Blessed Virgin Mary: October 2008 Archives

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There have been more than 40 million abortions in the United States since 1973.

formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary,
have mercy on the nations soaked in the blood of the innocent.

May that vast army of infants slaughtered mercilessly in their mothers' wombs
raise their voices and plead before Thy throne in glory
for an end to the crime of abortion
that has so rightly merited Thy Father's wrath
and caused the nations to become an abomination in His sight.

Do what Thou must, O merciful Heart of Jesus,
to reveal to all the horror of this sin
and to bring us to repentance.

Immaculate Virgin Mary,
thou who didst bear Thy Son for nine months
in the inviolate sanctuary of Thy womb,
intercede for all who, confident in thy maternal protection,
seek to defend the life of unborn children.

The Knotty Entanglements of Sin

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The two Collects given us by the liturgy this week -- the first in the Extraordinary Form, and the second in the Ordinary Form -- merit close attention.

On the Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost and the ferial days following it, we pray:

Absolve, quaesumus Domine, tuorum delicta populorum: ut a peccatorum nexibus, quae pro nostra fragilitate contraximus, tua benignitate liberemur.

Absolve, thy people from their transgressions,
we beseech Thee, O Lord,
so that through Thy goodness,
we may be set free from the entanglements of those sins
which in our weakness we have committed.

The verb, absolvo, can mean to loosen. The verb, contraho, can mean, among other things, to draw together tightly. Understood in this way, the Collect presents an astute psychology of sin. Sin is a knotty business, leading to hopelessly complex entanglements. One better understands the old German devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Looser of Knots (Maria Knotenlöserin) in the light of the Church's prayer. There are, I think, in every life, sinful entanglements that only the patient and gentle hands of the Immaculate Virgin Mary can loosen.

Loosen, thy people from their transgressions, we beseech Thee O Lord, so that through Thy goodness working through the hands of the Virgin Mary, we may be set free from the knotty entanglements of those sins which in our weakness we have pulled together.

On the Twenty-Ninth Sunday Per Annum and the ferial days following it, we pray:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, fac nos tibi semper et devotam gerere voluntatem, et maiestati tui sincero corde servire.

Concise and elegant. The twofold petition follows immediately upon the address with no intermediate clause. I translated it, rather freely, this way:

Almighty and ever-living God, make us ever bring Thee the devotion of our wills, and wait upon Thy majesty with singleness of heart.

The sense of the prayer is, it seems to me, that "adoration in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:23) requires the homage of the will ready to do God's bidding. True devotion lies in obedience to the will of the Father. "Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 7:21).

I was almost tempted to render the last line of the prayer, "and wait upon Thy majesty with guileless hearts," for that, I would argue, is the meaning of sincero corde. Worship is most pleasing to God when we offer it on His terms, not on our own; when we go to it with no mental reservations and with childlike candour. "Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do thy will, O God" (Heb 10:7).

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Listening to Saint Bernard at Matins in the pre-dawn darkness, I was moved by his meditation on the obedience of the Son to the Virgin Mother. The obedience of the Incarnate Word to Mary is the pattern of our consecration to her. Subjection to Mary is the secret of growth in virtue. The rule of Mary, Immaculate Queen, is the rule of peace in the soul. One led by Mary will, necessarily, follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes.

Lord of Angels and Son of Mary

"Son, why hast Thou dealt thus with us?"
Mary called God, the Lord of Angels, her Son.
Which of the angels would have dared to do so?
It is enough for them, and they reckon it a great thing,
that, being naturally spirits,
they should receive the grace of being made and called angels,
as witness David: "Who maketh spirits His angels."

God Subject to Mary

But Mary, knowing herself to be His Mother,
doth boldly apply the word "Son" to that Majesty Whom the angels do serve with awe;
neither doth God despise to be called what He hath made Himself.
For a little after, the Evangelist saith: "And He was subject unto them."
Who to whom? God to men.
I say that God, unto Whom the angels are subject
and Who is obeyed by the Principalities and Powers,
was subject to Mary.

