“Mondays with Mary” – Praying with Mary during Advent

Before I get into the topic for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I want to share with all of you some monumental news when it comes to my writing. Today’s article is the 800th post I have written on TomPerna.org. I hope that my father is smiling down from eternity today since it was he who first encouraged me to start writing. In a month and a half, I will celebrate the 6th anniversary of this website/blog. Thank you to all my readers, followers, and supporters. Your prayers have been very helpful.

 Now that we have entered the Season of Advent, a season of anticipation, hope, and rejoicing, I wanted to share with you a great way to pray with Mary every night during this season. I didn’t realize the importance of this prayer until I heard it last night at our monthly Latin Novus Ordo Mass and then read about it this morning. I have mentioned it briefly in passing in previous posts and it has been listed among Catholic hymns when I wrote about Sacred Music, but I have never written on the prayer itself. The prayer I speak of is the Alma Redemptoris Mater.

In his encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, Pope St. John Paul II opens the document with these words about Mary –

“The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation, for “when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Gal. 4:4-6).”

In God’s divine economy, even with the Fall of Adam and Eve, God always had a plan to save us, and just as a man and woman caused our great fall of grace, so too would a man and a woman reverse that fall from grace and establish a new covenant with all of humanity. Even on the first day of the disaster in Genesis, God promised us a Savior. That Savior is Jesus Christ and the woman is Mary, the Dear Mother of the Redeemer. Her role in salvation history is unparalleled. Without her, we don’t get Jesus Christ.

The Alma Redemptoris Mater is one of the four antiphons associated with Mary, along with verses and prayers that follow. It is said or sung traditionally after night prayer, just before ones goes to sleep. The prayer is said from the beginning of Advent (from the night before the Fourth Sunday of Christmas) through February 1, leading us right into Candlemas. Below is the English translation. If you would like to say it or sing it in Latin, you can find it here.

O Loving Mother of our Redeemer

O loving Mother of our Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Hasten to aid thy fallen people who strive to rise once more.
Thou who brought forth thy holy Creator, all creation wond’ring,
Yet remainest ever Virgin, taking from Gabriel’s lips
that joyful “Hail!”: be merciful to us sinners.

Up through the day before Christmas Eve:

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Christmas Eve on:

Thou gavest birth without loss of thy virginity:
R. Intercede for us, O holy Mother of God.

Let us pray. O God, who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary hast offered unto the human race the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that we may know the effects of her intercession, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Amen.

I would encourage you all to pray this wonderful prayer during the Season of Advent. Praying with Mary through this season and into Christmas will only benefit us more and help us to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

O Holy Mother of the Redeemer…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – The Star of the Sea that Shines Through Advent

As we enter the Season of Advent, our attention is drawn to the coming of Emmanuel – Jesus Christ. We see his first coming in the Incarnation which in turn will prepare us for His second coming, where He will judge the living and the dead. Just as Mary welcomed Jesus with great hope, the Church does the same. The first half of Advent, through her liturgy, prayers, readings and antiphons, the Church anticipates the eschatological return of Jesus Christ on the Last Day as Supreme Judge.

Within the Advent season, we see two Marian feasts that display the important role that Mary plays in Salvation History, the role of preceding Christ – the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. As the sunrise follows the dawn so too does the Blessed Virgin prepare the Church, and all of humanity, for the coming of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. As the Star of the Sea, which shines with great brilliance, Mary not only guides us through the night of Advent, but through the waves and storms of life helping us to reach the port of Heaven.

Mary - Star of the Sea

Pope St. John Paul II summarizes this with great articulation when he says,

“It is a fact that when “the fullness of time” was definitively drawing near-the saving advent of Emmanuel- she who was from eternity destined to be his Mother already existed on earth. The fact that she “preceded” the coming of Christ is reflected every year in the liturgy of Advent. Therefore, if to that ancient historical expectation of the Savior we compare these years which are bringing us closer to the end of the second Millennium after Christ and to the beginning of the third, it becomes fully comprehensible that in this present period we wish to turn in a special way to her, the one who in the “night” of the Advent expectation began to shine like a true “Morning Star” (Stella Matutina). For just as this star, together with the “dawn,” precedes the rising of the sun, so Mary from the time of her Immaculate Conception preceded the coming of the Savior, the rising of the “Sun of Justice” in the history of the human race” (Redemptoris Mater #3).

As we enter this Advent season, let us go “to Jesus through Mary”, which follows the identical path of Our Lord who came through Mary His Mother. Let us invoke the Marian antiphon, commonly recited following Compline (night prayers or solemn vespers), known as the Alma Redemptoris Mater. It is in this song of honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary that we as sinners seek the intercession of Mary, our perpetual Ever-Virgin, Mother of the Redeemer, Open Gate to Heaven, and the Star of the Sea –

Loving mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.