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A New Dogma?

A New Dogma?

“We are convinced that the Father awaits His Church to specifically and dogmatically honor Her coredemptive role with Jesus, for which He will respond with a historic new outpouring of His Holy Spirit.. Our Lord gave Peter the keys of the kingdom. We ask you, dear Holy Father, to use them now, in these dramatic times, and with your powerful word, in the fullness of your office as Successor of Peter, proclaim the great role that the Virgin Mary played in God’s plan of Redemption. Surely, it will release great graces for today!”

A number of Cardinals and Bishops have writen an Open Letter to our Holy Father, Pope Francis; in it, they ask him to consider formally pronouncing on the role of the Mother of God in the plan of salvation for humanity. The full text of the Letter is given below –

 

OPEN LETTER TO POPE FRANCIS FOR MARY

August 22, 2019  |  Queenship of Mary

Dear Holy Father:

As Catholic Christians, we write this letter to you out of concern for the peoples of the world. There is so much suffering. We see more coming. The world is out of balance politically, economically, morally, ecologically, and on the edge of world catastrophe. We support your heroic call for political social action, for dialogue between nations, cultures, and religions.

But, as you know, this will not be enough. Behind all these external events, a spiritual battle is taking place, more than ever, between good and evil, light and darkness, in the hearts of humanity. Here, the real battle must be fought. Humanity is in need of great conversion, and of help from the Lord, from his angels, and from his Mother.

As Christians, we believe that on the Cross, Jesus Christ, our divine Redeemer, has gained full victory over Satan. We also believe that in a special way, the Lord at Golgotha entrusted his beloved people to Mary, the Spiritual Mother of all humanity. As the “Woman clothed with the Sun,” clothed with the redeeming power of her Son, she stands in battle with the dragon, now more than ever before.

We need her, but she also needs us. If we honor Our Lady in the full greatness that our Lord has granted her, then she can fully exercise her maternal mediation on our behalf, and as at Cana, can intercede with her Son to do miracles in our times.

In the last two thousand years, the Church has recognized, in four dogmas, the special privileges the Father has granted Mary as the Mother of his divine Son. Yet, never has the Church solemnly recognized her human but crucial role in God’s plan of salvation, as the New Eve next to the New Adam, as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity. We are convinced that the Father awaits his Church to specifically and dogmatically honor her coredemptive role with Jesus, for which he will respond with a historic new outpouring of his Holy Spirit.

As you know, many saints of our time, including St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Maximilian Kolbe, together with over 8 million faithful, and more than 800 bishops and cardinals, have already petitioned the Holy See for this cause, since Cardinal Mercier began this movement in 1915. With our humble voices, we join them now, at this critical moment of human history.

Our Lord gave Peter the keys of the kingdom. We ask you, dear Holy Father, to use them now, in these dramatic times, and with your powerful word, in the fullness of your office as Successor of Peter, proclaim the great role that the Virgin Mary played in God’s plan of Redemption. Surely, it will release great graces for today!

In love, loyalty, and respect,

 

Refuge of Sinners

Refuge of Sinners

“O most holy and pure virgin! O my Mother! You who are the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the advocate and refuge of sinners!”

– Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Luigi Crosio’s painting which is featured here is now known as the image of the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt. Originally, however, it was known by the title given to it by the painter himself – ‘Refuge Of Sinners’.

This is an ancient and very beautiful title for the Mother of God and it springs from those words of the Lord as He was dying upon the Cross – “Woman, behold thy son; son, behold thy Mother”. Representing all of humanity, Saint John was the son of that moment. Now if Mary is truly the Mother of all, that means all – both the good and the bad, the holy and the sinful; in other words, every single one of us, without exception. This is an important thing to think about.

Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminds us that Christ died for us “while we were still sinners” (cf.Rom. 5) – He did not wait for us to become holy and pure. Rather, it is through His sacrifice that we now have the potential to become holy, as He is holy. And as the Lord Himself said, He came not for the virtuous but “to call sinners to repentance” (cf. Luke 5). Indeed, the Lord spoke a number of times about the joy in Heaven over one repentant sinner. Considering the Lord’s attitude towards sinners, it should come as no suprise that the Mother of the Lord desires exactly what Her Son desires – the repentance of sinners, their return to the Lord. And so She truly is their – our – refuge.

Sometimes, we can feel overwhelmed by our sins and our sinfulness; even after a good Confession, we retain our concupiscence – the tendency toward sin. This is part of the reason why we sin again even after Confession. We can feel swamped by our particular sins, our returning again and again to sin, the type of sin – and all of this can lead to despair, the sense that we will never get it right, we will never really progress in the spiritual life, that we will never reach perfection.

In those moments, Mary comes to us as the Refuge of Sinners – consoling, reviving, encouraging, and obtaining for us all the graces we need, from the Sacred Heart of Her Son. There, in Her Immaculate Heart, we can stop and rest for a moment along the journey of life, finding there all we need to go just a few steps further along the path, ever closer to the Lord. When we are sheltered by the Blessed Virgin, we are safe; She says again to Her Son, this time on our behalf – “they have no wine”. And He responds to Her maternal pleading now, as He did in Cana, performing miracles of grace and mercy, granting us – through Her motherly intercession – all that we need.

When you feel downtrodden by your human failings and frailty, your sinfulness, your weakness, go immediately to the Blessed Virgin, for She truly is your – our – refuge. Rest there in Her presence and ask Her help. She will not fail us.

 

In Prayer With Mary

In Prayer With Mary

“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary.. is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life..”

– St John Paul II, ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’

There is something exquisitely beautiful about giving to the Blessed Virgin Mary a little time each evening dedicated to prayer in Her honour – and in particular, the prayer of the holy Rosary.

In these moments, there is a profound sense of internal peace, for She is the Queen of Peace. The cares and worries of the day are put to the side for just a little while, so that the mind and the will can focus on what is truly important – prayer, that moment of deep connection between the human and the divine, between the creature and the Creator.

Also in these moments, there is the joyful consolation of knowing that those prayers are rising to Heaven and are being heard; how and when God responds is a matter for Him alone, and that requires trust on the part of the one who prays, but the very practice of prayer encourages this sense of deep trust and is itself a sign that this trust already exits to some degree. Further, there is conviction that the Blessed Virgin is also hearing those prayers and, in Heaven, is presenting them to the Lord.

The construction of the Rosary establishes the space and peace necessary to do all this – the long familiarity of the vocal prayers allows the wandering mind to focus on something that is both known and loved, while the deepest parts of the person are then given over to the ‘soul’ of the Rosary – the meditation upon the Mysteries.

Now, you might imagine that with only twenty Mysteries upon which to meditate, the potential for real prayerful meditation is fairly limited. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Those Mysteries contain the fullness of the Gospel itself and so there is an abundance of material from which to draw profitably. This well is deep and it’s waters will never run dry; those waters are cool and constantly refreshing, reviving the drooping spirit.

At the affective level, there is joy in knowing that by praying the Rosary, the soul is offering to the Mother of God that very prayer which She constantly asks us to pray, the same prayer the Church repeatedly and consistently recommends to us, the one so beloved of the Saints, as Pope John Paul reminded us. And to pray it well, we need neither great intelligence nor a broad theological outlook, for it is the prayer of the simple man and woman. All we need is the desire to pray it well – the Blessed Virgin will then take care of the rest, so long as we have confidence in Her and leave it all in Her hands. She will obtain for us a measure of the graces which this beautiful prayer contains within itself.

All of this may sound delightful to read, but the real delight comes in experiencing what is described here so poorly; as they say, prayer brings it’s own rewards. It is in the act of praying that it really comes to life, like a little spark winnowed until it is a blazing fire.

Try it. Experience it for yourself.

 

A Eucharistic Rosary

A Eucharistic Rosary

“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.”

