J.M.J. Saint Mary Teresa of Calcutta, the twentieth century's version of Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), founded the Missionaries of Charity.
Several times each day, those Sisters, while assembled in the Chapels of their various convents, sing a brief hymn to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It goes like this: "O most pure and loving Heart of my Mother and my Queen, Grant that I may love thee, love thee daily more and more. Grant that I may love thee, love thee daily more and more."
I have chanted that hymn with hundreds of Missionaries of Charity after offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for them, imparting Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, hearing their Confessions or giving them a conference. No matter how often I join them in honoring the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I am struck by their childlike, sincere veneration of and love for Jesus' Mother.
This simple yet profound hymn takes about twenty-five seconds to sing. But length must not deceive. The genuine sentiments expressed and the theological truths outlined in this musical composition provide a welcome key not only to the Missionaries of Charity and their apostolate in serving "the poorest of the poor" but also to the very essence of the Christian life.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary, who is our Mother, Queen and Model, is the focus of this melodious prayer. Two important characteristics of Our Blessed Lady's Heart are recognized and hailed: purity and love.
The purity of Mary is seen in her complete dedication to her Creator. She never wavered from following Him and adhering to His Will. Her chastity and virginity also manifest that deep purity of heart for which Our Blessed Mother is well known. She cheerfully embraced the unique vocation that God had bestowed on her.
The love of Mary is observed in her loyal service of God and neighbor. She spent herself in promptly obeying the Almighty's commands and responding to the spiritual and bodily needs of others. Whether doing something extraordinary--like miraculously conceiving through the power of the Holy Spirit and bringing Christ forth while retaining her Perpetual Virginity--or something routine--like taking care of Jesus and Saint Joseph by attending to common household chores--Mary was a servant par excellence. Nothing was too grandiose or too small for her to accomplish if God in fact directed her to do so.
Now that we acknowledge Our Lady's purity and love, what is our response? To love her "daily more and more." This is nothing other than the desire of Christ: that each day we learn to love His Mother more. Our happy task is straightforward: to love Mary as Jesus does.
We cannot fully imagine the love the Son has for the Mother. Jesus treasures Mary and would do anything for her. How He must delight in answering her requests! And her requests are those that come from her children. When our petitions are in accord with the unfathomable plan of God, then Mary makes them her own and raises them to her beloved Son.
We are grateful that God has given to us that pure and loving Immaculate Heart. We honor her. We ask her help. We imitate her. And we strive, like the spiritual daughters of Mother Teresa, to love her daily more and daily.
O most pure and loving Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
On December 18, 2017, Pope Francis declared
the Reverend Father Patrick Joseph Peyton, C.S.C., (1909-1992) to be
“Venerable,” meaning that the virtues he practiced are considered to be heroic.
Who is this Irish-born priest who is recalled for his dedication to Christ and
his love for Our Blessed Lady and her Holy Rosary?
County Mayo was the home of this priest, who
was the sixth in a poor family of four girls and five boys. Patrick would drop
out of school as a young man but, as an adolescent, he sensed that God was
calling him to the Holy Priesthood.
The nineteen year-old Patrick and his brother,
Thomas, decided to immigrate to the United States and settled in Scranton,
Pennsylvania. In 1932, both men entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross in
Notre Dame, Indiana.
Despite experiencing a serious health problem
in October 1938, which was determined to be tuberculosis, Patrick eventually
entered Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C. to prepare for Final Vows and
was ordained, with his brother Thomas, to the Holy Priesthood on June 15, 1941
in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre
Dame in South Bend.
It was not long before his well-known work of
promoting devotion to Our Lady and her Holy Rosary began to span many miles.
A reflection on Father Peyton’s efforts offers
the following points for our reflection and application.
1. His labors always adhered to the will of
his Superiors. He lived his Vow of Obedience, imitating Christ in His submission
to His Father.
2. “From the Cross to Life.” The cross of
physical maladies is a heavy one. But joy results when it is embraced! Father
Peyton’s grave bodily trials did not stop him from giving himself completely to
God’s plan. And whenever the Will of the Lord is accepted, the Resurrection of
Jesus Christ is made manifest in that person’s life.
3. Father Peyton shunned not the economically
destitute, the wealthy, the unlettered or Hollywood luminaries. He neither
feared the famous nor was enamored by the jet-setting way of existence. He invited
all to participate in the building of the Kingdom of God by honoring His
4. Father Peyton did not shy away from doing
the “big things” for God, like the Rosary Crusades and Rallies, the
intercontinental travel and the making of movies. Precisely during the
frightening period of the “Cold War,” he exhorted all to travel the path of
5. “The Rosary priest” did not allow his
spiritual life to take a back seat to his prodigious work. He did not forget
that, first and foremost, he was a Religious and a Priest, notwithstanding his prestige
and authority. In 1962, Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart of the Knights of Columbus
wrote about his time with Father Peyton: “His great piety, his unflagging zeal
and his intense earnestness carry you away. You feel that you are in the
presence of a saint and you want to share with him his hopes and aspirations
and contribute what you can to the success of his efforts.”
