Tag Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

The Traveling Mary’s — 40 years of wandering through California and Texas

Statues of the Virgin Mary crushing a serpent and of The Assumption were returned to Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai after four decades in the care of a former faculty member... PHOTOS BY ANTHONY PLASCENCIA, VENTURA COUNTY STAR

SUPERNATURAL HINT OF THE DAY: Never underestimate the powerful prayers of a devout Catholic mother who “pals around” with the Blessed Virgin Mother of God….

After more than 40 years of wandering through California and Texas, two plaster statues of the Virgin Mary were returned Thursday to Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai during a ceremony for students and invited guests.

The statues were removed from the Catholic school’s chapel more than 40 years ago.

“In the late ’60s, after the Second Vatican Council, many churches and schools went through a renovation,” the Rev. Gregory Heidenblut, school president, told those in the school gym. “Mary lost her home in our chapel.”

How appropriate, crushing the serpent (spirit of renovation), and the Assumption, (a restoration of heavenly realities on earth) A caption might read,"This is MY house baby! 40 years on the road eh? Well, I got your spirit of renovation well under foot..."

Vic LeBreton, who at the time supervised the boarding students, taught classes and produced student plays, said he couldn’t bear to see the statues thrown out.

A priest at the school helped him load the statues into his car. LeBreton brought them to his room on campus for a while and then happened to mention them to his mother, a devout Catholic living in El Paso, Texas.

“And she said, ‘Oh, I want the Blessed Virgin.’ So (the statue) went shotgun with me when I drove to Texas,” LeBreton said.

From the 1970s until his mother died about six years ago at age 96, the larger statue stayed in the living room of LeBreton’s mother’s house as an aid to prayer and worship, he said. LeBreton kept the smaller statue in his office.

“For me, the statue was a reminder of my mother, because she and Mary were kind of like pals,” he said.

A few years after he married and moved off campus, he transferred to a high school in Burbank. While teaching full time and raising a family, he didn’t think much about moving the statues.

After his mother’s death, with his own retirement on the horizon, LeBreton wanted to find a permanent home for the statues. He contacted a Catholic nursing home, which expressed interest in acquiring them, but it didn’t work out.

Then, at a Los Angeles event honoring outstanding students from Catholic schools in Southern California, he happened to run into Carol Hoffer — the headmistress at Villanova and an old friend.

“Vic was all excited,” Hoffer said. “He said to me, ‘I have to talk to you about something that belongs to you.’ ”

When Hoffer heard the story of the traveling Marys, she readily agreed to take back the statues.

The statues will have a prominent place on campus, where students can see them, Heidenblut said.

“Hopefully, as Mary looks upon these kids, some of whom came to the school as little snot-nosed kids and left as mature, educated young adults, she will continue to pray for them,” he said in his speech Thursday.

Jeanne Brown, Villanova’s director of development, said a final decision hasn’t been made, but the statues may end up in a display case in the administrative building, near the president’s office.

“I think it’s perfect,” LeBreton said. “I just feel like I was a caretaker for a while. They were here since probably the early ’40s, so they’ve been around probably 80 years. And now we’re talking about, who knows, maybe another 80 years.”

Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/sep/15/Villanova_Statues/#ixzz1YAAUu29K
– vcstar.com

Our Lady of Good Help — Wisconsin: First American apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary approved by church

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for… ccc 27

 

“ ‘But how shall I teach them who know so little myself?’

Today’s annoucement from the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin, confirms that great spiritual souls are found in all stations of life, yet, God shows a special affinity for using the poor and ignorant among us to confound the wise of this world in teaching the way to heaven.

From the Diocese of Green Bay — Worthy of Belief

Bishop Ricken approves Marian apparitions at Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

GREEN BAY, Wis. (December 8, 2010) — Bishop David Ricken announced today that he officially approves the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion.

The announcement was made during a special Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion.

Declared with moral certainty

Reading from his decree, the Bishop stated, “I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

Today’s declaration makes Our Lady of Good Help at Champion the first and only site in the United States of an approved apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Three apparitions in 1859

In October 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on three occasions to Adele Brise, a young Belgian immigrant. Brise stated that a lady dressed in dazzling white appeared to her and claimed to be the “Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners.”

The Lady asked Brise to pray for sinners, as well as to gather the children and teach them what they should know for salvation. The Blessed Virgin followed the commands with these words of assurance to Adele Brise, “Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”

Since 1859, countless faithful have made the pilgrimage to Champion, Wisconsin to offer prayers of thanksgiving and petition to Jesus and to ask for intercession from Our Lady of Good Help.

Fulfilling obligations

After receiving the apparitions, Adele Brise immediately began to fulfill the obligations the Blessed Virgin entrusted to her. She gathered local children and taught them how to pray, make the sign of the cross, and to give love, thanks, and praise to the Lord.

As part of her commitment to the Blessed Virgin, Brise set up a Catholic school and began a community of Third Order Franciscan women. Eventually, a school and convent were built on the grounds to further the mission entrusted to Brise.

Spared during Peshtigo fire

The 151-year history of the Shrine is rich with written and oral accounts of prayers that have been answered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. The sources document physical healings and conversions that have taken place as a result of pilgrimages to the Shrine.

In addition, as the Peshtigo fire of 1871 engulfed the surrounding area, the entire five acres of land consecrated to the Blessed Virgin remained unscathed. It is believed that the land was spared after Brise organized a prayer vigil that circled the area.

•Decree approving the Authenticity of the Apparitions of 1859 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion

•Decree approving the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion as a Diocesan Shrine in the Diocese of Green Bay

•Basic information on apparitions at Champion

•Brief history of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion

•Web site for the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion

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YouTube: Pull “The Pope Song”

Insulting to Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus Christ, and the Mother of God,  Tim Minchin’s “The Pope Song” is not simply a case of extreme vulgarity which Catholics find offensive, but can only be considered pure hate speech directed towards the religion of millions of American Christians.

According to policy, YouTube  declares that they don’t permit  Hate Speech:  “Speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity”.

Good. We hope they honor their policy.

Notwithstanding any credible allegations by media, charges filed by law enforcement officials, or for that matter arraignment and justice in a court of law, logical and unbiased persons could easily presume that Pope Benedict XVI is an innocent man. And this being the case, there is no reasonable excuse considering the derogatory content of the “The Pope Song” that it shouldn’t be quickly yanked by UTube.  

To Contact YouTube and file your courteous objections: CLICK HERE 

WARNING: OBSCENE MATERIAL

THE VIDEO: On Milk and Cookies /Tim Minchin official UTube Channel

THE LYRICS: On Milk and Cookies

To Contact YouTube and file your courteous objections: CLICK HERE 

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Icon of Our Lady Weeping in France – Is it any wonder?

I tend to believe this one…

 

Considering the following numbers and recent troubles in France, is it any wonder Our Lady is weeping?

The IFOP Institute has just made a survey on Catholicism in France for the daily La Croix. The result is mind-blowing:

  • Whilst, in 1965, 81% of the French declared themselves as Catholics, they were no more than 64% in 2009.
  • More serious: whilst 27% of the French went to Mass once a week or more in 1965, they are no more than 4.5% in 2009.
  • At a doctrinal level, generally, it’s a catastrophe: 63% of practicing Catholics think all religions are the same; 75% ask for an “aggiornamento” of the Church on contraception and even 68% for abortion.
  • As for communion with the Roman Pontiff, the situation is no better: only 27% of practicing Catholics consider that Benedict XVI “rather well” defends “the values of Catholicism” (personally, I don’t even understand the question, but that doesn’t matter) when 34% think he defends them “rather badly”.

The story follows:

HUNDREDS of people are flocking to see a painting of the Virgin Mary which its owner claims is crying tears of oil.

Esat Altindagoglu has been inundated with more than 50 visitors a day hoping to see the “miracle” at his house near Paris, France.

The foot-high statue was given to his wife Sevin by a Lebanese priest on her birthday in 2006, the Turkish-born salesman said.

It began weeping oil on February 12 this year, and had been crying every day since, he claims.

He said: “As word spread, people started arriving from France, then from all over Europe.

“I’ve been having between 50 and 60 people a day turning up for more than three weeks now.”

An Orthodox priest had now agreed to say mass at his home in Garges-les-Gonesse this week to thank the Virgin Mary, Mr Altindagoglu said.

He added: “Apparently the next step is to have the weeping witnessed by a bishop so the miracle can be officially recognised by the church.”

Over the centuries there have been hundreds of incidents of statues said to have weeped blood, oil or water.

But the only one ever approved as a miracle by the Pope was Our Lady of Akita in Japan in 1973, with all the others ruled out as hoaxes.

