“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Sorrowful Mother at the Cross through the words of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

For this week, I want to suspend my Mary in the Old Testament series I have been writing on over the past few weeks in order to provide you with two important reflections on Mary and her connection with Christ at the Cross. I am doing this since I don’t think I will get another chance before Lent ends since I am focusing on the aforementioned series. Next week, we will return to that series and focus on Marian symbols.

I have written on this week’s topic numerous times before over the years, most especially during the Season of Lent, when we focus on our own sufferings, crosses, and penitential offerings. Today’s two reflections come from the great mind of the 20th century United States Archbishop –  Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. These two excerpts are from a book compiled by Henry Dieterich, titled, Through the Year with Fulton Sheen.

I hope that you enjoy them and will reflect on them this week and in the weeks to come as we approach the High Holy Days of Lent, otherwise known a the Triduum.

The first reflection is titled – Mary and Christ’s Suffering

“Mary’s participation in Christ’s suffering began with the annunciation, when she was asked to give God a human body, more properly, a human nature. In other words, will you make God capable of suffering? God though he was, he learned obedience in the school of suffering. God could know experimentally what suffering was only by taking a body. So the Blessed Mother is asked, ‘Will you make it possible for your creator to suffer?’ Think of a mother, for example, who give to a young son or daughter an automobile at the age of nineteen, which a short time afterwards is the cause of a wreck and permanent injury. Would the mother ever forgive herself? And here Mary has to say yes, I will let him suffer.”

Our Lady of Sorrows by Carlo Dolci

The second reflection is titled – Mary and John

“On the cross we no longer have Christ and his mother, or Jesus and Mary. I know we speak of the sorrowful mother at the foot of the cross, but I don’t think she was sorrowful, I think she was suffering. I cannot imagine the mother of the Maccabees as being sorrowful when she sent her seven sons to death. There must have been a certain joy in the mother’s heart as she gives her son. But there’s something different here. At this moment on the cross we no longer have Jesus and Mary. We have the new Adam and the new Eve. Our Lord on the cross is the new Adam, the Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross is the new Eve. And we’re going to have the consummation of a marriage, and out of the consummated marriage of the new Adam and new Eve is going to begin the new church of which John will be the symbol. And so the new Adam looking down to the woman, says: ‘Woman, your son.’ And to the son, he did not say ‘John’ (he would have then been only the son of Zebedee), but ‘Son, your mother.’ Here is the beginning of a new life. The Blessed Mother becomes the symbol of the church. And as Eve was the mother of the living, so Mary becomes the mother of the new living in the order of grace.”

To read more about this topic, I would suggest reading my other articles –

“Mondays with Mary” – The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross  

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Our Guide Through Lent

“Mondays with Mary” – The Method of Praying the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa 

“Mondays with Mary” – The Suffering of Mother Mary 

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope St. John Paul II on the Suffering of Mary 

O Blessed Mother, Sorrowful and Suffering…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of Mary in Advent

Yesterday, in the Western lung of the Catholic Church, we heard the beautiful scripture verses many of you know to be the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Gospel reading for the Fourth Week of Advent. For today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I want to share with some of the previous blog posts I have written on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, before I do that, let’s see what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on the topic as well as Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

The Catechism states in paragraph 495,

Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”. In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).

And paragraph 2677 states,

Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word.” By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.”

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.

Visitation, Oil on Canvas. For more from Steve Bird, visit his website - http://www.stevebirdart.com

Visitation, Oil on Canvas. For more from Steve Bird, visit his website – http://www.stevebirdart.com

In his book, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen states,

“One of the most beautiful moments in history was that when pregnancy met pregnancy – when childbearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings. All pagan religions begin with the teachings of adults, but Christianity begins with the birth of a Child…”

To read more about the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would encourage you to check out the five blog posts I have written previously –
“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict on the ‘Visitation of Mary’

“Mondays with Mary” – St. Francis de Sales on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Mondays with Mary”- The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Take 2

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Bringing Jesus to Others’

As we joyfully anticipate Christmas, which is only 4 days away, let ask Mary to help us come to know Jesus more in our every day lives, and that she, as she brought him in her womb to Elizabeth, may continue to bring Him to us and lead us to Him in this life and the life to come.

“Mondays with Mary” – Venerable Fulton J. Sheen on Mary and the Rosary

Since October is the Month of the Rosary, I found it fitting to write yet another blog post focusing on the importance of the Holy Rosary. Last week, I wrote a blog post, which was picked up by New Advent, on the many blog posts I have written on the Rosary. Including that one, it was eleven, and this will now be number 12. Instead of me giving you some insight on this passage before I share it with you, I am going to abstain from my usual commentary and just share with you the passage. It comes from Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons from Cana and Calvary The bolded words below are mine since those passages stood out for me when I first read this text.

