Our Lady's Fiat: Thursday, July 2, 2015

J.M.J. “At the moment that Mary pronounced Fiat or 'be it done,' something greater happened than the Fiat lux ('let there be light') of creation; for the Light that was now made was not the sun, but the Son of God in the flesh.”

--Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979)   

Her Son's Sacred Heart, Her Son's Precious Blood: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

J.M.J. June, whose focus is the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, quickly turns into July, during which we pay special attention to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. 

It is often said that the communications media--radio, television, print and Internet--tend to report primarily "bad news." The morning headlines and the evening news programs have at least one thing in common: gore. The more blood that is ruthlessly spilled, the more ink that is used to describe in chilling detail the gruesome facts.

To rational people, this continuous bloodletting seems insane. The murders, suicides and maimings pile up with no relief in sight. From such violence comes the inevitable fallout: society at large becomes bitter and unforgiving, desensitized to the horrendous reality of such brutality. Shedding blood, whether one's own or another's, seems nowadays to be no big deal.

The Church has traditionally dedicated July to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. The Faithful everywhere recall, as the Consecration of the Mass states, "the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins."

While countless gallons of blood in our contemporary era are senselessly wasted in vain, the Blood of Christ was shed for the noble purpose of reuniting fallen humanity to its Creator. The warm, soothing Blood of the Redeemer served as a healing salve for a world grown cold. As Jesus, soaked in His own Blood, hung on the cross for the world's salvation, the human race witnessed proof that God would spare nothing in His desire to reestablish sanctifying grace in His sons and daughters.

Although Christ poured out His Blood on Calvary nearly two millennia ago, the merits of that generous act extend to today. Those who have been baptized "are washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb." The Precious Blood of Jesus urges the followers of the Lord to imitate the remarkable charity of Christ by selflessly serving God and neighbor.

The World Apostolate of Fatima has long used this Morning Offering which captures the essence of the redemptive power of Christ's Blood and the subsequent invitation given by Jesus to all believers: "O my God, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ from all the altars of the world, joining with It the offering of my every thought, word and action of this day."

The Blood of Christ has been shed. But the transforming force of the Precious Blood will be realized only in the hearts of those who are receptive. To resist the stirrings of the Holy Spirit is to render the subjective efficacy of Christ's Blood ineffective. As with all of God's gifts, the Precious Blood must be yielded to if It is to have the result for the individual that Christ intends.

Often it appears that our world thirsts for violence. We are inundated by crime waves, wars and ugly domestic quarrels. The Blood of Christ reminds us of a different way to pour out blood: a generous, unforced sacrifice on behalf of others. Instead of responding to hatred with more of the same, we hold aloft the cleansing Blood of Jesus that knew no limits in demonstrating love for a misguided race.

Mary, Mother of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, pray for us.

(Slightly edited article that appeared in the July 7, 1991 issue [page four] of the National Catholic Register. Used with permission.) 

Dedication to Mary: Tuesday, June 30, 2015


"Dedication to Mary"

My Queen, my Mother, I give myself entirely to Thee; and to show my devotion to Thee, I consecrate to Thee my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole self. Wherefore, good Mother, as I am Thine, keep me, guard me, as Thy property and possession. Amen.

In the Canon, first comes Mary, then Saint Joseph, and then . . .:Monday, June 29, 2015

J.M.J. Both Saint Peter and Saint Paul were outstanding followers of Jesus.

