Blessed Virgin Mary: January 2013 Archives

It is not good for man to be alone

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Priestly Union with the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today's feast of the Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph compels me to reflect on the grace of mystical espousal with Our Lady, something to which every monk and priest should aspire, for God Himself has said, that "it is not good for man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18) Essentially, a man to whom the Holy Ghost vouchsafes this grace shares his entire life with Mary. Like Saint Joseph, he lives for her; he lives with her; he lives by her. Like Saint Joseph, he has no secrets from her; owns nothing that is not hers as well; and is of one mind and heart with her in all things. The Blessed Virgin Mary completes the man espoused to her.

The Saints

Among the saints marked by this grace are Saint Robert of Molesme (1028-1111), Saint Hermann Joseph (1150-1241), Saint Edmund of Canterbury (1175-1240), Blessed Alain de la Roche (1428-1475), and Saint John Eudes (1601-1670).

Saint John Eudes

Already as a young man, John Eudes placed a wedding band on the finger of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was a portent of things to come. As a priest, a reformer of the clergy, and an outstanding preacher, he experienced the fruitfulness that results from a spousal intimacy with the Mother of God.

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Something to Which All Priests Should Aspire

Saint John Eudes, a friend of Mother Mectilde de Bar, and one of the stars shining in the constellation of holy priests in 17th century France, presents this grace as something to which all priests should aspire. To describe it he uses the French word alliance: covenant, bond, or union. Significantly, the same word is used to designate a wedding ring. I decided to translate the following passage from his Memorial on the Life of Ecclesiastics:

The Eternal Father
Consider that priests have a special alliance with the most holy Mother of God. This because, just as the Eternal Father made her participate in His divine paternity, and gave her the power to form in her womb the same Son whom He begets in His bosom, so too does He communicate to priests that same paternity, giving them power to form this same Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and in the hearts of the faithful.
The Son
As the Son made her [the Virgin Mary] His cooperator and coadjutrix (helpmate) in the work of the redemption of the world, so too does He make priests His cooperators and coadjutors in the work of saving souls.
The Holy Ghost
As the Holy Ghost, in an ineffable manner, associated her [the Virgin Mary] with Himself in the most divine of His operations, and in the masterpiece of His that is the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, so too does He associate priests with Himself to bring about an extension and a continuation of this mystery in each Christian, in whom the Son of God, in some manner, incarnates Himself by means of Baptism and by the Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Mediatrix of All Graces
Just as the Eternal Father gave us His Son through her [the Virgin Mary], so too does He give Him to us through His priests. Even as all the graces that come forth to us from the Heart of God pass through the hands of Mary, so too are they given us by the ministry of priests. This in such wise that, just as Mary is the treasurer of the Most Holy Trinity, priests too bear this title.
The Sacrifice of Christ
Finally, it is through her that Jesus was offered to His Father at the first and last moment of His life, when she received Him in her sacred womb, and when she accompanied Him to the sacrifice that He made of Himself on the cross; and it is by means of priests that He is immolated daily upon our altars.
Mother of the Sovereign Priest
This is why priests, being bound by so intimate an alliance and so marvelous a conformity to the Mother of the Sovereign Priest, have very particular obligations to love her, to honour her, and to clothe themselves in her virtues, in her spirit, and in her dispositions. Humble yourselves that you should find yourselves so far removed from this. Enter into the desire to tend thereto with all your heart. Offer yourselves to her, and pray her to help you mightily.

Mary is the Mother of Our Peace

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In reading and meditating the Holy Father's homily for January 1st, I was moved to discover that he spoke so eloquently and so simply of Our Lady's peace. This was one of themes that I addressed in my Advent Letter to our Oblates. For those of you who may have missed it, here again is the relevant section.

Pax: Mary

There was never moment when the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary was not established in peace. Her Immaculate Heart is a haven of peace for poor sinners, a refuge from the attacks of the enemy who seeks to destroy all peace in our souls and on the face of the earth. In the Vespers hymn for feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Ave Maris Stella, we ask Our Blessed Lady to establish us in peace: funda nos in pace. The closer we are to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the closer we are to peace, that is, the absence of sin.

Sin Destroys Peace

Sin is what disturbs true peace; sin is what destroys peace. If you would have peace, avoid sin, and should you fall into sin, confess it without delay, so that peace may be restored to your soul. Mary, being sinless from the first instant of her conception, is, of all creatures, the most peaceful. She is utterly tranquil and perfectly serene.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady's Heart

God created the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be the single most peaceful place in the universe. Mary is the living temple prepared by God for God; her Heart is a sanctuary untouched by the violence and wickedness of a world seduced by Satan. Even when, as a mother full of pity for her wayward children, Mary presses sinners to her Heart, nothing of sin's contagion taints her. The Immaculate is not soiled by the filth of her fallen children, even as she stoops to lift us out of the mire of our miseries.

If you would be apt for the advent of the Lord, seek peace where it is to be found: in the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God. The closer you are to Mary, the more will you experience a peace that the world cannot give. Mary will teach you to discern the things that make for peace and avoid those that threaten to destroy it.

The peace of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not diminished by suffering; it flourishes in the midst of thorns. The old Benedictine motif depicting the word PAX surrounded by a crown of thorns -- pax inter spinas -- is a kind of monogram of the Heart of the Mother of God. Did she not appear at Fatima with her Immaculate Heart surrounded by thorns?

The inviolable peace of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was purchased at a great price, that is, with the Precious Blood of her Son, the immolated Lamb. If, in making our way to the sanctuary of the maternal Heart of Mary, we must pass through the thorns that encircle it, it is so that we might be associated with the redeeming Passion of her Son, and so that a few drops of our blood might be mingled with the torrent of that flood so copiously from His head, His hands, His feet, and His side.

The Rosary

Those of you who have come to love the rosary know that it produces peace in the soul of one who perseveres in praying it. The rosary leads one directly into the refuge of Mary's sinless heart, into a sanctuary of peace that cannot be threatened, troubled, or assailed by powers visible or invisible. Peace, being the absence of sin, is rightly in the giving of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. If you pray her rosary, she will give you her peace.

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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