Meditations on Mary

As a parish meditation on the role of Mary in our lives, we will honor Mary throughout this coming year.  “By her acceptance of God’s will for her to be the Mother of God, Mary’s faith marks the beginning of the new and eternal covenant of God with man in Jesus Christ.” (Redemptoris Mater by Pope John Paul II)  Our meditation will begin on January 1, 2014 the Feast of Mary, Mother of God.  Parishioners are invited to bring their statues, icons and images of Mary from home which will be blessed at all of the Masses.  The full calendar follows:

January 1 – Mary, Mother of God

At all our Masses today, we will bless any images, medals or icons the faithful might have in their homes and bring to the Marian Shrine of Mother of Divine Providence.

Today is the Feast of Mary, the Mother of Hope, and the Mother of God. This first day of the New Year we concentrate all our efforts in meditation and prayer on Mary, who, in the family of God is our compassionate and loving mother.

Jesus gave Mary to us when He said to John on Calvary, “Behold your mother.” We receive her into our homes today as a true sign of hope in a desperate world.

There is no other image of the mystery of the Incarnation simpler than the image of the Mother with Jesus in her arms. She bears her Son from life to death.

In the same way, she promises to bear us especially in our times of despair and anxiousness. Mary is our Mother of Hope because in the carrying of her Son, we are able to reach out to Him and touch Him so He can dispense His mercy and forgiveness.

Through this Virtue of Hope, rooted in Faith, Mary brings us peace; inner peace, peace in our families; communal peace, global peace.

Mary helps us become better makers of peace by sharing in her virtues of compassion and love. If we ask her, Mary will beg God for peace among us, with all the beauty and calm of her motherhood, which the Church celebrates today. We pray through her today to be with us at every moment and make this New Year a year of Hope by the virtue of His passion and death.

February 11 – Our Lady of Lourdes

Tuesday – Evening Prayer and Benediction, 7pm.

All her life Mary placed herself at the service of her Father in heaven. From the moment of her conception even to the miracle of Lourdes, no words originated from her except ‘your will be done,’ and ‘do as he tells you.’

The miracle of Lourdes re-enforces the message of the Kingdom- to repent and believe in the Gospel-we need nothing more than to consume this Word and practice the sacramental life given to us from the Cross.

Today, our parish celebrates its devotion to the Lourdes event. Today is the anniversary of the apparitions of Lourdes when Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception appeared to Saint Bernadette.  She asked us to pray for the conversion of sinners. This Lent the whole Archdiocese is committing itself to the Sacrament of Confession. Our Lady of Lourdes calls you to go to confession frequently and be reconciled with God.

‘Do as he tells you’ remains our goal and our only true joy. Through the intercession of Saint Bernadette may we live faithfully the life of Jesus through Mary.

March 25 – Annunciation

Tuesday – Night Prayer and Benediction

Pope John Paul reflected on the significance the mystery of the Annunciation as “The first moment of submission to the one mediation ‘between God and men’ — the mediation of Jesus Christ — is the Virgin of Nazareth’s acceptance of motherhood. Mary consents to God’s choice, in order to become through the power of the Holy Spirit the Mother of the Son of God.”

April 26 – Our Lady of Good Counsel

Saturday – Daily Mass of Our Lady

The church that houses the original image of Our Lady of Good Counsel is located about 30 miles Southeast of Rome in the town of Genazzano.

The legend of this beautiful image holds that the town only had one benefactor to help restore its church which was built in 440.   As a result, the church stood unfinished and roofless because of the lack of support.  On April 25, 1467 during a great festival in the town, witnesses saw a cloud descend on the church, the church bells rang spontaneously and the image was found on a shelf.

Several weeks later two refugees from an Albanian town testified that the exact image had been located in their church, and now a hole the exact size of the image stood in their old church.   Within six months over 170 miracles and healing were recorded in the church.

The miraculous image first known as Our Madonna of Paradise, has always been regarded favorably by the Holy See, from Pope Paul II (1464-1471) through Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) whose entire pontificate was dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel , and into today.

