Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Mother of My Lord

Today marks the feast day of The Visitation of The Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary is a stumbling block for many Christians who claim that we Catholics have elevated her with the title “Mother of God”. They claim that this tile for her is not found in the Bible. Now it may be true that the Bible does not dogmatically teach Mary as the Mother of God; however, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth refers to Mary as "the mother of my Lord" 1

When..hearing Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Luke 1:42-43

 Mary, Theotokos , the God -bearer and the one who gives birth to God.

For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Luke 1:44

Mary is not divine since God did create her, she did not exist before God; God made her a worthy vessel, immaculate from her conception, free from all stain of original sin,  a woman filled with complete heavenly grace. She gave birth to Our Savior Jesus Christ. 2

Mary, blessed among all women, filled Elizabeth with the spirit of gratitude by bringing the mother of her Lord to her.

As a Catholic, I am filled with gratitude to have the mother of my Lord come to me, to reach out to me, to always want to bring me closer to her Son.

“Dear children! Also today I call you to conversion and to holiness. God desires to give you joy and peace through prayer but you, little children, are still far away- attached to the earth and to earthly things. Therefore, I call you anew: open your heart and your sight towards God and the things of God- and joy and peace will come to reign in your hearts. Thank you for having responded to my call.” BVM, Medjugorje, May 25, 2012 Message to Marija

Friday, May 18, 2012

There is Much Work to Be Done

He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few day you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”  Acts 1: 3-4

…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 8

He asked them to bring a scattered people together in unity. His ministry was one of forgiveness and love, of binding wounds in the hearts and minds of people that had suffered much too long.

Jesus, the Divinity of God wanted then, and wants now to bring humanity to God. 1

And just as he told his apostles …“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” He asks you and me, to do the same today.

“…why do you stand here looking into the sky? 

This was the question posed to the apostles as they watched Jesus ascend into the heavens….

At that moment what else could they do?  Their eyes clinging to the swirling morning mist that had enveloped him…the risen one, the Hope.2

They looked into the sky because it had taken him away. Would that same sky bring him back?

Could they wait and watch that sky forever?

No, there was so much work to be done.

So, the apostles gather themselves together, along with Mary, into an upper room, and they prayed.

They prayed for wisdom and understanding.
They prayed for knowledge and courage.
They prayed for great reverence and awe of their mighty God.

And all these things for which they prayed were given to them by the Holy Spirit.

The novena in honor of the Holy Spirit is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the direction of Our Lord Himself when He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. It is still the only novena officially prescribed by the Church. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light and strength and love so sorely needed by every Christian.3

This novena begins today.

 Our Lady Queen of Peace gave this message to the visionaries in Medjugore on June 2, 1984 

"Dear children! Tonight I wish to tell
you during the days of this novena to pray for the outpouring of
the Holy Spirit on your families and on your parish. Pray, and
you shall not regret it. God will give you gifts by which you
will glorify Him till the end of your life on this earth. Thank
you for having responded to my call."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Daughter's Gift of Good Mothering~ Word on Fire

Thank you Kerry Trotter for this beautiful post.


The smallest offers of grace are often the most profound, as Kerry Trotter learned last
 weekend, when forgiveness, understanding and a daughter's love played out in one small but moving vignette. Read on for the little lessons of love we can appreciate in anticipation of Mother's Day.

