“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.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Prayers of Fatima

As most of you know, this past Saturday, May 13, was the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. Over the next few months, we will continue to remember the approved apparitions that occurred on the 13th day of every month ending in October. At Fatima, the Virgin Mary identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary and asked that the Holy Rosary be recited on a daily basis. To read more about Our Lady of Fatima, I would encourage you to read my article by clicking on the aforementioned link.

During these apparitions, Our Lady, along with an angel appeared to the three young visionaries teaching them five prayers that should be recited often by the faithful. The first one I share with you is probably the one everyone knows well since it has become a staple prayer within the Holy Rosary. It is known as The Rosary Decade Prayer

“Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”

During their time with Our Lady, she taught the children to offer up their personal daily sacrifices by praying The Sacrifice Prayer

“Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

When the angel appeared to the three children, he identified himself as the Angel of Peace and the Angel of Portugal. He taught them The Pardon Prayer

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.”

When Our Lady first appeared, the children had an internal desire to pray this prayer, The Eucharistic Prayer, together –

“Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”

During one of the apparitions, when the angel appeared to them, they saw the angel prostrated in front of a suspended host and chalice praying The Angel’s Prayer

“Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit- I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.”

Since these prayers are truly heavenly treasures, and it seems that many people are not aware of them, I would encourage you to share this article with as many as people as you can so that they can learn these prayers and offer them up on a daily basis.

Our Lady of Fatima…Pray for Us.

Source:

Thierfelder, Mary. “Five Prayers Taught at Fatima by Mary & the Angels.” Get Fed | A Catholic Blog to Feed Your Faith. The Catholic Company, 10 May 2017. Web. 15 May 2017.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, the Gate of Heaven

Since tomorrow is the feast day of Our Lady of Loreto, and one of the titles for Mary in the Litany to Our Lady of Loreto is “Gate of Heaven,” I though I would focus today’s “Mondays with Mary” on this specific title. So why and how is Mary the “Gate of Heaven”?

First, it has to do with our death. There are two moments in our life that that the Church teaches us to call upon Mary – now, the present moment, which is in our power, and “at the hour of our death,” which may not be in our power, however, with the help of Mary we may be given to the chance to enter Heaven. Second, Mary is called the “Gate of Heaven” because she leads us to Jesus Christ, who is in Heaven and that is where we want to end up. The “Gate of Heaven” isn’t just for those of us on earth, the Church Militant, but she is the gate that also leads those souls suffering in Purgatory, the Church Suffering.

Second, Mary is the “Gate of Heaven” because her Our Lord, who entered the world through her, allows her to lead us closer to Him. Along with the Sheep Gate (John 10), Mary as the “Gate of Heaven” works with protecting Heaven and leading the sheep of the flock ever more closer to Jesus. There is nothing more that Our Lady wants but to lead us all closer to Jesus Christ.

St. Bonaventure says, “Mary is the called gate of heaven because no one can enter that blessed kingdom without passing through her. Furthermore, St. Bernardine of Siena says the following, “As every mandate of grace that is sent by a king passes through the palace gates, so does every graces that comes from heaven to the world pass through the hands of Mary the Gate of Heaven.”

To conclude today, here are five quotes from Pope St. John Paul II regarding Mary as the “Gate of Heaven” –

“We are going to turn to Mary, our Mother. I am sure that the children here present pray to her often. And you parents, you set great store by training them, from the earliest age, to prayer, to religious acts, to the Good News of the Gospel. Even better, you deepen your faith with them and pray with them. Let us ask Mary to lead you to full knowledge of her Son, Jesus, to be his disciples and his apostles.”

“What can I wish for you but that you will always listen to these words of Mary, the Mother of Christ: ‘Do whatever he tells you’? And may you accept these words with your heart, because they were uttered from the heart. From the heart of Mother. And that you will fulfill them: ‘God has chosen you…calling you to this, with our Gospel, for possession of the glory of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.’”

“As the Apostle Paul says: ‘We know that our home is in heaven, where we also await our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior, who will change our vile body that is may be fashioned like his magnificent body’ (Phil 3:20-21). Holy Mary has already reached her heavenly home, and after exile on earth gained entrance immediately to glory. So, let your sufferings, your anxieties, your hopes be directed toward her…”

“…[T]he Second Vatican Council emphasizes in the last chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church that “in her life the Virgin has been a model of motherly love with which all who join in the Church’s apostolic mission for the regeneration of mankind should be animated” (Lumen Gentium, 65).

“Moreover, the effectiveness of our pastoral mission depends on our holiness of life. Let us not be afraid, for the Mother of Jesus is with us. She is in our midst today and always. And we are strong through her prayers and safe in her care. Regina Caeli, laetare, alleluia!

