Defend Us Dear Mother: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Novena, Day 6

 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel PRay for Us!

 

Around 1916, while addressing a group of seminarians, Pope Benedict XV stated: “Let all of you have a common language and a common armor: the language, the sentences of the Gospel; the common armor, the Scapular of the Virgin of Carmel, which you all ought to wear and which enjoys the singular privilege of protection even after death.”

Over the past week, we’ve contemplated the beauty of the gift of the Brown Scapular as we prepare for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16. Throughout these few days we reviewed the history of the Brown Scapular, considered the Blessed Mother’s promise of protection and discussed the unfathomable grace that accompanies Our Lady’s “Garment of Grace.” We have considered the manner in which Our Lady perpetually directs us toward her Divine Son, Jesus Christ; Who is our ultimate source of joy.

Devotion to Our Lady Always Directs Us to Jesus. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

One of the most salient aspects of the devotion to the Brown Scapular is the protection against evil imparted to those who faithfully express their love of Christ by entrusting themselves to His beloved Mother through this powerful sacramental. Heaven has offered a myriad of signs and miracles attesting to the veracity of Our Lady’s promise and the validity of the hopes of those who entrust themselves to Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s providential care.

Among the many miraculous stories regarding the Brown Scapular, there are two that seem relevant tonight. First, two great founders of religious orders, Saint John Bosco of the Salesians and St. Alphonsus Liguori of the Redemptorists each nurtured a deep devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and faithfully wore the Brown Scapular. Both St. John Bosco and St. Alphonsus Liguori were buried wearing their priestly vestments and the Brown Scapular. Many years later when their bodies were exhumed and their graves opened, the vestments they were wearing at the time of burial and their bodies had completely turned to dust. However, for each man, the Brown Scapular they had been wearing was discovered completely intact. Today, St. Alphonsus Liguori’s scapular is on exhibit in his monastery in Rome. As Pope Benedict XV admonished his seminarians: the Brown Scapular carries with it grace that is evident even after death.

St. John of the Cross Mosaic from the Basilica at Holy Hill. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Venerable Francis de Yepes was the brother of the great Carmelite reformer St. John of the Cross. Venerable Francis was himself a Carmelite tertiary, and deeply dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and her Brown Scapular. He worked diligently to spread devotion to this vital channel of grace. One day as he was praying for the conversion of souls, Venerable Francis was assailed by angry, howling demons, who bemoaned the success of the scapular and ordered him to remove it. They said: “Take off that habit which snatches so many souls from us. All those clothed in it die piously and escape us.” However, Venerable Francis ignored them and continued his prayers.

Later, as he was performing an act of penance, his scapular slipped off. The demons again ordered him to keep the scapular off. He immediately put it back around his neck. As Francis replaced the Brown Scapular around his neck, the demons howled that three things particularly torment them: (1) the Holy Name of Jesus, (2) the blessed name of Mary, and lastly (3) the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Our Lord has bestowed tremendous grace upon those who show their devotion to Him, and honor His beloved Mother, through the Brown Scapular of Carmel. Countless documented miracles have been associated with devotion to the Scapular: houses spared fire, lives saved, incredible conversions, and abiding faith restored, just to name a few.

Our Brown Scapular is a tremendous treasure, the gift of a “Garment of Grace” from Our Lady. With gratitude, let us pray together the novena prayer for the sixth day in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16.

Sixth Day
With loving provident care, O Mother Most Amiable, you covered us with your Scapular as a shield of defense against the Evil One.
Through your assistance, may we bravely struggle against the powers of evil, always open to your Son Jesus Christ.
(pause and mention petitions)
Say: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel wrap her Mantle around your shoulders and hold you close to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Infant Son, Jesus.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

Zealous for the Lord God of Hosts: Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Day 5

With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

The motto of the Carmelite Order is: “Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercituum.” This powerful expression is a direct quote of the words of Elijah from the First Book of Kings, 19:10: “With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts.” These words perfectly express the life of the Prophet Elijah, yet for those of us who wear the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, this motto also perfectly conveys the mission to which we are each called.

From the gift of our Baptism, we are called to be bear witness to reality of the Omnipotent Triune God. Through our sacramental life we are given the grace to know, love and serve Our Lord in this life so that we can spend Eternity with Him in Paradise.

Our Lord loves us with an incompressible, eternal love. He desires our ultimate happiness, which can only reach fruition with lives utterly centered in Him. God both places a deep yearning within our hearts, and also gives us the means to satisfy that longing. It is paradoxical that when we serve God with zeal, we become zealous for His the reality of His Kingdom. Our zealousness grows as His unfathomable love fills our being. Love begets Love, and zeal for the Kingdom of God finds its ultimate expression in charity. He loves us, we respond to that love, and become zealous for God, and in so doing advance His kingdom by ministering to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

The premier exemplar of the love of Christ in action is the Blessed Virgin. She is the model of the ultimate expression of faithful service to plan of God. When we call on Our Lady to assist us in reaching our goal to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul, and love our neighbor as our selves, she will surely respond with all the requisite grace essential for the task.