THE SOURCE: Mary painting ‘weeping oil’ | The Sun |News

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(pics/video) Traditional Easter Egg Mosaic of Our Lady — Ukrainian artist Oksana Mas

 

St. Sophia Cathedral, Kiev: 15,000 painted Easter eggs…

A mosaic of the Virgin Mary is displayed during its unveiling ceremony in Kiev January 13, 2010. The artwork, created by Ukrainian artist Oksana Mas, is made from 15,000 painted Easter eggs…

An East European tradition, Beeswax is used to create the patterns. A metal stylus (looks like a pen) is dipped into the hot wax, and the design is etched on the egg shell. For each color, a separate design is etched, then the egg is dipped into dye. So if you have 5 colors, you have to etch, dip, and dye separately for each color. Here’s a First place close-up photo in 2009 Easter contest of A Year of Holidays

Here’s a foreign language newscast on the story with great closeups of the beautiful work…

 

More pics…

PIC CREDIT: AP/ONE WEEK AGO

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Sunday Angelus — Pope: Creation is temporal, Jesus’ words eternal 11.15.09

82164066With thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI focused his address on Sunday’s Mass reading from the Gospel of St. Mark. While creation is “destined to end,” he said, Jesus’ words are “eternal.”

On the second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year, Pope Benedict expressed his thanks to God for another year in “the great family of the Church” almost complete: “It is an inestimable gift, which permits us to live in history the mystery of Christ, welcoming in the paths of our personal and communal existence the seed of the Word of God, an eternal seed that from the inside transforms this world and opens it to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

St. Mark, he added, today presents us a part of the discourse of Jesus on the end times: “In this discourse, there is a sentence that is striking for its clear synthesis: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’”

The expression “Heaven and earth,” Benedict XVI explained, appears frequently in the Bible to indicate all the universe, the entire cosmos. “Jesus,” he added, “declares that all that is destined to pass away, not only earth, but Heaven, which is included here in the cosmic sense, not as synonymous of God.”

“Sacred Scripture is unambiguous. All creation is destined to end, including elements divinized by ancient mythology. There is no confusion between creation and the Creator, but a clear difference.”

“With such clear distinction, Jesus affirms his words ‘will not pass away,’ which stand by the part of God and accordingly, are eternal,” the Pope expounded. “Pronounced with the concreteness of his early existence, these are prophetic words par excellence, as Jesus affirms (in the Gospel of St. John) when he turns to the heavenly Father: ‘the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.’”

In a well-known parable in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus compares himself to a sower and explains that the seed is the Word. “The ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit” are part of the Kingdom of God, the Holy Father said.

“That is, they live under his rule, remaining in the world, but no longer part of the world. They bear in themselves…a principle of transformation that already now manifests itself in a good life, animated by love, and in the end, will produce the resurrection of the body. Behold the power of the Word of God.”

The Pontiff concluded by explaining that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the living sign of this truth: “Her heart was “good earth” that welcomed with complete openness the Word of God, such that all her existence, transformed according to the image of the Son, was introduced to eternity, soul and body, anticipating the eternal vocation of each human being.”

“Now, in prayer, let us make our own her response to the Angel ‘may it be done to me according to your word,’ so that following Christ along the way of the cross, we too can reach the glory of the resurrection.”

SOURCE

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Consecrate America Now: Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe…

“I am the Mother of all who seek me and place their trust in me…”

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe

SIGN PETITION NOW

Petition to His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop of Chicago, President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archdiocese of Chicago

From Catholic Citizens of the United States of America

We Request a Consecration of the United States of America to the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe

“For I am truly your compassionate Mother: your Mother and the Mother to all who dwell in this land and to all other nations and peoples who love me and call and entreat me. I am the Mother of all who seek me and place their trust in me.”

~ Our Lady of Guadalupe

Your Eminence,

Canon 212, subsections 2 and 3, provides for Catholics the liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church. In addition, it affords them the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.

We, the undersigned Catholics of the United States of America, respectfully request Your Eminence to consecrate our beloved country to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her glorious title of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.

As Catholic citizens of this great country which our Heavenly Father has deigned to richly bless, our concern for our spiritual welfare has increased dramatically since President Barack Obama has taken office and rapidly begun to foist upon our nation, with the assistance of numerous anti-Catholic politicians, a virulent Culture of Death and perverse agenda which, if not rapidly defeated, will destroy our nation. No citizen can be assured of God-given liberties in a nation which so aggressively legislates in favor of death and perverse lifestyles.

