Blessed Virgin Mary: September 2011 Archives

Where God is, There Is a Future

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How I wish that the Holy Father's words on September 23rd at the Marian sanctuary of Etzelsbach might reach every Catholic on earth. Tolle et lege, tolle et lege! Pope Benedict XVI leads us to the pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, to His Heart pierced by the soldier's lance, and to her Heart pierced by sword of sorrow, even as Simeon prophesied in the Temple.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I would like to greet all of you most warmly, all who have come here to Etzelsbach for this time of prayer. Ever since my youth I have heard so much about Eichsfeld that I thought at some point I must see it for myself and pray together with you. I offer sincere thanks to Bishop Wanke, who pointed out to me this strip of land from the aircraft, and I thank your speakers and representatives who have brought me gifts symbolic of this region, thereby giving me at least an indication of the variety that is found here.

An Open Door and a Place of Inner Peace

So I am very glad that my wish to visit Eichsfeld has been fulfilled, and that here in Etzelsbach I can now thank Mary in company with you. "Here in the beloved quiet vale", as the pilgrims' hymn says, "under the old lime trees", Mary gives us security and new strength. During two godless dictatorships, which sought to deprive the people of their ancestral faith, the inhabitants of Eichsfeld were in no doubt that here in this shrine at Etzelsbach an open door and a place of inner peace was to be found. The special friendship with Mary that grew from all this, is what we seek to cultivate further, not least through today's celebration of Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Jesus Cannot Refuse His Mother What She Asks

When Christians of all times and places turn to Mary, they are acting on the spontaneous conviction that Jesus cannot refuse his mother what she asks; and they are relying on the unshakable trust that Mary is also our mother -- a mother who has experienced the greatest of all sorrows, who feels all our griefs with us and ponders in a maternal way how to overcome them. How many people down the centuries have made pilgrimages to Mary, in order to find comfort and strength before the image of the Mother of Sorrows, as here at Etzelsbach!

Meditating in Her Heart

Let us look upon her likeness: a woman of middle age, her eyelids heavy with much weeping, gazing pensively into the distance, as if meditating in her heart upon everything that had happened. On her knees rests the lifeless body of her son, she holds him gently and lovingly, like a precious gift. We see the marks of the crucifixion on his bare flesh. The left arm of the corpse is pointing straight down.

Pointing to the Holy Sacrifice

Perhaps this sculpture of the Pietà, like so many others, was originally placed above an altar. The crucified Jesus would then be pointing with his outstretched arm to what was taking place on the altar, where the holy sacrifice that he had accomplished becomes present in the Eucharist.

The Hearts of Jesus and Mary

A particular feature of the holy image of Etzelsbach is the position of Our Lord's body. In most representations of the Pietà, the dead Jesus is lying with his head facing left, so that the observer can see the wounded side of the Crucified Lord. Here in Etzelsbach, however, the wounded side is concealed, because the body is facing the other way. It seems to me that a deep meaning lies hidden in this representation, that only becomes apparent through silent contemplation: in the Etzelsbach image, the hearts of Jesus and his mother are turned to one another; the hearts come close to each other. They exchange their love. We know that the heart is also the seat of the deepest affection and the most intimate compassion. In Mary's heart there is room for the love that her divine Son wants to bestow upon the world.

Towards the Heart of Mary and the Heart of Christ

Marian devotion focuses on contemplation of the relationship between the Mother and her divine Son. In their prayers and sufferings, in their thanksgiving and joy, the faithful have constantly discovered new dimensions and qualities which this mystery can help to disclose for us, for example when the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is seen as a symbol of her deep and unreserved loving unity with Christ. It is not self-realization, the desire for self-possession and self-formation, that truly enables people to flourish, according to the model that modern life so often proposes to us, which easily turns into a sophisticated form of selfishness. Rather it is an attitude of self-giving, self-emptying, directed towards the heart of Mary and hence towards the heart of Christ and towards our neighbour: this is what enables us to find ourselves.

God Does Not Cease to Work Good Through Mary

"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose" (Rom 8:28), as we have just heard in the reading from the Letter to the Romans. With Mary, God has worked for good in everything, and he does not cease, through Mary, to cause good to spread further in the world.

Mary, the Channel of the Rivers of Grace Flowing from the Cross

Looking down from the Cross, from the throne of grace and salvation, Jesus gave us his mother Mary to be our mother. At the moment of his self-offering for mankind, he makes Mary as it were the channel of the rivers of grace that flow from the Cross. At the foot of the Cross, Mary becomes our fellow traveler and protector on life's journey. "By her motherly love she cares for her son's sisters and brothers who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home," as the Second Vatican Council expressed it (Lumen Gentium, 62). Yes indeed, in life we pass through high-points and low-points, but Mary intercedes for us with her Son and helps us to discover the power of his divine love, and to open ourselves to that love.