You may be especially attracted to Saint Peter, the fisherman who became the first Pope. Or you may find yourself more allured by Saint Paul, the former persecutor of Christians and prolific author who preached in many places throughout Palestine.
But you cannot go wrong whether your favorite is Saint Peter or Saint Paul. Both traveled the same road—the only road—that leads to Christ, even though Peter had his own “lane” and Paul had his. But the direction was the same: to Jesus Christ Our Lord.
These two great Apostles and Martyrs proclaimed Jesus even to being imprisoned for the sake of His Holy Name and to the spilling of their blood. They courageously laid down their lives for Christ and His Holy Gospel.
The Universal Church as a whole and each individual member of the Church are firmly indebted to Saints Peter and Paul. We continue to benefit enormously from their heavenly intercession and good example.
Simon Peter was fearless when responding to the question posed by Jesus: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter sincerely replied without hesitation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Although Peter would stumble later, shortly before the Crucifixion of Jesus, here he was surefooted. Such an insight from Peter can only come from God.
Paul was unafraid, whether speaking before naysayers and outright enemies of the Cross of Jesus or locked behind the jailhouse door. Paul knew that he had been “poured out like a libation”—he had spent himself in service to Christ and His Church. Paul expected that he and the others who faithfully labored in the vineyard of the Lord would be rewarded for their efforts, not because they merited it but because of the overwhelming mercy of the Master.
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth.” Saints Peter and Paul were all about praising and serving the Lord—always. Whether unencumbered or handcuffed, these two great men blessed the Holy Name of the Lord. They were honored and humbled that they, despite their sinfulness, had been chosen to be ambassadors of Christ to the nations.
Today’s Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is a fitting time in which to take stock of my own commitment to Christ. A few questions come to mind.
1. What is my stance toward suffering? Jesus has made suffering valuable for our salvation. When you and I, like Saints Peter and Paul, cheerfully offer our trials to Christ, He uses them for us, for the Church, and for the world. Then, our suffering really is “salvific”—it assists us on the way to Paradise.
2. Do I recognize the power of my influence, be it good or bad, on others? There is no question that you and I influence others. The only doubt is whether our influence is good or bad. In other words, each of us must decide what kind of influence to wield. Will we lead others to or away from Jesus Christ! A crucial question indeed!
3. Am I grateful to God for those who have gone before me who have given such a helpful example of faith and charity? “Out of sight, out of mind” should never be our mentality regarding those who have preceded us. Those remarkable disciples of Christ deserve our thanks. And those who have died but who are not yet in Heaven deserve our prayers.
4. Do I always “bless the Lord” in both my joys and sorrows? To praise God is always appropriate, whether I am experiencing some happiness or carrying a heavy cross. The Lord always deserves my praise and thanks. Why? Because He is Who He is. He is my Creator, and therefore I am to worship Him. Praising and serving God are the mainstays of our lives.
Just as the Lord had a special plan for Saints Peter and Paul, He has one for each of us. No matter our weaknesses—weariness, ignorance, past struggles—God is so great that He knows how to employ us in His Kingdom.
God continues to strengthen His Church through the prayers and example of Saints Peter and Paul. As we conclude the month of June, which is especially dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we ask the Heart of Christ to stir up deep within us the fervent love and conviction that marked the lives of these “super” Apostles and Martyrs.
Regardless of our personal deficiencies, may we cooperate with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We praise and serve Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ in our efforts to build up His Church, as did Saints Peter and Paul almost 2,000 years ago. Even now from Heaven, Saints Peter and Paul are furthering the Reign of God.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!

The Mary-Eve Parallel: Sunday, June 28, 2015

J.M.J. If today were not a Sunday, we would observe the liturgical Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr (circa 130-circa 200).

Not only was he the disciple of Saint Polycarp and the Bishop of Lyons, but also was he the Father of the Church who originated systematic teaching regarding the parallel between Our Blessed Lady and Eve.

Who can ever tire of exploring the link between the Mother of the Living and the Mother of the Dead?

Eve, first in chronological order (except in the Mind of God where the Almighty, in one and the same decree, chose Mary of Nazareth to be the Mother of God at the same moment in which He decided that the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity would become man), brought about certain death by way of her sin. But the Ever-Virgin countered this disobedience by her own Holy Spirit-inspired obedience.  

Death through Eve, Life through Mary! 

Our Lady is the New Eve who brought forth from her chaste womb Jesus Christ, the New Adam!

Are we grateful for the Incarnation?

The Mother of God as Understood by Saint Cyril of Alexandria: Saturday, June 27, 2015

J.M.J. The Church delights especially every Saturday as she contemplates the Mother of God. Today is also the Memorial of Saint Cyril, Bishop and Doctor (370-444).

This great man, who was present at and contributed mightily to the Council of Ephesus (431), begged Nestorius to adhere to the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, namely that Our Lady is the Theotokos or "Mother of God." 

Saint Cyril's fidelity and perseverance are so helpful to us as we plead by our prayers to God through Mary and our good example that Holy Marriage will be viewed, accepted and lived as the Almighty intended.

It may seem too difficult not to be discouraged, and yet we must keep going, as the priest prays during Holy Mass, "as we await the blessed hope, and the coming of Our Savior, Jesus Christ."

Let us recite the Memorare today as we ask Our Lady to comfort us.

Our Lady as seen by Saint Sophronius: Friday, June 26, 2015

J.M.J. "You, O Virgin, are like a clear and shining sky, in which God has set His tent. From you He comes forth like a bridegroom leaving His chamber. Like a giant running His course, He will run the course of his life which will bring salvation for all who will ever live, and extending from the highest heavens to the end of them, it will fill all things with divine warmth and with life-giving brightness."