–  ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’, St John Paul II, 2002

The Church tells us that the Eucharist is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life’ (cf. Lumen Gentium, para.11) and it is here, before the Blessed Sacrament, that we so often pray, recommending to the Lord all those intentions which occupy our hearts. One of the prayers we commonly offer to the Lord is the recitation of the holy Rosary, the prayer so beloved of the Church and so greatly recommended to us by her – and also by the Mother of God, who constantly asks us to pray Her Rosary.

I wondered, then, if it might be possible to develop a set of Rosary meditations which take the Eucharist as their overall theme, looking at various aspects of this Sacrament of the Lord’s abiding presence amongst, us as we contemplate each of the Mysteries. I hope the following Meditations might be useful to you.

The First Joyful Mystery – the Annunciation

At the Incarnation, the Blessed Virgin consented to become the Mother of God; in this moment, ‘the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us’. In each Holy Communion, it is the very same Lord we receive, present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of His Mother, for the grace of a true Faith – a Faith which enables us to to submit ourseles to His will for us, as Mary did.

The Second Joyful Mystery – the Visitation

When Mary visited Elizabeth, She bore the Christ Child within Her womb; Elizabeth perceived His divine presence and praised Him, giving glory to God. Mary, too, offered praise to God in the prayer of Her Magnificat.

At the end of each Mass we take part in, we are sent out to the world bearing Christ within us in the Eucharist; may those around us perceive His presence in our lives.

The Third Joyful Mystery – the Birth of Jesus

The Child lying in the manger drew others to Him, that they might worship Him, while Angels praised Him. In a similar way, He draws us to the new Manger of the Tabernacle, where we come before Him – like the Shepherds – in silent adoration.

As we kneel silently before the Eucharistic Lord, let us ask Him to fill us with His joy and His peace, those gifts which He alone can bestow and which surpass all human understanding.

The Fourth Joyful Mystery – the Presentation in the Temple

Fulfiling the requirements of the Law, the Blessed Virgin brought Her Child to the Temple – there, recognising the Child, Simeon gave thanks for seeing the One who brings salvation to His people.

 Let us always take care to recognise the Divine Guest coming to us in each Holy Communion, and never fail to prepare our souls to receive Him, nor to give thanks for His visit to us in the Eucharist.

The Fifth Joyful Mystery – the Finding of Jesus in the Temple

 The Heart of the Blessed Virgin was filled with great joy at finding Her Son in the Temple, where He was sitting amongst the scholars and teaching them, such that they were amazed at His wisdom.

May we never fail to give thanks for the Church, where we – like Mary – will always find Jesus in the Eucharist. Kneeling at His feet, let us ask Him to teach us through the authentic voice of the Church, His Mystical Body on earth.

 

The First Sorrowful Mystery – the Agony in the Garden

How often do we, like the Disciples that Maundy Thursday, promise the Lord much, yet deliver little; in numerous little ways, we abandon Him in His agony and leave Him alone to suffer on our behalf.

Let us ask the Lord to grant us faithfulness in remaining close to Him always; and, when our need is great, to turn immediately to Him in prayer, following His own example in that Garden.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery – the Scourging at the Pillar

Tied to that pillar, the Lord silently and willingly endured the scourging of His Body. Today, many tear at the Body of Christ which is the Church. Many others tear at His Eucharistic Body through sacrilege and indifference.

Let us offer the sufferings of the Church in union with those of the Passion, and ask the Lord for mercy for us and for the whole world. And in each Holy Communion, let us make reparation for so much indifference.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery – the Crowning with Thorns

Abused, reviled, crowned now with thorns. And yet He remains silent, saying nothing to defend Himself. Similarly, in the Eucharist, He maintains that silence even now. Meek and humble, His Presence is enough.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to let go of our pride and our ego, our sense of ‘self above all’, and our desire to defend our rights, our reputation, as we see them. Let us ask Him for the grace of interior silence.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus Carries His Cross

The price of our sins bearing down upon Him, three times He falls under the weight of the Cross whilst carrying it to Golgotha. Looking up, He sees the face of His Mother, Her presence nearby strengthening Him.