Please join me praying to the fifth day of the novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in preparation for her great feast on July 16.

Fifth Day
O Mother of Fair Love, through your goodness, as your children, we are called to live in the spirit of Carmel. Help us to live in charity with one another, prayerful as Elijah of old, and mindful of our call to minister to God’s people.
(pause and mention petitions)
Say: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel wrap her Mantle around your shoulders and hold you close to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Infant Son, Jesus.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J

A Slice of Paradise: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Novena, Day 4

Today was a slice of Paradise. Throughout the stillness of the night I had listened to the serene lapping of rippling water on Lake Michigan. My patio door was open, and the Moon shone brightly over Whitefish Bay, as the stars reflected on the gently moving water.

refreshing Waters of Lake Michigan © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

For most of our week of vacation, the water was like glass. In the nine years we’ve been traveling to this particular spot, the water has never been this smooth, nor the lake so warm and inviting. Our week here has been glorious; a true gift from God. The kids waded out into the bay, and I splashed with them in the gentle flow of the usually tempestuous Lake. We built castles in the balmy sand, and shared the joy of relaxing amid one of the most picturesque vistas I know. This morning, a pink and orange hue melted into a brilliant golden orb reflecting on the sparkling lake. I flopped out of bed, grasped my rosary and Divine Office, and began my day on the patio. The morning sun warmed my physical being, as I thanked Our Lord for the magnificent week He had given me and mine.

The rhythm of the day rapidly changed as we busied ourselves with packing the van, and hitting the road. Yet even so, this joy and peace of this morning’s prayer remained with me. We had tried to find a morning Mass, but the only Monday Mass in our area was at 5:15 p.m., and we needed to hit the road by 11 a.m. I hate missing daily Mass, but today I had no choice. I stopped to purchase a bouquet of roses to leave at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help as is our tradition, and who should I meet in the parking lot of the grocery store, but the Franciscan Friar who is pastor of the nearby church. We chatted and he blessed our van, after a few jokes about our mode of travel. Eight kids sandwiched amid suitcases and beach toys in a large van with two huge luggage turtles strapped on top, sporting a variety of Catholic and Pro-Life bumper stickers, is enough to draw chuckles from the occasional passersby. I’ve got to admit we definitely do not add to the ambience of the local vista.

Statue of Our Lady in the Crypt of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

Later we stopped to pray at two of my favorite spiritual fountains of grace. First we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, in Champion Wisconsin. This is the only approved Marian apparition site in the United States. I love visiting the simple little shrine, where in 1859, Our Blessed Mother demonstrated the depth of her maternal love, by visiting a humble immigrant woman, Sr. Adele Brise, and charged her with the mission to catechize the children of this then wild frontier. Countless blessings and miracles have flowed from this site, the most memorable of which occurred the night of the Peshtigo Fire, when with Our Lady’s intervention all those who sought shelter on the five acre chapel site were spared the ravages of the most devastating fire in U.S. history. Knowing Our Lady still cares for her children, and attentively listens to their prayers, my family and I adored Our Lord, in His Mother’s home – the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Help, and again requested her intercession for our temporal and spiritual needs.

From there we traveled a short distance to visit the Carmelite Monastery in Denmark, Wisconsin. This peaceful convent is home to a community of cloistered Discalced Carmelite Sisters. My family loves visiting this beautiful chapel for a few moments of prayerful solitude.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

Today, as we knelt in prayer before Our Lord’s Tabernacle, my heart was full of gratitude and joy. As I turned to walk to the door, I stopped to pray a “Hail Mary” before the ornate statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Above this exquisite statue are three stained glass windows depicting: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Therese of the Holy Face of Jesus. Our Lady is in there in the midst of these great Carmelite saints. She stands in the alcove, half way between them and the Tabernacle of Our Lord. It occurred to me that in a real way she stands likewise for each of us- she is there with each of us near the door, beckoning us to come closer to her Divine Son Jesus. Like the great Carmelite saints whose images are rendered here in stained glass, with Our Lady’s help, one day we too may join the celestial court in eternal rejoicing. Then our moment of Paradise will last for all eternity.

As we focus on the hope of Eternal joy, please pray the fourth day of the novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel with me.


