Our Lady of The Holy Rosary, Pray for Us!

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

October 7 is the date set aside on the liturgical calendar for the Feast of the Rosary. This Feast is known under several titles including: “Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary,”, “Our Lady of Victory,” and “Feast of the Holy Rosary.” Historically, this feast celebrated the intercession of Our Lady, via the Rosary, in the Battle of Lepanto. As a result of this 16th Century naval battle the invading Turkish forces retreated and Christianity in Western Europe was secured.

 

 

In 1571 Pope St. Pius V attributed the victory to the Holy Rosary which was prayed throughout Europe, especially as the battle was waged. It was he, who instituted the feast under the title of “Our Lady of Victory.” Later, in 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the Memorial to “The Feast of the Holy Rosary;” and Pope Clement XI extended its celebration to the entire Latin, officially inserting it into the Roman Calendar of Saints in 1716. While initially celebrated on the first Sunday in Rome, in 1913 Pope Pius X changed the date to October 7.

Hail Full of Grace. . . SalveMaterDei.com, 2012 EA photo

Throughout the centuries, the Rosary has been a powerful tool, a tool we would do well to use each and every day. Through this inspired prayer, we contemplate the salvific action of Our Lord by meditating on a series of mysteries, while praying sequence of “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” and “Glory Be” prayers. The succession of prayers and mysteries works together to draw Our hearts closer to Christ through the message of the Angel Gabriel to Our Blessed Mother, at the moment of the Annunciation: “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in muleribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui.”(Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb). As our hearts beat in unison with Our Lady’s, we contemplate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Oceans of grace are poured out upon us. Through this magnificent prayer miracles abound, both in the past and present.

Candle light Vigil October 8, 2011, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

One such celebration of the grace which accompanies the Holy Rosary has been an annual favorite of mine for years. Tomorrow, in Champion, Wisconsin my family and I will be present during the Vigil Celebration of the Anniversary of the Night of the Miracle of the Pestigo Fire. For the next two days we will celebrate an event that occurred in 1871, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. This is the only Vatican recognized, Bishop approved, Marian apparition site in the U.S. On this night, in 1871, a terrible hurricane of fire consumed an area of northern Wisconsin equal in size to the State of Rhode Island. Approximately 2,500 settlers lost their lives, many more were burned badly, and the loss of crops and livestock was enormous.

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, October 8, 2011 Vigil Celebration © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

This intense wall of fire actually jumped Green Bay, and burned not only the area around Pestigo, but also part of the Door County Peninsula. Almost 10 years to the day of the fire, Our Lady had appeared to a young immigrant woman, Sr. Adele Brise, warning her that people needed to turn back to God. On this terrible night, October 8, 1871, area settlers remembered the warning, and fled to the tiny Chapel with their families and livestock. They prayed the rosary on their knees in procession. As the smoke would choke them, they would turn and process in another direction. Their efforts continued throughout the night. In the morning, a rain began to fall, and in the light of dawn the reality of the miracle became evident. The five acre site of the Chapel, and all who had prayerfully sought refuge there were safe. The Shrine stood as an “emerald Isle in a sea of ash.” Even the fence posts bore witness to the miracle: they were charred on the side facing the fire, yet perfectly intact on the side facing the Chapel.

Holy Mass October 9, 2011 Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. the Vigil celebration begins with the reading of the history from the Chapel history book, followed by an outdoor candle-lit rosary procession, Benediction and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. This event deeply touches my heart, the rustle of corn in nearby fields, the scent of a distant fire, the chill of the air, the voices in prayerful harmony, together create a deep impression of the magnitude of what transpired on the night of October 8, 1871. The following day, Holy Mass is celebrated in memory of this incredible miracle.

Bishop David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Holy Mass, October 9, 2011 SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

For more information on Sr. Adele, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, and the Miracle, visit their website at: http://www.shrineofourladyofgoodhelp.com/.

Tomorrow night, as we process around that same 5 acre site praying the rosary, I will remember each of you and your intentions in my heart. May Our Lady lead you to her Divine Son!

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. JMJ

The Almighty Has Done Great Things

“This daughter of Jerusalem is lovely and beautiful as she ascends to heaven like the rising sun at day break(Antiphon, Morning Prayer, Divine Office, Liturgy of the Hours).”

Hail Holy Queen © SalveMaterDei.com, -2012.