God, Says Mary, Desires Your True Happiness

Our trust in the powerful intercession of the Mother of God and our gratitude for the help we have repeatedly experienced impel us, as it were, to think beyond the needs of the moment. What does Mary actually want to say to us, when she rescues us from some trial? She wants to help us grasp the breadth and depth of our Christian vocation. With a mother's tenderness, she wants to make us understand that our whole life should be a response to the love of our God, who is so rich in mercy. "Understand," she seems to say to us, "that God, who is the source of all that is good and who never desires anything other than your true happiness, has the right to demand of you a life that yields wholly and joyfully to his will, striving at the same time that others may do likewise." Where God is, there is a future.

In Prayer to Mary Great Problems Find Solutions

Indeed -- when we allow God's love to pervade and to shape the whole of our lives, then heaven stands open. Then it is possible so to shape the present that it corresponds more and more to the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the little things of everyday life acquire meaning, and great problems find solutions. 

Confident of this, we pray to Mary; confident of this, we put our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and God. Amen.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

The Rosary of the Seven Dolours

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The Rosary of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a way of holding in one's heart the mystery/events of the Childhood and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Compassion of His Virgin Mother.

The fruits of this particular prayer are well known to those who pray it habitually: compunction of heart, detachment from the occasions of sin, chastity, humility, reparation, compassion, intimacy with the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and desire to contemplate the adorable Face of Christ.

The power of this prayer -- something that many have experienced -- comes from allowing one's own heart to be irrigated and purified by the tears of the Mother of God. The tears of the Sorrowful Mother bring purity and healing wherever they fall. Appearing in Kibeho, Rwanda in 1982 and 1983, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word, asked that the prayer of the Rosary of the Seven Dolours be renewed and promoted in the Church.

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The 8th Sorrow of my maternal and Immaculate Heart
is that my Son is so offended in the Sacrament of His Love.

This sorrow of mine will endure until the end of time,
when the Real Presence of my Son in the Most Holy Sacrament
will give way to the sight of His Divine Majesty.

Then will faith give way to vision,
and hope to possession.
Then will love be secure and everlasting
for all who will have died in the embrace of His Divine Friendship.

Until then, know that my maternal Heart suffers and grieves
over the irreverence, the coldness, and the ingratitude of so many souls
towards the Sacrament of my Son's undying love.
It is in this Sacrament that He loves His own,
loving them to the end --
to the end of every created possibility
and to the end of this passing world.
His Eucharistic Love surpasses all the laws of perishable nature:
there is no greater miracle on the face of the earth
than the Real Presence of my Son in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Even so, He is forsaken, neglected,
and handed over to sinners to be betrayed again and again,
and this by His chosen ones, His beloved priests,
the men whom He chose to be the consolation and joy of His Heart.
This is my own Heart's 8th Sorrow:
the betrayal and neglect of my Son
in the Most Holy Eucharist.

How is He betrayed?
His priests, my own sons, betray Him
when they fail to make Him known,
when by not teaching the mystery of His Real Presence
they leave souls in the darkness of ignorance,
without fire or light.

They betray my Son when, by their example,
they discourage reverence, and adoration,
and a loving attention to His presence.

They betray Him
when they offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass unworthily,
and when they hand Him over to sinners
who have no intention of giving Him their hearts
and seeking His mercy and His pardon for their sins.

They betray Him
when they leave Him alone in locked churches
and when they make it difficult or impossible
for souls to approach His tabernacles,
and rest in the radiance of His Eucharistic Face.

They betray Him
when they allow His churches
to become places of noise and worldly chatter,
and when they do nothing to recall souls
to the living Mystery of His Love,
that is His presence in the tabernacle.

Shall I tell you more of this 8th Sorrow of my Heart?
It is when you are lacking in generosity,
when you fail to respond to love with love,
when you are not generous
in being present to Him
who is present in the Most Holy Eucharist
for love of you.

I speak here not only to you,
but to all my priest sons
and to all consecrated souls
who live with my Son under the same roof,
and yet treat Him coldly, or casually,
or with a distant formality.

This too is the 8th Sorrow of my Heart:
that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated quickly,
with little reverence,
with no thanksgiving,
and with all the attention given,
not to my Son, the Lamb,
but, rather, to the human presence of His minister,
who, by calling attention to himself,
takes from God what belongs rightly to God alone:
the loving attention of every heart during the Holy Mysteries.

What more shall I tell you?
Do you not grieve with me over this 8th Sorrow of my Heart,
made up of many sorrows repeated again, and again, and again?
Grieve with me today,
and console my maternal and Immaculate Heart
by adoring my Son,
the blessed fruit of my womb,
and by giving Him all that you are
in an immolation of love.

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of A Priest

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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