Father Peyton is remembered, too, for his
oft-quoted saying, “The family that
prays together stays together.”
He was concerned
about the welfare of the family. During a Rosary Crusade, he said: “The
restoration of family prayer is a basic need, and if it is given the chance it
will prove itself to be the most efficacious and powerful protection against
the dangers of our age.”
How apt his words
are in our twenty-first century: “The person with the Rosary in hand has the
key to learning the most important of all lessons: the love of God for us, the
destiny He has in store for us and the way he is helping us to reach that
On June 3, 1992, Father Peyton, with Rosary in
hand, died in San Pedro, California and was buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery located
at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.
“ . . . you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the
LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and
that there is no other.”
My Brothers and Sisters in
Today, the Sunday after Pentecost, is the
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
What a reality! God is Three in One: The
Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Most of us were probably very young when
we first learned this truth. It governs all we know. And it governs who we are.
Here is a brief and incomplete summary of
the Most Blessed Trinity.
1. The Most Holy Trinity is
the Supreme Being Who is God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is
2. The Holy Trinity—eternal,
perfect, limitless—always existed, exists now and will exist always.
3. God the Father, God the Son
and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct and equal Persons. God is Three in
4. The Father is not greater
than the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each is a different Person, but equal in
5. God has created, redeemed
and made us holy. His love brought us into being, restored us to health when we
had sinned and sanctified us.
6. God wants us to be happy on
earth; He shows us the path to happiness: knowing and obeying His holy plan.
His will alone is our joy and salvation.
7. By obeying His plan, we
prepare to see Him “face to face” in Heaven. Experiencing the Blessed Trinity
in Paradise is the ultimate happiness.
8. Love connects the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit.
9. The Holy Trinity is
merciful. Although we cannot match God’s goodness, He wants us to imitate Him
through our love and compassion.
10. God, Who is love, is
pleased when we—His children—know, love and serve Him.
As we hear in today’s Holy
Gospel from Saint Matthew, Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, just
before His Ascension, promised to be with us until the end of time. Let us put
our trust in His promise.
The Ever-Virgin Mother of God
is the Daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son and the Spouse of the Holy
When we pray, receive the Holy
Sacraments, venerate Our Blessed Lady, read Sacred Scripture, study the
Teachings of the Church and the Lives of the Saints, and perform works of charity and self-denial, then we witness
to the Presence and the Power of the Most Holy Trinity in us.
Invoking the Holy Spirit--the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity--is to be a constant exercise of love and adoration on the part of all Christians. Our genuine attention to the Consoler is to lead to imitation of Him and even to our abandonment to Him and all that He desires.
Pentecost Sunday highlights our desperate need for the Paraclete--a pressing need that we have every moment of each day.
The saintly Father Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970), a member of the Third Order Regular Franciscan Congregation, was known for his unabashed affection for, and obedience to, the Holy Spirit.
At the end of his excellent work entitled "Vieni, O Spirito Santo!" ("Come, O Holy Spirit") is found some Prayers in which the incredible favors of the Holy Spirit are requested.
These Prayers are short but intense and are appropriate for daily use. Here are a few of them.
O Holy Spirit, sweet Guest of my soul, remain with me and assist me so that I may remain always with You.
Eternal Divine Spirit, I offer You all the prayers of the Virgin Mary and of the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle, and to those I unite all my prayers, begging You to come quickly to renew the face of the earth.
For the Gift of Tears
Almighty and most merciful God, Who made a fountain of water gush forth from the rock to quench the thirst of Your People, obtain from the hardness of our hearts the tears of compunction, so that we may cry on account of our sins and merit to obtain their remission through Your Mercy. Mercifully infuse into our hearts, Lord God, the grace of the Holy Spirit, which helps cancel--through our cries and tears--the stains of our sins, and obtains for us from Your generosity the effect of our desired pardon. Through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
To Expel Impure Thoughts
Almighty and most merciful God, hear favorably our prayers, and free our hearts from the temptations of impure thoughts, so that we may merit to become a worthy dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Deign, Lord, to purify our souls from impure thoughts, to guard them intact, and to illuminate them with the grace of the Holy Spirit. You Who enlighten every man who comes into this world, alas! Enlighten our hearts with the splendor of Your grace, so that we may always think of those things that are worthy and acceptable to Your majesty, and love You sincerely. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
No disciple of Christ worthy of the name would deny that the Holy Spirit is to be our sure Refuge and Guide. No authentic friend of Jesus would argue that presently in our world, the calming presence of the Counselor is recognized and adhered to as it should be.
We sadly but readily admit that the Holy Spirit and His wise wishes are not held in the required esteem. Obstacles have been built that stand in the way of His renewing the earth. Yes, He can surely overcome those hurdles. But often His approach is that He wants us to do what we can to break through those barriers so that His gentle and persuasive influence may be felt.
Therefore, our hearts must first be converted if there is any chance that the world will be. Our closeness and submission to the Holy Spirit paves the way for His further work in our society.
