“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” – Mary in Advent

Since we are now in the season of Advent, I thought I would give you a very brief blog post today focusing on the four blog posts I have written in the past that focus on Mary within the season of Advent. However, instead of reading them at random, I am going to number them in the order they should be read. However, before we get to those four blog posts, let’s quickly read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the season of Advent. In paragraph 524, it states,

When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

As you see, Advent is a season of preparation and waiting for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. There is no one better in the Kingdom of God to assist us in waiting for Jesus than Mary herself. She waited and carried him in her womb for nine months. As she has done since the Resurrection, through many Marian apparitions across the world, She brings us to Jesus each and every time. In a sense, every time she appears we have another Advent upon us because each time renews our desire for Him and His second coming.

Mary in Advent

So with this being said, let’s read the previous blog posts focusing on Mary and Advent –

First read, Advent – A Penitential Season

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

Third, read, “Mondays with Mary” – “The Virgin Mary Perfectly Incarnates the Spirit of Advent

And lastly, read “Mondays with Mary – ‘Mary’s Nine-Month Advent’

As we conclude, let’s remember the words of Pope Francis from December 1, 2013, when he said,

“For the great human family it is necessary to renew always the common horizon toward which we are journeying. The horizon of hope! This is the horizon that makes a good journey…the time of Advent that we begin again today returns us to the horizon of hope, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God. A hope that does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful!…[Advent is] a new journey of the People of God with Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, who guides us in history towards the completion of the Kingdom of God….a new journey of the People of God with Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, who guides us in history towards the completion of the Kingdom of God…[Mary is a] model of this spiritual attitude, to this way of being and of journeying in life…In her womb, the hope of God took flesh, became man, and made history: Jesus Christ.”

So as we begin this season of Advent, let us ask for Mary’s intercession that she would journey, and prepare with us, for coming of our Savior Jesus Christ at Christmas.

“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.

“Mondays with Mary” – “The Virgin Mary Perfectly Incarnates the Spirit of Advent”

As I was praying over the readings today during Dismissal with our Catechumens in the RCIA program at the parish I now work at here in Arizona, I thought to myself that the readings, and essentially the entire season of Advent, had quite a few Marian characteristics. There is just something about the Season of Advent that makes me think of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It could be that we celebrate two Marian feasts this month – the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

It’s all really about Jesus Christ, especially Lent, since we enter the desert and offer up sacrifice, but Advent has a different feeling. Although it’s a season of repentance, it’s also a season of Hope. Maybe that’s why I think about Mary in Advent – she is the great sign of Hope for each and everyone of us. When I think of Mary and Advent, the Sacred Scriptures come to mind for me, “she pondered these things in her heart.” The Blessed Mother portrays for us the very meaning of being hopeful and trusting in God’s plan.

Knowing there is no way I am the only one that thinks the Blessed Virgin Mary witnesses the characteristics of Advent, I began doing some research last night and found the Angelus from last year on December 2 where the Pope says, “the Virgin Mary perfectly incarnates the spirit of Advent.”

Mary in Advent

Being that’s its my custom to give you good catechesis on the Blessed Mother each Monday, I give you the words one of the best theologians of the past 500 years, Pope Benedict XVI –

“Today the Church begins a new liturgical year, a journey that is subsequently enriched by the Year of Faith, which we observe 50 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The first part of this journey is Advent, constituted, in the Roman Rite, by the 4 weeks that precede the Christmas of the Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation. The word “advent” means “coming” or “presence.” In the ancient world it indicated the visit of the king or emperor to a province; in the language of Christianity it refers to the coming of God, to his presence in the world; a mystery that involves the entire cosmos and all of history, but that knows 2 culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The first is precisely the Incarnation; the second his glorious return at the end of time. These 2 moments that are chronologically distant – and it is not given to us to know how distant – touch each other in their depths, because with his death and resurrection Jesus has already realized that transformation of man and the cosmos that is the final goal of creation. But before the end, it is necessary that the Gospel be preached to all nations, Jesus says in the Gospel of St. Mark (cf. Mark 13:10). The Lord’s coming continues, the world must be penetrated by his presence.

Our collaboration is required in this permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel; and the Church, which is like the Bride to be, the Betrothed of the crucified and risen Lamb of God (cf. Apocalypse 21:9), in communion with her Lord collaborates in this coming of the Lord in which his glorious return already begins.