The Obedience of God: the Exaltation of Mary

Marvel thou at both these things
and choose whether to marvel most at the sublime condescension of the Son,
or at the sublime dignity of Mary.
Either is amazing, either marvelous.
That God should obey this woman is a lowliness without parallel;
that this woman should rule over God an exaltation without match.

She Leadeth Me

In praise of virgins, and of virgins only, is it sung that
"These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth," (Apoc 14, 4).
Of what praise then thinkest thou that she must be worthy
who even leadeth the Lamb?
O man, learn to obey.
O earth, learn to submit.
O dust, learn to keep down.

If you are not familiar with the Fraternité de Marie, Reine Immaculée, today would be a good day to visit their beautiful site. I had the joy of meeting members of the community both at Knock in Ireland, and in Paray-le-Monial.


From the Lineamenta. Read the entire document here.

Mary: Every Believer's Model for Receiving the Word

25. Salvation history has great examples of hearers and evangelizers of the Word of God: Abraham, Moses, the prophets, Sts. Peter and Paul, the other Apostles and the evangelists. In faithfully hearing the Lord's Word and communicating it to others, these people created a space for the Kingdom of God.

From this vantage point, the Virgin Mary assumes a central role as one who lived, in singular fashion, the encounter with the Word of God, who is Jesus himself. She is then a model of every aspect of hearing and proclaiming. Already possessing a familiarity with the Word of God in her intense experience of the Scriptures of the Chosen People, Mary of Nazareth, from the moment of the Annunciation to her presence at the foot of the Cross, and even to her participation at Pentecost, receives the Word in faith, meditates upon it, interiorizes it and intensely lives it (cf. Lk 1:38; 2:19, 51, Acts 17:11)). Because of her uninterrupted response of "yes" to the Word of God, she knows how to take into account what is happening around her and live the necessities of daily life, fully aware that what she receives as a gift from the Son is a gift meant for everyone: in the service of Elizabeth, at Cana and at the foot of the cross (cf. Lk 1:39; Jn 2:1-12; 19: 25-27). Therefore, the words, uttered by Jesus in her presence, are appropriately applied to her as well, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it" (Lk 8:21). "Since Mary is completely imbued with the Word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate" (32).

Maria, Virgo Audiens

Mary's way of hearing the Word of God deserves special consideration. The Gospel text, "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2:19), means that she heard and knew the Scriptures, meditated upon them in her heart in an interior process of maturation, where the mind is not separated from the heart. Mary sought the spiritual sense of the Scriptures and found it, associating it (symallousa) with the written words, the life of Jesus and the moments of discovery in her personal history. Mary is our model not only for receiving the faith which is the Word, but also for studying it. It is not enough for her to receive it. She reflects on it. She not only possesses it, but values it. She not only gives it her assent, but also develops it. In doing so, Mary becomes an example of faith for all of us, from the most simple soul to the most scholarly of the Doctors of the Church, who seek, consider and set forth how to bear witness to the Gospel.

Maria, Virgo Obediens

In receiving the Good News, Mary is the ideal model of the obedience of faith, becoming a living icon of the Church in service to the Word. Isaac of Stella states: "In the inspired Scriptures, what is said in a universal sense of the virgin mother, the Church, is understood in an individual sense of the Virgin Mary.... The Lord's inheritance is, in a general sense, the Church; in a special sense, Mary; and in an individual sense, the Christian. Christ dwelt for nine months in the tabernacle of Mary's womb, he dwells until the end of the ages in the tabernacle of the Church's faith. He will dwell for ever in the knowledge and love of each faithful soul (33)". She teaches us not to stand by as idle spectators before the Word of Life, but to become participants, making our own the "here I am" of the prophet (cf. Is 6:8) and allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit, who abides in us. She "magnifies" the Lord, discovering in her life the mercy of God, who makes her "blessed," because "she believed that there would be a fulfilment of what had been spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1:45). St. Ambrose says that every Christian believer conceives and begets the Word of God. According to the flesh, Christ has only one mother; but, according to the faith, everyone gives him birth (34).

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.

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