Mary, Gate of Heaven…Pray for Us

Our Lady of Loreto…Pray for Us

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Jasna Gora

On Wednesday, May 3, in the country of Poland, they will celebrate the Marian feast of Our Lady of Jasna Gora, commonly known as the Black Madonna and Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Jasna Gora, which means, “bright hill” is the name of the monastery in the central region of Southern Poland known as Czestochowa. The monastery, along with other rooms of sacred art, has in its collection the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Jasna Gora. It’s one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Europe, in comparison to Lourdes, Rome, Fatima, Santiago, and Guadalupe, drawing in nearly 5 million pilgrims from around the globe. Jasna Gora is the spiritual epicenter, the heart of Poland, and the country’s national shrine.

The genesis of the image, which has miracles surrounding it, is not completely known. However, according to some traditions within the Catholic Church, it is believed to be the portrait of Our Lady painted by St. Luke the Evangelist sometime after the Crucifixion of Our Lord.

It is believed that the image of Blessed Mother remained in the Holy Land for the early centuries of the Church, until St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine found the image in the 4th century. History and tradition tells us that Constantine sent his mother to Jerusalem to locate certain relics of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, after he legalized Christianity. The image was carried to the city of Constantinople where Emperor Constantine built a church for the sacred image.

At one point in the history of Constantinople, Saracen invaders attacked the city, however they became very frightened and fled after the people carried the picture around the city in procession. The image of the Blessed Mother remained in the city for nearly 500 years. Eventually, it became part of dowries and was taken to a region of Eastern Europe that became known as Poland.

While in Poland, the sacred image became the possession of St. Ladislaus, a Polish prince who reigned during the 15th century. As the image was kept in the castle, Tartar invaders attacked his castle and pierced the image with an arrow.

Determined to keep the image from being attacked any longer, St. Ladislaus decided to bring it to his birthplace. As his entourage stopped to rest in the town of Czestochowa, the sacred painting was placed in a small wooden church named for the Assumption of Mary nearby Jasna Gora. As St. Ladislaus was ready to set out the following morning, the horses that carried the image on a wagon refused to move. He took this as a sign from Heaven that the image of the Black Madonna was to remain in Czestochowa.

On August 26, 1382, he enthroned the image in the Church of the Assumption. St. Ladislaus wanted the image to be protected and guarded by the holiest of men. He asked the Pauline Fathers to take on this mission, now known as the aforementioned monastery. The monastery continues to protect the image to this day.

Although Our Lady’s image was attacked previously, more attacks would come upon it in the years ahead. Followers of the heretic priest, John Hus, attacked the Pauline monastery in 1430 and destroyed the sanctuary. The Hussites stole the image and placed it in a wagon, but as before, the horses refused to move. Getting frustrated because the horses would not move, they threw the painting on the ground. The image broke into three pieces.

One of the pillagers drew his sword and slashed the image twice causing two deep gashes. It is said that the image bled from these marks. While trying to cause a third slash, the man endured great anguish and suddenly died. The two slashes on the cheek of the Black Madonna and the mark from the arrow on the neck have always been depicted on the image. Artists have tried to repair the marks in the past, however, the marks just reappear.

In 1655, a band of 12,000 Swedes ventured to destroy the image. The 300 men who were protecting the image in the Jasna Gora Monastery battled the vandals and routed them out. The image itself is acclaimed to helping the men of the monastery rout out the invaders.

In 1656, the Holy Virgin was announced as the Queen and Protector of Poland.

In 1920, the Polish people prayed to Our Lady as the Russian army was about to invade Poland at the River Vistula. As the image appeared in the clouds, the Russians withdrew their attack. This is known as the Miracle of Vistula in Poland.

During World War II, 500,000 Poles made a pilgrimage to the city of Czestochowa in defiance to Hitler’s orders, which stated that all religious pilgrimages had to cease. After Poland was liberated from Nazi rule, one and half million people gave thanksgiving to the Black Madonna by praying before the sacred and miraculous image.

In 1948, as the entire nation of Poland was held captive by Communist Russia, nearly 800,000 courageous Poles made a pilgrimage to the city and sanctuary of Czestochowa at Jasna Gora Monastery on the Feast of the Assumption.

The Black Madonna to this day is honored by not only the Polish people, but even in America at the Shrine in Doylestown, PA on August 26. It is known as the Black Madonna because of the dark colors on Our Lady’s face and hands. The color is ascribed simply not because the image is old but also because it was kept in places where the smoke of votive candles changed the pigmentation of it. Many Popes, including Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have traveled to venerate the image.

Our Lady of Jasna Gora…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Good Counsel

Since this upcoming Wednesday, April 26, is the feast of Our Lady of Counsel, I thought I would share with you the story behind the image and how devotion has unfolded since the mid to later fifteenth century.

In the small town of Genazzano, in the Alban Hills, not that far from Rome, Italy, is the where the image of Our Lady of Good Counsel (Mater boni consilii in Latin) is located and venerated by the faithful. In 1467, during the Feast of St. Mark, pilgrims to the area heard beautiful music playing. As their attention was drawn to the sky, they witnessed what seemed to be a cloud slowly descending upon a wall of the church that was unfinished. The wall where the cloud came to rest was dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God with the title of Good Counsel. For five centuries, the image rests suspended, with no visible support. The image is painted on plaster, which is no thicker than a card. It has remained there all these many years. It is not known to this day who painted the image.

The two figures represent the Mother and the Child after their return from the Temple where they presented Jesus and also where Simeon spoke the sad prophecies to Mary. Our Lady’s eyes are half closed as she is in contemplation – she is taking counsel with God. Our Lord, the little child, does not look at us, but He looks to his Mother, showing us that we must turn to her for Counsel – the Seat of Wisdom. It is an image that should be in every home.

Mary became the Mother of God when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her at the Annunciation. She now holds the gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, and counsel. Since she is the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary has become our Mother of Good Counsel. Mary was the given the responsibility and duty to counsel Our Lord Jesus Christ as a child. Knowing this, we should look towards her when seeking counsel for our own lives.

Original image

Since the moment on the cross when Jesus gave her to us through the Beloved Apostle, she has been diligently watching over all of us. Through protecting us, leading us closer to Jesus, and aiding us in all things – she is Our Lady, Our Mother of Good Counsel. The Blessed Virgin Mary was trusted by God to watch over the Son, so too must we must learn to entrust ourselves to her loving care and watchful eye.

Under this title of Mother of Good Counsel, the Blessed Virgin is also known as the Madonna of the Popes. Many Popes in the history of the Church have had a devotion to her. The greatest devotee of among the Popes would have to be Pope Leo XIII. During his Papacy, he created the white scapular, which is worn by the servants of the Mother of Good Counsel. As a motto he said to her followers, “Children, follow her counsels.”

In an address from October 1979 in Washington, D.C., speaking about Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, which is connected to Our Lady of Good Counsel, the Great Polish Pope said this –

“To succeed in your intention, entrust yourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary always, but especially in the moments of difficulty and darkness. ‘From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God…Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God’s Word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.’”

I would encourage you to place an image of Our Lady of Good Counsels in your homes, if you don’t have one already.

Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel…Pray for Us.

Our Lady of Good Counsel by Pasquale Sarullo, 19th century.

Source:

Fongemie, Pauly. “Mater Boni Consilii.” OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

750th Blog Post 

“Mondays with Mary” – Was the Blessed Virgin Mary the first to see the Resurrected Lord?

In a recent homily at our monthly Latin Mass, my boss and Pastor, made reference to something he once heard – the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection instead of St. Mary Magdalene, as the Gospels proclaim. It was a footnote in his homily more than anything else. As he said it, I thought to myself that I had never heard of such an idea. I just know what the Gospels tell us.

After Mass, Father said he was looking towards me when he said it thinking that I would have heard of it somewhere in my studies and in my writings on Mary via this blog. I told him I had never heard of it and asked him where he read it, but he said he didn’t read it. He heard it somewhere, however, he couldn’t remember where it was specifically.

Not thinking about researching that idea that night, I just came home and wrote on something else. As I was trying to figure out what to write for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I was doing some online searches since I hoped to incorporate Mary with Easter. Not thinking I was going to find anything specific, I came upon an older Catholic website asking that same question I am asking today – Was the Blessed Virgin Mary the first to see the Resurrected Lord?

The website lead me to the Papal Audience of none other than – Pope St. John Paul II!!

Christ Appearing to His Mother – Rogier van der Weyden; Flemish, ca. 1445

Before you read this, I would say – go into it with an open heart. This is not definitive Church doctrine, but something we could reflect and contemplate in our hearts during this Easter Octave. Again, I don’t believe the Catholic Church doctrinally teaches on this point anywhere specifically, I would be interested to know the Orthodox view; but John Paul II gives us the opportunity here to use both our reason and our hearts to discover something about the relationship between Jesus and His Mother we may have never thought happened.

Instead of providing you with the entire text, here is the link to the Vatican website – General Audience – May 21, 1997 – Mary was witness to whole paschal mystery.

