True Devotion

"It was through the most holy Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world and it is also through her that He has to reign in the world."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blessed Newman

John Henry Cardinal Newman has been brought one step closer to sainthood today, with his beatification in Birmingham England. Living through most of the 19th century, Cardinal Newman came to understand that "to know history is to cease being Protestant."

At peril to his job, his family and to friends who shunned him, he did just that. With the help of Passionist priest Blessed Dominic Barberi, Newman entered the Catholic faith in 1845.

A prodigious writer, Newman wrote many and varied treatises on his faith. I recall reading The Idea of a University, years ago, and hope to re-read it soon, as I remember nothing from the first go-round.

He knew religion to be more than a matter of opinion, and spent his life defending the tenets of his Catholic faith. Towards the end of his life he was made a cardinal by the pope in 1879. He took as his motto the words, "Cor ad Cor Loquitur" -- "heart speaks to heart."
In his own words:
"Mere Protestants have seldom any real perception of the doctrine of
God and man in one Person. They speak in a dreamy, shadowy way
of Christs divinity; but, when their meaning is sifted, you will find
them very slow to commit themselves to any statement sufficient
to express the Catholic dogma. . . the world allows that God is man,
the admission costs it little, for God is everywhere, and (as it may say)
is everything; but it shrinks from confessing that God is the Son of Mary."
We know she is. We, with Cardinal Newman have been given this gift.
For God so loved the world . . . .

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Yourself a Sword Will Pierce . . .

As we celebrate this day, Our Lady of Sorrows, we see the contradictions in Mary's own life. It was foretold by Simeon that Mary would suffer along with her Son. And suffer she did; her entire life was one suffering laid upon another. Yet, she perservered, she waited in patience, she endured, she gave herself up to each individual day and its hours, she lived as we do today, and she never stopped looking at her Son. Son of Man. Son of God.

At the last, she stood in heartbreaking solace, at the foot of His cross. Her Stabat Mater should be on our lips every day! Mary at the cross, made it endurable for us to be there; she endured first of all, so we can, and must endure now. It was not Mary who sought herself; she was there, as she had been everywhere in her life, pointing the way to Jesus.

She still points the way. Quietly, humbly, secretly. It is up to us to find her. When we do, we will be blessed beyond measure.

Mary's Seven Sorrows are as follows:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon. Mary was told that her son, her little boy in her arms, "is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against . . ." Lk. 2: 34-35. Here you go to the Temple to present your son, and are given news such as this!
2. The Flight into Egypt. Fleeing in the night! How many of us have done that? The fear and the anxiety over what would happen next had to be uppermost on Mary's mind.
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple. To lose your child in a crowd is very unnerving! For three days, Mary and Joseph searched for their son. Not in full understanding of what He was about, they were nothing if not relieved upon finding Him once again.
4. Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary. Jesus has been stripped, and flogged, and beaten, kicked, a thorn of crowns placed on His head, the thorns ripping into his skull to His brain; weak, barely able to stand, He is forced to carry His cross to the place where He will be put to death. He meets his mother on the way. Their hearts are suffering together; their hearts are bearing the same load.
5. Mary Stands at the Foot of the Cross. Mary watched as Jesus was nailed to the cross, watched as so many others still taunted Him, reviled Him, waited for Him to die. Resolutely, as she wishes us to be, Mary endured. Not fainting, not wailing, not running away. Simply standing under the cross.
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Jesus in Her Arms. Pieta. What went through her mind as they laid Jesus in her arms?
7. Jesus is Placed in the Tomb. There is a finality here, something not lost, I'm sure, on our Blessed Mother. In all her life, Mary had always been near her Son. Now, there was nothing left but to go home and hope. Hope in God. Hope in her Son, that he would appear to her again!

Rather than shunning these sorrows as too distressing in our pleasure-seeking world, we need to embrace these sorrows. It is through them, that we come to know Mary. We see her as we are; we understand her emotions as our emotions, we are made courageous by her actions, and we are able to begin to discern that our lives should in all ways be given over to divine providence.

Mary, in those moments, seemed defeated, lost. Yet, we know, the end of the story! Our sufferings, little as they are, can be laid at the foot of the cross with Mary's. She will teach us how to proceed, she will lead us down the narrow path. The way will be difficult. The way will be filled with strife and confusion as well as with joy. The way is waiting for us.

If we choose. Pray to choose.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Searchers

One of my very favorite movies of all time, is John Ford's 1956 film The Searchers. It is such a magnificent display of emotion; of raw nerve, courage, perserverance, sorrow, and joy. Right from the opening note you know you are in for a tremendous treat! John Wayne should have received an Academy Award for his portrayal of Ethan Edwards; Hollywood chose to overlook him once again.

The Searchers cuts to the very core of human emotion. Every character seems imbued with great clarity and self-seeking ways. Perhaps that is what makes it so appealing to us. Ethan Edwards personifies the worst in sinners among us; yet, even his brand of sinfulness is redeemed by God.

Francisco de Osuna, a 16th-century Spanish mystic, reminds us of how God's great love is present for all of us, and any of us, at all times, in all situations. Sinners and those who think they have no sin will find the door open. "Think how he will welcome the just person who diligently and continuously searches for him."

So, whether you find yourself in faraway Spain or Monument Valley, be it Sussex County, NJ or Costa Rica, we can seek God always. That should go to the heart of every day, for each of us.

We, too, in little ways, can be called The Searchers.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hail Sanctus Regina

Lovely Lady dressed in blue --
Teach me how to pray,
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up sometimes
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did he cry?

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things?
Little things that happen And
Do the Angel's wings?

Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now
Tell me -- for you know?

Lovely Lady dressed in blue,
Teach me how to pray,
God was just your little Boy
And you know the way.

Blessed birthday greetings to Our Mother in Heaven! She is our gift from God.


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