“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Vladimir

Since it’s been some time that I have focused on a specific title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought for today’s “Mondays with Mary” I would turn our attention to one of today’s feasts for Our Lady – the Theotokos of Vladimir, which is celebrated intently in Russia. It’s also a perfect day to discuss this image as we have just celebrated the inaugural memorial – Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. In this image, we see Christ with his Mother.

This specific image of Mary holds a special place in my heart since I received a depiction of this image 10 years ago from a good friend whose marriage I was in as a groomsman. Still a good friend today, he will be my best man when I get married this September. The image he gave to me of Our Lady hangs today in my office/library at home.

Our Lady of Vladimir in Greek (Eleousa) means Mother of Tenderness. We see Christ, as a child, closely nestled to his mother as he gazes into her eyes while his left arm embraces her and his right hand is gently touching her left cheek. The original image is a large icon believed to be one of the images that Saint Luke drew of Mary. Although Mary in the image looks towards us, there is no doubting that she is tightly connected and union with Christ. She is gentle and tender not only with Christ but all of those who love him and seek to know him more. She is the gentle mother leading all believers closer to Christ.

Our Lady of Vladimir

In the year 450, it is believed that image left Jerusalem and was moved to Constantinople. Around the year 1131, the icon left Constantinople and was moved to Vishgorod, near Kiev. In 1155, Prince Andrei Bogolubsky moved it to Vladimir. Eventually the image was transferred to Moscow in 1395, which became the religious capital for the country. Our Lady of Vladimir is the most venerated icon in all of Russia. It has escaped numerous tragedies, which include fires and the plundering of churches. The Theotokos of Vladimir is tied intensely to the life and history of Russia. Many miraculous interventions have been ascribed to it.

The most notable miracle occurred in 1395 when Moscow was facing invasions by the Mongol Empire. After prayers were said before the image and she was asked to intercede for the battle, she became a shield of protection for the Russian people and they held back the Mongol invasion. From that time one, Our Lady of Vladimir became the national sign of the Russian Orthodox Church.

It hung in the Church of the Annunciation in Moscow until 1918. It is now located in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Our Lady of Vladimir…Pray for Us

The 6th Anniversary of “Mondays with Mary”

Today marks another milestone in my writing – it is the 6th Anniversary of “Mondays with Mary.” I started this series on a whim 6 years ago thinking that I would only do it during the month of that first year, but after receiving some comments on the blog posts that I wrote in May of 2012, I decided to continue to write every Monday on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As of late though, my writing on this series and overall has decreased due to family commitments (marriage/wedding preparation and our newest four-legged addition to our family, who we rescued and adopted). Writing has allowed me to share with you the importance of the Catholic faith and why it is so important to me. If writing wasn’t important to me, I would have quit long ago, but in case you are unaware, today’s post is my 828th overall and the 287th “Mondays with Mary.”

Our Lady of the Host by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

To celebrate today’s 6th Anniversary, I am going to provide for you the Top 6 “Mondays with Mary” of all time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them and sharing them with you today –

1. “Mondays with Mary” – The Flowers of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

2. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes from Padre Pio on the Blessed Virgin Mary 

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Memorable Quotes about the Blessed Virgin Mary from St. John Vianney 

4. “Mondays with Mary” – 7 Benefits of Praying the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

5. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant 

6. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from the Saints on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

Our Lady, Most Pure and Immaculate…Pray for Us. 

“Mondays with Mary” – A Marian Prayer of Saint Louis De Montfort

Although there are many saints that have a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the greatest Marian saints in the Catholic Church is Saint Louis De Montfort. He is most notably known for the classic, True Devotion to Mary: with Preparation for Total Consecration. It is considered among many as the greatest work of Marian spirituality ever written. Through this work, a Christian will find Jesus Christ completely and fully through the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is also known for the work, The Secret of the Rosary. 

