Blessed Virgin Mary: December 2010 Archives

His Co-Worker in My Redemption

| | Comments (0)

Murillo, S Ildefonso Vergine.jpg

As a reading for the Second Nocturn, the Solesmes Monastic Lectionary for the Hours (1993) gives for today the magnificent prayer of Saint Ildephonsus of Toledo in praise of the perpetual virginity of Mary. To illustrate the prayer, I chose Murillo's painting of the Virgin Mother bestowing on Saint Ildephonsus a splendid (blue and gold!) chasuble woven in heaven, to reward him for having written so beautifully in defense of her perpetual virginity. This miraculous event took place while Saint Ildephonsus was praying Matins on 19 December, 657.

The Abundance of the Sweetness of Thy Son

I come to thee, only Virgin Mother of God,
and fall prostrate before thee,
who alone didst cooperate in the Incarnation of God.
I humble myself before thee,
who alone wert found to be the Mother of my Lord.
I pray thee, who alone wert found to be the handmaid of thy Son:
obtain that my sins be wiped away;
command that I be cleansed of the wickedness of my deeds,
and, that I may love the glory of thy virtue,
reveal to me the abundance of the sweetness of thy Son.

Murillo, S Ildefonso Vergine, casula.jpg

Thou Art His Co-Worker in My Redemption

Bestow upon me the gift of proclaiming the true faith of thy Son,
and of defending it.
Grant that I may cleave to God and to thee,
that I may serve thy Son and thee,
that I may be His bondsman and thine;
His, because He is my Creator,
and thine, because thou art the Mother of my Creator;
His, because He is Lord of the angelic powers,
and thine, because thou art the handmaid of the Lord of All;
His, because He is God,
and thine because thou art the Mother of God;
His, because He is my Redeemer,
and thine because thou art His co-worker in my redemption.

The Body by Which He Healed My Wounds

That which He wrought for my redemption,
verily He formed in thine own person.
That He might be my Redeemer,
He became thy Son.
That He might be the price of my ransom,
He became incarnate of thy flesh.
The Body by which He healed my wounds,
He took from thee so that He, in it, might be wounded.
The mortal Body by which He took away my death,
He took from thy mortality.
The Body by which He brought my sins to nought,
He received sinless from thee.
This nature of mine that ahead of time, in Himself,
He placed above the angels in the glory of His Father's right hand,
He assumed -- humbling Himself -- out of thine own true body.

I Am Thy Slave

Therefore, I am thy slave,
because Thy Son is my Master.
Therefore thou art my Lady,
because thou art the handmaid of my Lord.
Therefore I am the slave of the handmaid of my Lord,
because thou, my Lady, didst become the Mother of my Lord.
Therefore I have become thy slave,
because thou didst become the Mother of my Maker.

By the Holy Spirit

I pray thee, I pray thee, holy Virgin,
may I, by the Spirit through Whom thou didst give birth to Jesus,
have Jesus and hold Him.
By that Spirit through Whom
thou didst conceive this same Jesus in thy flesh,
may my soul receive Jesus.

Let the Spirit gift me with the knowledge of Jesus,
this Spirit by Whom it was given Thee to bear Jesus and to give Him birth.
Let the Spirit in Whom thou didst declare thyself the handmaid of the Lord,
choosing that it should be done unto thee according to the Angel's word,
grant me to proclaim the heights of Jesus with lowliness.

To Love Jesus and to Fear Him

In the Spirit thou didst adore Jesus as thy Lord
and gaze upon Him as thy Son;
in that same Spirit may I love Him.
And may I fear this same Jesus,
with that reverence by which He, truly being God,
became subject to His parents.

Follow the Way of Beauty

| | Comments (0)


On 17 December 2010 Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Pontifical Academies during their 15th Public Session on "The Assumption of Mary, Sign of Consolation and Sure Hope."

Shining Star of Light and Beauty

Mary, in fact, as Vatican Council II teaches in the dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium," is the sign of sure hope and consolation for the People of God, pilgrim in history: "The mother of Jesus, now in heaven, glorified in body and soul, is the image and the first fruit of the Church which must have its fulfillment in the future age, and thus shines over the earth as a sign of sure hope and consolation for the People of God, journeying until it sees the day of the Lord (cf. 2 Peter 3:10)" (No. 68). In the encyclical letter "Spe Salvi," dedicated to Christian hope, I could not help but remind of the particular role of Mary in supporting and guiding the way of believers toward the Heavenly homeland. I addressed her, invoking her as a Star of Hope for the Church and for the whole of humanity (cf. No. 49). Mary is the shining star of light and beauty, who proclaims and anticipates our future.