May 13 – Our Lady of Fatima

Night Prayer and Benediction


At noon on May 13, 1917 in Cova da Iria in Portugal, Our Lady appeared to three children:  Lucia, and her two cousins Francisco, Jacinta who were shepherding sheep.  She asked them if they would pray and make sacrifices for sinners, and if they would come on the 13th of each month, for five months at the end of which a miracle would occur.
In June Our Lady spoke to the children about the importance of praying the rosary daily.  On In July Our Lady told the children three secrets that where to be disclosed over time. (The first two were released in Lucia’s memoirs in 1944, which spoke of the true existence of hell and the devil and the need to pray for souls. The third part was released by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 2000 during the Beatification of Jacinta and Francisco who died, as foretold by Our Lady, at a very young age.)  On August 13th, the mayor of the town, who was an atheist, kidnapped the children to insure that Our Lady would not appear, but on August 19th Our Lady appeared to the children and told them that because of the actions of the mayor, the miracle would not be a great.  Our Lady appeared to the children again in September.
On October 13th at noon, Our Lady appeared holding a brown scapular along with Saint Joseph, who was holding the Child Jesus. Our Lady said “I am the Lady of the Rosary”.  She asked that we pray ‘Oh my Jesus, forgive us ours sins, save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy” at the end of each decade of the rosary.

Our Lady of Fatima recalls frequently forgotten values. She reminds us that the future of humankind is in God, and that we are active and responsible partners in creating that future. Our Lady of Fatima wants all of us to stop offending God; the same message as at Lourdes to Saint Bernadette. She reminds us that hell exists.
Ultimately, Our Lady of Fatima asks us to fervently pray the Rosary every day, pray for sinners and the pope, and perform sacrifices in reparation for our sins.

June 27 – Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Friday – Daily Mass

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is 17″ × 21″ inches and was painted on hard nut wood with a gold leaf background between the years 1325 and 1480. The image depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary wearing a dress of dark red, representing the Passion of Jesus, with a blue mantle, representing her perpetual virginity, and cloaked veil, which represents her pure modesty. The icon shows Mary looking towards the faithful, while pointing at her son, Jesus Christ who is frightened by the instruments of crucifixion and is depicted with a fallen sandal. On the left side is Saint Michael, carrying the lance and sponge of the crucifixion of Jesus. On the right is Saint Gabriel carrying a 3-bar cross used by Popes at the time and nails. The Virgin Mary has a star on her forehead, signifying her role as Star of the Sea while the cross on the side has been claimed as referring to the school which produced the icon.

It is believed that this icon was painted by a Greek artist.  It is believed that the icon was stolen by a merchant who hid the icon as he sailed to Rome.  He revealed the icon to the sailors when a storm hit hard, they prayed that Our Lady would see them through the storm.  On arriving in Rome the merchant fell deathly ill.  He asked a second merchant to place the icon in a church where it could be venerated.  The second merchant did not honor the other’s wishes, but rather showed the icon to his wife.  She then refused to give the icon to the church, as she felt she wanted the beautiful icon hanging in their home.

It is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to the merchant’s daughter and asked that the icon be placed between the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.  Rather than giving the icon to the church that Our Lady indicated to the daughter, the wife gave the icon to the Augustinian Friars.   From March 27, 1499 and for another 300 years the icon remained in the church of San Matteo.  In 1798, the French occupied Rome and took Pope Pius VI prisoner.  They demolished the church in San Matteo. The Augustinian’s rescued the icon.  In 1855 the Redemptorist Fathers purchased properties in Rome to convert into their headquarters.  Unbeknownst to them, they had actually purchased the land and monastery of Saint Matthew, which is where the Blessed Virgin had asked to enshrine the icon.

Pope Pius IX gave his apostolic blessing and bestowed the title of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” on the icon in 1867.  Since that time many copies of the icon have been dedicated around the world.  Many miracles have been attributed to this icon.  Many countries, including the Philippines, Haiti and Spain venerate and attribute miracles to the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

July 16 – Our Lady of Mount Carmel

On Pentecost, 10 days after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the spiritual descendants of Elias and his followers came down from Mount Carmel.  They were the first to accept the message of Christianity and to be baptized by the Apostles.  When they were presented to Our Lady and heard the sweet words from Her lips, they were overcome with a sense of majesty and sanctity which they never forgot.  They returned to their holy mountain and erected the first chapel ever built in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  From that time, devotion to God’s Mother became the treasured spiritual legacy of the hermits of Mount Carmel.

On July 16, 1251 Saint Simon Stock prayerfully asked the Blessed Virgin Mary for her help.  She came to him accompanied by a multitude of angels and holding the brown Scapular.   She said:  “This shall be to you and to all Carmelites a privilege that anyone who dies clothed in the (Scapular) shall not suffer eternal fire.”

Many miracles attributed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel have been officially recognized by the Catholic Church since Saint Simon Stock’s apparition and Our Lady’s appearance to the children in Fatima (which we outlined in May).

The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has come to be known as the Scapular Feast.   A 1996 doctrinal statement approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states that “Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular.  Therefore whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.

