Archive for the ‘BVM’ category

The significance of May 13th

May 13, 2011

30 years ago today, Pope John Paul II took a bullet for Christ and His Church:

Much like a magnifying glass concentrates the rays of the sun into a burning focal point, on that day the forces of evil concentrated all their destructive desire on St Peter’s Square.  Why?  Just imagine for a moment that they had been successful.  Imagine that the hand of Our Lady did not redirect those bullets.  Imagine a JP2-less Church.  Surely we’d have no Theology of the Body.  Perhaps no contemplating the Face of Christ.  The misguided ‘spirit of Vatican II’ might still have us uneasy about devotion to our Blessed Mother.  The true dignity of women and their feminine genius would almost certainly be less explored. Would we be striving to live a civilization of love and a spirituality of communion?  Would we be casting out into the deep in a new evangelization? We might still be afraid.

What would John Paul II have us remember especially today?  I suspect he would want us most of all to continue to be directed toward Jesus by the message of Our Lady of Fatima.  John Paul II visited Fatima on the first anniversary of his taking of that bullet.  Here are some of the things he said:

I come here today because on this very day last year, in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, the attempt on the Pope’s life was made, in mysterious coincidence with the anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima, which occurred on 13 May 1917.
[snip]
In the light of the mystery of Mary’s spiritual motherhood, let us seek to understand the extraordinary message, which began on 13 May, 1917 to resound throughout the world from Fatima, continuing for five months until 13 October of the same year.
[snip]
“Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15): these are the first words that the Messiah addressed to humanity. The message of Fatima is, in its basic nucleus, a call to conversion and repentance, as in the Gospel. This call was uttered at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it was thus addressed particularly to this present century. The Lady of the message seems to have read with special insight the “signs of the times”, the signs of our time.
The call to repentance is a motherly one, and at the same time it is strong and decisive. The love that “rejoices in the truth” (cf. 1 Cor 13:) is capable of being clear-cut and firm. The call to repentance is linked, as always, with a call to prayer. In harmony with the tradition of many centuries, the Lady of the message indicates the Rosary, which can rightly be defined as “Mary’s prayer”: the prayer in which she feels particularly united with us. She herself prays with us. The rosary prayer embraces the problems of the Church, of the See of Saint Peter, the problems of the whole world. In it we also remember sinners, that they may be converted and saved, and the souls in Purgatory.
[snip]
In the light of a mother’s love we understand the whole message of the Lady of Fatima. The greatest obstacle to man’s journey towards God is sin, perseverance in sin, and, finally, denial of God. The deliberate blotting out of God from the world of human thought. The detachment from him of the whole of man’s earthly activity. The rejection of God by man.
In reality, the eternal salvation of man is only in God. Man’s rejection of God, if it becomes definitive, leads logically to God’s rejection of man (cf. Mt 7:23; 10:33), to damnation.
[snip]
And so, while the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one, it is also strong and decisive. It sounds severe. It sounds like John the Baptist speaking on the banks of the Jordan. It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary.
[snip]
The message is addressed to every human being. The love of the Saviour’s Mother reaches every place touched by the work of salvation. Her care extends to every individual of our time, and to all the societies nations and peoples. Societies menaced by apostasy, threatened by moral degradation. The collapse of morality involves the collapse of societies.

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Mary: Model of the Church at prayer

May 31, 2010

The most important means by which we show our love for God is to pray (despite what the social justice fanatics say).  As we close this month of our Blessed Mother, I offer these excerpts from Pope John Paul II’s General Audience talk of 10 Sept 1997:

2. She who at the Annunciation showed total availability for the divine plan represents for all believers a sublime model of attentiveness and docility to the Word of God.

In replying to the angel: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) and in stating her readiness to fulfil perfectly the Lord’s will, Mary rightly shares in the beatitude proclaimed by Jesus: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” (Lk 11:28).

With this attitude, which encompasses her entire life, the Blessed Virgin indicates the high road of listening to the Word of the Lord, an essential element of worship, which has become typical of the Christian liturgy. Her example shows us that worship does not primarily consist in expressing human thoughts and feelings, but in listening to the divine Word in order to know it, assimilate it and put it into practice in daily life.

[snip]

Mary appears therefore as the supreme model of personal participation in the divine mysteries. She guides the Church in meditating on the mystery celebrated and in participating in the saving event, by encouraging the faithful to desire an intimate, personal relationship with Christ in order to co-operate with the gift of their own life in the salvation of all.

[snip]

We could add that for the People of God Mary represents the model of every expression of their prayer life. In particular, she teaches Christians how to turn to God to ask for his help and support in the various circumstances of life.

[snip]

By following her model, the Church learns to be bold in her asking, to persevere in her intercessions and, above all, to implore the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 11:13).

5. The Blessed Virgin also represents the Church’s model for generously participating in sacrifice.  In presenting Jesus in the temple and, especially, at the foot of the Cross, Mary completes the gift of herself which associates her as Mother with the suffering and trials of her Son. Thus in daily life as in the Eucharistic celebration, the “Virgin presenting offerings” (Marialis cultus, n. 20) encourages Christians to “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pt 2:5). 

Devotion to Mary must be rightly-ordered

May 6, 2010

Back in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, Pope John Paul II provided some criteria of true devotion to Mary:

Mary must be deeply loved and honored, but with a devotion which, to be authentic:

  • must be firmly grounded in Scripture and Tradition, making the most of the liturgy first of all and drawing from it a sound orientation for the most spontaneous demonstrations of popular piety;
  • must be expressed in an effort to imitate the All Holy in a way of personal perfection;
  • must be far from every form of superstition and vain credulousness, accepting in the right way, in accordance with ecclesial discernment, the extraordinary manifestations in which the Blessed Virgin often likes to grant herself for the good of the People of God;
  • must always be able to go back to the source of Mary’s greatness, becoming a ceaseless Magnificat of praise to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Looking to Mary’s example in May

May 1, 2010

Today begins the month of May, during which we traditionally honor our Blessed Mother with songs, May Crownings, and prayers in which we request her intercession.  Additionally, you may want to do some reading in order to better appreciate her various roles in the divine economy.  Cardinal Newman wrote 31 meditations, one for each day of the month of May, which help us to understand some of Mary’s titles in the Litany of Loreto.  Pope John Paul II gave 70 teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary in a General Audience series that spanned more than two years.

Do you have a favorite book or other resource that has helped you to grow closer to our heavenly Mother?

The Common Hirmos

December 8, 2009

It is truly proper to glorify you, who have borne God, the ever-blessed, Immaculate and the Mother of our God.  More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who, a virgin, gave birth to God the Word, you, truly the Mother of God, we magnify.

A teaching on consecration

August 15, 2009

Fr Mark Kirby OSB provides it, along with an inspiring prayer, here.

“Only love can leave such a mark…”

August 14, 2009

‘Magnificent’ by U2– inspired by our Blessed Mother (really!).  For her, on this the vigil of her Assumption