As we now pray the Angelus and remember the Annunciation of the Lord, our eyes too turn spiritually towards the hill of Tepeyac, to the place where the Mother of God, under the title of “the Ever-Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe” has been fervently honoured for centuries as a sign of reconciliation and of God’s infinite goodness towards the world.
True devotion to the Virgin Mary always takes us to Jesus, and “consists neither in sterile nor transitory feelings, nor in an empty credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to recognise the excellence of the Mother of God, and we are moved to filial love towards our Mother and to the imitation of her virtues” (Lumen Gentium, 67).
To love her means being committed to listening to her Son, to venerate the Guadalupana means living in accordance with the words of the blessed fruit of her womb.
I place once again this country, all Latin America and the Caribbean before the gentle gaze of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I entrust all their sons and daughters to the Star of both the original and the new evangelisation; she has inspired with her maternal love their Christian history, has given particular expression to their national achievements, to their communal and social initiatives, to family life, to personal devotion and to the Continental Mission which is now taking place across these noble lands.
In times of trial and sorrow she was invoked by many martyrs who, in crying out “Long live Christ the King and Mary of Guadalupe” bore unyielding witness of fidelity to the Gospel and devotion to the Church. I now ask that her presence in this nation may continue to serve as a summons to defence and respect for human life. May it promote fraternity, setting aside futile acts of revenge and banishing all divisive hatred. May Holy Mary of Guadalupe bless us and obtain for us the abundant graces that, through her intercession, we request from heaven.
Pope Benedict XVI
Angelus reflection at Bicentennial Park, Leon, Mexico
March 25, 2012.
The 13th of October, 1917
We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way. Masses of people thronged the roads The rain fell in torrents. My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.
“What do you want of me?”
I want to tell you that chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.
“I have many things to ask you: to cure some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things…”
Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask for forgiveness for their sins.
Looking very sad, Our Lady said:
Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.
Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.
After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared and blessed the world in the same manner as St Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.
Sister Mary Lucia of the Immaculate Heart*
*Lucia was one of the original three seers who witnessed the events and miracles at Fatima in 1917. She later entered religious life. This section from her memoirs accounts the events of the “Miracle of the Sun”.
The Message of Fatima is that of the Gospel which emphasizes the following points:
- permanent conversion
- prayer, namely the Rosary
- the sense of collective responsibility, and the practice of reparation.
Learn more here.
Obedience is the one and the only way of wisdom and prudence for us to offer glory to God. If there were another, Christ would certainly have shown it to us by word and example. Scripture, however, summed up his enter life at Nazareth in the words: He was subject to them; Scripture set obedience as the theme for the rest of his life, repeatedly declaring that he came into the world to do his Father’s will.
Let us love our loving Father with all our hearts. Let our obedience increase that love, above all when it requires us to surrender our own will. Jesus Christ crucified is our sublime guide toward growth in God’s love.
We will learn this lesson more quickly through the Immaculate Virgin, whom God has made the dispenser of his mercy. It is beyond all doubt that Mary’s will represents to us the will of God himself. By dedicating ourselves to her we become in her hands instruments of God’s mercy even as she was such an instrument in God’s hands. We should let ourselves be guided and led by Mary and rest quiet and secure in her hands. She will watch out for us, provide for us, answer our needs of body and spirit; she will dissolve all our difficulties and worries.
-St Maximilian Kolbe-
From his letters, Aug 14, Office of Readings
We need reminders.
Because we’re forgetful.
We need reminders of what’s true.
We need reminders that are unmistakeable.
We need reminding that God wants us… that God loves us.
God wants to be in relationship with us. He wants that to be part of our here and now. But we have to want it too. We have to choose to return this Great Love of God.
It’s a plan that means we can be in relationship now. And for eternity.
Today’s feast of the Assumption helps to remind us of this Great Love — for eternity.