Before the Tabernacle, let us think of our own crosses of whatever sort in life; and in those moments in His Eucharistic Presence, let us ask Him for His own strength, and the help of His Mother.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery – the Crucifixion

Each Holy Mass is a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Golgotha, of the Death of the Lord upon the Cross. Each Holy Communion is His own Body, broken for us, His own Blood, poured out for us.

As we receive Him in Holy Communion, let us remember that had we been the only person ever created, still He would have undergone His Passion for love of us; let us thank Him for this infinite love for each one of us.

 

The First Glorious Mystery – the Resurrection

We are an Easter people. Jesus is risen from the dead. His Sacred Heart beats once again, a new and eternal heartbeat which will never end. He is the Victor, He has conquered both sin and death.

In the Eucharist, His Heart beats constantly for love of us, and receiving Him in Holy Communion, His divine grace helps us to be victorious in the great battles of life until we are with Him forever in Heaven.

The Second Glorious Mystery – the Ascension

His earthly mission complete, the Lord ascends to the Father. Consider the sense of loss of the Apostles in that moment, contemplating their lives without Him now that He is gone from them.

Like the Apostles on that day, we have the promise of the Lord that ‘I will be with you always, until the end of time’. And here, in the Tabernacle of every Catholic Church, He keeps that promise.

The Third Glorious Mystery – the Descent of the Holy Spirit

As He promised, the Lord sent the Holy Spirit down upon the Apostles, gathered in the Cenacle with His Mother, all united in constant prayer. The Holy Spirit transformed them and the Church was born that day.

Let us thank the Lord for the gift of His Church, and for being part of her. It is through the Church and her Priests that we have the Blessed Sacrament; let us pray for them and give thanks for them.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery – the Assumption of Mary, Body and Soul, Into Heaven

No unpure thing can enter Heaven. Mary, ever Immaculate, was assumed there immediately at the completion of Her earthly life, both body and soul, to the joy of all the Angels and Saints.

In each Holy Communion, we are gradually made ever more ready to enter Heaven and to spend eternity there, in the Presence of the Lamb, in the new and eternal Jerusalem, with Mary and the entire heavenly court.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery – the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven

In life and now in eternity, the Blessed Virgin looks upon the Face of Her Son in adoration, praising Him endlessly and praying for Her children still on earth, and for the Church, whose Queen She is.

Let us thank the Lord for the great grace to be able to spend moments in His Eucharistic Presence, adoring Him there. These moments are a foretaste of Heaven itself, and a infinite treasure house of great grace and mercy.

Queen of Angels

Queen of Angels

“Queen of Angels, pray for us”

– Litany of Loreto

Angels of the Old Testament

Many of the Books of the Old Testament speak at length about Angels.

Beginning with the appearance to Hagar in the Book of Genesis, Angels go on to make various appearances – for example, to Abraham on two occasions (on the second, calling himself ‘Oracle Of The Lord’).

The Archangel Raphael appears in the Book of Tobit, binding a demon on one occasion, as well as bringing healing. Only he is mentioned by name in the Old Testament. Angels are mentioned in Exodus, Numbers, Zechariah,  Judges and I and II Chronicles.

To put it plainly, Angels are very much a part of the story of God coming to us.

The Gospel Angels

The New Testament also mentions Angels quite frequently. As in the Old Testament, their function is to direct us, to call us back to the path of God, and to communicate the will of God to us.

The Gospel of Saint Luke opens with the story of the Angel of the Lord appearing to Zechariah and announcing to him the impending birth of his son, Saint John the Baptist. The story then moves to Nazareth and the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, requesting Her consent to conceive and bear the Son of God.

Angels appear in the story again at the Birth of Jesus, telling the good news to the shepherds, who then travel to see the Child and relate to Mary and Joseph what they have experienced – “and Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in Her Heart” (Lk.2:29).

