy Saturday through Eastertide). It is most common to recite it at noon but also very appropriate at 6am and 6pm.

The author of the Regina Caeli is unknown but has been used since the twelfth century. Wikipedia (no comments) shares that,

It was in Franciscan use, after Compline, in the first half of the following century. Legend has it that St Gregory the Great heard angels chanting the first three lines one Easter morning in Rome, while following barefoot in a great religious procession the icon of the Virgin painted by Luke the Evangelist. He was thereupon inspired to add the fourth line.

This is a beautiful tradition to mark time throughout our day.

Regina Caeli: English and Latin

Queen of Heaven

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Regina caeli

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Looking for some Spiritual Back-up

So, today my ministry needs some spiritual reinforcements.  I hope that you can join me to pray that the power of the Holy Spirit would descend upon me and the team that I am working with as pray for healing of a dear friend.

Also, wanted to share this picture by Carvaggio provided by Dom Mark Daniel Kirby at Vultus Christi.

Caravaggio’s Madonna dei Palafrenieri, first exhibited in Saint Peter’s Basilica in 1606, is wonderfully disturbing. While Grandmother Saint Anne looks on, the Virgin Mother Mary allows the Child Jesus to place His little foot on top of hers; together the Mother and the Child crush the head of the serpent under their feet. The nakedness of the Child Jesus suggests that He is indeed the New Adam who, by His innocence, inaugurates a new creation: the Kingdom of God where only little children are allowed to enter.

Please join me in the following two prayers:

St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

Prayer to Mary, Queen of the Angels

August Queen of Heaven!
Sovereign Mistress of the angels!
Thou who from the beginning
hast received from God
the power and mission to crush the head of Satan,
we humbly beseech thee
to send thy holy Legions,
that, under thy command
and by thy power,
they may pursue the evil spirits,
encounter them on every side,
resist their bold attacks
and drive them hence into the abyss of eternal woe.  Amen

Thank you for the prayer support! This Deacon dearly needs committed prayer warriors to assist him. I will remember all of you today in prayer.

Prayer to Our Lady, Queen of the Angels

I like this one…

August Queen of Heaven!
Sovereign Mistress of the angels!
Thou who from the beginning
hast received from God
the power and mission to crush the head of Satan,
we humbly beseech thee
to send thy holy Legions,
that, under thy command
and by thy power,
they may pursue the evil spirits,
encounter them on every side,
resist their bold attacks
and drive them hence into the abyss of eternal woe.

Amen.