During his first one hundred days in office, President Barack Obama has “fulfilled ten of fifteen agenda items outlined in a December report from over 50 abortion-rights organizations submitted to the Obama-Biden transition team” (Susan B. Anthony List):

Reverse pro-life Mexico City Policy – Restore funding to UNFPA – Increase Title X Funding (Planned Parenthood Funding Stream) to $700M – Rescinding Conscience Protections for Medical Providers – Strike Abortion Budgetary Restrictions – Provide $1B for International Family Planning – Select Pro-Abortion Judicial Nominees – Choose Pro-Abortion Federal Appointees – Review Policies that Restrict Access to Emergency Contraception – Reduce Cost of Birth Control at College Health Centers

In addition to these aforementioned actions which are rabid attacks against Holy Mother Church, Her faithful shepherds and laity, the Hate Crimes Acts (S. 909) is set for a vote. If it passes, Catholics will be severely hindered from sharing pro-life information in public and, thus, saving babies from abortion; pro-lifers may especially be at risk of arrest and censorship under such “hate crimes” provisions, making these bills a serious threat to freedom of speech. It is multi-faceted and will result in persecution of Catholics who endeavor to uphold their Faith and Morals in a public forum. Catholics are experiencing systematic silencing as they witness President Barack Obama’s intentions for our nation, including the penetration of Catholic institutions.

At this most critical period in our nation’s history we look to you, Your Eminence, as our shepherd to utilize your God-given authority to call down upon our nation the powerful aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, that she may grant us an abundance of graces to defend our Catholic Faith in this present battle with the powers of darkness, even to our death if necessary; and if it be the will of God, mitigate incidences of persecution which will surely befall us if the current Administration is not promptly halted from proceeding full force with its perverse and deadly agenda. As Catholics continue to accomplish everything in their human power to avert morally destructive legislation, they recognize that our nation’s deep spiritual crisis has reached a level beyond their human abilities alone to fully correct. We, therefore, entreat you to lay our petition before the feet of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Confident as we are in the illustrious history of Our Lady’s maternal protection of her devoted ones in times of dire need, we seek her graces through your act of Consecration. As a token of our immense gratitude for your courageous pastoral leadership in this regard, we shall offer you during the month of June (the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) a spiritual bouquet of all our Masses, Rosaries, and sacrifices.

“Know for certain that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God…I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all those who have confidence in me…. Listen and let it penetrate into your heart…. Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? What else do you need?”

~ Our Lady of Guadalupe

SIGN PETITION NOW

St. Maximilian Kolbe: On the Apparitions of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes–Place your Prayer Petitions Here.

maximilian2.jpg

Ever since Original Sin was committed, human intelligence has remained darkened so that it cannot rise to the knowledge of causes of everything. Our first parents in Eden understood everything very well; their intelligence was clear and lively; but after they sinned, all that was changed. For this reason, when God wishes to make himself known to men he gives them signs and works miracles. We find many miracles in the Old Testament, and even more in the New. When Jesus was in the world he said: “Even if you do not believe in me, believe in my works.” (Jn. 10, 38)

            The miracle of the Resurrection is the foundation of our faith. The disciples of Jesus were weak; even though they had seen many miracles, at the time of his arrest they all abandoned him. Only when Jesus had risen was their faith confirmed, and were they given the courage to endure suffering and persecution.

            Since Christ’s resurrection, from time to time miracles happen, to reinforce our faith; such were the apparations at Lourdes… There the Immaculata chose a weak instrument to manifest her power. There were many objections; people said, “It isn’t true.” But all the while the miraculous fountain was flowing,  and many miracles and conversion took place. What did the the Most Blessed Virgin then do, after establishing her credibility by the miracles? In public before the whole crowd of people she said who she was, confirming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which had been defined in 1854. She said of herself, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” If she is indeed the Immaculate Conception, then everything which serves as a foundation for this truth is also true. Hence the apparitions at Lourdes are a confirmation of the entire Catholic faith. This is why these apparitions of the Most Blessed Virgin at Lourdes are so important.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe Feb. 11, 1938 (Conference)

If you would like to place your prayer petitions for healing, faith, or conversion within the Holy Mass at the Grotto of Lourdes click here. You may also leave your requests below within the comment box and I will do so for you combined with my own daily prayers for your needs…

Peace to you and yours,

James Mary Evans

VENERATION OF THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD (#3): Pious Exercises Recommended by the Magisterium

fatimabvm.gifPious Exercises Recommended by the Magisterium 

192. This is not the place to reproduce the list of Marian exercises approved by the Magisterium. Some, however, should be mentioned, especially the more important ones, so as to make a few suggestions about their practise and emendation.