The Word of God reminds us of all this today, describing the conduct that is necessary to ready for the Lord’s coming. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus says to the disciples: “Do not let your hearts be weighed by dissipation, drunkenness and the troubles of life … be vigilant, therefore, praying at all times” (Luke 21:34, 36). So, sobriety and prayer. And the apostle Paul also invites us to “grow and superabound in love” among ourselves and toward others, to make our hearts strong and blameless in sanctity (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). In the midst of the upheavals of the world, or in the deserts of indifference and materialism, Christians welcome the salvation that comes from God and bear witness to it with a different way of living, like a city set on a hill. “In those days,” the prophet Jeremiah announces, “Jerusalem will live in peace and be called ‘the Lord our justice’” (33:16). The community of believers is a sign of God, of his justice, which is already present and active in history but is not yet fully realized, and because of this is always awaited, invoked, sought with patience and courage.

The Virgin Mary perfectly incarnates the spirit of Advent; this spirit is one of listening to God, of profound desire to do his will, of joyous service to our neighbor. Letting ourselves be guided by her, so that the God who comes does not find us closed and distracted, but can, in each one of us, extend a part of his kingdom of love, of justice and of peace.”

If you are interested in reading other writings of Pope Benedict XVI during this Season of Advent, may I suggest, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. It’s a short read yet a very good read, especially during this time of the liturgical year.

Pray for Lily!

Friends of mine from Franciscan University of Steubenville are asking everyone to Storm Heaven with prayers, for their daughter, Lily, who was born via an emergency c-section last weekend. Lily has been in bad shape all week, but through many prayers already offered on her behalf, she is improving, but still has a way to go to full recovery. We really need prayers for her brain to be healed because it went through some rather tremendous difficulty during and after her birth.

Please visit the blog, PRAY FOR LILY, to receive updates from her father, Danny Garland, who has set up the site to keep us all informed on her progress.

As we enter the season of Advent, a season rooted in Hope and awaiting the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, please pray to Our Lord that Lily will heal from her traumatic entrance into this world.

December is also the month we celebrate the Immaculate Conception, please pray for Lily through Mary’s intercession, as our Immaculate Queen Mother and Advocate.

Let us also ask the intercessory prayers of St. Faustina, St. Lilian of Cordoba, Our Lady of Loreto, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Gerard Majella, and the soon-to-be Saint, Blessed John Paul II.

All the Angels and Saints…Pray For Lily!

St. Kateri Tekakwitha - Lily of the Mohawks

St. Kateri Tekakwitha – Lily of the Mohawks

“Mondays with Mary” – St. Francis de Sales on the Immaculate Conception

As we enter the month of December, we enter the Season of Advent – four weeks of hopeful preparation anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. As important as the Season of Advent and Christmas are in the life of the Church, we also celebrate the great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. This is the feast where the Church commemorates the Conception of Mary immaculately in the womb of her mother. On Friday, I will post a special edition of “Mondays with Mary” explaining the fourth doctrine which is so important in the life of the Church.

As for today’s post, I want to share with you some words of wisdom from one of the great Doctors of the Catholic Church – St. Francis de Sales St. Francis de Sales. Over the past months, it has been my great pleasure to share with you the words of this holy and learned saint. On August 6, I wrote the post, St. Francis de Sales on the Assumption of Mary and on November 19, there was The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today’s post is St. Francis de Sales on the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It is important to note that at this time in Church history, the Immaculate Conception had not been formally declared dogmatic as of yet – that came in the year 1854 by Blessed Pope Pius IX. It was also not a holy day of obligation in France yet, where St. Francis de Sales lived and preached.

The excerpt below is from a sermon given on December 8, 1622 –

“As for Our Lady, the most holy Virgin, she was conceived in the usual way of generation. But since in His plan God had predestined her from all eternity to be His Mother, He kept her pure and free from all stain, although by her nature she could have sinned. There is no doubt about that, as far as actual sin is concerned.

Let me make a comparison in order that you may understand better. Do you know how pearls are made? (Many ladies desire pearls but they do not care about their origin.) Mother-of-pearl fish do as the bees do. They have a king and choose for that role the largest among them, the rest following him. They come on ocean waves when the air is freshest, which is at break of day, principally in the month of May. When they are all there they open their shells toward Heaven, allowing drops of dew to fall into them. They then clamp shut upon these drops in such a manner that they incubate this dew drop and convert it into a pearl, which is then considered so valuable. But notice, they close their shells in such a way that no salt water enters.