--Saint Sophronius, Bishop (circa 560-638)    

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We pray for our two new priests of the Diocese of Sioux Falls who were ordained today by the Most Reverend Paul J. Swain, D.D.: the Reverends Grant E. Lacey and Darin M. Schmidt. 

Our Lady and Sacred Scripture: Thursday, June 25, 2015

J.M.J. From the entry, "Mary, The Mother of Jesus" in Catholic Bible Dictionary, General Editor, Scott W. Hahn (New York: Doubleday, 2009), page 584:

"The virgin wife of Joseph of Nazareth and the Mother of the Davidic Messiah, Jesus Christ. Having accepted this exalted vocation, she became the ideal mother of Christian faith and discipleship (Luke 1:38, 45; 8:21; 11:28). More than any other woman in history, Mary is one for whom God has done 'great things' (Luke 1:49)."

The Visitation: Wednesday, June 24, 2015

J.M.J. Today, the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, is a very fitting backdrop for a prayerful reading of The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, 1:39-56

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has looked upon His handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear Him. He has shown might with His arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry He has filled with good things; the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped Israel His servant, remembering His mercy, according to His promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to His descendants forever." Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015: Our Lady, Model of Forgiveness

J.M.J. During the last few days, we have seen incredible displays of forgiveness offered to the young man who murdered nine persons in Charleston, South Carolina.

Once again, Pope Francis has taken up the subject of forgiveness. He reminds us that forgiveness for followers of Jesus is obligatory, not optional. 

How Our Lady was given many opportunities to forgive throughout her life, especially regarding those who opposed and murdered her Divine Son. 

Is there any hope for us? Can we increasingly become persons of forgiveness? Yes! Let us imitate Mary's openness to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to stir up within us the grace to forgive--sincerely and unceasingly.

Monday, June 22, 2015: Saint John Fisher, Disciple of Our Lady

J.M.J. Today's Memorial is that of Saints John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and Thomas More, Martyr.

Saint John Fisher, when commentating on Psalm 37, wrote movingly about the Ever-Virgin as the "dawn" that prepares the way for the "sun"--in this case, the Son of God.

". . . we will try to show that by the three reasons we mentioned (nature, Scripture, and reason), this Blessed Lady, Mother of Our Savior, may well be called a dawn.  Before her there was none without sin. After her, the most clear sun Christ Jesus showed His light to the world, expelling utterly by His innumerable beams the darknesses in which all the world was wrapped and covered up to that time.

"We see by experience that the dawn rises out of darkness . . . we may marvel at this Blessed Virgin’s being clean, without a spot of any sort, and shining, even though she came forth originally from sinners who were covered and wrapped in the darkness and the night of sin.  Also, after the dawn, the sun rises, as if it were brought forth and had its beginning from the dawn; likewise, Our Savior Christ Jesus was born and brought forth from this Blessed Virgin and spread His light over all the world . . . Lastly, although it seems as if the dawn were the cause of the sun, it is the sun that is undoubtedly the cause of the dawn.  And likewise, although the Blessed Virgin brought forth Our Savior Jesus, yet He made her and was the cause of her being brought forth into this world.  Thus, you can perceive by nature that the Blessed Virgin may well be compared to a dawn.

