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Archive for the ‘Blessed Virgin Mary’ Category

The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a little habit. It is the Blessed Mother’s habit. The Brown Scapular is an outward sign of the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our sister, mother and queen. It is a symbol of her protection given to the Carmelite Order which includes all its members and associates. Anyone who wears the scapular and practices the spirituality of the Carmelite Order has an affiliation to the Carmelite family and shares in the graces traditionally associated with the Brown Scapular.

Wearing the scapular indicates that the wearer, devoted to Mary, will follow Mary by living a deep interior life. The Blessed Mother is our model for the contemplative life. She is the ideal of this life consecrated to seeking God and toward an intimate union with Him. Everyone who wishes to imitate Mary will soon realize that her soul was a beautiful garden of virtues. Silence and peace reigned in her soul even amidst the turmoil of the world around her. We too must strive for this interior peace and silence.

Silence and peace in the soul comes when the noise of our passions and attachments have ceased within us. This comes with a habit. St. Teresa of Jesus exhorts us in this truth when she wrote, “Remember the importance of habit and of starting to realize what a serious thing it is to offend God.”  She reminds us that God is within our soul, and we should take great care in avoiding all occasions of sin and anything else that might keep us from growing closer to Him.  Even with this determination we can fail from time to time due to weakness and not having confidence in God. However we should remember “the Lord will help us and the habits we have formed will be of assistance to us so that we shall not offend him; we shall be able to walk in holy freedom.” (Way of Perfection, ch 41)

Detachment and control of the passions can help our soul to be like Mary’s – silent and solitary- and filled with the presence of God.


“O, Mary, Beauty of Carmel, make me worthy of your protection, clothe me with your scapular, and be the teacher of my interior life.” (Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)

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Eastern Orthodox icon of the Praises      of the Theotokos

Before ending this month of May devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a remembrance of the Holy Mother as the day ends seems to be a good thing to recall for those of us devoted to the Virgin.

As Seculars we are exhorted to “try to recite Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer of the Hours in union with the Church spread throughout the world. When it is possible they will also recite Night Prayer.” (Constitutions III, 24)

Night Prayer, also known as Compline, is said as the last prayer of the day. It is at this time that a brief examen of the day is also to take place. At the end of this prayer there is a hymn to the Blessed Mother. The breviary lists several popular Marian hymns to choose from.

During the Easter season the Regina Coeli is appropriate and can be sung throughout Eastertide and through Pentecost. During Ordinary time the Salve Regina or Hail Holy Queen is an appropriate night time hymn. The Advent season is a good time for focusing on the Alma Redemprois Mater which beautifully connects the Incarnation theme of that part of the liturgical year and can be recited until February 2nd (Candlemas). Then from Candlemas to the end of Lent, the Ave Regina Coelorum is most fitting. For more on the singing of these seasonal Marian hymns go here. To hear these check out the chants here.

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Next to Mary St. Joseph is the second greatest saint. He is a saint we can imitate. Through our devotion to this great saint we can renew our desires to be faithful. What was St. Joseph like? What is there to imitate?

St. Joseph, according to what we know of him in Scripture, never said anything. He is a man of great silence. Instead we see him simply doing the Lord’s commands. The angel told him to take Mary as his wife and to not be afraid. This is what this just man did. He loved Mary and was self-sacrificing and generous.

He was also obedient. In Matthew’s Gospel we are told that “when Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” and took Mary as his wife. Joseph was also obedient to the commands of the legitimate secular authorities. Luke chapter 2 says, “ That a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.” “And Joseph also went up from Galilee… to Judea, to the city of David… to be enrolled with Mary.” He was also familiar with poor and lowly conditions as he witnessed the birth of Jesus that took place in Bethlehem where Mary “gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2: 1-7)

St. Joseph spoke the holy name of Jesus. Luke 2:21 tells us that at his circumcision, “ he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived”. By doing this St. Joseph proclaimed the mission of his foster son as Savior! Jesus will save us from our sins. We too can speak His name like St. Joseph remembering that “there is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved”. (Acts 4:12)