Fourth Day
When you gave us, Gracious Lady, the Scapular as our Habit, you called us to be not only servants, but also your own children.
We ask you to gain for us from your Son the grace to live as your children in joy, peace and love. (pause and mention petitions)
Say: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

I Know Mine: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Novena, Day 3

© SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

For many years my children and I would tie-dye brightly colored T-shirts. As a homeschooling family this exercise served many purposes. For the slightly older children, we would explore the science behind the process of tinting fabric. The children loved the creativity unleashed in this entertaining imaginative activity. Each year we’d tie and dye a drawer full of shirts. This annual event usually occurred on Father’s Day. I remember one year, the kids performed in a violin concert the weekend we were dying T-shirts. That’s right, the morning after our fun-filled artistic adventure, my lovely brood stood on stage, in formal clothes, with pink, purple, and blue blotches from their fingernails to their elbows. Embarrassment is a great teacher: the subsequent year we were more scrupulous about wearing gloves. . . .

While it has been a few years since we’ve engaged in the massive tie-dye event, the T-shirts are still treasures, and worn frequently. When the kids were younger it was our family uniform on public field-trips. Whether we were headed to the zoo, public museum, or state fair, the kids and I would sport our tie-dyed shirts. Yes, we were occasionally the object of amusement. I recall touring the Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County, Wisconsin one summer, and having a fellow tourist loudly smirk to his son, “Look honey, that’s what a bunch of liberal hippie-kids looks like.” To which I shot back, “Actually, Sir, this is what conservative Catholic homeschoolers who want to keep track of their (then) 6 kids look like.” (o.k., so Sarah Palin isn’t the only Pit-Bull with lipstick.. . .)

© SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

For me, dressing in brightly colored togs was not a political statement or an expression of artistic pride, but rather a practical matter of survival. I need to keep track of my 8 children, and when they were dressed in these brightly colored garments, with a mere glance I could recognize them and they could recognize me. Just as our Lord says: “I know my sheep and My sheep know Me (John 10:14).” These tie-dyed shirts were a garment that allowed me to make sure all my children were safe, and protected; because no matter how much fun we were having on an outing, as a good mother I wanted to be sure that all mine made it safely home. My kids are growing up, yet still they will often all sport tie-dyed shirts of their own free will, partly out of nostalgia, rejoicing in the fondness of memories shared.

Our Lady’s Garment of Grace © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

I like to think the Brown Scapular is something like our tie-dyed T-shirts. When we are properly enrolled, and wearing the garment of grace given to St. Simon Stock by Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we are robed in Mary’s own special garment. With this highly blessed sacramental, Our Lady is able to impart countless graces. Through it, we identify ourselves as belonging to Jesus through Mary. Like my tie-dyed T-shirts, our Brown Scapulars set us apart. Our Brown Scapular is an outward sign that we are unified under a Maternal Protectoress; one whose only desire is to see us safely home.

With gratitude to Our Lady of Mount Camel for providing such an exquisite garment of grace, please join me in praying the third day of our novena in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16.

Third Day
O Queen of Heaven, you gave us the Scapular as an outward sign by which we might be known as your faithful children. May we always wear it with honor by avoiding sin and imitating your virtues. Help us to be faithful to this desire of ours.
(pause and mention petitions) s)
Say: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel wrap her Mantle around your shoulders and hold you close to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Infant Son, Jesus.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

Garment of Grace: Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Novena Day 2

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

 

The veneration of Our Lady of Mount Camel dates back before the twelfth century. This enduring image of the brown-clad Virgin Queen, holding Her Divine Infant Son, Whose arms are outstretched in blessing while bearing the gift of the Brown Scapular, is a familiar one for most Catholics.

 

 

 

 

 

This image uniquely demonstrates the maternal love of Our Lady. As a mother, I feed, clothe, educate and care for my children. Our Blessed Mother does exactly the same thing, but on a spiritual plane. She draws us close to Her Divine Son that we might have the Bread of Life, nourishing us on His Word. She knows well that our eternal happiness is best achieved when we are fed with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. To this end, our loving Mother endeavors to educate us. She slowly turns our hearts and minds from the vanities of this transient world to the splendor of Eternal Life in Christ. As Our Lady of Mount Carmel, she offers us a “Garment of Grace”- and clothes us in her own glorious raiment. Just as a mother clothes her dear children in appropriate apparel; likewise, our Blessed Mother clothes us with the Brown Scapular. A true mother is concerned with the happiness of her progeny. Our Blessed Mother perpetually demonstrates the depth of her desire for our eternal joy in Jesus Christ. Through her, we ultimately find Him, and in so doing achieve the deepest longing of our hearts.

Please join me in praying the second day of the novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in preparation for her feast on July 16.

