Blessed Virgin Mary: March 2008 Archives

A First Saturday

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Was anyone else struck by the Holy Father's allusion, in today's Regina Caeli message, to the "Marian dimension" of Pope John Paul II's death on the First Saturday of the month? "Many notice," he said, "the singular coincidence, that brought together in itself the Marian dimension — the First Saturday of the month — and the dimension of Divine Mercy." This discreet allusion to Our Lady of Fatima and to her role in the life and in the piety of John Paul II is, to my mind, very significant.

I recall what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 2000:

I would like finally to mention another key expression of the “secret” which has become justly famous: “my Immaculate Heart will triumph”. What does this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.

Wednesday, April 2nd, will be the anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II in 2005. Friday, April 4th, will be the anniversary of the death of Blessed Francisco Marto in 1919, and of Saint Gaetano Catanoso, the Apostle of the Holy Face, in 1963. Saturday, April 5th, will be the First Saturday of the month. I'm looking forward to a very special week.

Ave, Maria, gratia plena

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This beautiful painting of the Annunciation was the work of 11 year old Joseph Gillain who painted it in 1925, after receiving a box of pastels as a gift. Encouraged by his parents and by his Benedictine schoolmasters at the Abbey of Maredsous, Gillain became a world famous cartoonist. See the exquisite humility of the Virgin and the chaste eloquence of her "Yes," depicted in her outstretched hand. The Archangel Gabriel bows low in veneration of the maiden about to become his Queen. Hovering above is the Holy Spirit, bathing the whole scene in His Divine Light. All of this, the work of an 11 year old boy.

The Annunciation of the Lord
Lady Day

Isaiah 7:10 - 8:10
Hebrews 10:4 – 10
Luke 1:26 - 38

Annunciation and Divine Mercy

Rarely does the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord fall the day after the Second Sunday of Easter, the Feast of Divine Mercy. Might there not be in this an invitation for us to seek out the mystery of the Annunciation in the light of the Divine Mercy, and that of the Divine Mercy in the light of the Annunciation?

The Human Face of Divine Mercy

When the Blessed Virgin Mary said her “Yes” to the message of the Angel, Divine Mercy entered the world and took flesh in her womb. Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI called the Face of Christ “the supreme revelation of the Mercy of God.” Where was that Holy Face formed? In the womb of the Virgin of Nazareth. And what other face did the Face of the Son of God most closely resemble? The face of His Mother, the tota pulchra, the all-lovely one. Mary is, in all truth, the Mater Misericordiae, the Mother of Mercy. Mary gave a human face to Divine Mercy.

When the Time Had Fully Come

No sooner did Mary offer her assent to the plan of God than a tiny human body began to be formed within her virginal womb, a human body indissolubly united to the Divine Son of God. After twenty–four days, the Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, began to have regular beats or pulsations. The human Heart of God began to beat beneath the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was the sound of redeeming love. "When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father' " (Gal 4:6-7).

His Merciful Design

It is through the Blessed Virgin Mary that the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Vessel of Divine Mercy, begins to beat in the world. It is through the Blessed Virgin Mary that the world will be brought to the experience of Divine Mercy. What does she sing in her Magnificat? “He has mercy upon those who fear Him, from generation to generation. . . . He has protected His servant Israel, keeping His merciful design in remembrance” (Lk 1:50, 54).

The Virgin of the Passion

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Commemoration of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Did you know that tomorrow, Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent (Passiontide), is the Commemoration of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary? The 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum restored this most fitting commemoration to the Roman liturgy.

To this end, a new Collect was composed:

O God, who during this time graciously grant to your Church devoutly to imitate blessed Mary in contemplation of the Passion of Christ, grant us, we pray, through the intercession of the same Virgin, to cling each day more firmly to your Only-Begotten Son,and to come at length to the fullness of his grace. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.

The Roman Missal of 2002 also added to the chants of the Good Friday adoration of the Cross, the well-known sequence, Stabat Mater, thus marking in another way the presence of the sorrowful Mother close to that of her suffering Son.

These two commemorations of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin, the first on the Friday Within the Fifth Week of Lent, and the second, a week later, on Good Friday, invite us to stand by the Cross of Jesus with Mary his Mother, whose soul a sword of sorrow has pierced.

In our General Intercessions at Holy Mass, mindful of the "widowed Church" of Mosul in Iraq, we will pray:

That the Holy Catholic Church in Iraq,
suffering and crucified with her Lord and Bridegroom,
may take comfort in the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and find in her all-powerful intercession a source of perpetual help,
let us entreat the Lord. R. Look upon us, and have mercy.

The Image

The most famous image of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the miraculous icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also known as the Virgin of the Passion. Be sure to visit Father Scott Bailey's Mother of Perpetual Help website. Look for three characteristics in the icon of the Virgin of the Passion:

1) The depiction of the instruments of Our Lord's Passion, the Lance and the Sponge, the Cross and the Nails, carried by the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel.

2) The movement of the Child Jesus who gazes towards the instruments of His Passion, and seeks comfort in the arms of His Most Holy Mother. The sole of one of His feet is exposed, His sandal having fallen loose as He hastened to His Mother. The sandal hangs by its laces from His foot.

3) The Mother of God gazes out of the icon into what lies beyond it. She contemplates not only the sufferings of her Infant Son, but also the sufferings of the members of His Mystical Body. The compassion in her eyes is directed to all who, according to the word of her Crucified Son, became her children on Calvary. "Woman, behold thy son" (Jn 19:26).

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory