Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

Today a Savior has been born for you.  ~Luke 2:11

Today, in the city of David, the Savior of the world is born for us: he is Christ the Lord. That city is Bethlehem. We must run there as the shepherds did when they heard these tidings, and so put into action the words we traditionally sing at this season: They sang of God’s glory, they hastened to Bethlehem.

And this shall be a sign for you: you will find the child wrapped in swaddling bands and lying in a manger. Now this is what I say: you must love. You fear the Lord of angels, yes, but love the tiny babe; you fear the Lord of majesty, yes, but love the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes; you fear him who reigns in heaven, yes, but love him who lies in the manger.

What sort of sign were the shepherds given? You will find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. It was by this that they were to recognize their Savior and Lord. But is there anything great about being wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a stable—are not other children also wrapped in swaddling clothes? What kind of sign, then, can this be?

Indeed it is a great one, if only we understand it rightly. Such understanding will be ours if this message of love is not restricted to our hearing, but if our hearts too are illuminated by the light which accompanied the appearance of the angels. The angel who first proclaimed the good tidings appeared surrounded by light to teach us that only those whose minds are spiritually enlightened can truly understand the message.

Much can be said of this sign; but as time is passing, I shall say little, and briefly.

Bethlehem, the house of bread, is holy Church, in which is distributed the body of Christ, the true bread.

The manger at Bethlehem is the altar of the church; it is there that Christ’s creatures are fed. This is the table of which it is written, You have prepared a banquet for me.

In this manger is Jesus, wrapped in the swaddling clothes which are the outward form of the sacraments. Here in this manger, under the species of bread and wine, is the true body and blood of Christ.

We believe that Christ himself is here, but he is wrapped in swaddling clothes; in other words, he is invisibly contained in these sacraments.

We have no greater or clearer proof of Christ’s birth than our daily reception of his body and blood at the holy altar, and the sight of him who was once born for us of a virgin daily offered in sacrifice for us.
And so let us hasten to the manger of the Lord. But before drawing near we must prepare ourselves as well as we can with the help of his grace; and then, in company with the angels, with pure heart, good conscience, and unfeigned faith, we may sing to the Lord in all that we do throughout the whole of our life: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

~Aelred of Rievaulx (1109-67), Sermon 2 on Christmas

What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life --
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
what was with the Father and was made visible to us --
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.
~1John 1:1-4
O Adorable Jesus, Blessed and Holy Bread of Life, with all my heart I give You thanks for You alone are my life and my joy!  Amen!   Alleluia!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Feast of St. Stephen

Lullaby by Wislawa Kwiatkowska
Ave Maria! Today I am posting the above image by Wislawa Kwiatkowska of our Blessed Mother with the Divine Child because it ties in so well with today's feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr for Christ.  If you look carefully at the background behind Jesus and Mary, you will see at least half a dozen crosses.  The Child of Joy, whose birth gladdens our hearts, does not wipe out the sorrow and suffering of the world.  He will grow into the Man of Sorrows and die upon a common cross, redeeming us of all our sinfulness and evil.  Only those who are willing to die for him as St. Stephen did will be able to say with Christ's first martyr, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56).  Most of us will not be stoned to death with the sort of huge boulders that crushed and killed Stephen, but we will have to endure the pebbles and other smaller rocks of the sufferings that will befall us as we strive to live a life in keeping with our Lord's Gospel.  Jesus warns us that we will be hated because of his name (Matt 10:22), and often those who persecute and hurt us the most will be those within our own family and church.  But we also have Christ's blessed assurance that if we to endure to the end, we will be saved (Matt 10:22).  And we have St. Stephen's shining example to help us keep calling out to our  Savior as he did: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" (Acts 7:59). 

Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary!
Grant, Lord, we pray, that we may imitate what we worship, and so learn to love even our enemies, for we celebrate the heavenly birthday of a man who knew how to pray even for his persecutors.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.  ~Collect, Mass for the Feast of St. Stephen

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Joy and Blessings to One and All!!!