Second Day
Most Holy Mary, Our Mother, in your great love for us you gave us the Holy Scapular of Mount Carmel, having heard the prayers of your chosen son Saint Simon Stock. Help us now to wear it faithfully and with devotion. May it be a sign to us of our desire to grow in holiness.
(pause and mention petitions)
Say: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel wrap her Mantle around your shoulders and hold you close to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Infant Son, Jesus.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Please Pray for Us!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is rapidly approaching. This feast commemorates the vision granted by Our Lady to St. Simon Stock on the evening of July 15, 1251. St. Simon Stock was the Prior General of the Carmelite Order at Ayelsford in Kent, England. On that momentous night, Our Lady visited St. Simon in a vision, and promised: “This shall be to thee and all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire.”Our Lady then gave St. Simon the long brown scapular that is the garment of their order. Carmelites have worn it and graciously shared it ever since. As a result of Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s gift and the diligent work of the Carmelites, miracles and grace abound.

This fruitful practice is highly regarded by a myriad of saints. For example, the magnificent Jesuit preacher, Saint Claude de la Colombiere, once claimed that the premiere devotion to Our Lady was that of the Brown Scapular. He insisted: “No devotion has been confirmed by more numerous authentic miracles than the Brown Scapular.” Pope John Paul the Great is also among the numerous saints who found grace in reverencing the Brown Scapular and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Thus, of all the avenues through which we venerate the Blessed Virgin, it is justifiable that my favorite is the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Over the years I have sought our Lady’s aide perpetually. I call upon her maternal blessing for everything from daily mundane concerns to matters of life and death urgency. Each and every time I invoke our dear Blessed Mother, I am assured of her intercession. I truly feel her maternal blessing upon me and mine, as I grow in confidence and grace.

© SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel has never failed me- whether my necessity is trivial or substantial, I always receive the comfort of a response to my petition. It is not always the answer I seek, but without fail it unmistakably bears hallmark of her intercession. Even when my petition is answered in a manner that differs from my aspired end, there is a sense of peace that accompanies its resolution.

 

 

Currently, I am requesting her intervention in a confidential and substantial matter. I am confident that the very same “Our Lady of Mount Camel” who heard the prayers of St. Therese, St. Teresa of Avila, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Alphonse Ligouri, Saint Claude de la Colombiere, Blessed Pope John Paul the Great and countless other saints and holy pilgrims on earth, will present my poor petition before the Throne of Her Divine Son, Jesus. With certainty, I know that Our Lady of Mount Carmel will embrace my petition and yours, and through her maternal aide, God’s Holy Will shall be accomplished in time and eternity for each of us. Assured of the Blessed Virgin’s compassionate, maternal intercession, I know that Our Lady of Mount Carmel will secure for each of us the graces of which we each stand in the most need, and thus obtain the best possible response to the hopes we cherish in our hearts.

Please consider joining me in praying together this powerful novena throughout these nine days in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I assure you that I shall pray for your intentions as well as mine during these significant days in preparation of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

© SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

First Day
O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity! O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother!
(pause and mention petitions)
Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

 

 

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel wrap her Mantle around your shoulders and hold you close to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Infant Son, Jesus.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

May Your Mother Intercede for Us Lord

The Queen Stands at His Right Hand Arrayed in Gold . . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA photographer

“Blessed are those who abandon themselves into Our Lady’s hands. Their names are written in the Book of Life (St. Bonaventure).”

Ad Jesum per Mariam– through Jesus to Mary – the old adage affirms. Yes, Our Lady is the surest, most direct route to Her Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Cognizant of this reality, the Holy Mother Church has traditionally reserved Saturday for veneration of Our Lady. This one day a week is set apart as a reminder of the benefit to our souls in seeking Mary’s powerful intercession. For we know that as the Mother of the King, Our Lady has a very special role, and her maternal supplication is uniquely effective.

In ancient times, the mother of the king often had more power than any of the king’s many wives. This was true among the ancient Near Eastern Kingdoms, including the peoples of Assyria, Israel, and Egypt. With the practice of polygamy, the king often had many wives – recall Solomon reportedly espoused 700 women – and difficulty would certainly result were the king to favor the counsel of one wife in particular. Thus, the Queen Mother, or the gebirah, held the official position at court, and wielded great political influence.

Mary is the Mother of the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. While the Old Testament prefigures her role as gebirah, she alone fulfills it, beginning in the New Testament and continuing through the end of time.

Recall the Wedding at Cana, Our Lady confided the earnest needs of the young couple to Our Lord: “They have no wine (John 2:3).” Our Lord seemed to have another plan: “Woman, how does your concern affect Me? My hour has not yet come (John 2:4).” Yet, at her gentle, confident bidding, – “Do whatever He tells you (John 2: 5),” Our Lord immediately intervenes in a miraculous manner. At Our Lady’s humble, maternal request, Jesus turns His attention to even the most mundane of concerns, and acts swiftly. Our Lord will respond just as favorably to His Mother’s requests when they are uttered on our behalf as He did to her pleas for the wedding couple at Cana.

