The American Madonna

OL Atonement

We must understand by virtue of our new birth into the Kingdom of God that the Blessed Virgin is our real mother and not merely a mother that has just adopted us. By baptism we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ and by that process of incorporation we are also brought into relationship with the Blessed Virgin, which is intrinsically similar to the relationship which Christ has to the Blessed Virgin as his mother. The Blessed Virgin is not our stepmother. She is our real mother as far as are the Sons and Daughters of the Atonement and members of the Mystical Body of Christ.               -Fr. Paul of Graymoor

On this Independence Day we wanted to remind you of a uniquely American title of Our Lady, one which is lesser known, but no less important, than many of her more well-known titles.  Devotion to the Blessed Mother as Our Lady of the Atonement began with an Episcopalian priest, Fr. Paul Wattson, who was inspired to found a religious congregation devoted to the work of unity, reconciling men with God, particularly by leading those outside the sheepfold home to Christ’s Church.  With the help of Mother Lurana Mary White they founded the Society of the Atonement in the late 1800s.  They eventually came to realize the they couldn’t wait for the entire Episcopalian church to reunite with the Chair of Peter, and so, they and the members of the society made their profession of faith in 1909 and were received into the Catholic Church.  They brought with them this devotion to Our Lady of the Atonement, whose feast day they celebrated on July 9th.

In Rome She is known as “the American Madonna”.  She is Our Lady suffering with her Son at the foot of the Cross.  She wears a red mantle to symbolize the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Blood which makes us at-one with God.  The red mantle is worn over a blue tunic, and together with her white veil, the colors remind one of the American flag.  Independence Day always falls in the middle of the novena leading up to her feast day, and so it is yet another reminder of her special connection with our nation.

May Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of Unity, protect and guide our country, that we may truly be one nation under God, made at-one with Him by the Precious Blood of Jesus.

 

 

An Eloquent Preacher

M&C w Anthony Padua & Roch_Prado

De Maria numquam satis.
Of Mary, never enough!

This famous saying of St. Bernard is fitting also for today’s saint, Anthony of Padua (or St. Anthony of Portugal, as they say in the country of his birth).  St. Anthony, who also quoted the most eloquent St. Bernard quite often in his sermons, was an eloquent preacher himself – in fact, his tongue is incorrupt to this day as a super natural testament to his gift for preaching.  Born on the feast of the Assumption, Anthony would go on to develop a deep devotion to the Mother of God.  Today we begin a community retreat, and so we ask his intercession that these days may be fruitful and grace-filled.

Below is an excerpt from one of his Marian sermons, this one on the Annunciation.  You can find the entire sermon here, as well as many others.  Note how St. Anthony refers to Our Lady as Mediatrix (we’ve talked a little bit about Our Lady as Mediatrix on our recent radio shows)!
There follows:  And his glory shall be as the olive tree. This stands for peace and mercy.The blessed Virgin Mary, our mediatrix, re-established peace between God and the sinner; for which reason God says of her:  I will set my bow in the clouds. The two principal colours of the rainbow are those of water and of fire. Water, which nourishes all things, represents fecundity; fire, whose flame no sword can injure, represents the inviolate virginity of Mary. This is the sign of the covenant of peace between God and the sinner. It is also the olive-tree of mercy. Therefore blessed Bernard says, “You have a sure access to God, O man, where you have the mother standing before the Son, and the Son before the Father. The mother shows her heart and breasts to her Son, and the Son displays his side and wounds to the Father. There will be no refusal where so many signs of charity come together.”  
There follows:  And his smell as that of Libanus. Libanus means ‘whitening’, and it represents the whiteness of blessed Mary’s innocent life, the fragrance of which spreads everywhere, breathing life to the dead, pardon to the despairing, grace to the penitent and glory to the just.  
By her prayers and merits may the dew of the Holy Spirit refresh the fever of our minds, put away our sins, and infuse grace; that we may become fit to attain the glory of eternal and immortal life. May he grant this!

Joyful Mystery

Corpus Christi ProcessionHow appropriate that this year the Solemnity of Corpus Christi falls just two days before the Feast of the Visitation.  You could say that the Visitation was the first Corpus Christi procession, and surely the longest one, since Our Lady traveled somewhere between 80 and 100 miles from Nazareth to the Hill Country of Judea.  In fact, as I was praying the rosary yesterday, it struck me how this celebration of Our Lord’s Real Presence is a joyful mystery, which actually encompasses all the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. 

Annunciation –   In one sense, the Eucharist is a continuation of the mystery of the Incarnation. God, in an extraordinary and mysterious way,  comes to His beloved children, to be physically with them and among them.  This happened first at the Incarnation and it happens every time the Eucharist is confected at Mass.  God’s love compels Him to do something which is beyond our comprehension, and just as His Divinity was hidden from us during His earthly life, so too, It is veiled behind the forms of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist.

Visitation – Our Lady takes the love which God has lavished on her, His own Divine Love, the fruit of which is Jesus, and shares that with her cousin Elizabeth. Our Lady, from a young age according to tradition, has been consecrated to God.  Her complete self-giving to God bears this fruit: she is completely other-oriented; she takes Jesus to her cousin and serves her both spiritually and physically, by lending her care and support as she nears childbirth.  As I mentioned above, her long trek to Elizabeth’s home was the first Corpus Christi procession.  Just as today Jesus is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, at the Visitation He was also hidden in Mary’s womb, although by the power of the Holy Spirit and faith Elizabeth and John both recognized the presence of their Savior.