". . . every generation of mankind since the creation of Adam was wrapped and covered with the darkness of sin, and although the Spirit of God was ever aloft, ready to give grace, yet for all that, none was found able to receive it until the time this Blessed Virgin was ordained by the whole Trinity to spring and to be brought forth into the world.  By the Providence of Almighty God, she was safely kept and defended from every spot and blemish of sin so that we may well say to her, tota pulchra es, amica mea, et macula non est in te, O Blessed Lady, you are all fair and without spot or blemish of sin (Song 4:7).  The Angel at her Annunciation said, Ave, plena gratia, hail, full of grace (Lk 1:28).  This Blessed Virgin, full of the beams of grace, was ordained by God as a light of the dawn, and she afterward brought forth the bright shining sun with His manifold beams, Our Savior Christ, qui illuminat omnem hominem, venientem in hunc mundum, Who gives light to every creature coming into this world (Jn 1:9).  Take heed how conveniently it agrees with Holy Scripture for this Virgin to be called a dawn. 
"Also, since reason will have it that between two contraries there must be an appropriate mean, so it is marvelously proper that we should call this Virgin a dawn, for just as the dawn is a mean between the great clearness of the sun and the horrid darkness of the night, so this Blessed and holy Virgin is the mean between this bright sun Our Savior, and wicked sinners, and a partaker of both, for she is the Mother of God and also the Mother of sinners.  When Our Savior Christ Jesus hung upon the Cross, He commended St. John the Evangelist to this Blessed Virgin and left him as her son, saying to her, Mulier, ecce filius tuus, Woman, behold your son.  And to Saint John He said, ecce mater tua, behold your mother (Jn 19:26-27).  The name John by interpretation means the grace of God, signifying that by God’s grace and not by their own merits sinners are made the inheritors of the heavenly Kingdom.  Sinners are therefore commended to this Virgin Mary as to a Mother; she is the Mother of sinners.  Saint Augustine says that there seems to be a noble kindred between this Blessed Virgin and sinners, for she received all her goodness for the sake of sinners; sin was the cause for which she was made the Mother of God.  Also if we have taken any goodness, we have it all by her.  Therefore, it is very right that this holy Virgin Mary is the Mother of sinners.  All Christ’s Church calls her Mater miserorum, the Mother of wretched sinners.  She is also the Mother of mercy, for Christ is mercy itself.  Speaking of Him, the prophet says thus: Deus meus misericordia mea, My God and my mercy (Ps 58:11).  Christ is mercy itself, she is the Mother of Christ, therefore the Mother of mercy.  For this reason, as we said before, she must necessarily be a mean between the mercy of God and the wretchedness of sin, between Christ most innocent and wretched sinners, between the shining light and the black darkness, for she is also the mean between the bright sun of day and the dark cloud of night.  None was born before her without sin, whether mortal, venial, or original.  Many before her were men of great virtue and holiness, as were Jeremiah, Elijah, and others, but because they were not clean and without any spot of sin, their virtue and holiness were hidden as if under a cloud.  The Holy Angels, remembering this matter and seeing the Virgin’s light show forth without any spot of darkness after such a long, dark night of sin, said one to another in admiration or marveling: Que est ista, que progreditur quasi aurora consurgens, what is she who goes forth as a rising dawn (Song 6:9).

"Therefore, since this Blessed Lady Mary goes as a dawn between our night and the day of Christ, between our darkness and His brightness, and lastly between the misery of our sins and the mercy of God, to whom should wretched sinners turn for help, so as to be delivered quickly from their wretchedness and come to mercy, but to this Blessed Virgin Mary?  Who can come or attain from one extreme to another without a mean between both?  Let us therefore acknowledge our wretchedness to her and ask for her help.  She cannot fail to hear us, for she is our Mother.  She shall speak for us to her merciful Son and ask His mercy, and He will undoubtedly grant the petition of His Mother and the Mother of mercy.  Let us therefore call to her, saying, O most holy Virgin, you are the Mother of God, the Mother of mercy, the Mother of wretched sinners and their singular help, the Comfort of all the sorrowful; vouchsafe to hear our wretchedness and provide for it a fitting and suitable remedy.  But what miseries shall we most especially show her? Truly, the common wretchedness of all sinners, which the Church has taught us to remember often and which the prophet David has described in the third penitential psalm, about which we shall now speak.  The woman of Canaan prayed to our Lord and was not heard, but His disciples immediately had pity and compassion on her.  So, likewise, it may be that our merciful Lord did not hear our prayers in the other psalms because of our grievous sins.  Let us turn our prayer now to His most merciful Mother, beseeching her to show mercy and as our Advocate call to Almighty God for us."


Sunday, June 21, 2015: Leading Others to Jesus and Mary Brings Everlasting Joy to Us

J.M.J. This Homily is for today's Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Fourth Sunday after Pentecost).

“Put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a catch.”

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When we hear the words of Our Blessed Lord to Simon Peter toward the end of today’s Holy Gospel from Saint Luke, that “you shall catch men,” we remember Saint Peter’s later mission as the Pope. The Pope and the Clergy have a special role: to bring Christ to His people.

But we may forget that all baptized persons, regardless of their individual vocations, are to lead others to Jesus. This is our goal.

As Simon Peter recognized his sinfulness, we do the same. Then, we can grow in the virtue of humility and understand that any good we do is from the benevolent hand of God.

In his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul writes “that all creation groans and travails in pain until now” as the unfolding of the plan of Jesus Christ becomes clear.

We may also apply those words to our participation in leading others to Christ. Something is not quite right until we do our job in proclaiming the Gospel to those around us.

When we do the work of God by bringing others to Him, then we are holy, and we are happy.

Imagine our entrance into Heaven when we will live forever with Jesus, Mary and the Heavenly Court and those who led us to God and those whom we led to God.

It is not always easy to share Jesus with others. But it is possible.

May we open our hearts to all that God wants for us and from us. 

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May God bless, pardon and reward our Dads, both living and deceased.