The Queen, God's True Mother

St. John Damascene, who dedicated to Mary's Assumption three magnificent sermons, given in Jerusalem around the year 740, in the place tradition indicates as Mary's Tomb, said this: "Thy soul did not descend to Limbo, neither did thy flesh see corruption. Thy pure and spotless body was not left in the earth, but the abode of the Queen, of God's true Mother, was fixed in the heavenly kingdom alone." (Homily I on the Dormition: PG 96, 719).

Advocate and Mother of Mercy

The "singer of Mary," St. Bernard of Clairvaux, along with many of the Latin West, echoes the previous voice of the Eastern Church, when St. Bernard evokes the Assumption thus: "Our Queen has preceded us; she has preceded us and has been received very festively, so that with confidence the servants can follow their Lady saying: Take us with you, we run in the odor of your perfumes (Ct 1,3). Our pilgrim humanity sent its Advocate ahead that, being Mother of the Judge and Mother of mercy, can treat with devotion and efficacy the cause of our salvation. Our earth has sent today to heaven a precious gift so that, giving and receiving, they join the human and the divine in a happy exchange of friendship, the earthly to the heavenly, the lowest to the highest [...] She is the Queen of Heaven, she is merciful, she is the Mother of the Only-begotten Son of God" (In assumptione B.M.V., Sermo I: PL 183,415).

Theological, Mystical, Liturgical, Devotional Artistic

Hence, following that via pulchritudinis that the Servant of God Paul VI indicated as fecund itinerary of theological and Mariological research, I would like to note the profound syntony between theological and mystical thought, the liturgy, Marian devotion and the works of art that, with the splendor of colors and shapes, sing the mystery of the Assumption of Mary and her heavenly glory together with her Son. Among the latter, I invite you to admire two of them that are particularly significant in Rome: the mosaics of the apse of the Marian Basilicas of St. Mary Major and Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Theological and spiritual reflection, liturgy, Marian devotion, and artistic representation truly form a whole, a complete and effective message, capable of arousing the wonder of eyes, of touching the heart and of enticing the intelligence to a more profound understanding of the mystery of Mary in which we see our destiny reflected clearly and our hope proclaimed.

Therefore, I take advantage of this occasion to invite experts in theology and Mariology to follow the via pulchritudinis, and I hope that, also in our days, thanks to a greater collaboration between theologians, liturgists and artists, incisive and effective messages can be offered to the admiration and contemplation of all.


The Antiphons of the Final Days of Advent

Today at Lauds the Church begins a series of proper antiphons for each day until Christmas. These antiphons are relatively short and easy to memorize. Most of them are composed in the hauntingly beautiful transposed Fourth Mode (in the new books II*) with the optional ending on si, that is so expressive of our yearning for completion in Christ. The antiphons are repeated throughout the day at the Little Hours, and again at Vespers. This morning, for example, we sang:

Constantes estote, * videbitis auxilium Domini super vos.
Be ye steadfast, and ye shall see the the help of the Lord upon you.

Ad te, Domine, * levavi animam meam: veni, et eripe me, Domine, ad te confugi.
To thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul: come, and rescue me, O Lord, for to thee have I fled for refuge.

Veni, Domine, * et non tardare: relaxa facinora plebi tuae Israel.
Come, O Lord, and tarry not: relieve thy people Israel of the burden of their sins.

Deus a Libano veniet, * et splendor ejus sicut lumen erit.
God shall come from Lebanon, and his splendour shall be as the light.

Ego autem * ad Dominum adspiciam, et expectabo Deum Salvatorem meum.
As for me, I shall look to the Lord, and wait for God my Salvation.

Antiphons Pondered in the Heart

It is not enough merely to sing or recite these antiphons at the Hours. The Church gives them to us so that, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who "kept all these words, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2:19) we might so make these words our own as to find in them the perfect expression of our soul's every longing.

Primary and Indispensable

The Sacred Liturgy is -- and this is often overlooked or forgotten -- the primary and indispensable school of the prayer of the heart. The febrile pursuit of trendy methods of meditation and esoteric approaches to prayer comes from having lived apart from The Prayer of the Church. I have noticed, for example, that in religious communities where the Divine Office is neglected, minimized, or even performed regularly, but in a perfunctory manner, souls tend to gravitate to things like "Centering Prayer" or lose themselves in private devotions that are, at best, marginal to The Prayer of the Church.

