Sunday, August 04, 2019

Our Lady of the Snows


 Feast Day:  August 5

August 5th is a Marian feast celebrated in our Catholic calendar as the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. This basilica is the largest in the world dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. Pope Liberius erected this church in honor of Mary and shortly after the Council of Ephesus in 431, Pope Sixtus III commissioned a rebuilding of the Church as an affirmation of the title given to Mary as the "Theotokos" or "God-Bearer." A theological debate about this title was instigated by Bishop Nestorius when he concluded that since Mary bore the God-Man Jesus, she could only be called Mother of Jesus, and not Mother of God, since God existed before Mary. St. Cyril of Alexandria, along with the other bishops, decried this as a heresy. According to their argument, Christ's nature was indivisible. He was both God and Man and therefore Mary is also the Mother of God. St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals. St. John Lateran represents Rome, St. Paul Outside the Walls representing the See of Alexandria, St. Peter's representing the See of Constantinople and St. Mary representing the See of Antioch, where Mary spent most of her earthly life.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Our Lady of Mount Carmel


The Catholic Church will celebrate the feast of Mary under her title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16th. This is a very special day for all Carmelites as they honor Mary as their Patroness.
This is a very special day for me because this day marks the day I was led to a deeper appreciation of the Mother of God and my Catholic faith. I still vividly remember, and can accurately recall, the words of the priest that gave me my first brown scapular on July 16, 1984, "Wear this and call on the Virgin Mary." Everyone experiences life-changing events, this was mine.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Easter Blessings and Joy!

“A woman about to give birth has sorrow, because her hour has come.  But when she has brought forth the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for her joy that a man is born into the world ” (John 16:21).
This passage from the Gospel of John articulates for me the joy of Easter.  Our Lord endured many sufferings because of His great love for us.  Now in his glorious resurrection He has given birth to new sons and daughters of the Church.  We have now put aside the penance of Lent and are now basking in the Easter triumph our Lord gained for us.  Easter is not only a season in the calendar but a journey of faith, hope and love, lived in the everyday.  It is a prefiguration of the Christian reality that the sufferings and difficulties of this world are passing and a time of unending joy will come.  It is the calm after the storm.
It was the witness of the Resurrection that gave the apostles courage to proclaim boldly the Good News of Jesus.  It was the same Resurrection that gave the early Christians perseverance in their times of cruel persecutions.  This is the same Resurrection presented to us by the Church every year.  What do we do with this great treasure?  Our Christian vocation calls us to witness to this great event and the promise it brings.  For a Christian, the cross should not be experienced as oppressive but redemptive.  We are  people of the Resurrection.

Easter is a singular event second only to none.  St. Paul says that if Jesus did not rise from the dead our faith is empty and in vain.  If the Resurrection did not happen we are the most pitiable of people because we are still in our sins and those who have died in Christ are the deadest of the dead.  For unbelievers or the mediocre, Easter is all about flowers, eggs and bunnies!  Cute but empty unless we recognize in these symbols a sign of new life and new beginnings.  We like to make New Year's resolutions to start off the year.  Easter resolutions are also appropriate.  Easter gives us great hope because it gives us the reassurance that darkness turns to light, sorrow to joy, and death to life.  How beautiful is our faith!! Despite the burdens and scandals in the Church, despite the disillusions and clamor for change, the Church will rise triumphant!  The Bride of Christ, the Church, is purified from its stains and imperfections.  Every year, newly baptized sons and daughters, bring new vigor of faith, new hopes and new zeal, creating something new from the old.  Yes, Jesus makes all things new!  HAPPY EASTER!



Holy Saturday

The silence of Holy Saturday speaks volumes.  In all appearances, all was lost, good was overcomed by evil.  The drama of the previous day was wrought with betrayal, confusion, fears, agony, pain, sorrow, and finally- dashed hopes.  "He saved others.  He cannot save himself" was a spectator's conclusion.  Jesus, who raised the dead and promised better days ahead, was silent.  His body was taken down from the infamous Cross and was wrapped in the arms of His Mother.  Mary, whose heart was pierced as she watched her Son suffer, wept in silence.  The woman wrapped in silence.  The whole world stood still waiting for God's next move.

"He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled Himself, accepting death, even death on the Cross. Therefore, God greatly exalted Him." said St. Paul to his Letter to the Ephesians.

For those who believe, silence is not an absence.  Silence is a cloak which hides something beautiful.  At the right time, at the right moment, this silence shall burst forth into something unheard of, something singular.  Out of darkness, a light shall shine forth.  From the darkness of the grave, life will make itself known.  Jesus Christ died to give us life.  He suffered so that we in turn could find meaning in our sufferings.  He endured the rejections so that we could approach the throne of grace, confident that we will be received.  This suffering servant died to show us the science of the Cross.  The silence of God will yield to something beautiful.  In the silence of death, the whole world waits.  And the waiting will not be in vain....



Friday, April 19, 2019

Where's the "Good" on Good Friday?

© srhelena2012

For Catholics this is not a new question.  As we celebrate the Lord's Passion on Good Friday, we are reminded once again  that Christ suffered and died for us.  It is hard enough for someone to die for a good person, but for a bad one,for sinners like us,  it is even more unfathomable.  This was St. Paul's insight.  When I listen to the reading of the Passion on Good Friday, I will surely ask myself as I have many times: "Jesus,couldn't you have saved me another way?  Why did you have to suffer and die?" If I was a theologian I would probably come up with some deep, intellectual explanations.  I would probably say that the measure of payment should be equal to the offense. It's perfect justice.  While that is true  I prefer to think that it was love and love alone which made Jesus do what he did. "No greater love one has than to lay down his life for his friends."  The Pharisees brought Jesus to his Cross but it was love that kept Him there.  Love for us and love for the Father.  It is really that simple.  And what do we do with that realization?  Saint John of the Cross had an insight: " Love is repaid by love alone."  St. Therese exclaimed "Love alone attracts me."  Saint  Elizabeth of the Trinity explains:
"A Carmelite (or any baptized person)  is a soul who has gazed on the Crucified One; who has seen Him offering Himself as a Victim to His Father for souls and, recollecting herself in this great vision of the charity of Christ, has understood the passionate love of His soul, and has wanted to give herself as he did!"  That is why Good Friday is good.  It makes us understand that sufferings taken or endured for God can become a source of so much good.  It also tells us that we are precious because we have been bought with a price more precious than any glittering gold- the life of God's only Son.  It is good because we have been brought back to God and we are once again heirs of the Kingdom.  So as we enter the drama of the Lord's suffering and death, we look with anticipation to the joys of a new life, a new beginning.  As the morning sun rises on  Easter Sunday, we can look forward with joyful anticipation to the promise made by the Risen Lord:  "See, I make all things new!"  We can always begin again...