“Mondays with Mary” – Mary’s Relationship with the Eucharist

With yesterday’s celebration in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church of the great Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ), I felt the need to share with you some of the words from Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical, Eucharistia de Ecclesia, specifically where he focuses on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s relationship with the Holy Eucharist.

I think I have at least quoted some of these thoughts in previous blog posts, but have never brought them all together in just one article. The Holy Eucharist is a topic that I have written about numerous times in the past, most notably the article from my series, Quick Lessons from the Catechism.

If you are a faithful, devout, and practicing Catholic, the Holy Eucharist should be an important aspect of your spirituality, most importantly Sunday Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. If your parish has Perpetual or weekly Adoration, I can’t encourage you enough to sign-up for one hour to spend with Our Lord, particularly if you are involved with a liturgical ministry at your parish (sacristan, usher, lector, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist). I know countless people who have found a new love for their faith in an Adoration chapel.

If your parish does not have Eucharistic Adoration, I would highly encourage you to speak to your Pastor about bringing in this devotion to the life of the parish. For some reason, if you’re having a difficult time with this endeavor, ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to assist you. She knows exactly how important the Holy Eucharist is to the life of the Church, because she was there at its inception.

Knowing how important the Eucharist is to the life of the Church, here are 10 quotes from the aforementioned encyclical written by the great 20th century Polish Pope about Mary’s relationship to the Holy Eucharist –

1. “If we wish to rediscover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and model of the Church. In my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ’s face, and among the mysteries of light I included the institution of the Eucharist.  Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.”

2. “Mary is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.”

3. “With the same maternal concern which she showed at the wedding feast of Cana, Mary seems to say to us: “Do not waver; trust in the words of my Son. If he was able to change water into wine, he can also turn bread and wine into his body and blood, and through this mystery bestow on believers the living memorial of his passover, thus becoming the ‘bread of life’”.”

Our Lady of the Host by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

4. “Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.”

5. “Mary also anticipated, in the mystery of the incarnation, the Church’s Eucharistic faith. When, at the Visitation, she bore in her womb the Word made flesh, she became in some way a “tabernacle” – the first “tabernacle” in history – in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary.”

6. “In her daily preparation for Calvary, Mary experienced a kind of “anticipated Eucharist” – one might say a “spiritual communion” – of desire and of oblation, which would culminate in her union with her Son in his passion, and then find expression after Easter by her partaking in the Eucharist which the Apostles celebrated as the memorial of that passion.”

7. “For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb that heart which had beat in unison with hers and reliving what she had experienced at the foot of the Cross.”

8. “Mary is present, with the Church and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist. If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist. This is one reason why, since ancient times, the commemoration of Mary has always been part of the Eucharistic celebrations of the Churches of East and West.”

9. “Mary sings of the “new heavens” and the “new earth” which find in the Eucharist their anticipation and in some sense their programme and plan. The Magnificat expresses Mary’s spirituality, and there is nothing greater than this spirituality for helping us to experience the mystery of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has been given to us so that our life, like that of Mary, may become completely a Magnificat!”

10. “…let us listen to Mary Most Holy, in whom the mystery of the Eucharist appears, more than in anyone else, as a mystery of light. Gazing upon Mary, we come to know the transforming power present in the Eucharist. In her we see the world renewed in love.”

During this week, let us contemplate these words and implement them into our daily prayer life. If you do spend time in Adoration, I would encourage you to do a “lectio divina” type of prayer with these words. Meditating and praying upon these saintly words might open for you another avenue in your devotion to the Holy Eucharist and in your relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is there always leading us closer to Jesus Christ in this sacrament of all sacraments.

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament…Pray for Us

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Trinitarian Perspective

On January 10, 1996, Pope St. John Paul II focused on, as part of his Marian Catechesis during the years of 1995 to 1997, Mary in the Trinitarian Perspective. Beginning with the 8th chapter of the Second Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium, the Polish saint lays out the importance Mary plays in regards to the Most Holy Trinity. As the greatest creature of all creatures, she has a distinct relationship with each of the persons of the Holy Trinity. Quoting paragraph #53 from the aforementioned document, John Paul II says,

“Mary’s threefold relationship with the divine Persons is confirmed in precise words and with a description of the characteristic relationship which links the Mother of the Lord to the Church: “She is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit.”

Coronation of the Virgin – Diego Velázquez

He further explains in the same catechesis how Mary is the Mother of the Son of God, beloved daughter of the Father, and temple of the Holy Spirit. He says,

“Mary’s fundamental dignity is that of being “Mother of the Son”, which is expressed in Christian doctrine and devotion with the title “Mother of God”.

This is a surprising term, which shows the humility of God’s only-begotten Son in his Incarnation and, in connection with it, the most high privilege granted a creature who was called to give him birth in the flesh.