The great St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, once stated: “The heart of our good Mother Mary is all love and mercy. She desires nothing else but our happiness. We need only have recourse to her and we will be heard.”

Pray for us sinners now and the the hour. . . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2012

Our Lady seeks nothing else than to bring us to her Divine Son, Jesus Christ. She knows our eternal happiness depends upon our fiat – our yes. She yearns to lead us along the path to sanctity, not for her sake, but for ours. Like any true mother, Mary is deeply concerned for our well-being, most especially our eternal salvation.

Over the centuries, Our Lady has perpetually  proven her maternal love. Reports of her authentic apparitions and celestial assistance hail from every part of the globe. There are many lovely devotions that have sprung from these Heavenly visits. One of those I hold dear is the devotion to Our Lady’s Tears and Dolors. Through this devotion, one shares Our Lady’s sorrow while contemplating the most distressing moments of her life. Lent is a fitting time to begin this practice. This devotion is laden with grace for those who piously apply themselves to accompanying Our Lady during these times of trial. The anticipation of growing closer to Our Lord, by following along as Our Lady ratifies her fiat with every challenge is a tremendous reward in itself. Yet, St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) related that the Blessed Mother additionally offered the following promises to those who honor her daily by praying seven Hail Mary’s while meditating on her Tears and Dolors.

(1) I will grant peace to their families.

(2) They will be enlightened about the Divine Mysteries.

(3) I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.

(4) I will give then as much as they ask for, as long as it does not oppose the Adorable Will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.

(5) I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.

(6) I will visibly help them at the moment of their deaths; they will see the face of their Mother.

(7) I have obtained (this grace) from my Divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my Tears and Dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all of their sins will be forgiven and my son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

A Sword of Sorrow Shall Pierce Your Heart. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 GM photographer

While all that is required to honor Our Lady’s request is a Hail Mary, and meditation with each of the seven sorrows, over the years I have compiled the following reflection that I use to aid my personal meditation.

(1) Simeon’s prophesy of the sword of sorrow piecing Mary’s Heart – Holiest Virgin, as you contemplate the sword of sorrow piercing Your Immaculate Heart, grant me and mine the grace to love deeply, even when pain and suffering accompany such love.

Hail Mary . . . .

(2) The Flight into Egypt – Holiest Virgin, as You, St. Joseph and the infant Jesus are forced to escape to the land of Egypt, grant me and mine the grace to flee from sin and obey the every whisper of God’s Holy Will.

Hail Mary . . . .

(3) The Loss of the Child in the Temple of Jerusalem – Holiest Virgin, as you anxiously search for the Child Jesus, help me and mine to always seek and find the Holy Face of God.

Hail Mary . . . .

(4) The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross – Holiest Virgin, as you gaze into the eyes of your beloved Son, watching helplessly as He carries the Cross upon His sacred shoulders, help me and mine to patiently carry our crosses and help others shoulder their burdens as well.

Hail Mary . . . .

(5) The Crucifixion – Holiest Virgin, as you stand at the foot of the Cross beholding Jesus die in agony, imprint this image upon my soul, my mind and my heart, that I too may bear witness to it, and forever appreciate the enormity of His great sacrifice.

Hail Mary . . . .

(6) Jesus is laid in Mary’s arms.- Holiest Virgin, as the body of Jesus is laid in your arms, help me and mine forgive as you and your Divine Son do.

Hail Mary . . . .

(7) The Burial of Christ – Holiness Virgin, as you prepare your Son’s body for burial, grant me and mine the grace that in living and dying with Christ, we will also rise with Him.

Hail Mary . . . .

As we journey together through Lent, may our Blessed Mother guide our steps that our efforts may bear fruit in Eternal life.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

Fear Not!

Uncorrupted Ark of His Dwelling Place- Please pray for us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA photographer

The flash of the fireworks is gone from the sky. That gaudy-glitzy ball has dropped.  Noise-makers are silent, and punchbowls are empty. 2012 is officially underway. Thankfully, this is not the end of a mere night-long celebration, but the beginning of a time of grace. As we begin our new year, we celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Today, we focus our admiration on the Blessed Mother and our gratitude on God, for His gift of Divine Maternity to the Blessed Virgin. We celebrate Mary as the Theotokos – the Mother of Son of God.

Antiphon 3 from the Vespers for today’s feast reads:

Your blessed and fruitful virginity is like the bush flaming, yet unburned, which Moses saw on Sinai. Pray for us Mother of God.