The Father sent his Son Jesus to seal the deal, to keep to the promise, that we are destined for glory in heaven. That means one day, by the unfathomable mercy of God, we may live body and soul in heaven, in union with the God of Love. That’s awesome, right?
It is an awesome — as in, full of awe — goal for our lives. It’s a real inspiration for being in relationship with God now, right? Like, why wait?
But it is a long wait (in our minds) to finally get there to heaven.
And even if we are longing for heaven, there are a few things we have to face before we get there.
That’s why we need reminders about how awesome this Great Love of God really is.
We still have to face death, for corruption of the body is one of leftover effects from Original Sin. And even though Jesus rescued us from Eternal death — death is no longer a dead end, but a threshold to the afterlife for our souls — it does not diminish this promise of union with God in our totality, body and soul.
We still have to face judgment. Our love still has to be weighed and measured, face to face by the lover of our souls, Jesus.
We still have to wait for the end of the world to have that total, remarkable re-union of body and soul with Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
That’s a lot of waiting.
In the meantime, we can begin to have this relationship with God now, thanks to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.
And today, we have a gracious reminder — a reminder full of grace — about the future glory of heaven.
One Great Woman has already said yes to this Great Love: Mary, the Immaculate Conception.
This is why the Divine Praises of the Church mention Mary’s Glorious Assumption.
Since Mary’s humanity was perfectly blessed, perfectly pure — sinless — her response to the Father’s Great Love was perfect and immediate. Her relationship with God was so perfect that she responded to the Father as an obedient Daughter, a faith-filled Mother to the Son, and an incarnate Spouse to the Holy Spirit.
Mary’s entire life was a complete and total yes — a perfect choice — to the Great Love.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
All choices have consequences, right?
When the Father created Mary, He chose to make the future mother of his Son a sinless, perfect human person — the zenith of humanity. Since Mary knew no sin, the future consequence of this was that her body did not undergo corruption and death. Jesus brought Mary directly to heaven at the end of her life.
Mary’s obedient and Immaculate Heart always chooses the Good and the Beautiful. So her personal judgment was always in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Father’s will. In a way, her final judgment at the end of her life by God, was the same as when she was first created: she is perfect and without sin and, consequentially, bound for eternal glory.
God’s creation and redemption of Mary brought the consequence, the result, of the Assumption. Mary, taken into glory — body and soul — is “a gracious reminder”of that promise of future union with Christ — our own relationship — with God, who desired us from the very beginning.
Christ has risen from the dead, we need no further assurance of our faith. Mary assumed into heaven serves rather as a gracious reminder to the Church that our Lord wishes all whom the Father has given Him to be raised with Him. In Mary taken to glory, to union with Christ, the Church sees herself answering the invitation of the heavenly Bridegroom.
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Behold Your Mother” (1973)
Just as Jesus’ Risen Body, is a glorified body in heaven, one day, we too, will have glorified bodies in heaven after the Final Judgment. (See CCC, 1060.)
Mary is our gracious reminder that all Jesus has said and done is true.
Also on the Assumption:
From my archives: My favorite reading and podcasts about the Assumption.
This episode is dedicated to mothers — the physical and spiritual mothers in all of us. We celebrate the coming of Mother’s Day by first exploring the idea of Mary as a mother to us all. Then, in our conversation segment, I welcome author and editor of Catholic Digest, Danielle Bean — one of my favorite people — who discusses her new book and study: Momnipotent! The not-so perfect guide to Catholic Motherhood. This great new book is for Moms who are busy raising families.
As we celebrate the 50 days of Eastertide, I’m so happy to bring this new episode of Among Women to you featuring my interview with my dynamic friend, TJ, who shares her reversion to the faith and the powerful transformation that God brought about in her life… from faith in God as a young child and teen, to finding her faith slipping away when life’s sorrows mounted. Years later, an unplanned pregnancy brought her to her knees, and something powerful happened when TJ cried out to God.