“If you have never before prayed to Mary, do so now. Can you not see that if Christ himself willed to be physically formed in her for nine months and then be spirutally formed by her for thirty years, it is to her that we must go to learn how to have Christ formed in us? Only she who raised Christ can raise a Christian.

To develop that spiritual comradeship with Jesus and Mary, the rosary is the most effective. The word rosary means a “garland of roses” culled from the Garden of Prayer. Each decade requires only between two and three minutes; thus the whole rosary requires a little over ten minutes.

If you do not say it all at once and on your knees, then say one decade when you arise in the morning, another decade on your way to work, another decade as you sweep the house or wait for your check at the noon lunch hour, another decade just before you go to bed; the last decade you can say in bed just before falling off to sleep.

When you are under twenty-five, you have time for only one decade before falling to sleep; when you get to be forty, you will have time for two; and when you are sixty, you will have time for a dozen.

Because the “Hail Mary” is said many times in the course of a rosary, do not think of it as a sterile repetition, because each time it is said in a different setting or scene as you meditate, for example, on such mysteries as the Birth of Our Lord, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and so on. You never thought as a child when you told your mother you loved her that it had the same meaning as it did the last time you told her. Because the background of the affection changed, its affirmation was new. It is the same sun that rises each morning, but it makes a new day.

What are some advantages of the rosary:

1. If you say the rosary devoutly, and all that it implies, every day of your life, you will never lose your soul.

2. If you wish for peace in your heart and in your family and an abundance of heavenly gifts on your household, then assemble your family each night and say the rosary.

3. If you are anxious to convert a soul to the fullness of God’s Love and Life, teach that person to say the rosary. That person will either stop saying the rosary or he will receive the gift of Faith.

4. If a sufficient army of us said the rosary every day, the Blessed Mother would now, as in the past, obtain from her Divine Son the stilling of the present tempests, the defeat of the enemies of human civilization, and a real presence in the hearts of tired and straying men.

5. If the cooling of your charity has made you unhappy on the inside and critical of others, then the rosary, through meditation on Our Lord’s great love for you on the cross and your Mother’s affection for you on Calvary, will rekindle your love of God and of neighbor and restore you to a peace which surpasses all understanding.

Do you think that in honoring Our Lady with the rosary you are neglecting Our Lord. Did you ever know anyone who ignored you by being kind to your mother? If Our Lord said to you, “Behold thy Mother,” it well behooves us to respect her whom Our Lord chose above all the creatures of earth. In any case remember, even though you wanted to, you could not stop with her. As Francis Thompson put it:

The celestial Temptress play, And all mankind to bliss betray; With sacrosanct cajoleries And starry treachery of your eyes, Tempt us back to Paradise! 

I hope the words of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen has helped you to understand the importance of the Holy Rosary, Mary’s role in it, and how it leads us closer to Jesus.

Feel free to share this post with your family and friends. I know many people adore Archbishop Fulton Sheen and are waiting with great anticipation for his elevation to Sainthood by the Catholic Church.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen…Pray For Us.

Our Lady of the Rosary…Pray For Us.

 

Saint Therese, Fulton Sheen, and Eleven Sermons

Over the past five weeks every Tuesday morning from 10:00am to 11:30am, over thirty parishioners and friends of Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church gathered to reflect on 11 sermons given by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on the words of St. Therese of Lisieux now in book format titled, St. Therese: A Treasured Love Story. The Catholic Book Study and Reflection is an element of our Porta Fidei Adult Faith Formation program.

In late August, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it came to me that the next book study needed to focus on St. Therese of Lisieux, as her feast day was quickly approaching. One of the great modern day, and now, timeless saints, St. Therese reaches the heart of the faithful on countless levels and on sundry paths. So many of her words truly penetrate not only the heart, but also our very soul. Through the articulate tongue of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, reading this book is like reading a Doctor of the Church while consuming a high protein shake.

If you have a devotion to St. Therese and know Fulton Sheen or desire to read something by him, then I can’t recommend this book enough for you. In the Introduction, Fr. J. Linus, O.Carm of the Carmelite Community at Terenure College in Dublin, Ireland says, “This is a book that will be a rich resource for anyone’s spiritual reading or meditation and extraordinarily, it is as relevant to today’s spiritual life as it as when first delivered 33 years ago.” Nothing could be closer to the truth than that statement. It’s truly an extraordinary text that could have been written just this month.