Saturday, June 20, 2015: Mary, Adopted by the Father

J.M.J. The Reverend Louis Bouyer (1913-2004), considering the "Hail, Mary," wrote: "Therefore, we then say to her: 'The Lord is with you,' because she is by this very fact the creature reconciled with the Father, not only free from everything that would separate her from Him, but positively and really adopted by Him, in that new covenant which is the eternal covenant."

In Introduction to the Spiritual Life, Foreword by David Fagerberg, Introduction by Michael Heintz (Notre Dame, Indiana: Christian Classics, 2013), 120.  

Friday, June 19, 2015: Reported Sightings of Our Lady--True or False?

J.M.J. Has Our Lady appeared in Medjugorje, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as has been claimed since 1981?

This matter is, once again, the subject of much attention, especially given the recent remarks of Pope Francis.

Let us pray for the Sovereign Pontiff and his collaborators, the Bishop of Mostar and the priests, deacons, consecrated persons and laity of Medjugorje as well as the promoters of this phenomenon and its detractors.

Heated debate and fierce passion surround this topic.

We want what God wants, which is also what Our Lady wants.

If the purported apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje are judged to be authentic by the Holy See, then we will delight and learn from them. If not, then we will return again to those approved apparitions that continue to buoy the hearts of the Faithful. Hallowed names universally cherished such as Guadalupe (1531), Lourdes (1858) and Fatima (1917) spring to mind. 

V. Show us, Lord, Your mercy;

R. grant us Your salvation. (Psalm 85:8)

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, Terror of demons, pray for us.

Saint Romuald, Abbot, pray for us.

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Such sadness in Charleston, South Carolina, particularly among our African-American brothers and sisters but truly among peoples of all colors, races and creeds. 

May the Souls of those who were murdered rest in peace while their families and friends receive the Almighty's sure peace and strength through Our Lady of Sorrows. And may the perpetrator seek God's tender forgiveness.

“I am confident in the assurances I give our suffering brothers and sisters at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston that they have the love, prayerful solidarity, and condolences of the people, priests, deacons, and religious of the Archdiocese of New York.

“God teaches that every human life is sacred; God’s house should always be a place of safety and peace. I ask that intercession for the wounded Christian community be part of our Sunday Masses this weekend.”

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
+Archbishop of New York
Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015: Our Lady in the "Communicantes"

J.M.J. In The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development, which is his magisterial work on the Sacred Liturgy, the Reverend Joseph A. Jungmann, S.J., presented a fascinating paradox when looking at the Communicantes ("In communion with those whose memory we venerate") of The Roman Canon (The First Eucharistic Prayer).

Here is the text that is currently used in English.

"In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, her Spouse, Your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, (James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude; Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian) and all Your Saints; we ask that through their merits and prayers, in all things we may be defended by Your protecting help. (Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)"

Father Jungmann wrote:

"Thus, for all the insistence on the concept of communion, the beginning and the end in both instances present a slight anomaly. For the one singled out to head the list of saints is one who had the incomparable dignity of being Mother of God and ever virgin. And at the end of the list the relation we bear to the saints in general is indicated with greater exactness by the humble prayer that their intercession might avail us." (Volume 2, page 172) 

So, we state our communion with Our Lady and these incredible witnesses to Christ. Yet, we acknowledge the distance that separates us from the Ever-Virgin and our remarkable ancestors in the Faith.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015: "Our Lady's Dolphin"

J.M.J. Previously, I have shared the following with several persons. It is an article about the extraordinary priest and Mariologist, the Reverend Emile Neubert, S.M. (1878-1967).

You will be inspired!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015: Our Comfort in Distress

J.M.J. "O Mary, overshadow me and I shall be calm and confident. Accompany me on my way and lead me by secret paths. I shall not be spared suffering, but you will arouse in me a real hunger for it, as for an indispensable food. Mary! Your name is sweet as honey and balm to my lips. Hail, Mary! who can resist you? Who can be lost if he says, 'Hail, Mary?' You are the Mother of the little ones, the health of the sick, the star in storms . . . . Oh! Mary! If I am helpless, without courage, without consolation, I run to you and cry: Ave Maria! You are the comfort of slaves, the courage of little ones, the strength of the weak, Ave Maria! When I say your Name, my whole heart is inflamed, Ave Maria! Joy of Angels, food of souls, Ave Maria!"