According to the ways in which the Church has intervened at various times to clarify the meaning and privileges of the Brown Scapular:  “The scapular is a Marian habit or garment.  It is both a sign and pledge.  A sign of belonging to Mary; a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death.  As a sign, it is a conventional sign signifying three elements strictly joined:  first, belonging to a religious family particularly devoted to Mary, especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order; second consecration to Mary, devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart; third an incitement to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity, and spirit of prayer.

Join us on Wednesday, July 16th at 7:00 PM for Evening Prayer and special Mass in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

August 15 – Assumption into Heaven of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates Mary’s acceptance into Heaven; the real physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorrupt body into Heaven.  The Assumption is seen as a symbol of Jesus’ promise to us of salvation and an assurance of a place in Heaven after a faith-filled life, well lived.  Catholic dogma states that Mary was assumed into heaven with body and soul (de fide).  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (item 966) states:

“The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things.”

Although the Assumption was only recently defined as dogma, accounts of the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven have circulated since at least the 5th century, and by the 8th century Saints Andrew of Crete and John of Damascus had declared belief in it.  The Book of Revelation (12:1) has been interpreted as referring to it; with her coronation implying her previous bodily assumption to heaven.

Before declaring the Assumption as dogma in Munificentissimus Deus in 1950, in the encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae (1946) Pope Pius XII obtained the opinion of Catholic bishops, and based on their overwhelming support (1210 among the 1232 bishops) proceeded with dogmatic definition.  Since 1870 solemn declaration of Papal Infallibility by Vatican I in 1870, this declaration by Pius XII has been the only ex cathedra use of Papal Infallibility.

In Munificentissimus Deus Pope Pius XII wrote:  “Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity.  For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer’s Kingdom;  from her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father.

Hence it cannot be doubted that Mary most Holy is far above all other creatures in dignity, and after her Son possesses primacy over all.  “You have surpassed every creature,” sings Saint Sophronius.  “What can be more sublime than your joy, O Virgin Mother? What more noble than this grace, which you alone have received from God?”  To this St. Germanus adds:  “Your honor and dignity surpass the whole of creation;  your greatness places you above angels.” And St. John Damascene goes so far as to say:  “Limitless is the difference between God’s servants and His Mother.”

In order to understand better this sublime dignity of the Mother of God over all creatures let us recall that he holy Mother of God was, at the very moment of her Immaculate Conception, so filled with grace as to surpass the grace of all the Saints.   Wherefore, as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius IX wrote, god “showered her with heavenly gifts and graces from the treasury of His divinity so far beyond what He gave to all the angels and saints that she was ever free from the least stain of sin;  she is is so beautiful and perfect, and possesses such fullness of innocence and holiness, that under God a greater could not be dreamed, and only God can comprehend the marvel.”

Besides, the Blessed Virgin possessed, after Christ, not only the highest degree of excellence and perfection, but also a share in that influence by which He, her Son and Redeemer, is rightly said to reign over the minds and will of men.  For if through His Humanity the divine Word performs miracles and gives graces, if He uses His Sacraments and Saints as instruments for the salvation of men, why should He not make use of the role and work of His most holy Mother in imparting to us the fruits of redemption?  “With a heart that is truly a mother’s,” to quote again Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, “does she approach the problem of our salvation, and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord, exalted above all choirs of angels and saints, and standing at the right hand of her only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother’s prayers, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused.”  On this point onother of Our Predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII, has said that an “almost immeasurable” power has been given Mary in the distribution of graces; St. Pius X adds that she fills this office “as by the right of a mother.”

Let all Christians, therefore, glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother’s love.”

Join us then as we honor the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Friday, August 15th.   Masses will be celebrated at 8:00 AM, 12:05 PM and 7:30 PM.

September 8 – Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This month we continue our reflections on Mary with the focus on the Fest of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mother.   This feast was celebrated at the earliest in the sixth century, when Saint Romanos the Melodist, an Eastern Christian who composed may of the hymns used in the Eastern Catholic and Easter Orthodox liturgies, composed a hymn for the feast.  The feast spread to Rome in the seventh century, but it was a couple more centuries before it was celebrated on September 8th each year;  this date is exactly 9 months from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   Although the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not celebrated with the same solemnity as that of the Immaculate Conception, it is nonetheless as extremely important feast in the Church because it prepares the way for the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Join us on Monday, September 8th at 7:00 PM when we will gather for a Candlelight Rosary in honor of Our Lady, at the grotto of Mother of Divine Providence located in parking lot near the church.

October 7 – Most Holy Rosary

According to Dominican tradition, in 1214, St. Dominic was in Prouille, France attempting to convert the Albigensians back to the Catholic faith.  The young priest had little success until one day he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin, who gave him the Rosary as a tool against heretics.  The development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of Saint Dominic, including the 15th century priest and teacher, Alanus de Rupe.