Now that I have salivated your spiritual palate a bit, let us consume a slice of the words of both St. Therese and Fulton Sheen, in the hopes that you will someday soon devour this book for your own spiritual nourishment. After each of the 11 quotes for the 11 sermons in this book, I will label whose words they are by using their initials, S.T. for St. Therese and F.S. for Fulton Sheen.

St. Therese of Lisieux

1. “I am sure you will agree with me that we are living in trouble times. Ever since we Americans split the atom, the whole world has been split. Disturbances occur all over the world…How are we going to live in these troubles times? There is really only one answers: We have to become saints.” – F.S.

2. “I’ll take everything…This became the rule of my life. I wanted everything. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be God’s.” – S.T.

3. “Now then, if you are praying for certain favors, be prepared for love’s delay, but keep on praying. Do not give up…Never lose heart. After all, isn’t that what courtship is? A young woman plays hard to get in order to draw out love. So does God sometimes play hard to get.” – F.S.

4. Speaking about death as a thief in the night: “I don’t need any resignation to die, I need a resignation to live. I have lived for our Lord, I want to die for him. This is my Love, and I want to be with the Beloved.” – S.T.

5. Fulton Sheen says if St. Therese wants to work for us in Heaven, we should put her work since she said, “…I should spend my time in heaven doing good upon earth, since the angels in the full enjoyment of the Beatific Vision keep watch over us, I shall never rest till the end of the world.” – S.T.

6. “Oh, my Beloved, I understand to what combats You have destined me. It is not on the battlefield I shall fight. I am a prisoner of Your Love. Freely have I riveted the chain which unites me to you and separates me forever from the world. My sword is love and ‘I shall chase the stranger from the Kingdom. I shall make You to be proclaimed King’ in the souls of men.” – S.T.

7. “We’re very fond of talking peace today, but all we mean by peace is lack of disturbance. Our Lord said, ‘I came not to bring peace.’ God HATES PEACE! And He love those are who are destined for war. And we are destined for war, spiritual war. We’ve forgotten that we’re in a combat. We are in a genuine combat.” – F.S.

8. “In other words, there are certain things in life that we waste: we are seemingly prodigal about them. The Little Flower was that way about own life…[she wasted it for Jesus]…This is the secret of being a good Christian, to be His. What difference does it make, really, what we’re doing? Too often we think that we have to be in a noble position to please the Good Lord.” – F.S.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

9. “On each occasion of combat when the devil desires to challenge me, I conduct myself valiantly, knowing that to fight a duel is an unworthy act. I turn my back upon the adversary without ever looking him in the face. Then I am ready to run to Jesus and tell Him I am ready to shed every drop of blood in testimony of my belief that there is a heaven.” – S.T.

10. “To offer oneself as a victim to Divine Love is not to offer oneself to sweetness and to consolation but to every bitterness, for love lives only by sacrifice. And the more a soul wills to be surrendered by Love, the more must she be surrendered to sacrifice.” – S.T.

11. Speaking on the spiritual childhood and humility: She said, “To remain little is to recognize our nothingness.” “Now that’s the point I want to emphasize. It might be just enough to read this line. Read it again…To remain little is to recognize our nothingness.” – S.T. and F.S.

I dedicate this post to the parishioners and friends of St. Mary Magdalene who attended the 5-week Catholic Book Study and Reflection. Thank you for your openness to learn and your active participation.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, Week 5

Continuing with the six-week Lenten reflection series based on the book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, here are the quotes and questions that John and I presented from Chapter 5 – The Fifth Word: Religion Is a Quest. The chapter focuses on the word of Mary from Luke 2:48 – “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously” and on the word – “I thirst” from Jesus in John 19:28.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary

1. “And yet that thirst could have not only been physical, for the Gospel tells us that he said it in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. It is therefore spiritual as well as physical.”

2. “Every human heart in the world without exception is on the quest of God. Not everyone may be conscious of it; but they are conscious of their desire for happiness which some in ignorance, perversity, or weakness, identify with the tinsel and baubles of earth. It is as natural for the soul to want God as for the body to want food or drink…It is natural to want God; it is unnatural to satisfy that want with false gods…Not only is the soul on the quest of God, but God is on the quest of the soul, inviting everyone to his Banquet of Love..”

3. “And yet here, a woman addresses him who is the Author of Life, through whom all things were made and without whom nothing is made, as ‘Son.’ She called him that by right and not by privilege. That one word shows the intimate relationship between the two…”

4. “They [bigots] do not really hate the Church. They hate only what they mistakenly believe to be the Church. If I had heard the same lies about the Church they have heard, and if I had been taught the same historical perversions as they, with my own peculiar character and temperament, I would hate the Church ten times more than they do…”

5. “Why is it that in religion we want a proof and a manifestation so strong that it will overwhelm our reason and destroy our freedom? That God will never gant!”