Like St. Joseph and Mary we can marvel at what was said about Jesus and at what He says when we read the sacred scriptures and hear Him preached. St. Joseph, along with Mary, most certainly did this. When they took the infant Jesus up to the Temple, Simeon referred to the child as the salvation which God had “prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of the people of Israel”. (Luke 2:31-32) The child was also to be a “sign that is spoken against.” (verse 34)  It is God’s will that all be saved and have access to the Father through His son, Jesus Christ, and to become sharers in the Divine nature. It is at this moment that St. Joseph was reminded of his mission to be the first guardian of this mystery. Later when Jesus was twelve years old and “ supposing him to be in their company… they sought him.” (Lk 2: 43-44) Then after much searching they found him in the temple. Mary speaks. Again Joseph is silent. “Your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” (verse 48)  Mary’s concern is for St. Joseph. Jesus reminds St. Joseph once again, as he contemplates the situation, that he is the guardian of that mystery foretold by Simeon – that Jesus is to save people and to be that “light to the Gentiles” – when Jesus replies that he “must be in my Father’s house.” We too, like St. Joseph, are guardians of this Divine mystery.

St. Joseph was the head of the Holy Family, and it was his job to protect his family by fleeing from dangerous situations. When Herod was searching for the child to destroy him, St. Joseph rose and took the infant Jesus and his mother to Egypt. As a father it was St. Joseph’s mission to protect, lead and head the family. Later when things had calmed down with Herod, he took the child and his mother back to Nazareth.  “The child grew and become strong, filled with wisdom: and the favor of God was upon him.” (Luke 2: 40) During these hidden years the whole family lived the hidden human virtues we are all called to live. Simple, humble virtues like: work, religion, family life and activities. These virtues are ways to sanctify our daily lives. There is nothing great here, just ordinary things done daily and lived authentically. St. Joseph can help us with his intercession to live our ordinary family days with devotion and growth in the human virtues, especially the virtue of work.

We can imitate St. Joseph and renew our desires to be faithful. We can strive to be obedient, generous and self-sacrificing. We can be devoted to our family by protecting them and growing daily in the human virtues. We can be silent and marvel at all that Jesus has said and done and is still doing for the salvation of souls. Finally we can guard the mission of Jesus by proclaiming his holy name and praying for the salvation of souls.

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The Virgin, weighed

with the Word of God

comes down the road:

if only you’ll shelter her.

~St. John of the Cross

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Eucharist-consecration-150x150

The mission of the priest is to mediate between God and man. This mission is two-fold for he offers Christ to the Trinity when he offers the host during the consecration, and then at communion he distributes to the faithful the Bread of Life giving Christ to the world.

For this divine task Christ-like souls are needed, which is why Carmelites pray for priests. The whole Church should help priests to acquire this Christ-like soul, but contemplatives in particular come to their aide.This apostolic element of the Teresian charism is found in The Way of Perfection where St. Teresa of Jesus exhorts her nuns to:

“strive to be the kind of persons whose prayers can be useful in helping those servants of God who through much toil have strengthened themselves with learning and a good life and have labored so as now to help the Lord.” (Way of Perfection 3:2)

This apostolate of those who dwell in cloisters is to silently immolate their lives in purity, simplicity and crucified.

Since the priest is another Christ and is to communicate Christ to the world, he needs an interior life even though he may be busy. However, he can only do that in the measure in which he possess Jesus himself. Therefore, contemplatives need to pray for priests asking God to help them to remain ever at the fountain of living water so that He can overflow on those around him without ever becoming empty himself.

ol-and-jesus-on-cross

 

While the priest carries Christ to souls in word and sacrament, contemplatives then stay close to the feet of Christ in silent adoration, like Mary beside the cross, asking Him to render the priest’s words fruitful in souls. The contemplative does this to help priests and for the redemption of souls.

 

 

 

“I beg you to strive to be such that we might merit from God two things: First, that among the numerous learned men and religious there be many who will meet these requirements I mentioned that are necessary for this battle, and that the Lord may prepare those who do not meet them; one who is perfect will do much more than many who are not. Second, that after being placed in this combat, which as I say, is not easy, they may receive protection from the Lord so as to remain free of the many perils there are in the world, and stop their ears in order not to hear the siren’s song on these dangerous sea. If we can obtain some answers from God to these requests , we shall be fighting for Him even though we are very cloistered.” (Way of Perfection 3:5)

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rosary

From “Divine Intimacy” by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

For the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary

October Seventh

Presence of God – O most holy Virgin, may the Rosary be my spiritual armor and my school of virtue.