Mother of the Son, Mary is the “beloved daughter of the Father” in a unique way. She has been granted an utterly special likeness between her motherhood and the divine fatherhood.

And again: every Christian is a “temple of the Holy Spirit”, according to the Apostle Paul’s expression (1 Cor 6:19). But this assertion takes on an extraordinary meaning in Mary: in her the relationship with the Holy Spirit is enriched with a spousal dimension. I recalled this in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater: “The Holy Spirit had already come down upon her, and she became his faithful spouse at the Annunciation, welcoming the Word of the true God…” (n. 26).”

Pope St. John Paul II concludes his short catechesis on Mary’s role with the Trinity with these words,

 “…the authentic meaning of Mary’s privileges and of her extraordinary relationship with the Trinity: their purpose is to enable her to co-operate in the salvation of the human race. The immeasurable greatness of the Lord’s Mother therefore remains a gift of God’s love for all men.”

To read the full catechesis from January 10, 1996, click HERE.

I have also written on Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium in the past, to read the paragraphs spoken from this catechesis, please click HERE. If you have never read the Second Vatican Council document, I would highly encourage you to do so.

“Mondays with Mary” – Six Quotes from Pope Benedict XVI on Mary’s Connection to Pentecost

Yesterday we celebrated the great Solemnity of Pentecost – the day we celebrate the birth of the Catholic Church. From this day when the Holy Spirit enkindled the hearts of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles, the Church began to grow, and grow rapidly. As the Apostles went out into the world to preach the gospel message to all the nations, the Holy Spirit accompanied them and through his guidance many repented of their sins and were baptized.

Before the day of Pentecost, the Apostles were simple men, afraid for their own lives, but after the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were men of self-sacrifice, strength, and great fortitude. They preached the Gospels even when it was dangerous to do so. In the book, The Spirit of Catholicism, Karl Adam says,  “Twelve simple, uneducated fisherman revolutionized the world, and that with no other instrument than their new faith and their readiness to die for that faith.”

Although he did not travel as vastly as his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI brought the Gospel message to the nations and continents during his nearly eight year papacy. However, his understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is thoroughly examined, explained, and taught in his many books and writings.

To celebrate Pentecost this year, here are six quotes from Pope Benedict XVI on Mary and Pentecost –

1. “Since Pentecost is renewed in our time, perhaps taking nothing from the freedom of God the Church should concentrate less on activities and be more dedicated to prayer. The Mother of the Church, Mary Most Holy, Bride of the Holy Spirit, teaches us this. This year Pentecost falls on the very last day of May on which the Feast of the Visitation is normally celebrated. That too was a sort of miniature “pentecost” which caused joy and praise to well up in the hearts of Elizabeth and Mary, one barren and the other a virgin, who both became mothers through an extraordinary divine intervention (cf. Lk 1: 41-45).”

2. It would truly be possible to find many examples, less grave but equally symptomatic, in everyday reality. Sacred Scripture reveals to us that the energy capable of moving the world is not an anonymous and blind force but the action of the “Spirit of God… moving over the face of the waters” (Gn 1: 2) at the beginning of the Creation. And Jesus Christ “brought to the earth” not the vital force that already lived in it but the Holy Spirit, that is, the love of God who “renews the face of the earth”, purifying it from evil and setting it free from the dominion of death (cf. Ps 103[104]: 29-30). This pure, essential and personal “fire”, the fire of love, came down upon the Apostles gathered in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room, to make the Church an extension of Christ’s work of renewal.

3. Finally, Mary is a woman who loves…we sense this in her quiet gestures, as recounted by the infancy narratives in the Gospel. We see it in the delicacy with which she recognizes the need of the spouses at Cana and makes it known to Jesus. We see it in the humility with which she recedes into the background during Jesus’ public life, knowing that the Son must establish a new family and that the Mother’s hour will come only with the Cross, which will be Jesus’ true hour (Jn 2:4; 13:1). When the disciples flee, Mary will remain beneath the Cross (Jn 19:25-27); later, at the hour of Pentecost, it will be they who gather around her as they wait for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14).

4. Prior to the Ascension into Heaven, he ordered them “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (cf. Acts 1: 4-5); that is, he asked them to stay together to prepare themselves to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And they gathered in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room, awaiting the promised event (cf. Acts 1: 14)…The Church, gathered with Mary as at her birth, today implores:  “Veni, Sancte Spiritus! – Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.