Yesterday our family was on pilgrimage. As the sun peered over the horizon, we piled into the van and headed North, to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. The Assumption of the Blessed Mother is one of most beautiful Feasts of the Liturgical year, and it is celebrated with the highest Solemnity at this humble Shrine, where Our Immaculate Mother condescended to appear to poor immigrant woman, in 1859. The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help remains the only approved Marian apparition site in the United States. This is a place of miracles. Yesterday, Bishop David L. Ricken noted during his homily that in the 18 months since the formal approval of the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, more than 225,000 pilgrims have brought their hearts and prayers to Christ through Mary at this sacred site. Bishop Ricken also stated that month after month, he receives letters documenting the myriad of both spiritual and temporal graces that have been received by those seeking Our Lady’s intercession.

Over the years, our family has enjoyed the privilege of visiting this site frequently and participating in the celebration of feasts and holy days. On this particular feast, two of my boys had the honor of serving and three of my daughters enjoyed the grace of processing under Our Lady’s Banner.

© SalveMaterDei.com, -2012.

Yesterday, we joined our hearts and souls with approximately 3,000 faithful Catholics in celebrating the Feast which commemorates the day Our Blessed Mother was assumed body and soul to the throne prepared for her from the beginning of time by the Most Blessed Trinity. There among an intimate family of 3,000 strong, we worshipped Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and honored His beloved Mother on the Solemnity of her Assumption.

Hail Full of Grace (Kεχαριτωμένη)! © SalveMaterDei.com, -2012.

Yesterday’s Gospel commemorated the glorious visit to Our Lady, the Theotokos, by the Archangel Gabriel; who greeted her with the words: “Hail Full of Grace (Luke 1: 28)” as he heralded her high calling. The words the Angel Gabriel used here are precise. Recall, the Greek word, kechatitomene (Kεχαριτωμένη) is scripturally used only in this passage. This little word is pregnant with meaning. The connotation is that Mary is the chosen vessel, the one who is so replete with grace that not even the slightest shadow of darkness is present. Our Lady is the Ark of the New Covenant; the one so pure, so holy, the daughter so highly favored that the abyss of God’s magnificence will fill her and flow through her maternal heart for all eternity.

Mary is the new Eve, the Ark of the New Covenant. Our Lady is the woman clothed with the sun spoken of in the Book of Revelation:

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the Sun, with the Moon under her feet and wearing a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns and on its head were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars and hurled them down toward the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God. . . (Revelations 12: 1-6).

It was fitting that we honored Our Lord’s beloved Mother on this feast day, in this holy place where Our Lady has interceded for her children for over 150 years. What a magnificent celebration! The warm sun beamed brightly on the large crowd. Even amid the thousands of pilgrims present, one could still sense a transcendent serenity.

Bishop David L. Ricken © SalveMaterDei.com, -2012.

Holy Mass is the ultimate prayer; and yesterday’s Holy Mass was magnificent! Among the highlights of the Mass was Bishop David L. Ricken’s outstanding homily. Fr. Peter Stryker quoted one of the concelebrating priests who described it as “the best ‘Bishop Homily’” he had ever heard. It was Christ-centered, Marian, Magisterium-faithful, inspirational, and rock-solid. Relevant Radio produced a photo montage of this extraordinary Feast, and set against the backdrop of Bishop Ricken’s homily: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0uFRyt2_PA&feature=player_detailpage. This 22- minute gem is a treasure.

Praying the rosary as we processed with Our Lord’s Eucharistic Presence was deeply moving. One could feel the warm caress of the sun, as thousands of voices echoed the words of St. Gabriel,

“Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee, Blessed are thou among women, and Blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

The beauty of this moment in time is forever etched in my heart with deep gratitude.

May Our Lady intercede for us! Happy Feast of the Assumption,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

Bishop David L. Ricken, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help Bi © SalveMaterDei.com, -2012

* A film crew from Dolan Productions was on-site at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help during the Feast of the Assumption filming a special that is scheduled to air on EWTN on October 9, 2012.

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.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus- Feast of Pentecost, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help 2012

This statue has been carried in procession for generations, and is believed to have been a favorite of Sr. Adele’s © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2012

Today we celebrate the birthday of the Church- the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, Who empowers us with the same faithful, dynamic Spirit of Love as He did St. Peter and the Apostles two millennia ago. I had the privilege of celebrating this Feast at one of my favorite places on Earth: the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, in Champion, Wisconsin. (http://www.shrineofourladyofgoodhelp.com/index.html).