--See Blessed Edward Poppe (1890-1924)

Monday, June 15, 2015: O Mother, Make Me Humble

J.M.J. "O Mother most humble, make me humble, so that God will deign to turn His eyes toward me. There is nothing in my soul to attract Him, nothing sublime, nothing worthy of His complacency, nothing truly good or virtuous; whatever good there is, is so mixed with wretchedness, so weak and deficient that it is not even worthy to be called good. What, then, can attract Your grace to my poor soul, O Lord? 'Where will you look, but on him who is poor and humble, and contrite of heart?' (cf. Is 66,2) O Lord, grant that I may be humble; make me humble, through the merits of Your most humble Mother."

--Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magadalen, O.C.D., in Divine Intimacy, #176 (pages 528-529)

Sunday, June 14, 2015: Women after the Heart of Mary

J.M.J. Women are our sisters. 

What mangled view our society has of women. Our Blessed Lady provides the correct understanding of true femininity. And only by her intercession we will be extracted from the disturbing morass of confusion that envelopes us.       
In our contemporary era, there are many competing images of women and womanhood.

Who is a woman and with what is she to be involved?

This question, although its answer may seem obvious, has received widely varying responses from diverse sources: Playboy Magazine, Planned Parenthood of America, the National Organization for Women and Saint John Paul II, to name a few.

Playboy Magazine considers physically “attractive” women (in its estimation) to be akin to goddesses to be coveted for their ability to provide sexual pleasure.

Planned Parenthood of America declares that the “abortion decision” is to be made by women alone, ignoring the facts that men are responsible for conception and that abortion unfailingly takes the lives of a third party—innocent preborn children.

The National Organization for Women contends that women have been traditionally oppressed, especially because of their role as child-bearer. Therefore, they should now be aggressive in reasserting their “rights” to “reproductive freedom,” among other equality issues.

Finally, 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 the midst of these opposing viewpoints, we would do well to remember one simple but profound truth: the Almighty Lord, in the words of Saint John Paul II in his Letter to Women of June 29, 1995, 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, virgin—is remarkable and special in God’s eyes. Saint John Paul II, in pondering the dignity of each woman, wrote: “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” (number 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 (the seed and the egg) and God furnished the spiritual matter (the rational, immortal soul).

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 own projects so that Christ can work in us His inimitable plan of salvation.

As the Church praises God for Our Lady, we also offer our gratitude for women and womanhood. As the Holy Father 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” (number 31).

The Madonna is, in the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), the stellar example of “obedience, faith, hope and burning charity” (number 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 Mary in her countless virtues.

Where would we be without women? No Mary . . . no mothers . . . no wives . . . no sisters . . . no daughters . . . no consecrated women . . . no virgins . . . how impoverished our world—and depleted Heaven—would be!

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 13, 2015: O Lady, hear us!

J.M.J. Venerable Pius XII (1939-1958) consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Saturday, October 31, 1942. 

Today on the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we lift our voices to Our Lady and use the Prayer used by the Sovereign Pontiff over seventy years ago.

Prayer for the Consecration of the Church
and of the Human Race 
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Queen of the Holy Rosary,
Help of the Christians,
Refuge of the human race,
Conqueress in God’s battlefields,
To You and to Your Immaculate Heart
In this tragic hour of human history
We entrust and consecrate ourselves,
And the Holy Church.

She is the Mystical Body of Your Jesus,
Suffering and bleeding in so many parts
And tormented in so many ways,
We consecrate to You the whole world torn by bitter strive
And consumed by the fire of hatred
The victim of its own wickedness.

Look with compassion to all material and moral destruction
To the suffering and fears of fathers and mothers
Of husbands and wives, of brother and sisters and innocent children.

Look at the many lives cut down in the flower of youth
So many bodies torn to pieces in brutal slaughter
So many souls tortured and troubled
And in danger of being lost eternally.

Oh, Mother of Mercy, obtain peace for us from God!
Obtain especially those graces, which can convert human hearts quickly.
Those graces, which can prepare, establish and insure peace.

Queen of Peace, pray for us;
Give the world at war the peace for which all are longing,
Peace in Truth, Justice and the Charity of Christ.
Give them peace of the arms and peace of mind,
That in tranquility and order
The Kingdom of God may expand.

Grant Your protection to infidels
And to those still walking in the shadow of death;
Give them peace and permit that the sun of truth may raise upon them;
And that together with us
They may repeat before the Only Savior of the World:
Glory to God in the highest
And peace on earth among men of good will (Lk 2.14).

Give peace to the people separated by error and schism,
Particularly those, who have special devotion to You
And among whom there was no home,
Where Your venerable Icon was not honored,
Though at present it may be hidden
In the hope for better days.

Bring them back to the One Fold of Christ,
Under the One True Shepherd.
Obtain peace and complete liberty for the Holy Church of God,
Check the spreading flood of neo-paganism,
Arouse within the faithful love of purity
The practice of Christian life and apostolic zeal,
So that the people who serve God,
May increase in merit and number.