5. If there is no Church without Pentecost, without the Mother of Jesus there is no Pentecost either, since she lived in a singular way what the Church experiences each day under the action of the Holy Spirit. St Chromatius of Aquileia comments in these words on the annotation in the Acts of the Apostles: “so the Church had gathered in the upper room together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. It is therefore impossible to speak of the Church if Mary, Mother of the Lord is not present…The Church of Christ is wherever the Incarnation of Christ by the Virgin is preached, and wherever the Apostles, who are the Lord’s brethren, preach, it is there that the Gospel is heard (Sermo 30, 1: SC 164, 135).

6. Let us ask the Virgin Mary to obtain also today a renewed Pentecost for the Church that will imbue in all, and especially in the young, the joy of living and witnessing to the Gospel…With Mary, the Virgin in prayer at Pentecost, let us ask the Almighty for an abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of unity and harmony, to inspire thoughts of peace and reconciliation in everyone.

Let us pray…Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle us the fire of your love. O Lord, during this week of Pentecost, give us the grace and strength to go forth from our homes and parishes to bring the Gospel message to the world we encounter each day of our lives. And let us ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was present that day. Amen.

250th “Mondays with Mary” 

Pentecost: Lighting the World on Fire with the New Evangelization

There is a scene in the 1991 film, Backdraft, when Robert De Niro’s character asks Donald Sutherland’s character (an imprisoned pyromaniac), “what do you want to do to the whole world Ronald”, and he replies “burn it all.”

If you have never see the movie, I encourage you to see because it’s a great film, however the reason why I quote this film is because as Catholic Christians living in the world, we should want to do the same thing to the world, but in a Evangelistic way. We should be seeking to light the world on fire with the light of the Holy Spirit.

As Catholics, we should be spiritual fire-starters for Jesus Christ and His Church. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled” (Lk 12:49). Obviously, I am not talking about starting literal fires, but I am speaking about playing with the fire of Pentecost and the fire that we receive in the Sacrament of Confirmation. As Catholics, it is our fundamental duty to evangelize the world by playing with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

At the direction of a good friend of mine, a few years ago, I read George Weigel’s book – Evangelical Catholicism. His understanding of the Catholic Church and the deep reform (not doctrinal reform) that is needed for the Church in the 21st century is prophetic, and remember we are only at the beginning of it. If you have never read it, I would highly encourage you to do so.

In Chapter 1, there is a section called – Pentecost, Again. He begins this section by stating that through the pontificates of Pope St. John XXIII (and the Second Vatican Council) and Pope St. John Paul II, a new Pentecost is on the horizon in the Catholic Church. The marching orders that will lead this new Pentecost is the New Evangelization.

In his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, Pope St. John Paul II says this –

God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.

Now this is no easy task, especially in a Church that seems to be somewhat conflicted with herself today, but if the mission can be met, it means that we who take on this great call will have to play with fire.

To encourage you to “play with fire”, here are some dynamic and powerful quotes from Evangelical Catholicism and the section on the new Pentecost –

Quoting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger –

“the Holy Spirit is fire; whoever does not want to be burned should not come near him.” This fire…”is an “inimitable” part of the “relationship between Christ, Holy Spirit, and Church.””

Fire of the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ –

“The fire of the Holy Spirit purifies, inspires, and fuses men and women together into a new human community, the Church. Through each of its members, and in them as a whole, the Church is the Body of Christ on earth.”

Fire of the Holy Spirit, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger  –

“Faith is a tongue of fire that burns us and melts us so that ever more it is true: I am no longer I…When we yield to the burning fire of the Holy Spirit, being Christian becomes comfortable only as first glance…Only when we do not fear the tongue of fire and the storm it brings with it does the Church become the icon of the Holy Spirit. And only then does she open the world to the light of God.”

Evangelical Catholicism is Not Easy –

“The cultural Catholicism of the past was “comfortable” because it fit neatly within the ambient public culture, causing little chafing between one’s life “in the Church” and one’s life “in the world.”…Evangelical Catholicism does not seek to “get along”; it seeks to convert.”

Evangelical Catholicism in the Church –

“…Lukewarm Catholicism has no future: submitting to the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit is not longer optional…Evangelical requires a generosity about time from the laity, who must make time amid the rush of postmodern life for a deeper encounter with Christ than that permitted by an hour’s worth of weekly worship…more attention to sacramental preparation and sacramental discipline…”

Evangelical Catholicism, Community, and Holiness –

“Evangelical Catholicism builds up the community of the faithful not for the sake of the community but for the sake of a common reception of the mysteries of the faith, which in turn become the fonts of grace…The tongues of from which the Church is formed thus become the fire of mission by which the world is set ablaze…Evangelical Catholicism calls the entire Church to holiness for the sake of mission.”

I don’t know about you, but these words from George Weigel get me fired up…pun intended! As Catholics, it is time, now more than ever before, for us to light the world on fire with the love of Jesus Christ and the Church. Find strength in the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist – they unite us with Jesus Christ and each other, the Body of Christ.