I’m so glad that this episode finally got uploaded. It was pre-empted last Thursday by my pre-travel check-list that revealed my foible of a having a an expired passport. Yikes! I was flying to Canada the next day to give a retreat. The passport renewal process took all day and then I was gone for three days on retreat. On Monday I needed to drive to my parents’ home out of state and that brings us to today…
So this podcast has a free drawing for my book (in honor of St John Paul’s canonization) you’ll want to take advantage of — and its ending quite soon– tomorrow! And there’s some out of sync Easter greetings because I recorded this show last week. So I’m a bit behind the news curve, but what can you do? I’m glad that the Easter season is 50 days long!
I hope you’ll listen and be encouraged.
The long pontificate and life of St John Paul will have a lasting impact on the church until Jesus returns. Given his canonization today, I thought I’d share with you some of John Paul’s gifts to the church, and extraordinary accomplishments, that have held meaning for me through the years. He’s been an inspiration to me since I was 18, a college frosh when he was elected. I’m so grateful that in 1979 I was among the youth who greeted him in New York, as I chaperoned a trip to see him. (More on that below.) Decades later in Rome, I was, again, among the throng at a 2004 papal audience alongside my husband and daughter. Both experiences were unforgettable!
Today I woke up at 4am to watch the canonization. This, after giving a women’s retreat at Saint Benedict Parish in Halifax, NS, that highlighted our new Saint’s writings and teachings! But I could not miss it “live”. And as I sat there in my bed in my hotel room before I had to catch a plane home, all the fondness for this Saint flooded back to me. It’s not just who he was, but what he wrote and taught that has inspired me and helped to shape me as a Christian.
Here’s my Top Ten List of Inspirations from St John Paul II:
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church – This was a monumental achievement, as it was the first update to the Roman Catechism in over 400 years. From my archives: some commentary on catechism trivia.
- His Marian Devotion, especially through his Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, and his writings on Mary, including Redemptoris Mater and Rosarium Virginis Mariae. The latter gave us the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. I’ve been personally inspired by John Paul’s devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on his life.
- The feminine genius, as described in Mulieris Dignitatem and Letter to Women… and other related homilies and writings, such as Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). I truly believe these were the fruit of the Saint’s devotion to Mary, our Mother. These specific works also had a positive influence in my own life, and I tell that story in my book… which I’m giving away in a free drawing here.
- The Theology of the Body – a series of papal audiences and teaching given over several years on human love, sexuality, and anthropology. You can find classes in this area of study here. In the US, there is a Congress this summer.
- His Apostolic visits to 129 countries around the world — including 7 trips to the United States.
- The myriad of saints he canonized.
- Restoration of the Sistine Chapel.
- His books, outside of his magisterial teaching, that are now read in popular culture, especially Crossing the Threshold of Hope and Love and Responsibility.
- The Jubilee Year 2000 (and the years of preparation for the new millennium).
- World Youth Days (I never did get to attend one, but I was at a special gathering for youth in Madison Square Garden with JP2 in 1979.)Below is a favorite quote from WYD 2000.
It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.
Dear young people, in these noble undertakings you are not alone. With you there are your families, there are your communities, there are your priests and teachers, there are so many of you who in the depths of your hearts never weary of loving Christ and believing in him. In the struggle against sin you are not alone: so many like you are struggling and through the Lord’s grace are winning!
Thank you St John Paul for your holy influence in my life! St John Paul, pray for us!
Yesterday I was happy to share some studio time with two of my favorite media guys from the Archdiocese of Boston, Fr Chip Hines and Dom Bettinelli. The show opens with film critic, Fr Chip, giving some of his thoughts on the new movie “Son of God”. And then I was introduced.
We talked about the church’s positive message for women as presented in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious on the radio show “The Good Catholic Life”, produced in the studio at the Pastoral Center in Braintree.
It was a wide ranging discussion and I’m grateful for the questions that were asked.