Running the gauntlet of servers toting piping-hot dishes of eggplant parmesan and chicken cacciatore, a gaggle of starry-eyed date nighters, and some down-to-business foodies waiting for tables, I caught my toddler daughter as she lunged out of my arms. It was nearing her bedtime, our meals at the bustling Italian restaurant had not arrived, and she wanted out.
So we were heading out.
I buried my slight annoyance that our shrimp scampi appetizer had just arrived, and that my husband, visiting mother-in-law and I were sharing boisterous, interesting conversation. My daughter needed to run around outside and I drew the short straw. This is mothering, I thought, get used to it.
As we walked down the few steps to the front door, I wrangled my squirrely baby in one arm while holding the door open for two women heading inside. They in no way indicated that they were grateful I went out of my way to be polite, much less noticed how this door was mysteriously being opened for them.
I began to fume at their gall, and I felt a not-so-infrequent burst of hot headedness consume me. I snapped, but in a most passive-aggressive way.
“You’re welcome!” I barked, letting the contempt in my voice echo to a bassy thunder in the narrow staircase.
The second woman wheeled around with a quick, involuntary, “Oh! Thank you!” just as the door closed behind them. I put my antsy daughter down on the sidewalk to toddle around and tried to cool my temper. The nerve, I thought.
About a half a block from the restaurant, with my daughter giggling and sniffing some low hanging lilacs, I began to replay the “game tape” in my head. There was the diving daughter, there was my heroic show of politeness, there was the snub, there was my I-showed-them display of comeuppance. Then there was an image my mental video reel had caught but that I had failed to, a picture that would have prompted a referee to blow the whistle—a Zapruder-esque tableau I had missed as the seething burn of annoyance clouded my vision.
What I now recalled was that the woman with the late thank you was an attractive blonde, likely in her late-50s, trailing another woman, presumably her mother, who was elderly.
Very elderly. Like, difficulty walking, particularly up stairs, elderly.
The blonde had her eyes locked on her mother’s slow-moving feet, her hand wrapped around her mother’s frail upper arm, her own hand on the rail to steady their fragile caravan. All her attention was focused on ensuring her mom's safe arrival inside the door.
I began to feel my heart sink.
Just at that moment of revelation, my husband appeared down the block giving us the signal that our dinners had arrived. I told him of my gaffe, and he shook his head and grinned, a sort of “that’s my wife” shrug of acceptance. As we entered the crowded restaurant, I spotted the blonde woman and put my head down in shame, hoping I could sneak by unnoticed.
No such luck. As we shimmied past the packed bar on our way to our table near the back, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Shoot. Here we go.
“I wanted to let you know that I was going to say thank you. I am so, so sorry if I was rude,” the woman said, her kind eyes devoid of any resentment or defensiveness.
“No, I’M sorry,” I pleaded. “I was aggravated at having to leave our table and I took it out on you and I was such a jerk.”
“Don’t you dare apologize!” she insisted, nodding at my daughter who was smiling over my husband’s shoulder. “It’s hard work. I know.”
I felt my eyes well with tears, and I squeezed her shoulder in thanks. The woman’s mother sat on a barstool, oblivious to the goings-on, her expression that of a person whose thoughts were locked in a time and place that was neither here nor now. Her daughter’s act of grace was instantly magnified. I said my final “I’m sorry” and “thank you for being so kind” and headed back to my eggplant parmesan.
I was a little quieter than I usually am at dinner, reflecting on this tiny moment of humility, forgiveness and kinship. I glanced at my wonderful mother-in-law across the table, who three years ago this month selflessly moved her own elderly parents with a very demanding set of needs into her home. I thought of my own mother who lovingly cares for my daughter several days a week when I work, never for a second displaying any emotion but sheer joy at the arrangement. I then kissed my daughter on her sweet head, flummoxed by how this patient, perfect creature could be so crazy about the flawed knucklehead that gave birth to her.
After some time had passed, I noticed the mother-daughter duo had been seated at a table, and the image broke my heart. It was just the two of them, across from one another, on a little “date night” of sorts.  The daughter was patient with her mother, pointing items out on the menu and making the place setting more accommodating. Her mother’s tiny shoulders were unmoving, but a shaky hand slowly made its way to the breadbasket. They smiled at each other.
I prayed to God that my daughter would be half as good to me as this daughter was to her mom, and that I could do the same for my own magnificent mother.
When our dinner was through and the ice cream dessert had lulled my daughter into a complicit, huggy haze, she wrapped her arms around my neck as we headed for the door. I stopped at my new friend’s table, crouched down and thanked her again for being so kind. She grabbed my arm and smiled. Her mother, unaware of what had transpired, smiled, too.
I buried my face into my daughter’s sweet neck to wipe my tears, grateful for this unexpected lesson in mothering, daughtering and grace.
In the fastidious care and compassion with which a daughter followed her mother up the stairs I gleaned the most profound lesson in how to lead.

Kerry Trotter is the content manager for Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Unity With My Son

Just as the branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. John 15:4

Jesus, the word of God, the word made flesh, tells us that we are grafted onto him. This spiritual engrafting was made possible for all of us, whether we are believers or unbelievers, by his death on the cross and becomes effective for each one of us at the time of our baptism.1

We are all rooted in Christ and apart from him we can do nothing, much like a dead branch which is only suitable for the fire.

Separated from him we  become a restless people, agitated in heart and mind. And, often times we find ourselves falling into periods of despair.

Disconnected from Christ we lose our sense of hope. Apart from him we are like a people in exile, searching for a sense of belonging, and often looking for that belonging in all the wrong places

But, much like the branches that remain on the vine, united to the tree from which they draw life,  we are called to unity with the Son, life in Christ.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this will my Father be glorified……John 15:7,8

Our Lady Queen of Peace has called us to unity with her Son Jesus in her message to Mirjana, May 2, 2012

"Dear children! With motherly love I implore you to give me your hands, permit me to lead you. I, as a mother, desire to save you from restlessness, despair and eternal exile. My Son, by His death on the Cross, showed how much He loves you; He sacrificed Himself for your sake and the sake of your sins. Do not keep rejecting His sacrifice and do not keep renewing His sufferings with your sins. Do not keep shutting the doors of Heaven to yourselves. My children, do not waste time. Nothing is more important than unity in my Son. I will help you because the Heavenly Father is sending me so that, together, we can show the way of grace and salvation to all those who do not know Him. Do not be hard hearted. Have confidence in me and adore my Son. My children, you cannot be without the shepherds. May they be in your prayers every day. Thank you."

O Christ Jesus,
When all is darkness and we feel our weakness
and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust in
Your protecting love and strengthening power, 
so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for living close to you,
We shall see your Hand, 
Your purpose, Your will through all things. Amen.
By St. Ignatius of Loyola 
1.Adapted from Magnificat, Sunday 6th, pg. 87 Vine and Branches