Nativity – We are present at Calvary, stepping out of time and into that eternal moment, each time we attend Mass. But the Crucifixion began at the Incarnation and is visible to us first at the Nativity of Our Lord. Each Christmas we are reminded of the link between the birth of Our Lord and His passion and death. The wood of the manger presages the wood of the Cross. Not to mention, the word manger means “to eat” and, as Our Lord is first laid in the trough where animals are fed we see a prefigurement of the Eucharist, in which He gives Himself to us as food. He was born in Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.”  It was at the Birth of Our Lord that He was first looked upon and adored.  Each time we adore Him in the Eucharist we are joining with Mary and Joseph in that first “Holy Hour”.

Presentation – The infant Jesus was presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph. On Corpus Christi He is presented to the world, though it is a hidden presence behind the appearance of bread, as we process with Him through the streets.

Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple – Just as Mary and Joseph were so relieved to find Him after a stressful search, we find Him always in the tabernacle.  Jesus waits for us there, just as He waited for his Mother and foster-father to come to Him in the temple.  We are blessed because for us He is never “lost”, He is always present and He waits patiently for us to “find” Him.

The overflowing love of the Church for her Eucharistic Lord gives us this Solemnity of Hans_Or_Jakob_StrubxxThe_VisitationCorpus Christi, as well as all of the Eucharistic devotions which have arisen over the lifetime of the Church. All of Her Eucharistic devotions are a response to the extraordinary love of God for us which compels Him to remain with us until the end of time. Our Lady was a beautiful mirror of God’s love, reflecting back to Him in a most perfect and pure way His own Divine Love.  May Our Lord find a reflection of His love, His abiding love which abides with us in the Blessed Sacrament, reflected back to Him by our loving devotion to His Eucharistic Presence. Let us ask Our Lady, the first monstrance, the first Corpus Christi procession, the first to adore the Word made flesh, to help us grow in our love for Jesus truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Fear Not, I Am the Angel of Peace

Ninety Nine years ago today, in 1917, Our Lady of Fatima first appeared to the three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria.  “Fear not! I will not harm you,” she said.  She asked them to return to that spot on the thirteenth day of each month, for five consecutive months.  Her messages to Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia were calls to prayer and penance, in reparation for sins and offenses against God. She asked them to pray and sacrifice for souls, many of whom were falling into hell.

But in 1916, the children had been visited three times by an angel, who was preparing them for the apparitions of the Mother of God.  The angel came to them in spring, summer  and autumn, and taught them two prayers. His very first words to the children were, “Fear not! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me!”

He also urged them, “Pray! Pray a great deal. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices continually to the Most High.” When the children asked,”How must we sacrifice ourselves?” he answered, “Make everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it as an act of reparation for the sins by which God is offended, and as a petition for the conversion of sinners. By this you will bring peace to your country. I’m its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all accept and bear with submission all the suffering the Lord will send you.”

The two prayers which the angel taught the children have been part of our own community’s morning prayers for many, many years.  When we gather for Office of Readings and Morning Prayer at 6am each day, we begin with the Angelus (or Regina Caeli, if it’s the Easter Season) and then pray the two Fatima prayers, as well as the Guardian Angel prayer.


My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I beg pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.

 

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He, Himself is offended. And I draw upon the infinite merits of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that You might convert poor sinners.

 

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light, to guard to rule and to guide.  Amen.


 

 

His Mother and Ours

A blessed Mother’s Day to all mothers! And we most especially look to Our Lady today, entrusting our earthly mothers to her care, and placing ourselves under her mantle.


poe-madona

Latin Text English Translation
Sub tuum praesidium
confugimus,
Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias
in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis
libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta
We fly to Thy protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from all dangers,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin. Amen.

Our Lady’s Love

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“Think of what the Saints have done for their neighbor because they loved God.  But what Saint’s love for God can match Mary’s?  She loved Him more in the first moment of her existence than all the Saints and angels ever loved Him or will love Him… Just as there is not one among all the Blessed who loves God as Mary does, so there is no one, after God, who loves us as much as this most loving Mother does.  Furthermore, if we heaped together all the love that mothers have for their children, all the love of husbands and wives, all the love of all the angels and Saints for their clients, it could never equal Mary’s love for even a single soul.”
–Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop  and Doctor of the Church, writing in The Glories of Mary
 If you’re celebrating St. Valentine’s Day today, don’t forget to include Our Lady!  Let’s ask her to make our hearts more like her own, so that we may love Jesus with pure hearts and souls.
 (Even though the main focus today is the first Sunday of Lent, we found this picture the other day and thought it would be perfect to share with you for Valentine’s Day -technically, this image isn’t of Our Lady, but we didn’t know that when we found it.)

Fair as the Moon, Bright as the Sun

Joan_de_Joanes_-_The_Immaculate_Conception_-_Google_Art_Project-1As beloved as the works of Tolkien are, it is impossible to fully appreciate them without an understanding of his deep Catholic faith, particularly his devotion to Our Lady.

To Our Lady… upon which all my own small perception of beauty, both in majesty and simplicity, is founded.

–JRR Tolkien

Today’s solemnity of the Immaculate Conception brings so many thoughts to mind. Firstly, it’s astounding to think that from our own microscopic beginnings at the first moment of life, when we are too small to be visible, God has already created us with a purpose, with a Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.39.29 PMplan, with a destiny. Our own free choices determine how closely we cooperate with His plan for our lives, but the possibilities and the graces are all available to us. As clichéd as it sounds, God creates us with greatness in mind – not necessarily in the worldly sense of being a noteworthy person, or making a name for oneself, but spiritual greatness. And what could be greater than being called into relationship with the Trinity, being adopted into God’s Family by our baptism? Our Lady was conceived without sin because of God’s purpose for her. He created her to become the Mother of His Only Son.

Catholic fans of The Lord of the Rings know that Galadriel reflected Our Lady – which is why we took such issue with Peter Jackson’s depiction of her in the movies (the Continue reading