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst

Today a light will shine upon us,
for the Lord is born for us;
and he will be called
Wondrous God,
Prince of Peace,
Father of future ages:
and his reign will be without end.
The Nativity of the Lord
Entrance Antiphon, At the Mass at Dawn

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, as we are bathed in the new radiance
of your incarnate Word,
the light of faith,
which illumines our minds,
may also shine through in our deeds.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The Nativity of the Lord
Collect, At the Mass at Dawn


P.S.  Isn't that lovely, the happy smile on the young shepherd's face as he turns excitedly to the shepherd behind him who is doffing his hat?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve


For the Night of Christmas

Let us ask the Lord
to grant us the grace
of looking upon the crib this night
with the simplicity of the shepherds,
so as to receive the joy
with which they returned home.
Let us ask him to give us the humility and the faith
with which St. Joseph looked upon the child
that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Let us ask the Lord to let us look upon him
with that same love with which Mary saw him.
And let us pray that in this way
the light that the shepherds saw will shine upon us too,
and that what the angels sang that night
will be accomplished throughout the world:
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men
with whom he is pleased."

~Pope Benedict XVI

The Prayer of the Donkey

O God, who made me
to trudge along the road
to carry heavy loads
and to be beaten
Give me great courage and gentleness.
One day let somebody understand me --
that I may no longer want to weep
because I can never say what I mean
and they make fun of me.
Let me find a juicy thistle --
and make them give me time to pick it.
And, Lord, one day, let me find again
my little brother of the Christmas crib.

~from Prayers from the Ark by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holding fast like Mary, with Mary...

O God, eternal majesty,
whose ineffable Word
the immaculate Virgin received
through the message of an Angel
and so became the dwelling-place of divinity,
filled with the light of the Holy Spirit,
grant, we pray, that by her example
we may in humility hold fast to your will.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

~Collect for December 20 from The Roman Missal
Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, teach me your humility that I may always hold fast to the Father's will.  Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Your prayer has been heard..."

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John." ~Luke 1:13

Ave Maria!  When I came to the above verse from today's Gospel (Lk 1:5-25), I recalled the catechesis on prayer that Pope Benedict XVI gave last Wednesday (view here), in which he reflected on the prayer of Jesus in the story of Lazarus, who had died and for whom our Lord grieved and prayed.  This prayer of Jesus, the Holy Father teaches us, "is a prayer that manifests once again His unique relationship of knowledge and communion with the Father."  Pondering  Christ's filial relationship with the Father, the Holy Father continues:

"Dear brothers and sisters, in reading this narrative each one of us is called to understand that in the prayer of petition to the Lord, we must not expect an immediate fulfillment of our requests, of our will; rather, we must entrust ourselves to the Father’s Will, interpreting each event within the perspective of His glory, of His design of love, which is often mysterious to our eyes.

"This is why -- in our prayer -- petition, praise and thanksgiving should coalesce, even when it seems to us that God is not responding to our concrete expectations. Abandonment to God’s love, which precedes and accompanies us always, is one of the attitudes at the heart of our conversation with Him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church comments in this way on Jesus’ prayer in the account of the raising of Lazarus: 'Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits Himself to the One who in giving gives Himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; He is the "treasure"; in Him abides His Son’s heart; the gift is given "as well"' (Matthew 6:21 and 6:33) (2604).

"This seems to me to be very important: before the gift is given, to adhere to Him who gives; the Giver is more precious than the gift. Also for us, then, beyond what God gives us when we call upon Him, the greatest gift He can give us is His friendship, His presence, His love. He is the precious treasure we should ask for and treasure always."
We really don't know much about Zechariah and his own prayer, other than the fact that his prayer was indeed answered -- and magnificently so! -- but that he also doubted for he did not believe the angel's words that his prayer had been heard.  In our "Zechariah moments," it is good to recall the Holy Father's reminder that "Jesus’ example teaches us that in our own prayers we must always trust in the Father’s will and strive to see all things in the light of his mysterious plan of love."
Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, teach me to trust in the Father's will as you did.  Amen.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

4th Sunday of Advent

You shall conceive and bear a son. ~Luke :31

Today’s reading of the gospel calls to mind the beginning of our redemption, for the passage tells us how God sent an angel from heaven to a virgin.