Meditation

1. Today’s Feast is a manifestation of gratitude for the great victories won by the Christian people through the power of Mary’s

Rosary; it is also the most beautiful and authoritative testimony of the value of this prayer. The liturgy of the day is not only a

commentary on the Rosary, but an amplification of it : the three hymns of the Office as well as the antiphons of Matins and

Lauds, review its different mysteries; the lessons chant its glories, and the continual references to the Virgin, who “blossomed as

it were, among the flowers, surrounded by roses and lilies of the valley,” are a clear allusion to the mystical crowns of roses

which Mary’s devoted children weave at her feet when they recite the Rosary. This Feast tells us that to honor the Rosary is to

honor Mary, for the Rosary is simply a meditation on Our Lady’s life, accompanied by the devout recitation of the Hail Mary. It is

for this reason that the Church praises this practice and recommends it so insistently to the faithful. “O God,” she prays in today’s

Collect, “grant that meditating on the mysteries of the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what

they contain and obtain what they promise.” The Rosary, if recited well, is both prayer and instruction; its mysteries tell us that in

Mary’s life everything is judged in relation to God ; her sorrows are, so to speak, the very sorrows of God, who being made man,

willed to suffer for the sins of mankind. Mary’s only joy is Jesus : to be His Mother, to clasp Him in her arms, to offer Him for the

adoration of the world, to contemplate Him in the glory of His Resurrection, to be united to Him in Heaven. Mary’s unique sorrow

is the Passion of Jesus : to see Him betrayed, scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified by our sins. This, then, is the first fruit

which we must gather from the recitation of the Rosary : to judge all the events of our life according to their relation to God, to

rejoice in what gives Him pleasure, in what unites us to Him, to suffer for sin which separates us from Him and is the cause of the

Passion and death of Jesus.

2. The second fruit that we should derive from the daily recitation of the Rosary is a penetration into Christ’s mysteries; by Mary

and with Mary, who opens the door to them for us, the Rosary helps us penetrate the ineffable grandeurs of the Incarnation,

Passion, and glory of Jesus. Who is there who has understood and lived these mysteries as Our Lady did? And who better than

she can make us understand them? If, during the recitation of the Rosary, we really know how to put ourselves in spiritual contact

with Mary and to accompany her in the various stages of her life, we shall be able to perceive something of the sentiments of

her heart concerning these great mysteries which she witnessed, and in which she played such an important part; this, in turn,

will serve wonderfully to nourish our souls. Thus, our Rosary will be transformed into a quarter of an hour’s meditation–we might

almost say contemplation–under Mary’s guidance. This is what Mary desires, rather than many Rosaries recited with the lips,

while the mind wanders in a thousand directions! The Hail Mary, continuously repeated, should express the attitude of a soul who

is striving to approach the Blessed Virgin, hastening toward her in order to be captivated by her and given insight into the divine

mysteries. “Ave Maria!” the lips say, and heart murmurs : “Teach me, O Mary, to know and love Jesus as you knew and loved

Him.” Saying the Rosary in this way requires recollection. St. Teresa of Jesus says that “before beginning to recite the Rosary, let

the soul think of whom it is going to address, and who it is that is speaking, that it may speak to Him with due respect” (cf. Way,

22). The Saint, with her keen wit, laughs at those people “who are so fond of repeating a large number of vocal prayers in a great

hurry, as though they were anxious to finish their task of repeating them daily” (ibid., 31). Rosaries recited in this way cannot

really nourish our interior life; they will bring little fruit to the soul and little glory to Mary. On the other hand, if recited with a

real spirit of devotion, the Rosary becomes an effective means of cultivating devotion to Mary and of bringing us into intimacy

with Our Lady and her Divine Son.

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Michelangelo 1498–1499

Michelangelo 1498–1499

In her Spiritual Testimonies #32, St. Teresa writes that, “suffering is the way to truth”.  The Lord spoke to St. Teresa about suffering and reminded her that suffering is given to those whom the Lord loves. He asked her to recall the way St Paul had rejoiced in what he had suffered. The Lord goes on to tell her:

“When you see My Mother holding Me in her arms, don’t think she enjoyed those consolations without heavy torment. From the time Simeon spoke those words to her, My Father gave her clear light to see what I was to suffer. . . .Believe daughter, that, My Father gives greater trials to anyone whom He loves more; and love responds to these.” 

“How can I show you greater love than by desiring for you what I have desired for Myself? Behold these wounds, for your sufferings have never reached this point.”

“By this means you will help me weep over the loss of those who follow the way of the world, and you will understand that all your desires, cares, and thoughts must be employed in how to do the opposite.”

Trials are more for those who love him more, because those who love him more strive to overcome the world and all their desires that might lead them away from Him.

 

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