Statue of Our Lady carried in procession © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Those of you who are frequent visitors to Salve Sancta Mater Dei, may recall from my previous posts (such as https://salvematerdei.com/2011/11/08/pilgrims-progress/), that the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is the only approved Marian apparition site in the United States. It was here in 1859, that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a young Belgian immigrant woman, named Adele Brise, and commissioned her to “gather the children of this wild country, . . . and teach them what they need to know for salvation.” Here, on this very spot, the Queen of Heaven condescended from Her Heavenly throne to attend to the catechetical needs of Her children on the wild frontier of the young United States. Over the years, my family has had the honor of spending quite a bit of time at this miraculous location.

© SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

My son K.J. has blogged extensively regarding this spiritual haven on his site at http://GodAloneSufficeth.com; last year penning a 10 –part series on the history of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

It is tradition that each year on the last Sunday of May, Holy Mass is celebrated outdoors, to accommodate the crowd. Often the Bishop of Green Bay presides, concelebrating with the Shrine Rector and local priests. Hundreds – often thousands of voices glorifying God, and singing sweet songs of gratitude to Our Lady for Her intercession. Each year, there is a procession around the grounds that were miraculously spared the ravages of the Pestigo Fire, which killed over 2,000 neighboring settlers in 1871. In addition to Holy Mass and the Rosary procession, we worship our Lord during Benediction as the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and carried in procession.

Fr. Peter Stryker, CPM and Fr. Jewel Aytona, CPM © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Again this year, my family had the honor of participating in this grace-filled event: my boys served, and my girls helped to carry the banner of Our Lady during the procession. It was a blessing that this year’s May celebration should fall on Pentecost Sunday. Holy Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Peter Stryker CPM, Shrine Rector, and Fr. Jewel Aytona, CPM. The spiritual welfare of tens of thousands of pilgrims who visit the shrine annually is entrusted to these capable Father’s of Mercy.

Knights of Columbus provide a Magnificent Honor Guard for Our Lady © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Fr. Stryker graciously shared a written copy of his stirring homily from today’s Mass to post here, as a guest blogger. The photos that are interspersed throughout his homily and this post are from our visit today:

Pentecost Sunday, Year B, 2012- Homily- Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

Homily by Fr. Peter Stryker, CPM 5/27/2012 © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

More than a century ago – a great sailing ship was stranded off the coast of South America! Week after week the ship lay there in the still waters – without a hint of a breeze. The captain was desperate – because the crew was dying of thirst!

And then, on the far horizon, a steamship appeared – headed directly toward them. And as the steamship drew closer – the captain called out: “We need water! Give us water!” From the steamship came this reply: “Lower your buckets where you are!”

Well, the captain was furious with such an indifferent response – yet he called out again: “Please, give us water!” From the steamship – came the same reply: “Lower your buckets where you are!” And with that – they sailed away. The captain was beside himself – with anger and despair. Exasperated – he went below deck.

Yet a little while later – when no one was looking – one of the young sailors lowered a bucket into the sea. He tasted what he brought up – and it was perfectly sweet, fresh water! All that time – the ship was just out of sight – of the mouth of the Amazon River! All that time – they had been sitting right on top – of all the fresh water they could ever desire! Sounds incredible! Yet that situation can happen anytime and anyplace – when it comes to the fresh spiritual water superabundantly available – through the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit!

Christ be Our Life . . . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

How many Christians feel just kind of out of it – just kind of totally drained – when it comes to supernatural direction and inspiration? We all need people in our lives – who can direct us and inspire us on a natural level – so as to help us along in ordinary ways. It’s a fact – that we definitely need one another! Yet it is all the more necessary – that we have a divine person in our life – a God-person – who will direct us and inspire us on a supernatural level. The Holy Spirit is that God-person – the God-person whose mission it is – to fill us with the life and love of Jesus! Thus God the Holy Spirit is that God-person who is – as Jesus tells us in John 16 – “the Spirit of truth”!

How many false and lying spirits are there – in our modern world? False and lying spirits – when it comes to love! False and lying spirits – when it comes to life! False and lying spirits – when it comes to marriage and family! In John 16, Jesus is speaking to his disciples – the first bishops of the Church. And Jesus is speaking especially to Peter – the first pope of the Church!

Eucharistic Procession, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Jesus guarantees his disciples – a charism. And of course – a charism is a special Holy Spirit gift – for the building up of the common good of the Church! And this particular charism is the ability to teach – without any mistakes – about God, Jesus, and his Church – and about how we are to live our lives! There’s no question about it! The disciples – especially Peter – were blessed with an extraordinary grace! To preach God-given truth – with God-given certainty – through the power of the Holy Spirit!

What happens when people – ignore Church teaching? What happens when people – just do what they want to do? Well, it may happen that their lives – their families – their relationships – will resemble what’s described in Galatians 5. St. Paul says this:

“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.”