Pray about it this week and if questions come up – feel free to write me one in the comment section. I may or may not be able to answer them completely. If you are a Scripture buff, just keep in mind that the Gospels themselves do say that many other things happened which is not recorded in these writings. Could this interaction between Jesus and Mary be one of them? Remember also that the Gospels talk about Jesus appearing after his Resurrection to more than 500 individuals – if such a big event – why wasn’t it recorded either? Something for us to think about then.

Post Script: Just as I was about to publish this post, I found this article from May 2011 on The New Theological Movement.

I hope that you all had a blessed and joyful Easter Sunday and that your Easter Octave is as equally blessed.

“Mondays with Mary” – Reflecting on the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Cross

Since we have now entered the holiest weeks of all weeks in the Church’s liturgical year, also known as the Great Week in the East, I want to focus as I have done in years past, on Mary at the Cross. However, instead of focusing on the theology, I want to just examine some points in the hopes that you may reflect on them during this Holy Week.

In a culture that abhors suffering and pain, I remember the words of Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete of Communion and Liberation,

“Suffering is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived.”

In regards to the cross of Jesus Christ, and the blood, sweat, agony, and suffering, I believe these words give us an insight to the suffering Our Lord endured and willfully embraced. I also believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary also lived these words out in her life, since she never fled from the suffering of her Son, even when it might have become too much to bear. She embraced his suffering and partook in that suffering, not physically, but spiritually as any mother would for their child.

We know that the walk to Calvary began at the Wedding Feast of Cana when the Blessed Mother requests that Jesus assist in the dilemma of the young couple having no more wine to offer. Unlike Cana, at the cross, Mary doesn’t utter one word. But what was she thinking? Could she have been remembering the life of Jesus as a child or her time when the angel Gabriel announced to her that she would have a son? We will never know completely on this side of Heaven, but the one thing we do know is that Jesus gave her to us on the cross through the Beloved Disciple, Saint John. From that point on, John took her into his home and cared for her as his own mother.

In our relationship with the Blessed Mother, I have some questions for us – Have we taken Mary into our homes? Like the Apostle John, have we allowed her to enter into the lives of our families? Like the couple who ran out of wine, have we asked her to intercede to Our Lord for us?

Among many non-Catholic Christians today, and even some Catholics, the Blessed Virgin Mary is rejected, although in the Sacred Scriptures she is “blessed among women” and is professed “full of grace” by the Angel Gabriel. Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters because of poor theology and faulty catechesis, reject the Mother of God and degrade her to just another woman that doesn’t deserve any honor or recognition. She is often misunderstood and is portrayed as a pagan goddess, a mother-goddess. Again, here we see a lack of clear thinking and the conclusions of the many divisions among the Christian faithful.

Although seen as the forerunner of Protestantism, Martin Luther had a great love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He once wrote,

“Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of us all. If Christ be ours…all that he has must be ours, and His Mother also must be ours.”

In our daily lives, how do we include Mary? Simply, we must walk with her through faith, humility, and obedience. Through these three elements, Mary walked with Our Lord to the cross. Even though she was wounded, scorned, and in pain, she still walked with Him…and so must we.

One of the points I made above was that she did not speak at the Cross. More likely, she listened. How did she listen? She listened in her obedience. It seems to me that most Catholics want to be faithful and seek humility, but many reject obedience. We can’t follow Our Lord and His Catholic Church, as well as walk with his Mother, if we reject obedience.

In the book, Into Your Hands, Father, the Belgian Carmelite, Fr. Wilfred Stinissen, says the following,

“If God does not will something in every detail of our life, it is up to us to ‘discern the will of the Lord’. To be able to ‘obey’, we must ‘listen’…That is how Mary lived, with her eyes continually turned toward God. Her gaze was one single question, ‘What would you have me do?’”

These words I believe singularly define the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and most distinctly at the foot of the cross. Although I think many of us are fearful to “Behold, your mother”, the words of Jesus to St. John at Cross, this is precisely what we are called to do. We are to walk with Mary through faith, humility, and obedience.

To conclude this reflection, I leave you these words since they wrap up for me exactly what I tried to help you reflect upon today –

“Mary’s Way leads us to Calvary, and from there to the empty tomb. It is not an easy path, but Mary was unafraid. By her faithful and humble life, and by her presence at the cross, she shows us how to overcome the greatest obstacle to the spiritual life, fear. Let us meet her in her pain, her loss, and her grief. Let us choose, then, without fear, to accept suffering into our lives as she did, to welcome the wounds of love. Only in doing so can we also share with her the joy of the Resurrection” (The Prayer of Mary, Keith Fournier).

Stabat Mater Dolorosa…Pray for Us