Queen of Heaven – Diego Velázquez

As much as I would like to focus on St. Louis De Montfort and some of his works, for today’s short post, I want to provide for you one of his Marian prayers. As of late (last week I was flying home and I was sick) in these blog posts, I have been trying to locate, research, and provide for you Marian prayers written by different saints. I believe if we want to grow in our love and devotion to Mary, the best examples are our older brothers and sisters in the faith – the Saints! Their prayers to Mama Mary inspire me to write my own Marian prayer, but for now, I personally pray The Hail Mary and The Memorare.

My powerful Queen,
you are all mine through your mercy,
and I am all yours.
Take away from me all that may displease God
and cultivate in me all that is pleasing to him.
May the light of your faith
dispel the darkness of my mind,
your deep humility
take the place of my pride,
your continual sight of God
fill my memory with his presence.
May the first of the love of your heart
inflame the lukewarmness of my own heart.
May your virtues take the place of my sins.
May your merits be my enrichment
and make up for all
that is wanting in me before God.
My beloved Mother,
grant that I may have no other spirit but your spirit, to know Jesus Christ and His divine will and to praise and glorify the Lord, that I may love God with burning love like yours.

Saint Louis De Montfort…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – The Marian Prayer of Saint Gemma Galgani

This coming Wednesday, April 11, is the memorial for one of the great young saints of the Catholic Church, and I imagine a saint that many of you don’t know well. In recent years, I have come to know a little more about this female saint of the late eighteenth century, but still have much to learn. I have not written anything on her as of yet but hope to in the next few days. The saint in which I am referring to – Saint Gemma Galgani.

Although she did not live as long as St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), she died at the age of 25, there are some rather striking similarities in their lives. Most notably, they are both considered mystics, both were given the Stigmata, and both battled demons. I would love to spend more time on writing about her life, and as I’ve just said, hope to write more this week, however, today’s post is about providing you one of her Marian prayers. Like so many of the saints before her, St. Gemma had a true and deep devotion to Our Lady, which in turn, led her to have a deep passionate love for Jesus Christ. Our Lady interceded for Gemma and led her repentant soul to the great merciful heart of Jesus Christ.

Sassoferrato – Virgin Mother

Here is the Marian prayer of St. Gemma Galgani –

Jesus entrusted me to His Mother,
and charged me to love her very much.
You are then my heavenly Mother.
You will be towards me
like any mother towards her children.
You see me weak?
You will have mercy on my weakness.
You see me poor in virtue?
You will help me.
O my Mother,
do not forsake me!
My dearest Mother,
do not abandon me!

Saint Gemma Galgani…Pray for Us. 

I grew a beard and now I’m getting married

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly – I grew a beard and now I’m get married. I heard this statement and statements like it for years but refused to grow a beard for a long period of time. In the past, I would grow one for a few weeks and then eventually shave it. This all changed last summer when on July 16, 2017, I decided to take the plunge and grow out a beard, and yes, I was open to meeting a good Catholic woman. So many of my Catholic guy friends, who have beards and were either married or engaged to be married, said to me for a very long time – Perna, if you grow a beard, the right woman will come into your life.

Between you and me – I thought they were all crazy, absolute lunatics…and then it happened! On August 18, 33 days after I started growing a beard, I met my future wife at a Catholic Beer Club at Helton Brewery in Phoenix, Arizona. The full story is good and maybe I will share it with all of you at some point, but I will tell you this – she and her friend approached me (Ha ha!). There were a few reasons why they approached me, but one of the reasons why she came up to me was because I had a beard. At this point, it was in the beginning stages but it was still a beard. Things moved quickly because that night she knew she wanted to marry me and the following night I knew I wanted to marry her.

About one month into our relationship, it hit me what all my beard-growing Catholic guy friends had said to me in the past – if you grow a beard, you will meet the right woman and get married. It turns out that these men weren’t crazy or lunatics but were right on the money! In just about 5 months from now, we are going to be married. Please pray for us as we continue our marriage preparation.

From our Engagement Photo Shoot by Man in the Moon Studios: Arizona Wedding Photography.