All of humanity were once consecrated to the Heart of Your Son.
All our hopes rest in Him, Who is in all times
Sign and pledge of victory and salvation.
Forever we consecrate ourselves to You
And to Your Immaculate Heart,
Oh, Mother and Queen of the World!

May Your love and patronage hasten the victory of the Kingdom of God,
May all nations, at peace with each other and with God, proclaim You Blessed
And sing with You from one end of the earth to the other,
The eternal Magnificat of glory, love and gratitude
To the Heart of Jesus, in which alone,
They can find Truth, Life and Peace.

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday, June 12, 2015: The Master Loves Mary and Us

J.M.J. Today, in a very particular way, we adore the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and beg Him to grant to us all that we need while thanking Him for the incredible, unspeakable Graces that He bestows upon us.
Only God Himself knows how many spiritual writers, teachers and preachers during the last twenty centuries have taken up the important theme of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The subject of the Heart of Christ is ever alluring and pertinent. Truly, it is a topic that cannot be fully explored.

It makes eminent sense for us to consider often the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus especially in our era that, sadly, is renown for its friendship with sin. Sin is all around us. There is even a kind of revelry, a boasting of sin that we find much too frequently.

Yet, despite the fascination for and submission to sin present in our age, we remain filled with unshakable trust because the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is patient and merciful beyond measure. Christ delights in extending His unparalleled compassion and forgiveness to all, but particularly to those lost in sin.

When reciting the Litany of the Sacred Heart, we recognize and profess Jesus’ abundant goodness: “Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful.” What more needs to be said? The Son of God—compassion itself—desires that we live with Him forever in Heaven. He is patient with us sinners and continually offers His mercy to us, trying to persuade us that it is better to acknowledge humbly our sinfulness, bask in His forgiveness and finally inherit Everlasting Life than to cling stubbornly to the transitory, meaningless “pleasures” that evil affords and suffer for all eternity in Hell.

By turning resolutely and confidently to Christ, we are assured that we will be forgiven our sins, no matter how numerous or grave. The Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity became incarnate—He took flesh—so that we could be free of our sins and enjoy authentic liberty that eventually will blossom into that life-giving union with Him in Paradise.

What an unfathomable treasure we have in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus! He is our God Who loves us, sustains us, nourishes us with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and forgives our transgressions in the Sacrament of Penance.

Where would we be without the Heart of Christ? Hopelessly laden with sin without any possibility of salvation—forever!

Jesus wants and expects that we will grow in our relationship with Him. He wishes that we avail ourselves of prayer, the Sacraments, Sacred Scripture, the Most Holy Rosary, spiritual reading, devotion to Our Blessed Lady, Saint Joseph and the Angels and Saints, acts of charity and mortification, almsgiving, etc. He realizes better than we what we require in order to be more conformed to Him. It is as if His Sacred Heart “aches” for every opportunity to show us how patient and merciful He really is.

What are we waiting for? Why do we fear? We fly to the Heart of Christ, aware that He is our refuge and strength Who is pleased to give us what we lack.

Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful, have mercy on us!

Heart of Mary, model of virtue, pray for us!


Thursday, June 11, 2015: The Mediatrix of All Graces

J.M.J. The late Reverend William G. Most wrote a beautiful and informative article entitled, "Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces," which is excerpted and adapted from Theology 523: Our Lady in Doctrine and Devotion (www.ewtn.com).

Let us learn about Our Blessed Lady as the one through whom the graces of God come to us.

Closely related to the Catholic teaching on Mary's cooperation in the redemption is the teaching that, with through and under her Son, she is Mediatrix of all graces. What exactly does this mean?

The term Mediatrix in itself could refer to either the objective redemption (the once-for-all earning a title to grace for all men), to the subjective redemption (the distribution of this grace to individual men), or to both. It is most usual to use it to refer only to subjective redemption, i.e. , the process of giving out the fruits of the objective redemption, throughout all centuries. We must consider whether or not the term Mediatrix applies to all graces or only to some. We will ask also about the nature of the mediation: is it only by way of intercession, that is, does Mary simply pray to her Son that he may give us grace, or does God also use her as an instrument in distributing grace.

To begin, we can say without doubt that the title "Mediatrix" is justified, and applies to all graces for certain, by her cooperation in acquiring all graces on Calvary.