Pope Pius V had organized a coalition of forces from Spain and smaller Christian kingdoms, republics and military orders, to rescue Christian outposts in Cyprus, particularly the Venetian outpost at Famagusta which, however surrendered after a long siege on August 1 before the Christian forces set sail.   On. October 7, 1571 the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, sailed from Messina, Sicily, and met a powerful Ottoman fleet in the Battle of Lepanto.  Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, the holy pontiff, Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory, and let a rosary procession in Rome.

After about five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece, the combined navies of the Vatican, Venice and Spain managed to stop the Ottoman navy, slowing the Ottoman advance to the west and denying them access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas.  If the Ottomans had won the there was a real possibility that an invasion of Italy could have followed so that the Ottoman sultan, already claiming to be emperor of the Romans, would have been in possession of both New and Old Rome.  Combined with the unfolding events in Morocco where the Sa’adids successfully spurned the Ottoman advances, it confined Turkish naval power to the eastern Mediterranean.  Although the Ottoman empire was able to build more ships, it never full recovered from the loss of trained sailors and marines, and was never again the Mediterranean naval power it had become the century before when Constantinople fell.  Pius V then instituted “Our Lady of Victory” as an annual feast to commemorate the victory, which he attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Dedications to Our Lady of Victory precedes this papal declaration.  In particular, Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester built the first shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Victory in thanks for the Catholic victory over the Albigensians at the Battle of Muret on September 12, 1213.

In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the “Feast of Our Lady of Victory” to “Feast of the Holy Rosary”.  Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the whole of the Latin Rite, inserting it into the General Roman Calendar in 1716, and assigning it to the first Sunday in October.  Pope Pius X changed the date to 7 October in 1913, as part of his effort to restore celebration of the liturgy of the Sundays.

On October 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima told the shepherd children, “I am the Lady of the Rosary”.

Even in the recent time of 1987, during the civil war with the anti-clerical Sandinista government in Nicaragua, sacristan Bernardo Martinez reported seeing an apparition of Our Lady who urged him to pray the rosary and work for peace.  One of the appearances was in the parish church of Our Lady of Victories near Cuapa.

Join us in celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Tuesday, October 7th – the rosary will be prayed at 6:30 PM with Evening Prayer and Benediction following at 7:00 PM.

November 21 – Presentation of Mary

Many of the celebrations in honor of Mary are based in historical fact.   The Sacred Scriptures tell of her acceptance of God’s invitation to be the mother of the Savior at the Annunciation.  We know of her maternity and of her faithfulness to her son, Jesus, even standing at the side of His cross.

The Scriptures tell us nothing of Mary’s hidden life.  The inspired Word of God gives us no word about her Presentation in the Temple, the feast which we celebrate each year on November 21st.  However, we do have the testimonies of tradition which are based on accounts which come to us from apostolic times.  The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple is found in early Christian writings that are not included in the Old Testament, or apocrypha.

The book “Apocrypha” gives us a detailed account in which Mary’s father, Joachim, tells Anna his wife that he wishes to bring their child to the Temple of the Lord.  Anna responds that they should wait until the child is three years old lest she yearn for her parents.  When the day arrived, the undefiled daughters of the Hebrew were invited to accompany Mary with their lamps burning to the Temple.  There the priest received her, and kissed her in welcome.  He proclaimed, “The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations.  In thee, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel.”  Mary was placed on the third step of the Temple and there danced with joy and all the house of Israel loved her.   It was there that she was nurtured and her parents returned, glorifying the Almighty.

This story is a legend with no foundation in history and the point of the story is to show that even in her childhood Mary was completely dedicated to God.   However it is from this very account that the feast of Mary’s Presentation arose.  It appears that this feast was not celebrated in Rome at the time of Pope Sergius (+701) who established four other principle feasts dedicated to Mary.  By the ninth century the Feast of the Presentation of Mary is celebrated in the monasteries of southern Italy which had been influenced by the traditions of the Byzantine churches.  By the fourteenth century it had spread to England and it is recorded that it was celebrated in Avignon, France in 1373.  Its acceptance is considered very slow and it was not until the year 1472 that Pope Sixtus IV extended its celebration to the universal church.

Pope Paul VI in the 1974 encyclical Marialis Cultus, n. 8, wrote of this feast that “despite its apocryphal content, it presents lofty and exemplary values and carries on the venerable traditions having their origins in the Eastern churches.

Join us as we celebrate the Presentation of Mary on Friday, November 21st at 8:00 AM Mass.

December 8 – Immaculate Conception – Monday – Mass