Does that sound beautiful? Does that sound truly desirable? No! Yet we know – that with our fallen human nature – any of us are capable of “works of the flesh.” And such “works of the flesh” cause us – to be trouble-making slaves of sin!

Sr. Adele’s Grave, May She Rest in Peace. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Given that life is short – given that few of us, if any of us – will be here on earth a 100 years from now – it makes sense to want to get it together! It makes sense to say, “The Bible is right! God is right! We cannot get it together – on our own power. This is not a job for Congress – and not a job for the United Nations. We need God the Holy Spirit – as our Advocate!”

This annual celebration of Pentecost – is an excellent time to acknowledge – how much more we could be living – a life of truth! God-given truth! Church-given truth! Truth supercharged – by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Pray for Us! . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

Such a life is described in Galatians 5. St. Paul says this:

“[The] fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Beautiful life-giving qualities! And such fruits of the Holy Spirit – flow from the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord.

How are we to welcome the Holy Spirit – into our hearts and lives? With fidelity to Sunday Mass – and frequent sacramental confession! With daily prayer – and especially the Holy Rosary! And with works of mercy! Yet isn’t there one simple way – to grow and develop in the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit?

Yes there is! And from the fifth century – we hear about that one simple way – from St. Augustine. He says this:

“Accordingly, we too receive the Holy Spirit if we love the Church, if we are bound together by love, and if we rejoice in the Catholic name and faith. Let us believe it, brothers and sisters: we will have the Holy Spirit in the same measure that we love the Church of Christ. Moreover, we love the Church when we stand fast in her membership and love.”

Eucharistic Rosary Procession © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

And to that – we can all say: “Amen! Alleluia!” This is the day we celebrate the fullness of the peace of Christ Jesus – the peace we share as members of the Body of Christ! Our Lord Jesus is the rock solid present-moment offer of grace to us – by the Father – and in the Spirit of God! Jesus says to us today, “Peace be with you” – and, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Let us eagerly receive the Holy Spirit – so that through us the world may encounter – the Christian mystery of forgiveness and mercy!

Our Lady of Good Help – we long to receive your spouse, the Holy Spirit – and to enjoy free and superabundant access – to fresh spiritual water!

Rev. Peter Stryker, CPM- homily delivered at Pentecost Sunday Mass, May 27, 2012, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

Happy Solemnity of Pentecost. May the Holy Spirit fill you with abundance of His many gifts.

Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A. J.M.J.

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012

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

If I Had the Faith of a Child. . . .

Faith of a Child © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011

Unless you become as a small child, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011

If I had the faith of a child, I would welcome each day with delight.

With reckless abandon, I would pursue the task of Life.

If I had the faith of a child, I would treat God as my Father,

With confidence I would speak to Him about little things throughout the day.

If I had the faith of a child, I would view His creation with a sense of wonder.

With gratitude, I would thank Him for the flowers, and snowflakes, and autumn leaves….

 

If I had the faith of a child, I would realize my smallness,

And I would seek shelter in His Magnitude.

If I had the faith of a child, I would not let a sense of time constrain me,

Rather, I would marvel in the timelessness of eternity.

If I had the faith of a child, I would not grow anxious about complex matters,

Instead, I would trust in His Providence to make it all right.

 

If I had the faith of a child, my prayers would be simple.

With innocence, I would reflect His purity.

If I had the faith of a child, I would tell Him, “I’m sorry,” when need be,

And I would believe in my heart that His Mercy is greater than my weakness.

If I had the faith of a child, I would see miracles every day,

With simplicity, I would accept the incomprehensible.

 

If I had the faith of a child, I would make God laugh.

He would delight in my littleness, and I in His Omnipotence.

If I had the faith of a child, I would feel His unconditional Love,

He would fill me with His gifts and I would share them.

If I had the faith of a child, I would possess true wisdom,

For, he would reveal the secrets of His Heart,

 

If I had the Faith of a child, I would enter the Kingdom of God!

I would hope for Heaven, yet see the Kingdom here around me now.

If I had the faith of a child, I would trust that my every prayer would be answered.

Lord, please, grant me the faith of a child!