The Second Vatican Council (Lumen gentium ## 61-62), said:
... in suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope, and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls. As a result she is our Mother in the order of grace.
This motherhood of Mary in the economy of grace lasts without interruption, from the consent which she gave in faith at the annunciation, and which she unhesitatingly bore with under the cross, even to the perpetual consummation of all the elect. For after being assumed into heaven, she has not put aside this saving function, but by her manifold intercession, she continues to win the gifts of eternal salvation for us. By her motherly love, she takes care of the brothers of her Son who are still in pilgrimage and in dangers and difficulties, until they be led through to the happy fatherland. For this reason, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adiutrix, and Mediatrix. This however it to be so understood that it takes nothing away, or adds nothing to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator. For no creature can ever be put on the same level with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer...."
We notice that Vatican II did not add the words "of all graces." However, as many papal texts point out, Mary's role in dispensation flows logically from her role in acquiring all graces. Further, the Council itself added a note on the above passage, in which it refers us to the texts of Leo XIII, Adiutricem populi, St. Pius X, Ad diem illum, Pius XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, and Pius XII, Radiomessage to Fatima.

Leo XIII, in the text referred to, spoke of her, as we saw above, as having "practically limitless power." St. Pius X said she was the "dispensatrix of all the gifts, and is the "neck" connecting the Head of the Mystical Body to the Members. But all power flows through the neck. Pius XII said "Her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion." These and many other texts speak in varied ways of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces, so often that the teaching has become infallible.


Protestants object to this, saying that there is only one mediator: 1 Tim 2:5. We agree that there are many ways in which Christ is the only mediator between God and man. 1) There is only one mediator who is such by very nature, being both true God and true man. 2) There is only one mediator whose whose work is necessary, without whom, in God's plan, there could be no salvation. 3) There is only one mediator who depends on no one else for power.

Mary differs on all three counts. 1) Mary only a creature, but it was appropriate that God be freely choose her as Mediatrix because he had made her Mother of the God-man, the Redeemer--it was she who on behalf of the whole human race consented to God's plan of salvation by proclaiming herself the handmaid of the Lord. 2) Her role was not necessary, since Christ was and is the perfect Redeemer and the perfect Mediator. Rather, Mary was associated with her Son by the free decision of the Father, a decision which we cannot ignore. 3) Her whole ability to do anything comes entirely from her Son, and hence we are not contradicting Lumen gentium # 62 which says no creature can be ever counted together with Him.

Really, the Father did not need her at all, except that if He decreed the incarnation, He necessarily decreed a Mother: she was and is that Mother. But everything else in which He has employed her is not needed.

Yet, if we recall the economy of redemption, it is clear that the Father wants everything to be as rich as possible, so that He will not stop with something lesser if there is more than can be done. Really, the incarnation in a palace, without death, would have been infinite in merit and satisfaction, as we have seen in the section on her cooperation in the redemption.

Further, the principle of St. Thomas helps here. In Summa Theologiae I. 19. 5. c., Thomas says that it pleases God to have one thing in place to serve as a title or reason for granting something further, even though that title does not move Him. It is His love of all goodness and good order that leads Him to act this way. Hence too, even though Calvary earned infinite forgiveness and graces, the Father wills to provide titles for giving out these, in the Mass. Even though He did not need even our Lady, yet He willed to employ her. Even though there is no need of any other saints, in objective or subjective redemption, yet He wills to add them--all to make everything, every title, as rich as possible.

Lumen gentium speaks of her as taking care of all her children. We are extremely numerous, but yet not infinite in number. Therefore, we are not too numerous for her to see and care for. For her capacity for that infinite vision of God is in proportion to her love on earth, so great that Pius IX, as we saw, said it was so great that "none greater under God can be thought of, and no one but God can comprehend it."

Is her mediation merely by intercession, prayer for us to her Son and to God the Father? Or does she also play a role in the distribution of graces from the Father through her Son to us? Many today, influenced by Protestant theology, tend to speak of grace merely as favor, and so say grace is not a thing given. But that would imply Pelagianism, the heresy that says that we can be saved by our own power. For if God merely sits there and smiles at me, and gives me nothing, that would mean that I had to do it by my own power.

So we answer, since Mary was associated with her Son in acquiring grace for us, she will also share with him in distributing that grace to us. This fits well with the words of the Popes, who call her the administra of grace, meaning that she administers or dispenses it. So Pope Leo XIII, Iucunda semper, said:

"... when He [the Father] has been invoked with excellent prayers, our humble voice turns to Mary; in accordance with no other law than that law of conciliation and petition which was expressed as follows by St. Bernardine of Siena : 'Every grace that is communicated to this world has a threefold course. For by excellent order, it is dispensed from God to Christ, from Christ to the Virgin, from the Virgin to us.'"