And so from the very first moments of our salvation history, Angels have been present and have taken an active role as that story of salvation is played out.

The Angels of Fatima

In our own age, Angels have again been active and present, particularly at the appearances at Fatima.

In 1916, the year before the children saw the Blessed Virgin, they were visited on three occasions by an Angel; he taught them how to pray – in words (giving them specific prayers) and in attitude (showing them the reverence that prayer demands). These Angelic visits were a precursor for the visits of the Mother of God the following summer.

When the Holy Father Pope John Paul II released the text of the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima in 2000, this text revelead to us that Angels figured prominently in the story once again.

In writing of what she experienced that day, Sister Lucia wrote –

“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’.”

On this occasion, the Angel seems to be demanding justice for the sins against God, calling us to do penance for those sins. The description of the Angel carrying a ‘flaming sword’ makes us wonder if this might be the great Saint Michael, although the Angel here is not named.

The Church and Angels

This role of the Angel in the vision is also reminiscent of something written by Pope Benedict XVI on the feast of the three Archangels in 2007 –

“But what is an Angel? Sacred Scripture and the Church’s tradition enable us to discern two aspects. On the one hand, the Angel is a creature who stands before God, oriented to God with his whole being. All three names of the Archangels end with the word “El”, which means “God”. God is inscribed in their names, in their nature. Their true nature is existing in his sight and for him. In this very way the second aspect that characterizes Angels is also explained: they are God’s messengers. They bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth. Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man. Indeed, God is closer to each one of us than we ourselves are. The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried. They bring him back to himself, touching him on God’s behalf.”

(On the subject of giving names to Angels, it should be noted that the Church is not at all in favour of this, with the exception of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, whose names are found in Scripture. The Holy See’s Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2001) has this to say –

The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture”.

At a Council in Rome in 745, Pope Zachary forbade the naming of Angels; a similar condemnation was made at the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 789.)

Saints and Angels

Not surprisingly, Angels figure prominently in the lives of a great many of the Saints, and have done so throughout the course of the centuries.

There are many such examples to illustrate this point, but for the purpose of this piece I will mention only one – the first Saint of the Third Millenium, Saint Faustina Kowalska, through whom we were given the Divine Mercy devotion.

In her spiritual Diary, ‘Divine Mercy In My Soul’, Faustina writes on many occasions of her experience of Angels, as on this occasion –

“Then I saw one of the seven Spirits near me, radiant as at other times, under a form of light. I constantly saw him beside me when I was riding on the train. I saw an Angel on every Church we passed, but surrounded by a light which was paler than that of the Spirit who was accompanying me on the journey, and each of these Spirits who were guarding the Churches bowed his head to the Spirit who was near me.. I thank God for His goodness, that He gives us Angels as companions.” (Diary, para.630)

Perhaps the most singular mention of Angels in the Diary of St Faustina is the instance where she records the occasion on which she was given the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This took place on Friday 13th September 1935 –

“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw an Angel, the executor of Divine wrath. He was clothed in a dazzling robe, his face gloriously bright, a cloud beneath his feet. From the cloud, bolts of thunder and flashes of lightning were springing into his hands; and from his hand they were going forth, and only then were they striking the earth. When I saw this sign of divine wrath which was about to strike the earth.. I began to implore the Angel to hold off.. and the world would do penance. But my plea was a mere nothing in the face of the divine anger.. At that very moment, I felt in my soul the power of Jesus’ grace, which dwells in my soul.. I found myself pleading with God for the world, with words heard interiorly. As I was praying in this manner, I saw the Angel’s helplessness; he could not carry out the just punishment which was rightly due for sins. Never before had I prayed with such inner power as I did then. The words with which I entreated God are these – ‘Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world’.” (Diary, para.474-475)

 Fatima and Divine Mercy

It is impossible to read this entry above from the Diary of Saint Faustina and not be struck by the similarity to the words of Sister Lucia about the Angel in the third part of the Secret of Fatima; both Angels are calling down the just wrath of the Almighty, in punishment for the sins of humanity – and on both occasions, the means are given to allow us to plead for mercy. We are given the Message of Fatima, and the Message of Divine Mercy.