Prayerfully Hearing the Word of God

193. The Council’s call for the “sacred celebration of the word of God” at significant moments throughout the Liturgical Year(227), can easily find useful application in devotional exercises made in honour of the Mother of the Word Incarnate. This corresponds perfectly with the orientation of Christian piety(228) and reflects the conviction that it is already a worthy way to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary, since it involves acting as she did in relation to the Word of God. She lovingly accepted the Word and treasured it in her heart, meditated on it in her mind and spread it with her lips. She faithfully put it into practise and modelled her life on it(229).

194. “Celebrations of the Word, because of their thematic and structural content, offer many elements of worship which are at the same time genuine expressions of devotion and opportunities for a systematic catechesis on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Experience, however, proves that celebrations of the Word should not assume a predominantly intellectual or didactic character. Through hymns, prayers, and participation of the faithful they should allow for simple and familiar expressions of popular piety which speak directly to the hearts of the faithful”(230).

Angelus Domini

195. The Angelus Domini is the traditional form used by the faithful to commemorate the holy annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Mary. It is used three times daily: at dawn, mid-day and at dusk. It is a recollection of the salvific event in which the Word became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, through the power of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the salvific plan of the Father.

The recitation of the Angelus is deeply rooted in the piety of the Christian faithful, and strengthened by the example of the Roman Pontiffs. In some places changed social conditions hinder its recitation, but in many other parts every effort should be made to maintain and promote this pious custom and at least the recitation of three Aves. The Angelus “over the centuries has conserved its value and freshness with its simple structure, biblical character […] quasi liturgical rhythm by which the various time of the day are sanctified, and by its openness to the Paschal Mystery”(231).

It is therefore “desirable that on some occasions, especially in religious communities, in shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and at meetings or conventions, the Angelus be solemnly recited by singing the Ave Maria, proclaiming the Gospel of the Annunciation”(232) and by the ringing of bells.

Regina Coeli

196. By disposition of Benedict XIV (2 April 1742), the Angelus is replaced with the antiphon Regina Coeli during paschaltide. This antiphon, probably dating from the tenth or eleventh century(233), happily conjoins the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word (quem meruisti portare) with the Paschal event (resurrexit sicut dixit). The ecclesial community addresses this antiphon to Mary for the Resurrection of her Son. It adverts to, and depends on, the invitation to joy addressed by Gabriel to the Lord’s humble servant who was called to become the Mother of the saving Messiah (Ave, gratia plena).

As with the Angelus, the recitation of the Regina Coeli could sometimes take a solemn form by singing the antiphon and proclaiming the Gospel of the resurrection.

The Rosary

197. The Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the most excellent prayers to the Mother of God(234). Thus, “the Roman Pontiffs have repeatedly exhorted the faithful to the frequent recitation of this biblically inspired prayer which is centred on contemplation of the salvific events of Christ’s life, and their close association with the his Virgin Mother. The value and efficacy of this prayer have often been attested by saintly Bishops and those advanced in holiness of life”(235).

The Rosary is essentially a contemplative prayer, which requires “tranquillity of rhythm or even a mental lingering which encourages the faithful to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life”(236). Its use is expressly recommended in the formation and spiritual life of clerics and religious(237).

198. The Blessing for Rosary Beads(238) indicates the Church’s esteem for the Rosary. This rite emphasises the community nature of the Rosary. In the rite, the blessing of rosary beads is followed by the blessing of those who meditate on the mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord so as to “establish a perfect harmony between prayer and life”(239).

As indicated in the Benedictionale, Rosary beads can be blessed publicly, on occasions such as a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine, a feast of Our Lady, especially that of the Holy Rosary, and at the end of the month of October(240).

199. With due regard for the nature of the rosary, some suggestions can now be made which could make it more proficuous.

On certain occasions, the recitation of the Rosary could be made more solemn in tone “by introducing those Scriptural passages corresponding with the various mysteries, some parts could be sung, roles could be distributed, and by solemnly opening and closing of prayer”(241).

200. Those who recite a third of the Rosary sometimes assign the various mysteries to particular days: joyful (Monday and Thursday), sorrowful (Tuesday and Friday), glorious (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday).