MA     JMJ

“Pilgrim’s Progress”

Queen of Heaven Please Pray for Us! © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011

What would get 140 people to crawl out of bed on a damp, dark, windy Sunday morning, and forfeit the extra hour of sleep guaranteed only once a year? Yes, they were boarding 3 motor coaches for what is affectionately termed Wisconsin’s “Frozen Tundra.” But this time, the Packers weren’t even in the state, and although a cheer erupted as the bus convoy passed Lambeau Field, our destination was not a mere sporting event, but a pilgrimage to what may become the most revered spot in the United States. Our sacred destination was a place near and dear to my heart, having visited here about 40 times in the past 7 years.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion is the only Church authenticated, officially approved Marian Apparition site in the United States. In 1859, it was here that our Lady, as the Queen of Heaven, appeared to a simple Belgian Immigrant, Adele Brise and commissioned her to: “gather the children in this wild country, and teach them what they should know for their salvation. . . .”  Our Lady promised to help the alarmed Adele, instructing her: “Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do- Go and fear nothing!” Our Lady made good on her promise of help.

 Twelve years to the day of her apparition, a group of faithful Catholics emerged from a terrifying evening of prayer, petition, and procession, to thank Our Lady for her life-saving intercession. It was the morning of October 9, 1871 that this grateful prayer cenacle emerged from the wooden Shrine Church to realize that the Peshtigo Fire (to this day the largest, most deadly fire in U.S. history), had passed them by, leaving the tiny 5-acre, consecrated parcel as an “emerald isle amid a sea of ash.” The Peshtigo fire burned 1.5 million acres (about the size of the entire state of Rhode Island), and yet passed over the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help; sparing those pilgrims who sought her protection, processing and praying the rosary (on their knees) throughout that long, terrifying night. The exact death-toll (settlers and Native Americans) of the Peshtigo Fire will never be known, but it is estimated that between 1,200-2,400 individuals lost their lives in this 2,000 degree hurricane of fire that raged through Northern Wisconsin, jumped Lake Michigan at Green Bay, and devastated countless families.

On this cool November morning, as our comfortable motor coach convoy traversed the lovely autumn countryside, not a trace of the ravages of the conflagration remained. From our comfortable seats, it was difficult to imagine the stifling smoke and ash that billowed from the relentless inferno- a fire so hot that sand and wind combined to spin strings of glass in places where trees had once stood. Today, the promise of Our Lord to “make all things new (Revelation 21:5)” is certainly visible in this lovely vista.

Bishop Don Hying blesses us with Our Lord Jesus© SalveMaterDei.com, 2011

Shortly after we arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Bishop Don Hying, Fr. Peter Stryker, and Fr. Jewel celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Chapel is beautiful- simple, warm, and inviting. The Tabernacle shines beneath a translucent veil, and one can truly feel Our Lord’s Presence in this Chapel- His Mother’s house. It was a joy to once again see my son serve Holy Mass in a sanctuary built above the very spot where Our Lady descended from Her celestial throne to instruct, warn, and protect.  Bishop Hying reminded us that Wisdom was not the same as knowledge or information. No, true Wisdom is synonymous with possessing a will that is completely in tuned with God’s Divine Will. Bishop Hying explained that Our Lady’s will was so absolutely in harmony with God’s Divine Will, that She is rightfully known as the Seat of Wisdom. He expounded on four of St. Louis de Montfort’s meditations, and directed us to consider our progress toward our ultimate destiny in light of the brevity of this life.

Pilgrims in the Pieta © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011

Holy Mass was followed by Benediction, a Eucharistic Procession around the Chapel, and the recitation of the rosary. After lunch, we again gathered with Bishop Hying for the outdoor Stations of the Cross. The Bishop gave a short, but profound meditation at each station. At the seventh station, as Jesus Falls the Second time, Bishop Hying spoke to us of the need for perseverance. He recognized how challenging it is to be in the middle- the middle of life, of a career, of marriage, of a vocation, etc., – and yet the need to persevere through the daily struggle, carrying the cross that is ours, to the glory that is to come. The breeze was no longer gentle, dark clouds began blanket the sky, and few drops of rain trickled down. The turn in weather suited the mood of the stations and helped to focus our attention on the suffering of Christ. As we processed behind the Bishop, I noticed the faces of the crowd of pilgrims reflected in each and every station. It was as if we were present with our Lord along the Way of the Cross. This was particularly striking when we approached the thirteenth station, the pieta- Jesus is laid in Mary’s Arms. In her private moment of unbearable anguish, we, her newly adopted children, were already present in her heart. God’s Love, and Our Lady’s fiat transcend time and space. Mary’s intercession was as powerful as she beheld Him after the Crucifixion, as it was in 1871, as it is today, and will be tomorrow. With Our Lady’s Good Help, we shall behold the face of Her Divine Son.

It was an awesome trip!

Blessings, M.A. JMJ

** My son continues to post a now 11-part history on the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at his blog: http://godalonesufficeth.wordpress.com/