In the book, The Spirit of Catholicism (another great text!) Karl Adam says, “Twelve simple, uneducated fishermen revolutionized the world, and that with no other instrument than their new faith and their readiness to die for that faith.”

If the Twelve Apostles could do this, imagine what we can do with 2,000 years of Scripture and Tradition behind us. My fellow Catholics – Go! Evangelize! And the set the world on fire

National Pray for a Priest Day

Not until someone sent me something via email did I realize that today was – National Pray for a Priest Day. I am blessed to work with three very good and holy priests that serve our parish daily with sacrificial love. My Pastor, Fr. Will Schmid, is one of the best priests I know and truly has a heart for Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. His vision when it comes to running a parish and having a sound liturgy is truly unmatched. It’s a blessing to work for such a great man of God.

With Ordinations occurring over the past few weeks and some happening this weekend, such as the Diocese of Phoenix Ordinations tomorrow, it is is good reminder for us all to pray for our Priests. Here is a prayer written by Pope Benedict XVI to pray for priests –

You offered yourself to the Father on the altar of the Cross
and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
gave Your priestly people a share in Your redeeming sacrifice.
Hear our prayer for the sanctification of our priests.
Grant that all who are ordained to the ministerial priesthood
may be ever more conformed to You, the Divine Master.
May they preach the Gospel with pure heart and clear conscience.
Let them be shepherds according to Your own Heart,
single-minded in service to You and to the Church
and shining examples of a holy, simple and joyful life.
Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother and ours,
draw all priests and the flocks entrusted to their care
to the fullness of eternal life where you live and reign
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Pope St. John Paul II as a young priest.

To read more about the Priesthood, I encourage you to read articles I have written in the past –

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Orders

Phoenix Ordinations and the Catholic Priesthood 

“Mondays with Mary” – Six Quotes on the Importance of Mary to the Catholic Priesthood 

World Day of Prayer for Vocations – The Catholic Priesthood 

An Ordination to the Priesthood, The Saint Ignatius Institute, and True Friendships 

Happy 5th Anniversary to the Catholic Priesthood!  

Vocations Sunday 2013 – The Catholic Priesthood

Pope Benedict XVI: 65 Years as a Catholic Priest 

Saint John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests…Pray for our Priests 

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of the Way

This coming Wednesday, May 24, is the optional memorial of Our Lady of the Way, also known as – Santa Maria della Strada. Often celebrated in Jesuit parishes, schools, and communities, this optional memorial was restored to the Jesuit’s Proper Calendar in 2014.

Santa Maria della Strada was the first Jesuit church in the city of Rome. When St. Ignatius and his cohorts first came to Rome, it was here where they often celebrated Mass, heard Confessions, taught the faithful, and provided catechesis to children. After seeing so much good fruit, the Pastor of the parish joined the Jesuits and asked the Holy Father, Pope Paul III, to place the parish under the care of the Society of Jesus. It was during this papacy that the Society of Jesus was officially approved.

In the church of Maria della Strada, was a late medieval mural, which was on the external wall of the small chapel. St. Ignatius often prayed in front of this mural. He had a great devotion to Our Lady throughout his life and placed the patronage of the Jesuit order under Mary’s protection. It was the place where many of the Jesuit novices professed their vows when joining the order. When they were sent to foreign lands as missionaries, many of the Jesuits prayed in front of this image.

In 1568, the small chapel of Santa Maria della Strada was torn down for the building of the Church of the Gesù, the primary church of the Society of Jesus in Rome. The Gesù was consecrated in 1584. The image of Our Lady of the Way was carefully preserved from the original place in the small chapel and now has it’s own special place in the north chapel of the Gesù.

Santa Maria della Strada in The Gesu.

Our Lady of the Way…Pray for Us.

Happy Birthday to my hero – Pope St. John Paul II

Today would have been the 97th birthday of Karol Wojtyla, known to so many as – Pope St. John Paul II. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him fondly. The reason I do what I do on this blog and in my position at the parish is based on his life and his many great documents. The influence of John Paul II on my own life is truly immeasurable. I was blessed to see him three times in my life – Phoenix, Arizona in 1987, Denver, Colorado in 1993, and in Rome, Italy in 2000. I am the JP2 Generation.

Pope St. John Paul II as a young priest.

For a collection of pictures from a previous post, check out this one I wrote on his birthday in 2014. Below are the Top 5 All-Time Posts (most views) I have written in the past –

1. 12 Quotes from Blessed Pope John Paul II on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World 

2. 12 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Guadalupe

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Mother of Mercy

4. 5 Quotes on Pentecost from Pope St. John Paul II

5. 10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

For the complete collection of my writings on him, click here.

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray For Us