He was to proclaim the new birth, the incarnation of God’s Son, who would take away our age-old guilt; through him it would be possible for us to be made new and numbered among the children of God.

And so, if we are to deserve the gifts of the promised salvation, we must listen attentively to the account of its beginning.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

What is said of the house of David applies not only to Joseph but also to Mary. It was a precept of the law that each man should marry a wife from his own tribe and kindred.

Saint Paul also bears testimony to this when he writes to Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel. Our Lord is truly descended from David, since his spotless mother took her ancestry from David’s line.

The angel came to her and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David.”

The angel refers to the kingdom of the Israelite nation as the throne of David because in his time, by the Lord’s command and assistance, David governed it with a spirit of faithful service. The Lord God gave to our Redeemer the throne of his father David, when he decreed that he should take flesh from the lineage of David.

As David had once ruled the people with temporal authority, so Christ would now lead them to the eternal kingdom by his spiritual grace. Of this kingdom the Apostle said: He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.

He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever. The house of Jacob here refers to the universal Church which, through its faith in and witness to Christ, shares the heritage of the patriarchs. This may apply either to those who are physical descendants of the patriarchal families, or to those who come from gentile nations and are reborn in Christ by the waters of baptism.

In this house Christ shall reign for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

During this present life, Christ rules in the Church. By faith and love he dwells in the hearts of his elect, and guides them by his unceasing care toward their heavenly reward.

In the life to come, when their period of exile on earth is ended, he will exercise his kingship by leading the faithful to their heavenly country. There, for ever inspired by the vision of his presence, their one delight will be to praise and glorify him.

~from a homily on Advent by St. Bede

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mary, "a kind of sacrament"

Mary is the woman who does not see herself, unless it be in Christ and, through Him, in humanity; by giving birth to Jesus, who is the Son of God and the Son of Man, she gave birth to humanity. In the fiat of the Annunciation is the adherence of every one of us.

That is why no being is as permeable to the love of Christ as is the Blessed Virgin. That is why, as Dante says, she is the daughter of her Son. She is born of her Son, according to divine life, and that is why she was born of Him as He could be born of her.

This is precisely the reason why the Most Blessed Virgin remains a way of light to Jesus for us. It is a fact that it is impossible not to love the Blessed Virgin when we love Christ...

The Most Blessed Virgin is a kind of sacrament, the sacrament of God's tender love for us, for God is as much a father as a mother; and besides, she is especially the Mother of Christ in us.

For Mary's motherhood is not a motherhood in time, it is a motherhood in eternity because she conceived in a total and absolute gift of herself, because she adopted us all in this acceptance of Jesus within her entire being. There is no end to her motherhood. She is the one who is the Mother of Christ in our lives; that is her role throughout eternity.

Hence, it is absolutely natural for us to expose ourselves to the radiant influence of the Blessed Virgin in order to receive from her this Christ she is eternally responsible for bring to life in us. This is a wonderful and infallible gesture. It is impossible to turn ourselves to the Blessed Virgin without reaching Christ through her for, since she has nothing, she can only lead us to Him.

To follow that road is to follow the very order of the Incarnation since it is through Mary that Jesus entered the world. It is always through Mary that Christ will enter into our souls; and the most amazing part of our trust in this inexhaustible motherhood of the Blessed Virgin is that we can at every moment avail ourselves of the love of the Blessed Virgin and offer it to our Lord.