Our prayer to the Holy Spirit is simple: Come, Holy Spirit . . . Holy Spirit, come . . . transform our hearts so that we may join in Your labor to renew the face of the earth.
has been considerable interest in the recent announcement that Pope Francis has
established the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church,
which is to be commemorated—beginning this year—on the Monday after Pentecost
the title Mother of the Church or Mater
Ecclesiae is not as well-known as those titles that derive from the four
Marian dogmas (Divine Maternity, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception and
Assumption), nevertheless, it is, along with, for example, Spiritual Mother,
Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix of All Graces, a solid and esteemed expression of
a significant facet of the Christ-inspired mission entrusted to Our Lady.
the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, November 21, 1964,
Blessed Paul VI, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican
Ecumenical Council, declared: “We proclaim the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Mother
of the Church, that is, of the whole people of God, faithful and pastors, and
we call her most loving Mother.”
useful background reading on the concept of “Mother of the Church”: 1. The volume
by Hugo Rahner, S.J., entitled, Our Lady
and theChurch, which was highly
acclaimed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the late Avery Cardinal Dulles,
S.J.; 2. the discourse of September 17, 1997 by Saint John Paul II that
summarizes the use of this title by the Church’s Magisterium.
the end of the aforementioned discourse, Saint John Paul, in reference to Blessed
Paul VI and his declaration of 1964, wrote that “my venerable Predecessor
explicitly enunciated the doctrine contained in chapter eight of Lumen Gentium, hoping that the title of
Mary, Mother of the Church, would have an even more important place in the
liturgy and piety of the Christian people.”
In our contemporary era, there are
many competing images of women and womanhood.
Saint John Paul II, in harmony with Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic
Tradition, believes women to be holy daughters of the Creator who possess an
intrinsic beauty and value because they, like men, have been fashioned in the imago Dei—“the image of God.”
In his Letter to Women (June 29,
1995), he wrote that the Almighty has a “mysterious plan regarding the vocation
and mission of women in the world.” Each and every woman—regardless of her role
as mother, wife, daughter, sister, consecrated person—is remarkable and special
in God’s sight. “Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood
you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more
honest and authentic.” (2)
Where would we be without women? The astounding realization—but perhaps not too
astonishing, upon prayerful reflection—is that we owe women our very physical
lives. Our mothers and fathers conceived us and brought us forth. We did not
exist until they provided the physical matter and God furnished the spiritual
The Ever-Virgin Mother of God is the only woman hailed as both Virgin and
Mother. She, more than any other person, cooperated freely in the inscrutable
design of the Maker by yielding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, thereby
living with a zest to do good that is at once amazing and inspirational. Our
Blessed Lady teaches us how to put aside our projects so that Christ can work
in us His inimitable plan of salvation.
After Jesus Christ, we owe Mary our
salvation, given her generous participation with His redeeming work on Calvary.
As the Church praises God for Our Lady, we also offer our gratitude for women and
womanhood. As Saint John Paul expressed in his August 15, 1988 Apostolic Letter
Mulieris dignitatem (“The Dignity of
Women”), the Church “desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the
‘mystery of woman’ and for every woman—for all that constitutes the eternal
measure of her feminine dignity, for ‘the great works of God,’ which throughout
human history have been accomplished in and through her.” (31)
The Madonna is, in the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council’s Dogmatic Constitutionon the Church (Lumen Gentium), the stellar example of “obedience, faith, hope and
burning charity” (61) for all women, no matter their state in life. She
reflects Christ and instructs all her daughters to do the same. Mary is the
model for all peoples, but especially for women.
When we recite the Most Holy Rosary, let us pray for women everywhere, that
they may imitate Our Lady in her countless virtues.
Where would we be without women? No Mary . . . no Jesus . . . no mothers . . .
no wives . . . no daughters . . . no sisters . . . no consecrated women . . . how
impoverished our world—and depleted Heaven—would be!
In his final encyclical, which was dedicated to the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, Saint John Paul II hailed the Ever-Virgin Mother of God as the “Woman of the Eucharist.” He wrote: “Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.”
Our Lady is a living template of how we are to adore Jesus Christ in this “Sacrament of Sacraments.” Be it during Mass or in our time before the Tabernacle or the Monstrance, Mary offers to us an example of Eucharistic piety, which quickly becomes evangelical zeal for all the things of God.
Father Emil Neubert, S.M., in his Life of Union with Mary, asked “what will be our relations with Mary in our devotion to the Eucharist?” He replied: “First of all, we shall have to ask her assistance, as in all other manifestations of our supernatural life. In view of the exceptional importance of devotion to the Eucharist, this request for help must be pressing and trustful.”
As we continue to seek Our Lady’s assistance, “we will try to enter into her dispositions toward the mysteries which the Eucharist recalls and continues. Sharing the dispositions of our Mother becomes a reality almost necessarily as soon as we understand the mysteries taking place and the part Mary has in them. Once we thoroughly grasp the meaning of the actions and prayers in which we are taking part, we quite naturally begin to contemplate the Eucharist with the eyes of Mary, to love It with her Heart, and to unite ourselves to It, one with her.”
Our transformation into Christ Who gives His Body and Blood to us occurs by way of the maternal intercession of His Mother.