Christ was fully human and fully Divine. He did not just take up residence in the belly of the Blessed Virgin, or merely temporarily occupy available space. Rather, in His humility and wisdom, Jesus Christ willed that His very flesh and blood would be drawn from the Spotless Virgin. Mary was the Immaculate Tabernacle that He chose to house and form the substance of His humanity. Today, we celebrate this mystery which is beyond human comprehension. Tonight’s Vespers Antiphons express it so beautifully:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s creator has become man, born of a virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

By your miraculous birth of the Virgin You have fulfilled the Scriptures: like a gentle rain falling upon the Earth You have come down to save Your people. O God, we praise You!

This is a moment of joy, of intense gratitude, and celebration. Together we rejoice the singular honor and privilege given to Our Lady, while we simultaneously celebrate our own share in Christ’s gift of grace.

What a fitting start to the new year! Today we recall the words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, as he heralded her high calling. St. Gabriel greets Mary with: “Hail Full of Grace (Luke 1: 28).”  Recall, the Greek word, kechatitomene (Kεχαριτωμένη) is scripturally used only here, and the connotation is that Mary is the one who is so replete with grace that not even the slightest shadow of darkness is present. Before St. Gabriel announces God’s salvific plan, which elicits Mary’s fiat, he first directs her to: “Fear not Mary, for you have found favor with God (Luke 1:30).”

Mother of Our Redeermer, Please pray for us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA photographer

Today as we embark on a new year, this message is profound. St. Gabriel is the messenger of God’s grace, and He well understands how overwhelming this pure Gift will be. “Perfect Love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).” It is only with this Love that Mary (and the rest of us) can complete the mission assigned by God. It is only by accepting the Gift of Pure Love, that – like Mary –  we can say “yes” to God. The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that that the Divine Child, the Emmanuel Whom she is to bear, is to be named “Jesus.” This Child’s very name reflects His essence and means “God is with us!”

As 2012 dawns, we do well to remember that God is indeed with us. Just like Mary, we are told to “Be Not Afraid!” In fact, the admonition to “Be Not Afraid!” appears 365 times in the Bible! In nearly every book of the Bible we find those words. This new year is pregnant with possibilities. We have been given a great gift. 2012 will be full of joys and challenges. Yet, through it all God is indeed with us. In accepting His perfect Love, fear melts.

With Mary, let us rejoice in this new day, this new year.With hearts full of gratitude, let us turn to Our Creator, and through Mary, may we ask His Blessing upon this year.  From the Divine Office together let us pray:

God Our Father, may we always profit by the prayers of the Virgin Mother Mary, for You bring us life and salvation through Jesus Christ her Son who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

A Blessed 2012 to you and yours!

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A. JMJ

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!

 

Holy Mother of God, pray for us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011. EA photographer

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas! The origin of this feast goes back to the 16th century, when a radiant Heavenly visitor appeared to a simple Indian peasant, – a 57 year old widower named Juan Diego, who was on his way to Holy Mass in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, on December 9, 1531. As Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard beautiful music, and then a lovely voice calling his name: “Juanito, Juan Dieguit.”  He then saw Our Lady wearing the raiment of an Aztec Princess – one who was with child. Our Lady spoke to Juan in his own language, and gave him the mission to request of Bishop Juan de Zumarraga that a chapel was to be built in her honor. She stated:

“Know and understand well, you the most humble of my sons, that I am the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and the Earth. I wish that a chapel be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what my clemency pretends, go to the palace of the bishop of Mexico, and you will say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here on this plain a chapel be built to me; you will accurately relate all you have seen and admired, and what you have heard. Be assured that I will be most grateful and will reward you, because I will make you happy and worthy of recompense for the effort and fatigue in what you will obtain of what I have entrusted. Behold, you have heard my mandate, my humble son; go and put forth all your effort.”

Juan reluctantly carried out her request. The Franciscan Bishop, though kind, thought Juan was hallucinating. Our Lady appeared to Juan two more times, and again Juan conveyed the Blessed Mother’s requests to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga . Finally, the Bishop sent Juan away with the seemingly impossible task of bringing back a sign – Castilian roses from the Bishop’s home region in Spain (recall this was the middle of December in Mexico).