We are reminded of the necessity of living a Sacrament life as part of the Church; of praying always, especially the prayer of the Rosary and of the Divine Mercy Chaplet; and of the need to make reparation to God for our sins and those of the whole world.

Perhaps it would not be putting too much emphasis on it to say that thesese two devotions – Fatima and Divine Mercy – are the pre-eminent devotions of our day, given to us in this age for a very good reason.

The Fallen Angels

Moving now to the other end of Scripture, we read in the Book of Revelation –

“Then war broke out in Heaven; Michael and his Angels batlted against the Dragon. The Dragon and it’s Angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in Heaven. The huge Dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and it’s Angels were thrown down with it.” (Rev.12:7-9)

We should be clear that as much as the Angels of the Lord are always present in our story of Salvation, so too are the Angels of the Evil One. Whilst the former have the goal of getting us safely to Heaven, the latter waste no time in doing all in their power to drag us to Hell. And their power is not inconsiderable – they are, after all, Angelic beings with all the intelligence given them by God. Now, of course, they are demonic in their intent.

It is a strange and curious thing that in these times, there seems to be a greater level of belief in Angels, even amongst those who profess no religious faith – but without that solid grounding, there is a great risk of deviation and of being deceived; not all Angels are what they seem to be.

It is also true that there are those who worship the Deceiver, who call upon his Angels – the Demons – and are subject to them and to their influence. The Deceiver is also called ‘the Father of Lies’ – and not without good reason. Whilst he would have us worship him as God, he is not God; there is only one God. Pride was always his downfall and always will be.

It is said that the Lord revealed something of His plans for the salvation of humanity to the Angels, and notably the Mystery of the Incarnation – and it was at this moment that Lucifer declared ‘I will not serve’. He, the great Angel, would not submit to God Made Man.

Not surprisingly, neither would be honour or respect the Woman who would become the Mother of the Lord.

It is easy, then, to see why the Devil bears such a particular hatred toward the Blessed Virgin – She, a ‘mere’ Woman and human being, is far greater that he could ever be.

Queen of the Angels

For a very long time, the Church has saluted the Blessed Virgin as ‘Queen’, by Her prerogative as Mother of the Lord, He Who is the King of kings.

In October 1954, Pope Pius XII wrote a beautiful Encyclical entitled ‘Ad Caeli Reginam’ (‘To The Queen Of Heaven’) ‘on proclaiming the Queenship of Mary’. In this, he wrote –

“It is Our pleasure to recall these things in the present encyclical letter, that We may renew the praises of Our heavenly Mother, and enkindle a more fervent devotion towards Her, to the spiritual benefit of all mankind.

From early times Christians have believed, and not without reason, that She of whom was born the Son of the Most High received privileges of grace above all other beings created by God. He ‘will reign in the house of Jacob forever,’ ‘the Prince of Peace,’ the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’. And when Christians reflected upon the intimate connection that obtains between a mother and a son, they readily acknowledged the supreme royal dignity of the Mother of God.

Hence it is not surprising that the early writers of the Church called Mary ‘the Mother of the King’ and ‘the Mother of the Lord’, basing their stand on the words of St. Gabriel the Archangel, who foretold that the Son of Mary would reign forever, and on the words of Elizabeth who greeted Her with reverence and called Her ‘the Mother of my Lord’. Thereby they clearly signified that She derived a certain eminence and exalted station from the royal dignity of Her Son.

So it is that St. Ephrem, burning with poetic inspiration, represents Her as speaking in this way: ‘Let Heaven sustain me in its embrace, because I am honored above it. For heaven was not Thy mother, but Thou hast made it Thy throne. How much more honorable and venerable than the throne of a king is her mother’. And in another place he thus prays to Her: ‘. . . Majestic and Heavenly Maid, Lady, Queen, protect and keep me under your wing lest Satan the sower of destruction glory over me, lest my wicked foe be victorious against me’.” (‘Ad Caeli Reginam’, parae.7-10)

Those Angels who remained faithful to the Most High salute Mary now and always as their Queen, and the Church upon earth echoes their praise of Her.