~Father Maurice Zundel in With God in Our Daily Life

Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, I follow you because I know you will lead me to your beloved  Son, Jesus, whom you carried in your womb with love beyond all telling.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Feast Day of St. John of the Cross

Never fail, whatever may befall you, be it good or evil, to keep your heart quiet and calm in the tenderness of love.  ~St. John of the Cross in The Living Flame of Love

Ave Maria!  This morning I woke up remembering the above words from the writings of St. John of the Cross.  They've been stored in my spiritual survival kit for over 30 years now, and they speak more than ever to my inmost heart.  St. John suffered terribly at the hands of his brothers in religious life who vehemently opposed his reformations to the Carmelite Order.  They even captured him and threw him into prison, where he wrote one of the world's greatest and most famous spiritual poems, "The Dark Night of the Soul."  Later, this remarkable mystic of burning love wrote a treatise on this poem, all of which can be found here.  I don't easily gravitate to some of what St. John says, but I always listen to him because his words were purified by that Living Flame of Love which consumed his entire being, Christ Crucified, his only Lord and Master.

Forget creation,
Remember the Creator,
Seek within,
There forever be loved by the Lover.
~St. John of the Cross

Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, teach me to seek within that I may find the true Lover.  Amen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?

~Words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, Dec. 12, 1531

Dearest Mary, thank you for being our Mother Most Wonderful!  Amen!  Alleluia!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Third Sunday of Advent

There stands among you, unknown to you, the one who is coming after me.  ~John 1:26

Into the theological plan of his gospel John the evangelist draws John the Baptist; deep calls to deep at the utterance of divine mysteries. We hear the evangelist relating the story of the forerunner, the man whose gift it was to know the Word as he was in the beginning, speaking to us of the one who was commissioned to go ahead of the Word made flesh.

There was, says the evangelist, not simply a messenger of God, but a man.

This he said in order to distinguish the man who shared only the humanity of the one he heralded from the man who came after him, the man who united godhead and manhood in his own person.

The evangelist’s intention was to differentiate between the fleeting voice and the eternally unchanging Word. The one, he would suggest, was the morning star appearing at the dawning of the kingdom of heaven, while the other was the Sun of Justice coming in its wake.

He distinguished the witness from the one to whom he testified, the messenger from him who sent him, the lamp burning in the night from the brilliant light that filled the whole world, the light that dispelled the darkness of death and sin from the entire human race.

So then, the Lord’s forerunner was a man, not a god; whereas the Lord whom he preceded was both man and God. The forerunner was a man destined to be divinized by God’s grace, whereas the one he preceded was God by nature, who, through his desire to save and redeem us, lowered himself in order to assume our human nature.

A man was sent. By whom? By the divine Word, whose forerunner he was.

To go before the Lord was his mission. Lifting up his voice, this man called out: The voice of one crying in the wilderness! It was the herald preparing the way for the Lord’s coming.

John was his name; John to whom was given the grace to go ahead of the King of Kings, to point out to the world the Word made flesh, to baptize him with that baptism in which the Spirit would manifest his divine sonship, to give witness through his teaching and martyrdom to the eternal light.

~John Scotus Erigena (c. 810-77)

Dear Jesus living in Mary, let me be Your voice, let me reflect Your light.  Amen.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Waiting in Mary-darkness

I live my Advent in the womb of Mary,
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
with hope’s expectance of nativity.

I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
someone is hidden in this dark with me.

~"Advent" by Jessica Powers aka Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

As a merciful Mother, Mary is the anticipated figure and everlasting portrait of the Son. Thus, we see that the image of the Sorrowful Virgin, of the Mother who shares her suffering and her love, is also a true image of the Immaculate Conception. Her heart was enlarged by being and feeling together with God. In her, God's goodness came very close to us.