Where this system is rigidly adhere to, conflict can arise between the content of the mysteries and that of the Liturgy of the day: the recitation of the sorrowful mysteries on Christmas day, should it fall on a Friday. In cases such as this it can be reckoned that “the liturgical character of a given day takes precedence over the usual assignment of a mystery of the Rosary to a given day; the Rosary is such that, on particular days, it can appropriately substitute meditation on a mystery so as to harmonize this pious practice with the liturgical season”(242). Hence, the faithful act correctly when, for example, they contemplate the arrival of the three Kings on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, rather than the finding of Jesus in the Temple. Clearly, such substitutions can only take place after much careful thought, adherence to Sacred Scripture and liturgical propriety.

201. The custom of making an insertion in the recitation of the Hail Mary, which is an ancient one that has not completely disappeared, has often been recommended by the Pastors of the Church since it encourages meditation and the concurrence of mind and lips(243).

Insertions of this nature would appear particularly suitable for the repetitive and meditative character of the Rosary. It takes the form of a relative clause following the name of Jesus and refers to the mystery being contemplated. The meditation of the Rosary can be helped by the choice of a short clause of a Scriptural and Liturgical nature, fixed for every decade.

202. “In recommending the value and beauty of the Rosary to the faithful, care should be taken to avoid discrediting other forms of prayer, or of overlooking the existence of a diversity of other Marian chaplets which have also been approved by the Church”(244). It is also important to avoid inculcating a sense of guilt in those who do not habitually recite the Rosary: “The Rosary is an excellent prayer, in regard to which, however, the faithful should feel free to recite it, in virtue of its inherent beauty”(245).

Litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary

203. Litanies are to be found among the prayers to the Blessed Virgin recommended by the Magisterium. These consist in a long series of invocations of Our Lady, which follow in a uniform rhythm, thereby creating a stream of prayer characterized by insistent praise and supplication. The invocations, generally very short, have two parts: the first of praise (Virgo clemens), the other of supplication (Ora pro nobis).

The liturgical books contain two Marian litanies(246): The Litany of Loreto, repeatedly recommended by the Roman Pontiffs; and the Litany for the Coronation of Images of the Blessed Virgin Mary(247), which can be an appropriate substitute for the other litany on certain occasions(248).

From a pastoral perspective, a proliferation of litanies would not seem desirable(249), just as an excessive restriction on them would not take sufficient account of the spiritual riches of some local Churches and religious communities. Hence, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments recommends “taking account of some older and newer formulas used in the local Churches or in religious communities which are notable for their structural rigour and the beauty of their invocations”(250). This exhortation, naturally, applies to the specific authorities in the local Churches or religious communities.

Following the prescription of Leo XIII that the recitation of the Rosary should be concluded by the Litany of Loreto during the month of October, the false impression has arisen among some of the faithful that the Litany is in some way an appendix to the Rosary. The Litanies are independent acts of worship. They are important acts of homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or as processional elements, or form part of a celebration of the Word of God or of other acts of worship.

Consecration and Entrustment to Mary

204. The history of Marian devotion contains many examples of personal or collective acts of “consecration or entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary” oblatio, servitus, commendatio, dedicatio). They are reflected in the prayer manuals and statutes of many associations where the formulas and prayers of consecration, or its remembrance, are used.

The Roman Pontiffs have frequently expressed appriciation for the pious practice of “consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary” and the formulas publicly used by them are well known(251).

Louis Grignon the Montfort is one of the great masters of the spirituality underlying the act of “consecration to Mary”. He ” proposed to the faithful consecration to Jesus through Mary, as an effective way of living out their baptismal commitment”(252).

Seen in the light of Christ’s words (cf. John 19, 25-27), the act of consecration is a conscious recognition of the singular role of Mary in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and of the efficacy of her patronage, of the many maternal functions she has, since she is a true mother in the order of grace to each and every one of her children(253).

It should be recalled, however, that the term “consecration” is used here in a broad and non-technical sense: “the expression is use of “consecrating children to Our Lady”, by which is intended placing children under her protection and asking her maternal blessing(254) for them”. Some suggest the use of the alternative terms “entrustment” or “gift”. Liturgical theology and the consequent rigorous use of terminology would suggest reserving the term consecration for those self-offerings which have God as their object, and which are characterized by totality and perpetuity, which are guaranteed by the Church’s intervention and have as their basis the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

The faithful should be carefully instructed about the practice of consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. While such can give the impression of being a solemn and perpetual act, it is, in reality, only analogously a “consecration to God”. It springs from a free, personal, mature, decision taken in relation to the operation of grace and not from a fleeting emotion. It should be expressed in a correct liturgical manner: to the Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit, imploring the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom we entrust ourselves completely, so as to keep our baptismal commitments and live as her children. The act of consecration should take place outside of the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, since it is a devotional act which cannot be assimilated to the Liturgy. It should also be borne in mind that the act of consecration to Mary differs substantially from other forms of liturgical consecration.