This comparison will serve my purpose well. The Lord has done the same for the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady, because at the instant of her Conception He placed Himself between her and sin – or rather, one might say, under her, to prevent her from falling into Original Sin. In the above example, if the drop of dew does not find the shell to receive it, it will fall into the ocean and be converted into briny and salty water. But if the shell receives it, it is changed into a pearl. In the same way the most holy Virgin was cast into the sea of this world by the common way of generation, but preserved from the salty water of the corruption of sin. It was fitting that she have this particular privilege because it was not reasonable that the devil be able to reproach Our Lord with the claim that she who had carried Him in her womb had [in Original Sin] been subject to him. It is for this reason that the Evangelist does not make mention of the father and mother of the Virgin, but only of Joseph, the husband of a Virgin named Mary. It was of her that Jesus who is called the Messiah was born. [Matt 1:16]. Thus by a special grace her soul possessed nothing [of Original Sin] from her earthly parents, as is the case will all other creatures.”

immaculate conception #2

You can see why St. Francis de Sales is a saint and Doctor of the Church. In three small paragraphs, he explains with the eloquence of angels the beauty of the Immaculate Conception. We are truly blessed to have such words at our disposal in the Church today. These words help us understand the mysteries of God’s kingdom more and more each day. They also display the importance of the Blessed Mother immaculately conceived through the power of God.

To Prepare or Not to Prepare – That is the Question

We have finally entered the Season of Advent. After weeks and months of Ordinary time, the Church now prepares with great hope and anticipation for the coming of Jesus Christ. It’s the beginning of the new liturgical year (since 900’s AD) and it starts off with a great celebration in a four weeks, but before Jesus can come to us, we must prepare our hearts and our “homes” for him properly.

In so many parts of world, Christmas is already occurring (in some places people have been on the Christmas bandwagon since early October). However, this is a disservice to our relationship with Christ during this time of preparation known as Advent. Before we can properly receive Our Lord at His Birth, we must prepare for His arrival in a timely manner and with the Church in mind. As Catholics, we must be counter-cultural. The Catholic Church stands against the cultural just as Our Lord was counter-cultural during his three years preparing for the Cross. Many of our viewpoints, especially the social and moral viewpoints, are in complete contradiction to the post-Christian secular atheistic system that seems to be alive today. Preparing during this time is an act of being counter-cultural.

Advent WreathDuring the next FOUR weeks, let us take the TIME to prepare properly for Our Lord’s coming and not get caught up in the secular idea of Christmas. Secular Christmas is about making money, not about Jesus Christ. I understand that many people do have to “prepare” for Christmas to some extent if they have families and small children, but don’t get carried away and always remember that Advent helps us to have a more complete Christmas experience.

After December 25, we get to sing Christmas songs for 12 days during the Christmas season. I have always found it ironic that most radio stations play Christmas tunes from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day. On December 26, the songs are gone and they are back to their regular genre. However, the Christmas season has just begun! We don’t celebrate the spring season till March 21 (dates vary from year to year, date reflects Northern Hemisphere) and then move into the summer season. March 21 is the START of the spring season and it goes till summer begins. Why do we “celebrate” Christmas till December 25 and then move out of the season?? December 25 is the BEGINNING of the Christmas Season – not the END!

As Catholics, it is our duty to be obedient to the Church and her traditions. We must learn to follow the liturgical year properly. The Church has been doing such things for 2000 years – I think she has it figured out by now, even if the secular society suggests otherwise.

Here is a great video from Busted Halo on Advent to share with your family and friends –

 To Prepare or Not to Prepare – That is the Question. Below are some helpful ways to prepare for Advent

Spiritual Resolutions for the New Liturgical Year

Practice your Faith by…

  1. Praying more during the next four weeks
  2. Reciting simple prayer – morning and evening prayer [use Magnificat or Liturgy of the Hours]
  3. Attending daily mass at your parish
  4. Listening to great sacred musicAdvent at Ephesus by Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles
  5. Praying the Rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy
  6. Spending time before and after Sunday Mass in prayer
  7. Visiting Jesus in Adoration once a week during the next four weeks
  8. Participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you have not been to Confession in some time…then get there!
  9. Reading the Holy Scriptures and Catechism of the Catholic Church
  10. Reading Spiritual books – the Pope’s new book on the Infancy Narratives is a good read during Advent.
  11. Reconciling with people in your life that have either hurt you or you hurt them.
  12. Attending an Advent Parish Mission at your parish or parish nearby.