Mary thus stands before us as a sign of comfort, encouragement and hope. She turns to us, saying: "Have the courage to dare with God! Try it! Do not be afraid of him! Have the courage to risk with faith! Have the courage to risk with goodness! Have the courage to risk with a pure heart! Commit yourselves to God, then you will see that it is precisely by doing so that your life will become broad and light, not boring but filled with infinite surprises, for God's infinite goodness is never depleted!"

On this Feast Day, let us thank the Lord for the great sign of his goodness which he has given us in Mary, his Mother and the Mother of the Church. Let us pray to him to put Mary on our path like a light that also helps us to become a light and to carry this light into the nights of history. Amen.

~Pope Benedict XVI, 12/8/05
Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, grant me a share of your courage that, like you and with you, I may dare with God, whose "infinite goodness is never depleted."  Amen!  Alleluia!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Memory and Hope

"Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.…It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."

~Pope Benedict XVI

I think of the days of long ago,
and remember the years long past.
At night I muse within my heart.
I ponder, and my spirit questions.
~Psalm 77(76):6-7

In you I hope all day long
because of your goodness, O Lord.
~Psalm 25(24):5

Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, awaken in me the memory of your Divine Child, the Dayspring from on High, whose birth is the dawn of everlasting hope. Amen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How beautiful...!

Ave Maria!  As with all its issues, the December 2011 Magnificat is packed with spiritual goodies in abundance.  These two petitions from today's "Prayer for Morning" particularly caught my attention:
For those who have lost sight of your guiding light amid the lesser lights of the commercial Christmas season:  lead us all into the light of your presence and the path of your promise.

For those who have been deafened to your word by the clamor of other voices:  open their hearts to hear and follow your voice.
And then, this lovely verse from the song for "Prayer for Morning," which can be sung to the tune used for "All Glory, Laud and Honor":
How beautiful His footsteps
Upon the mountainside.
The King comes for His kingdom,
The Bridegroom for His bride.
How radiant His aspect!
How steady is His gaze!
How silent all rebellion!
How loud the angels' praise.
~From Hymns for the Liturgical Year, CanticaNOVA Publications
If you don't subscribe to Magnificat, please do consider giving yourself a subscription as a Christmas gift that you can unwrap, enjoy and savor all year long.  It is truly a magnificent spiritual feast for the soul!
Dear Mary, Virgin of Advent, who carried the Divine Child in your womb with love beyond all telling, help us to seek His light, to listen for His voice.  Amen.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent

Prepare a way for the Lord. ~Isaiah 40:3

Let us examine the scriptural texts foretelling the coming of Christ. One such prophecy begins with a reference to John the Baptist: The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight. What follows, however, applies directly to our Lord and Savior, since it is by Jesus rather than by John that every valley has been filled in.

You have only to recall the kind of people you were before you put your faith in the Lord to see yourselves as deep valleys, as pits plunging precipitously into the lowest depths. But now that the Lord Jesus has come and has sent the Holy Spirit in his name, all your valleys have been filled in with good works and the Holy Spirit’s fruits.

Love no longer tolerates the presence of valleys in your lives; if peace, patience, and goodness find a home in you, not only will each of you cease to be a valley but you will actually begin to be a mountain of God.

Among the pagans we daily see this prophetic filling of every valley realized, just as among the people of Israel, now deprived of their former privileged status, we see the overthrowing of every mountain and hill. But because of their offense, salvation has come to the pagans, to stir Israel to emulation.

If you prefer you can visualize these fallen mountains and hills as the hostile powers that formerly raised themselves up in opposition to the human race. Such an interpretation is legitimate because, in order to fill in the kind of valleys we have been speaking of, the enemy powers—the mountains and hills—must be laid low.

Now let us turn to that part of the prophecy which also concerns the coming of Christ and see whether this too has been fulfilled. The text continues: Every crooked way shall be straightened. Each one of us was once crooked; if we are no longer so, it is entirely due to the grace of Christ. Through his coming to our souls all our crooked ways have been straightened out.