Prayer Ceaseless and Incandescent

The prayer of the heart -- ceaseless and incandescent -- flourishes wherever and whenever the Sacred Liturgy -- and, in particular, the Divine Office -- is cherished and celebrated with dignity, reverence, and devotion.

The Missa Aurea

| | Comments (0)


During the Middle Ages, the Mass of the Missus Est -- the first words of the Gospel of the Annunciation -- on the Ember Wednesday of Advent was celebrated very solemnly as a kind of festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The stational church in Rome is the Basilica of Saint Mary Major; this choice signifies that today’s Mass is equal to that of the greatest feasts of the Mother of God. It was called the Missa Aurea, the “Golden Mass.” In manuscripts of the Middle Ages, the capital letters of the text of the Annunciation Gospel were written in gold. The letters of gold were but a sign of the secret grace hidden within the words of the Angel Gabriel and within the response of the Virgin Mary.

Then, too, there is the tradition of celebrating today’s Mass in the glow of candlelight. The “Golden Mass” was especially popular throughout Europe where the faithful hastened to their churches before dawn, bearing lanterns, confident of obtaining on this day whatever special grace they asked through the intercession of the Virgin of the Annunciation.

In some monasteries, the Gospel is sung today to a particular melody: the same ancient melody used to sing the Gospel of Pentecost. The Annunciation is the Proto-Pentecost. The Virgin Mother, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, is the living image of the Church overshadowed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

S. Ioannis Didaci Cuahtlatoatzin

| | Comments (1)

Martha Orozco SJuanD.jpg

Yes, that would be the much loved Saint Juan Diego of Guadalupe as he is designated in the new Solesmes Antiphonale Monasticum for December 9th. Here is the official Collect for his feast with my English translation:

Deus, qui per beatum Ioannem Didacum,
sanctissimae Virginis Mariae dilectionem
erga populum tuum ostendisti:
eius nobis intercessione concede,
ut, Matris nostrae monitis Guadalupae datis obsequentes,
voluntatem tuam iugiter adimplere valeamus.

O God, Who, through Saint Juan Diego,
didst show forth the special love of the Most Holy Virgin Mary
toward Thy people,
at his intercession, grant us
so to obey the admonitions given by our Mother of Guadalupe,
that we may ever be able to fulfil Thy will.

The painting of Saint Juan Diego is by Mexican artist Martha Orozco.

Hope of Thy Children Scarred by Sin

| | Comments (2)


Power of the Mother With the Son

For if "God heareth not sinners, but if a man be a worshipper of Him and do His will, him He heareth"; if "the continual prayer of a just man availeth much"; if faithful Abraham was required to pray for Abimelech, "for he was a prophet"; if patient Job was to "pray for his friends," for he had "spoken right things before God"; if meek Moses, by lifting up his hands, turned the battle in favour of Israel, against Amalec; why should we wonder at hearing that Mary, the only spotless child of Adam's seed, has a transcendent influence with the God of grace?

And if the Gentiles at Jerusalem sought Philip, because he was an apostle, when they desired access to Jesus, and Philip spoke to Andrew, as still more closely in our Lord's confidence, and then both came to Him, is it strange that the Mother should have power with the Son, distinct in kind from that of the purest angel and the most triumphant saint?

If we have faith to admit the Incarnation itself, we must admit it in its fullness; why then should we start at the gracious appointments which arise out of it, or are necessary to it, or are included in it? If the Creator comes on earth in the form of a servant and a creature, why may not his Mother on the other hand rise to be the Queen of heaven, and be clothed with the sun, and have the moon under her feet? (Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Discourses to Mixed Congregations")

Spiritual Rescue Operations

Priests caring for souls -- and others as well: parents, spouses, and friends -- may find themselves at times engaged in a kind of spiritual rescue operation on behalf of a particular person. In such situations it is crucial to recall two words of Our Lord from Saint John's Gospel: "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5), and "Behold your mother" (Jn 19:27).

The Name of Jesus

No human agent, however devoted to prayer and fasting he may be, can by his own power, restore a soul to health. It is by the name of Jesus, that is to say, by His adorable Person, that souls are delivered from bondage and oppression, healed, and raised to life.

Thus taught the Apostle Peter: "Here is a man you all know by sight, who has put his faith in that Name, and that Name has brought him strength; it is the faith which comes through Jesus that has restored him to full health in the sight of you all" (Ac 3:16).