 

The Thorns in Her Heart

The Thorns in Her Heart

“Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment; and there is no-one to make an act of reparation to remove them”

– Our Lord to Sister Lucia of Fatima

One of the most painful things a child can hear is for a loving parent to express disappointment; to feel we have in some way let down the one who loves us, and whom we love in return, is a heavy burden upon the heart. It is far worse than a parent simply being angry with us – anger usually passes quickly, once the emotions cool down and rational thought returns. Disappointment, however, tends to linger – it is not the result of a single moment, but a realisation whose cut ever deepens as the moments pass. It is a wound upon not one heart, but two.

How much worse, then, when the one complaining to us is none other than the Lord – and the Heart to which He refers, the wounded Heart, is that of His own Mother. I can only begin to imagine how painful it must have been for Sister Lucia to listen to this pitiful complaint from the Lord. Sister Lucia was deeply devoted to the Lord and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the events at Fatima in 1917 instilling within her a love of that Immaculate Heart which would remain with her in every moment of her earthly life.

Of course, the words of the Lord regarding this wounding of the Heart of His Mother are really addressed to every single one of us – to those of us who profess to love Him and the Blessed Virgin; to those of us who have no sense of love towards Them; to those of us who – directly or indirectly, deliberately or without thinking, offend Them in whatever way by our sins.

Every sin is a thorn piercing the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Why? Because She knows full well the price Her Son paid for our ransom from those sins. It cost Him everything, giving His life for us upon the Cross; and She stood there beside that Cross and watched Him die for us. As surely as His Sacred Heart was pierced by the lance in the order of nature, so was Her Immaculate Heart pierced by the sword of sorrow in the order of grace, such was Her mystical union to His Passion and Death.

Coming to Lucia in 1925, the Blessed Virgin complained of the offences committed against Her Immaculate Heart –

“Look, My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude.”

Returning four years later, She would say to Lucia –

“There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I have come to ask reparation; sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”

How then, are we to make reparation to this motherly and Immaculate Heart, so outraged by the sins of humanity?

The full message of Fatima gives us the answer.

Firstly, we need to stop offending God, recognising that our sins gravely offend His holiness. We need to improve the way we live, so that our lives reflect our belief in God and the values of the Gospel. Our Blessed Lady will help us in this, if we ask her assistance.

Secondly, we need to live a sacramental life – making frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion as often (and as worthily) as possible.

Thirdly, we need to pray as much (and as well) as possible. Prayer is the key that unlocks the Heart of God, the bridge that connects the human to the Divine. Above all, pray the Rosary every single day – the prayer of the Rosary is unbelievably powerful; this is why the Mother of God constantly asks us for it’s prayerful recitation.

Fourthly, we need to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – follow the example of Saint Francisco, who spent hours before the Tabernacle, praying hard for souls. In Eucharistic Adoration, the Lord grants us innumerable graces – for us and for others.

Fifthly, we need to expressly make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – sins comitted against Her are the cause of the loss of a great many souls. We also need to encourage others, by our example, to come to Her, to know her better and to love Her with the pure love of little children. She has already given us the particular way She recommends in order to do this – the devotion of the Five First Saturdays. Undertake this devotion over and over again.

Sixthly, we need to embrace our particular lives, and the daily duty this demands, as a path to holiness; it is where we are, that we will find the way to Heaven, for here the Lord has prepared for us all the graces we need. Offer everything as a sacrifice in reparation for sins and to beg God’s mercy and grace for souls, and especially for poor sinners – that is, every single one of us.

In doing all of this, day after day, in humility and with great love, may the Lord bless us and may His Mother grant us the sure refuge of Her Immaculate Heart in life and at the moment of death.