Now you might be asking yourself at this point – Tom, why are you writing a blog post about growing a beard and getting married?

I am writing this post because I want to share some information about this awesome Catholic beard balm that I have been using since my fiancée gave it to me as a gift for Christmas. If you are a Catholic man who has a beard, you’re thinking about growing a beard, or you know of a Catholic man in your life who has beard, here is a great product that allows one to share in the traditions and beauty of the Catholic Church.

I had heard about this Catholic beard balm from my former pastor and boss, who by the way has a phenomenal beard (my new boss has a rather awesome beard too), but since I wasn’t growing a beard at that time, I never gave it much thought. As my fiancée and I continued to date, she suggested I check out this Catholic beard balm her older brother uses. It happened to be the same stuff my former boss mentioned long ago. Since she bought me the first tin in December, I have since purchased two more tins (see my favorites below).

If you’re a Catholic man like me who loves Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Angels and Saints, and the vast traditions of the Catholic Church, then you’re going to love the Barbatus Beard Balm created and sold by Catholic Balm Company.

Every morning when I put it on, I think how awesome it is to be Catholic. It reminds me of how I have to live my life as a Catholic man in this world and how devoted I need to be to Our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the coolest aspects is that when your order arrives, there is a prayer card that also comes in the box that tells you how to apply the balm to your beard on one side, and on the other side, there is a Daily Blessing of the Beard. This daily blessing is by far one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time. It actually mentions our Baptism!

Together on a day pilgrimage to Our Lady of Solitude Monastery.

When I tell people about this beard balm, especially non-Catholics, they’re amazed that such a thing even exists, but in the same sentence they want to know more about it. You have to admit that a lot of non-Catholics are somewhat intrigued by the Catholic Church and her 2000-year traditions. When I first shared it with my barber, a non-Catholic, he was totally amazed at the idea of a Catholic beard balm and wants me to bring it next time for him to see it, and of course, smell it!

So where do you get this awesome Catholic beard balm? Please visit the Catholic Balm Company website and check out all their products. You should definitely read Their Story to learn how and why they started the company. I would also encourage you to follow them on Facebook and Twitter if you have these social media platforms.

Personally, my favorite Barbatus Beard Balms so far are Holy Smokes and Chrism. I have not tried any of the oils yet but want to soon. I have a beard brush that I use daily, but not from the Catholic Balm Company. I need to purchase one from them as well. At some point, I might join the Order of St. Barbatus, but it’s not doable right now.

If you decide to try out these balms and/or any of the other products for yourself or buy them for the Catholic man in your life, come back to this post and let me know your thoughts. If you already use the beard balm or other products, let me know today what you think.

I leave you with the words of the Early Christian Father, Lactantius

“[T]he nature of the beard contributes in an incredible degree to distinguish the maturity of bodies, or to the distinction of sex, or to the beauty of manliness and strength” (On the Workmanship of God, Chapter 7).

825th blog post. 

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Saint John Paul II, Regina Caeli, and Easter Monday

Now that we have entered the Easter Season, the Marian antiphon that is proper to chant during this time is the Regina Caeli. The antiphon replaces the more common chanted Angelus, which is often heard throughout the rest of the year. Pilgrims traveling to Rome can gather to hear the weekly prayer and message given by the Holy Father. To learn more about the Regina Caeli and the Angelus, I would suggest reading the linked posts.

Madonna by Fra’ Filippo Lippi, O.Carm.

Since Regina Caeli means “Queen of Heaven” and today is Easter Monday, and on Mondays I focus on the Blessed Virgin Mary, I want to concentrate on some of the words from Pope Saint John Paul during from his Regina Caeli on the Easter Monday’s in his later Pontificate. As many of you know, he is big part of what I do for my full-time job and why I am so dedicated to my writing here and in other places.