Intercessory Prayer

When a soul, weakened by sin, hardened by impenitence, and sometimes blinded by the powers of darkness cannot invoke the Name of Jesus for herself, the consoling doctrine of the Mystical Body authorizes others to do this on her behalf. This is the mystery of intercessory prayer. In its simplest form, intercessory prayer is the invocation of the Name of Jesus.

The Immaculate Virgin Mary

That being affirmed, know that no creature in heaven or on earth can pronounce the saving Name of Jesus as can the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God. The name of Jesus in the Heart of Mary, and on her lips, is a remedy of boundless efficacy. For this reason the sacred liturgy applies to the Mother of God the psalmist's prophecy: Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis -- "Thy lips overflow with gracious utterance" (Ps 44:3).

Omnipotentia Supplex

Guided by a sure instinct coming from the Holy Spirit, Christians have, from the earliest centuries, besought the Mother of God to invoke the Name of Jesus on their behalf. Instructed by experience, the Church acclaims her as omnipotentia supplex, all-powerful in her supplication. There are critical situations in which the wisest and most efficacious course of action is to entrust or consecrate the person or persons concerned to the all-holy Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception. Saved in advance by the Precious Blood of the Lamb, and full of grace at the very instant of her conception in the womb of her mother Saint Anne, the Immaculata crushes the head of the ancient serpent beneath the weight of the grace that fills her.

A Prayer

In November 2007 I served a fortnight as interim chaplain to the Benedictines du Saint-Sacrement at the Sanctuary of Notre Dame d'Orient in the Aveyron, France. (This particular title of the Mother of God refers not to the Orient (East), but rather to Our Lady's readiness to tend her ear to us at every moment: auriens.) While at Notre-Dame d'Orient I was inspired to write a prayer of intercessory consecration to Immaculate Virgin Mary.

This prayer of consecration may be helpful when one experiences a need to entrust particular souls in difficulty to the Immaculate Conception. When a priest prays it, he may want to don the stole and pray it before a blessed image of the Most Holy Virgin. This intercessory consecration is appropriate for the unbinding and healing of situations marked by habitual sin and moral suffering. The Immaculate Virgin Mary is ever-ready to intervene in the lives of her children. She is the Mother of Mercy and the Mediatrix of All Graces. Here is the prayer, first in English, and then in the original French.

Efficacious Consecration of Persons to the Pierced and Immaculate Heart of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary

In the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Most holy Virgin Mary.
-- thou whom the FATHER didst preserve from the first instant of thy conception
from all evil and from the least shadow of sin,
-- thou whom the Precious Blood of JESUS didst render immaculate and all-beautiful, even before that same Blood was formed in thy virginal womb and poured out upon the altar of the Cross,
-- thou whom the HOLY GHOST didst fill full with every grace in view of the glorious motherhood of the Son of God for which thou wast created,
-- thou art she who crusheth the head of the ancient serpent,
thou art she who alone overcometh the evil that is in us and around us.

To thee, O Mary,
thy Son hath entrusted the liberation of souls enchained by sin,
the healing of wounded souls,
and the sanctification of souls who have suffered evil's worst ravages.

Thou hast only to open thy immaculate hands over them,
and they are shot through with the rays of thy purity.
Through thee, entereth the light to shine in the darkest places.
Through thee, souls are washed in a downpour of graces.
Through thee, the Holy Spirit succoureth the weakest souls
and giveth to the sterile a wonderful fecundity.

Thou, O Mary, art the only hope of thy children scarred by sin
and poisoned by its venom.
To those whom the enemy hath made to go astray in bitterness and in fear,
thou openest the path of life and of beatitude.

This is why, impelled today by the boldness that cometh of the Holy Ghost,
and by a confidence that is altogether that of a son,
[and when the consecration is made by a priest:
and in virtue of my priesthood,]
I entrust to thee N. and N.,
in consecrating them to thy pierced and immaculate Heart.

Show thyself the Mother of mercy.
Show thyself our all-powerful Queen,
for there is nothing that resisteth thy supplication
in the presence of Jesus, the King of Love.

Mediatrix of all graces,
save these souls from the tentacles of evil.
Heal them, even in those secret and painful wounds,
that only thy most gentle motherly hand can touch
without adding to their pain.

From this moment on,
these souls are consecrated entirely to thee.
Do thou for them whatsoever thy maternal Heart will suggest to thee.
Purify them in the Precious Blood of thy Jesus, the Lamb without stain,
so that now, and even unto the ages of ages,
they may live for the praise of the glory
of the Father + and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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