The morning of the fourth apparition, Juan’s uncle became gravely ill, and as Juan hurried to find a priest to administer the Last Rites, he purposely avoided seeing Our Lady. He skirted around Tepeyac Hill, fearing that should he run into the Heavenly visitor, she might detain him in his important task of finding a priest. Our Blessed Mother is not easily deterred, and simply found Juan on the other side of the hill. She compassionately assured Juan that his uncle would completely recover (which he did). Our dear Lady of Guadalupe gently stated again in his own tongue:

“Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle, who will not die now of it. be assured that he is now cured.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011. GM photographer

The Blessed Mother pointed to a patch of Castilian Roses growing in the cold and instructed Juan to pick them. After he did, her loving hands arranged them in his tilma (coarse Indian cloak). Empowered by our Lady’s words, Juan again visited the Bishop. When Juan entered the room, and opened his arms, the Castilian roses cascaded to the ground, and the amazed Bishop fell to his knees. A beautiful, inexplicable image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on the rough fiber Indian cloak. While the cloak itself should have disintegrated in about 50-75 years as others of the same time period did, this cloak, and its miraculous image have endured for 480 years.

The image itself is the object of much study and writing, and someday I’ll devote an entire post to it. This image has survived much – even an attempt to bomb it that severely damaged the church which contained the treasure. NASA scientists have analyzed the image, and find no known earthly element involved in its existence – it is not painted, nor is it a photograph. The stars on Our Lady’s mantle appear exact pattern that would have occurred in the sky on that December morning in 1531. Computer analysis of the eyes of the image  – when magnified – reveal several figures who appear to be kneeling. The number of miracles associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe and this image are uncountable. Perhaps the greatest miracle is that within a decade after Our Lady’s appearance 9 million people were converted, and the gruesome Aztec practice of human child sacrifice was abandoned.

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s miraculous intercession continues to this present day. Please join me on Her Feast in requesting her unfailing aid.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the America’s and Protector of the Unborn, please pray for us, for our beloved country which desperately needs Your Miraculous and Motherly intercession. Please give us the grace to respect each other regardless of race, handicap, income or age. Please pray that we may also end the scourge of child sacrifice performed daily under the clinical name of abortion. Please help us to convert our hearts, and mend our lives as You aided others so long ago. Recognizing that you are “the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and the Earth,” we place our confidence in the protection of Your Immaculate Heart. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Please pray for us!

Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A. JMJ

Hail Full of Grace (Kεχαριτωμένη)!

—Hail Full of Grace! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011. photo from St. Mary's Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, Richfield, WI, EA photographer

—Hail Full of Grace! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011. photo from St. Mary's Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, Richfield, WI, EA photographer

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is among my favorites. Today we celebrate the singular grace and privilege that was bestowed upon Our Heavenly Mother: namely that she was conceived without the stain of Original Sin. The Blessed Mother was to provide a pure Tabernacle of human flesh within which Our Divine was to rest and grow for nine months. In anticipation of Mary’s fiat, Our Lord prevented the disfigurement of Original Sin from ever touching her Immaculate Soul- His gift of grace to Our Lady who existed absolutely and totally replete with grace from the first moment of her being.

Indeed, the Angel Gabriel greets the Blessed Mother not with the words “Hail Mary,” but rather “Hail Full of Grace.” The Greek word, kechatitomene (Kεχαριτωμένη)  is used exclusively to name the Blessed Mother, and it means full (overflowing) with grace. The connotation of this word is that Our Lady, was so brimming with the gift of God’s grace that there was not even an iota of room for anything opposed to that grace. My Koine Greek is pretty rusty, but what I remember is that kechatitomene  is in the aorist tense – a past perfect tense denoting an action that was begun in the past, but continued into the present. Mary was conceived sinless, and that state continued into present.

When God uses a word in place of a person’s name or renames an individual, it bears deep significance as it reflects the very being and mission of the individual. Recall for example that:  Abram (exalted father) was renamed Abraham (father of many nations), Jacob wrestled with an angel and was given the name Israel (contended with God), Simon the fisherman was renamed Peter- the Rock,  and the Pharisee Saul was transformed into the Christian Paul.  Thus, when the Angel of the Annunciation refers to the Blessed Mother, not by her given name of Mary, but rather as “kechatitomene,” it reflects the past of her sinless conception, the present of the moment of the Annunciation, and the future of her mission as the Immaculate Conception – a mission which continues to this very day.

Throughout history we have been given glimpses of this glorious mission of hers. In 1858, Our Lady appeared to14 year-old Bernadette Soubirous in a series of eighteen apparitions in Lourdes, France. On March 25, Our Lady revealed to Bernadette her singular and unique role with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Since then we have seen a superabundance of grace pour through this place through Our Lady’s Immaculate intercession. The apparitions at Lourdes clearly demonstrate that Our Lady had been sent by God to Earth to give heavenly ascent to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception which had been infallibly proclaimed only four years earlier by Pope Pius IX. It never ceases to amaze me how Our Lord transcends space and time, and communicates His plan to us in every generation.