The Polish Pope said…

“Today is Easter Monday, traditionally called “Monday of the Angel”, because angels appeared beside the women and the Apostles with a significant role in the extraordinary event of the Resurrection. It was precisely an angel who addressed the first message from the empty tomb to the women who had come to finish the burial arrangements for Jesus’ body. He says to them: “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here” (Mk 16:6) …Let us invoke the Queen of angels and saints, that she may grant us, supported by our guardian angels, to be authentic witnesses to the Lord’s paschal mystery.”

“But there is a second teaching we can draw from the angel’s words. When he [the Angel] urges the women not to seek “the living among the dead”, he wants us to understand that Christ — the living God who shines with glory — can be better known by his disciples now than before his passion and death. Now he gives his disciples the Holy Spirit, who can guide them “into all the truth” (Jn 16:13). The Spirit, the first gift of the Risen One to believers (cf. Jn 20:22), helps them in their weakness, leading them to “know fully the mystery of Redemption and to preach the rule of faith in all truth” (Peter Damian, Carmina et preces, III)…Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Queen of Heaven, who certainly did not fail to meet her risen Son and was able joyfully to continue her conversation with him. May Mary obtain for all the faithful the gift of a joyful and consistent witness, which will lead many others to meet and know the risen Lord, who lives always among us.”

“The proclamation ‘Christ my hope is arisen! ’(Sequence) continues to echo in today’s liturgy. In this way the spiritual joy of Easter is prolonged and expands in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful. Christ’s Resurrection is the most overwhelming event in human history. This event gave everyone new hope: from now on hope no longer means waiting for something to happen. It means being certain that something has happened because ‘the Lord is risen and reigns immortal!’…Let us entrust our heartfelt petition to Mary. “Queen of heaven, you who rejoice because the Son you were chosen to bear has risen…’”

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia – Rejoice, Queen of heaven, alleluia!”

This is the prayer that replaces the Angelus, which we address to her throughout the Easter season. The joy of the Blessed Virgin contains in itself everything for which the Church rejoices: every good of grace and nature. Let us therefore call upon her with faith and devotion: Regina caeli laetare, alleluia!”

“On this holiday, known in Italy as “Monday of the Angel“, there is still a strong echo in the liturgy of the heavenly messenger’s words to the women who had gone to the tomb: “Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead” (Mt 28: 7). We hear the invitation as though addressed to us, too, to “go quickly” and proclaim the Gospel to the people of our time. May Mary, whom we call upon today in the Regina Caeli prayer, help us in this demanding mission which belongs to all the baptized. May she support us especially in bearing faithful witness that Jesus is truly risen and that humanity’s hope is restored to life in him.”

“May Mary, a silent witness of the Death and Resurrection of her Son Jesus, help us to believe totally in this mystery of salvation which, received with deep faith, can change life. May she enable us to transmit it with joy, as consistent and courageous disciples of the risen Lord, to all those we come across.”

“Mary became a model for Christian communities “rejoicing” in the Passover of the Lord, a source of true joy to all believers. Indeed, the Risen Christ is the source of and ultimate reason for this spiritual joy that no shadow can dim. The liturgy of the Octave of Easter echoes it constantly: “Christ has risen as he promised”. This is also what we proclaim in the “Regina Caeli”, a prayer so dear to popular piety…May the Virgin Mary, silent witness of this mystery, strengthen us in our personal attachment to the One who died and rose for the salvation of every human being. May she be our teacher and guide in the faith; may she support us in moments of doubt and temptation; may she obtain for us that inner peace which no one can disturb, because it is rooted in the certainty that Christ is truly risen.”

Regina Caeli…Pray for Us.

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray for Us.


Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb – Fra Angelico

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
“Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
‘He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you” (Mk. 16:1-7). [Gospel Reading from The Resurrection of the Lord at The Easter Vigil].

To all of my followers and readers through WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media and Catholic websites, I wish you a very Blessed, Joyful, and Happy Easter Season! Thank you for your support and your prayers.

Please continue to pray for my fiancee and I as we approach our Nuptials in just about 5 months. We are excited and still have lots to do.

Christ has Risen, indeed! Alleluia!