The Brown Scapular and other Scapulars

205. The history of Marian piety also includes “devotion” to various scapulars, the most common of which is devotion to the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Its use is truly universal and, undoubtedly, its is one of those pious practices which the Council described as “recommended by the Magisterium throughout the centuries”(255).

The Scapular of Mount Carmel is a reduced form of the religious habit of the Order of the Friars of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. Its use is very diffuse and often independent of the life and spirituality of the Carmelite family.

The Scapular is an external sign of the filial relationship established between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of the spiritual life and the need for prayer.

The Scapular is imposed by a special rite of the Church which describes it as ” a reminder that in Baptism we have been clothed in Christ, with the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, solicitous for our conformation to the Word Incarnate, to the praise of the Trinity, we may come to our heavenly home wearing our nuptial garb”(256).

The imposition of the Scapular should be celebrated with “the seriousness of its origins. It should not be improvised. The Scapular should be imposed following a period of preparation during which the faithful are made aware of the nature and ends of the association they are about to join and of the obligations they assume”(257).

Medals

206. The faithful like to wear medals bearing effigies of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These are a witness of faith and a sign of veneration of the Holy Mother of God, as well as of trust in her maternal protection.

The Church blesses such objects of Marian devotion in the belief that “they help to remind the faithful of the love of God, and to increase trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary”(258). The Church also points out that devotion to the Mother of Christ also requires “a coherent witness of life”(259).

Among the various medals of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the most diffuse must be the “Miraculous Medal”. Its origins go back to the apparitions in 1830 of Our Lady to St. Catherine Labouré, a humble novice of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. The medal was struck in accordance with the instructions given by Our Lady and has been described as a “Marian microcosm” because of its extraordinary symbolism. It recalls the msytery of Redemption, the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Sorrowful Heart of Mary. It signifies the mediatory role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mystery of the Church, the relationship between Heaven and earth, this life and eternal life.

St. Maximillian Kolbe (+ 1941) and the various movements associated with him, have been especially active in further popularizing the miraculous medal. In 1917 he adopted the miraculous medal as the badge of the “Pious Union of the Militia of the Immaculate Conception” which he founded in Rome while still a young religious of the Conventual Friars Minor.

Like all medals and objects of cult, the Miraculous Medal is never to be regarded as a talisman or lead to any form of blind credulity(260). The promise of Our Lady that “those who were the medal will receive great graces”, requires a humble and tenacious commitment to the Christian message, faithful and persevering prayer, and a good Christian life.

The “Akathistos” Hymn

207. In the Byzantine tradition, one of the oldest and most revered expressions of Marian devotion is the hymn “Akathistos” – meaning the hymn sung while standing. It is a literary and theological masterpiece, encapsulating in the form of a prayer, the universally held Marian belief of the primitive Church. The hymn is inspired by the Scriptures, the doctrine defined by the Councils of Nicea (325), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451), and reflects the Greek fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. It is solemnly celebrated in the Eastern Liturgy on the Fifth Saturday of Lent. The hymn is also sung on many other liturgical occasions and is recommended for the use of the clergy and faithful.

In recent times the Akathistos has been introduced to some communities in the Latin Rite(261). Some solemn liturgical celebrations of particular ecclesial significance, in the presence of the Pope, have also helped to popularize the use of the hymn in Rome(262). This very ancient hymn(263), the mature fruit of the undivided Church’s earliest devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, constitutes an appeal and invocation for the unity of Christians under the guidance of the Mother of God: “Such richness of praise, accumulated from the various forms of the great tradition of the Church, could help to ensure that she may once again breath with “both lungs”: the East and the West”(264).

VENERATION OF THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD (#2): Times of Pious Marian Exercises

fatimabvm.gifTimes of Pious Marian Exercises

Celebration of feast

187. Practically all Marian devotions and pious exercises are in some way related to the liturgical feasts of the General Calendar of the Roman Rite or of the particular calendars of dioceses and religious families. Sometimes, a particular devotion antedates the institution of the feast (as is the case with the feast of the Holy Rosary), in other instances, the feast is much more ancient than the devotion (as with the Angelus Domini). This clearly illustrates the relationship between the Liturgy and pious exercises, and the manner in which pious exercises find their culmination in the celebration of the feast. In so far as liturgical, the feast refers to the history of salvation and celebrates a particular aspect of the relationship of the Virgin Mary to the mystery of Christ. The feast, however, must be celebrated in accordance with liturgical norm, and bear in mind the hierarchal difference between “liturgical acts” and associated “pious exercises”(217).