Our Lady of Good Help © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011 EA photographer

Our Lady of Good Help © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011 EA photographer

One year ago today, on December 8, 2010, my family and I were given the tremendous blessing of being present at the Shine of Our Lady of Good Help, as Bishop David L. Ricken officially proclaimed the Marian apparitions which occurred there in 1859 to be worthy of belief and gave the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help the full approbation of the Church. I will remember that Holy Mass as long as I live!

After years of visiting this holy site, finally seeing it officially recognized by the Holy Mother Church was beyond words. I sat there with tears of joy streaming down my face as Bishop Ricken read his proclamation and explained the extensive process of investigation which had led to the decree. I was simultaneously numb and exuberant. All those years longing for Our Lady’s message to receive the attention it deserves had finally come to fruition. The emotion was overwhelming! I could not help but be aware of the uniqueness of that moment in history, and I was so grateful to witness it.  As if it were not enough to merely be present, my son Kenny had the privilege of serving as the Bishop Ricken’s Miter and Crosier bearer for Holy Mass. This mother’s heart swelled with gratitude as I prayed for the aspired vocation of my son, and experienced an incredible outpouring of grace.

This year we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, at Holy Hill Basilica, National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, another place that is dear to my heart.  I love these exquisite Holy Masses con-celebrated by the entire Carmelite Community. Our Lady, as the Immaculate Conception, continues to send God’s grace upon this community, and they respond to it with such beauty and devotion.

Mother of God Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011 EA photographer

Mother of God Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011 EA photographer

This year the children and I are adding The Holy Hour of Grace to our celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Drew Mariani of Relevant Radio spotlighted the Holy Hour of Grace a few days ago, and complete information can be found on the Mother of All Peoples website. This  bimonthly on-line magazine is compiled by the renowned mariologist, Dr. Mark Miravalle, and the address is:  http://www.motherofallpeoples.com/Articles/Marian_Private_Revelation/the-hour-of-grace.html

 Evidently, in the Spring of 1947, Our Lady appeared as Mary the Mother of God to a young nurse, Pierina Gilli, in a hospital chapel in the small Northern Italian town of Montichiari. Our Lady was very sad, and her heart was pierced with three swords. The first sword represented the unworthy celebration of Holy Mass and Holy Communion unworthily received. The second sword represented being unfaithful to and relinquishing one’s vocation as a priest or religious; while the last sword stood for the betrayal of the True Faith. In response, Our Lady requested prayer, sacrifice and penance. Our Lady continued to appear to Pierina eleven times, including an apparition at the Basilica of Montichiari on December 8, 1947, where thousands of people were present.

On that day, Our Lady appeared to Pierina in the following manner and stated:

“ Our Lady appeared on a large white staircase, decorated with a white, red and yellow rose over her heart. She said with a smile: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” And descending several steps with great majesty She continued: “I am Mary, full of grace, Mother of My Divine Son Jesus Christ.” Descending even more, She said:

Through my coming to Montichiari, I wish to be known as the Rosa Mystica. It is my wish that every year, on 8th December, at noon, the Hour of Grace for the World be celebrated. Many divine and bodily graces will be received through this devotion.

Our Lord, my Divine Son Jesus, will send His overflowing mercy if good people will pray continuously for their sinful brother.

One should very soon notify the Holy Father of the Church, Pope Pius XII, that it is my wish that the Hour of Grace for the World be made known and spread throughout the world. If anyone is unable to visit his church, yet will pray at noon at home, he will also receive graces through me. Whoever prays on these tiles and weeps tears of penance, will find a secure heavenly ladder and receive protection and grace through my motherly heart (Mother of All Peoples Jonathan Baker, 12/2/11) .”

Our Lady specified that this world-wide Hour of Grace was to be celebrated in the following manner. It is to begin at noon and end at 1pm on December 8th. One must begin by reading Psalm 51 three times with arms extended in prayer. The remainder of the hour can be spent as in prayer as one chooses, (rosary, personal prayer, meditation, etc). However, additional care to resist distractions is requested, and we are to intercede in penance and reparation for not only ourselves, but all those in our lives. One does not need to be in a church to participate in the Holy Hour of Grace.

Regarding this devotion, Our Lady stated:

“This Hour of Grace will produce great and numerous conversions. Hardened and cold hearts resembling this marble will be touched by divine Grace, and they will become faithful to Our Lord in loyal love heart (Mother of All Peoples Jonathan Baker, 12/2/11) .”

 While not yet officially approved, the Bishop of Giulo Sanguineti  has publicly expressed his openness to the apparitions and has encouraged pilgrimages there.

I am not certain how much undistracted prayer I will be able to offer with my brood of eight in tow at the Basilica of Holy Hill today, but we are going to try. Please consider joining me where ever you may be in this world-wide Hour of Grace in honor of Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception.

Blessings

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A.  JMJ