If Christ did not come to your soul, of what use would his historical coming in the flesh be to you? Let us pray that each day we may experience his coming and be able to say: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

Jesus my Lord has come, then. He has smoothed out your rough places and changed your disorderly ways into level paths, making in you an even unimpeded road, a road that is absolutely clear, so that God the Father may walk in you and Christ the Lord make his dwelling in you and say: My Father and I will come and make our home in them.

~Origen, 183-253, one of the greatest thinkers of ancient times, became head of the catechetical school of Alexandria at the age of eighteen. In 230 he was ordained priest by the bishop of Caesarea. His life was entirely devoted to the study of Scripture and he was also a great master of the spiritual life. His book On First Principles was the first great theological synthesis. Many of his works are extant only in Latin as a result of his posthumous condemnation for heterodox teaching. Nevertheless, in intention he was always a loyal son of the Church.

Dear Jesus, living in Mary, strengthen me to do whatever road work You ask of me this Advent so that I may prepare Your way.  And let me leave aside my hard hat so that You may penetrate not only my head but also my heart, filling every valley of mine with Yourself, our Emmanuel.  Amen.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Learning to Pray

"In our catechesis on prayer, we now turn to Jesus, who by his own example most fully reveals the mystery of Christian prayer. A significant moment in this regard is Jesus’ prayer following his Baptism, which expresses his both his deepest identity as the Son of God and his solidarity with the sinful humanity whom he came to save. Jesus’ prayer reflects his complete, filial obedience to the Father’s will, an obedience which would lead him to death on the Cross for the redemption of our sins. With his human heart, Jesus learned to pray from his Mother and from the Jewish tradition, yet the source of his prayer is his eternal communion with the Father; as the incarnate Son, he shows us perfectly how to pray as children of the heavenly Father. Jesus’ example of fidelity to prayer challenges us to examine the time and effort we devote to our own prayer. While prayer is a gift of God, it is also an art learned through constant practice. Jesus teaches us to pray constantly, but also to bear witness before others of the beauty of prayer, self-surrender and complete openness to God."

~Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 11/30/11

Ave Maria!  The Holy Father says something that I tend to forget:  "With his human heart, Jesus learned to pray from his Mother."  As a child, I learned to pray from my parents, from my dear Mummie and Daddy.  And I am still learning to pray for I am still a child -- childlike, that is, not childish.  So why would I not let Mary, the Mother of Jesus and my own "Mother Most Wonderful," along with her Beloved Son, teach me to pray?  We frequently say, "Lord, teach us to pray," but how often do we ask the same of our Blessed Mother?

Dearest Jesus and Mary, thank you for teaching me to pray.  Please help me to eagerly and gladly keep learning from you the gift and the art, the beauty and the joy of prayer, of eternal communion with the Father who loves us so much.  Amen.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Silence of Mary

Holy Mary, Mother of God, you who treasured all things and pondered them carefully in your heart, teach us that deep, interior silence which enfolded you throughout your lifetime ~

the silence of the Annunciation, of faith, mission and obedience;

the silence of the Visitation, of humility, service and praise;

the silence of Bethlehem, of birth, incarnation and wonder;

the silence of the flight into Egypt, of perseverance, hope and trust;

the silence of Nazareth, of simplicity, intimacy and communion;

the silence of Mt. Calvary, of courage, death and abandonment;

the silence of Easter, of resurrection, jubilation and glory;

the silence of Ascension, of fulfillment, transformation and new crea-tion;

the silence of Pentecost, of peace, power and love.
Dearest Mary, in your wisdom, teach us that silence which enables us to listen to the small, still voice of our God; which compels us to worship Him alone in spirit and in truth; which empowers us to acknowledge our nothingness and exult confidently in our Savior; which frees us to lose ourselves in unceasing adoration of the God who is Infinite Love. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and always, that we may enter into that silence of yours which unites us to Jesus, your Son, in the mystery of His silence before the Father of mercies. Amen.

Copyright 1993 ~ Alice Claire Mansfield