It should not be forgotten that a feast of the Blessed Virgin, in so far as it is popular manifestation, also has important anthropological implications that cannot be overlooked.

Saturdays

188. Saturdays stand out among those days dedicated to the Virgin Mary. These are designated as memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary(218). This memorial derives from carolingian time (ninth century), but the reasons for having chosen Saturday for its observance are unknown(219). While many explanation have been advanced to explain this choice, none is completely satisfactory from the point of view of the history of popular piety(220).

Prescinding from its historical origins, to-day the memorial rightly emphasizes certain values “to which contemporary spirituality is more sensitive: it is a remembrance of the maternal example and discipleship of the Blessed Virgin Mary who, strengthened by faith and hope, on that great Saturday on which Our Lord lay in the tomb, was the only one of the disciples to hold vigil in expectation of the Lord’s resurrection; it is a prelude and introduction to the celebration of Sunday, the weekly memorial of the Resurrection of Christ; it is a sign that the “Virgin Mary is continuously present and operative in the life of the Church”(221).

Popular piety is also sensitive to the Saturday memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The statutes of many religious communities and associations of the faithful prescribe that special devotion be paid to the Holy Mother of God on Saturdays, sometimes through specified pious exercises composed precisely for Saturdays(222).

Tridua, Sepinaria, Marian Novenas

189. Since it is a significant moment, a feast day is frequently preceded by a preparatory triduum, septinaria or novena. The “times and modes of popular piety”, however, should always correspond to the “times and modes of the Liturgy”.

Tridua, septinaria, and novenas can be useful not only for honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary through pious exercises, but also to afford the faithful an adequate vision of the positions she occupies in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, as well as the the role she plays in it.

Pious exercises cannot remain indifferent to the results of biblical and theological research on the Mother of Our Saviour. These should become a catechetical means diffusing such information, without however altering their essential nature.

Tridua, septinaria and novenas are truly preparations for the celebration of the various feast days of Our Lady, especially when they encourage the faithful to approach the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, and to renew their Christian commitment following the example of Mary, the first and most perfect disciple of Christ.

In some countries, the faithful gather for prayer on the 13th. of each month, in honour of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.

Marian Months

190. With regard to the observance of “Marian months”, which is widespread in the Latin and Oriental Churches(223), a number of essential points can be mentioned(224).

In the West, the practise of observing months dedicated to the Blessed Virgin emerged from a context in which the Liturgy was not always regarded as the normative form of Christian worship. This caused, and continues to cause, some difficulties at a liturgico-pastoral level that should be carefully examined.

191. In relation to the western custom of observing a “Marian month” during the month of May (or in November in some parts of the Southern hemisphere), it would seem opportune to take into account the demands of the Liturgy, the expectations of the faithful, their maturity in the faith, in an eventual study of the problems deriving from the “Marian months” in the overall pastoral activity of the local Church, as might happen, for example, with any suggestion of abolishing the Marian observances during the month of May.

In many cases, the solution for such problems would seem to lay in harmonizing the content of the “Marian months” with the concomitant season of the Liturgical Year. For example, since the month of May largely corresponds with the fifty days of Easter, the pious exercises practised at this time could emphasize Our Lady’s participation in the Paschal mystery (cf. John 19, 25-27), and the Pentecost event (cf, Acts 1, 14) with which the Church begins: Our Lady journeys with the Church having shared in the novum of the Resurrection, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The fifty days are also a time for the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation and of the mystagogy. The pious exercises connected with the month of May could easily highlight the earthly role played by the glorified Queen of Heaven, here and now, in the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist(225).

The directives of Sacrosanctum Concilium on the need to orient the “minds of the faithful…firstly to the feasts of the Lord, in which, the mysteries of salvation are celebrated during the year”(226), and with which the Blessed Virgin Mary is certainly associated, should be closely followed.

Opportune catechesis should remind the faithful that the weekly Sunday memorial of the Paschal Mystery is “the primordial feast day”. Bearing in mind that the four weeks of Advent are an example of a Marian time that has been incorporated harmoniously into the Liturgical Year, the faithful should be assisted in coming to a full appreciation of the numerous references to the Mother of our Saviour during this particular period.

 SOURCE : Directory of Popular Piety