6. “God is thirsting, too, for those who have lost the Faith. The position of fallen-away Catholics is rather unique. The seriousness of his fall is to be measured by the heights from which he fell. His reaction to the Church is either hate or argument. In both cases he bears witness to the Divinity of the Church. The hate is his vain attempt to despise. Since his conscience which was formed by the Spirit in the Church will not let him alone, he will not let the Church alone.”

7. “One need hardly ever tell such a sinner how wicked he is. He knows it a thousand times better than you…This consciousness of sin is not yet conversion, for up to this pint a soul may be repenting like Judas, only to itself…. The consciousness of sin creates a vacuum; grace alone can fill it.”

Questions:

1. How is Judas’ reaction to his betrayal of Christ different from Peter’s?

2. Do you find it odd that St. Joseph’s recorded participation in the story of Christ’s life is so diminished? Why do you think that is?”

3. If you were a fallen-away Catholic at some point in your life, what made you leave in the first place? Did a practicing Catholic ever engage you? What brought you back to the Catholic Church?

 

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, Week 4

Continuing with the six-week Lenten reflection series based on the book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, here are the quotes and questions that John and I asked yesterday from Chapter 4 – The Fourth Word: Confidence in Victory. This chapter focuses on Mary’s Magnificat and Jesus’ – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Mk. 15:34), which originally comes from Psalm 22:1 (21 in the Septuagint), the great Todah (Thanksgiving) Psalm.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary

1. “All trusting implies something you cannot see. If you could see, there would be no occasion for trust. When you say you trust a man only insofar as you can see him, you do not trust him at all. Now to trust God means to hold fast to the truth that his purposes are good and holy, not because you see them, but in spite of appearances to the contrary.”

2. “Rather approach him in full confidence and even with the boldness of a loving child who has a right to ask a Father for favors.”

3. “The man without faith was generally surprised at the dark turn of events with two world wars in twenty-one years, the resurgence of barbarism and the abandonment of moral principles. But the man with faith in God was not so surprised. The sun came out just as he had expected; chaos was in the cards though they had not yet been dealt, for he knew that ‘unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it’ (Ps 126:1).”

4. “Evil will never be able to be stronger than on that particular day, for the worst thing that evil can do is not to ruin cities and to wage wars…against the good and the living. The worst thing that evil can do is to kill God..”

5. “Though he may not grant all your wants, be sure that, in a certain sense, there is no unanswered prayer…Do not forget either that there are not two kinds of prayers to prayer, but three: One is ‘Yes.’ Another is ‘No.’ The third is ‘Wait.”

Questions: 

1. With all the evil and sin in the world, how does a Christian remain steadfast in knowing that in the end the final victory belongs to Christ and those who follow his teachings?

2. What would the Jews standing around the cross have thought when they heard Christ cry out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

3. In Heaven, Christ still bears the wounds of his Crucifixion. Explain the significance of this teaching.

 

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, Week 3

Continuing with the six-week Lenten reflection series based on the book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, here are the quotes and questions that John and I asked yesterday from Chapter 3 – The Third Word: The Fellowship of Religion.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary

1. “Have you ever said, in order to justify your selfishness, ‘After all, I have my own life to live?’ The truth is you have not your own life to live, because you have to live it with everyone else. Religion is not what you do with your solitariness, but what you do with your relationships. You were born out of the womb of society, and hence the love of neighbor is inseperable from the love of God.”

2. “In order to indicate that she is now becoming the mother of all men whom he redeems, he endows her with the title of universal motherhood: ‘Woman.’”

3. “The very thought of this Bride of the Spirit becoming the mother of humanity is overwhelming, not because God thought of it, but because we so seldom ever think of it. We have become so used to seeing the Madonna with the Child in Bethlehem that we forget that same Madonna is holding you and me at Calvary.”

4. “Mary had seen God in Christ; now her Son was telling her to see Christ in all Christians. She was never to love anyone else but him, but he would now be in those whom he redeemed.”

5. “…I wonder if it is not true that as the world loses veneration for Christ’s mother, it loses also its adoration of Christ. Is it not true in earthly relationships that, as a so-called friend ignores your mother when he comes to your home, sooner or later he will ignore you? Conversely, as the world begins knocking at Mary’s door, it will find that Our Lord himself will answer.”

Questions:

1. Why is it that Protestants do not venerate our Blessed Mother? Did it start with Luther?2. Do you think Mary was surprised when Jesus gave her away?                                      3. Why is it significant that the robe that Jesus wore was seamless?

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen…Pray for us.