Our Lady of Sorrows

Jerusalem_(24694726501) Our Lady of Sorrows statue in Golgotha, Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem | photo by creisor

Our Lady of Sorrows

Saint of the Day for September 15

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The Story of Our Lady of Sorrows

For a while there were two feasts in honor of the Sorrowful Mother: one going back to the 15th century, the other to the 17th century. For a while both were celebrated by the universal Church: one on the Friday before Palm Sunday, the other in September.

The principal biblical references to Mary’s sorrows are in Luke 2:35 and John 19:26-27. The Lucan passage is Simeon’s prediction about a sword piercing Mary’s soul; the Johannine passage relates Jesus’ words from the cross to Mary and to the beloved disciple.

Many early Church writers interpret the sword as Mary’s sorrows, especially as she saw Jesus die on the cross. Thus, the two passages are brought together as prediction and fulfillment.

Saint Ambrose in particular sees Mary as a sorrowful yet powerful figure at the cross. Mary stood fearlessly at the cross while others fled. Mary looked on her Son’s wounds with pity, but saw in them the salvation of the world. As Jesus hung on the cross, Mary did not fear to be killed, but offered herself to her persecutors.

Reflection

John’s account of Jesus’ death is highly symbolic. When Jesus gives the beloved disciple to Mary, we are invited to appreciate Mary’s role in the Church: She symbolizes the Church; the beloved disciple represents all believers. As Mary mothered Jesus, she is now mother to all his followers. Furthermore, as Jesus died, he handed over his Spirit. Mary and the Spirit cooperate in begetting new children of God—almost an echo of Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception. Christians can trust that they will continue to experience the caring presence of Mary and Jesus’ Spirit throughout their lives and throughout history.

Click here to read a meditation on the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

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September 11, 2017 – Reflection for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 11, 2017 – Reflection for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Forgive a “Whole Bunch”

The readings this week are pretty straight forward: To be forgiven for our sins, one must forgive others. The first reading asks “Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?” Then in the Gospel when Peter asks Jesus how much one must forgive, Jesus uses words that our three young kids can understand: “not seven times, but 77 times,” in other words, a whole bunch.

Whether in our families, our parish, or in debates on national issues such as immigration, climate change, or race relations, seeking and granting forgiveness can be deeply challenging. Like other lessons, when trying to teach forgiveness to our kids, we struggle with how to make the lesson “stick” – when to teach with words or actions, when to let them learn a lesson on their own, or when to use carrots and sticks to help them learn to forgive. Sometimes our choices lead to parental lectures, furrowed brows, or even denial of privileges. While words and actions can be effective, we know the very best way to teach is by example. While Jesus shared parables and performed miracles, the ultimate lesson is his example on the cross.

The only way that we can expect our kids to forgive is to forgive them. The only way we can expect them to be merciful is for them to see us showing mercy to others. As a married couple, we need to forgive each other; even if the kids do not see us doing so, they will know if we don’t. God forgives us every day by continuing to love us despite our sins; on Good Friday, this was Jesus’ request when he asked, “Father, forgive them, they know now what they do.” (Lk 23:34)

What do Jesus’ lessons about forgiveness mean for us today? We have a responsibility to speak out for the poor, the prisoner, the immigrant, and for God’s creation. The most effective teachers – from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Ghandi to Jesus himself – show us that to make the greatest impact toward a more just and peaceful world, we need to practice mercy, forgiveness and non-violence. As Pope Francis reminded us in his 2017 World Day of Peace message: “Jesus himself lived in violent times…But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives.”

Yet to forgive is not to condone. We cannot stand by idly as God’s people and creation suffer injustice and injury. But to refuse to forgive simply continues the vicious cycle of anger. This is true in the national and international stage, just as it is in our own family.

Alisa and Doug O’Brien
FAN Board Members
(Alisa and Doug have three children, aged 3, 5, and 8 years old.)

Suggested Action:
Reflect on the final three lines from St. Francis’ Peace Prayer:
For it is in giving that we receive,
In pardoning that we pardon,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Suggested Petitions:
For all Christian people, may they have the love of God in their hearts so to be able to forgive quickly, we pray…
As International Peace day approaches, we pray for peace in our hearts, peace in our communities, and peace in our world, we pray…

Peace Prayer:

 

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

 

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

 

Amen

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Saint of the Day for September 8

 

152nd Anniversary of Approval of the Felician Congregation

That each Felician Sister take a moment today to express gratitude and praise to God for his goodness to the Felician Congregation on this 152nd Anniversary of its approval.

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saint of the Day for September 8

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The Story of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since at least the sixth century. A September birth was chosen because the Eastern Church begins its Church year with September. The September 8 date helped determine the date for the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.

Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s birth. However, the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James fills in the gap. This work has no historical value, but it does reflect the development of Christian piety. According to this account, Anna and Joachim are infertile but pray for a child. They receive the promise of a child who will advance God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such a story, like many biblical counterparts, stresses the special presence of God in Mary’s life from the beginning.

Saint Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” The opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary’s Son as the dawn of our salvation, and asks for an increase of peace.

Reflection

We can see every human birth as a call for new hope in the world. The love of two human beings has joined with God in his creative work. The loving parents have shown hope in a world filled with travail. The new child has the potential to be a channel of God’s love and peace to the world.

nativity_of_the_mother_of_godThis is all true in a magnificent way in Mary. If Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus has brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning.

Birthday celebrations bring happiness to the celebrant as well as to family and friends. Next to the birth of Jesus, Mary’s birth offers the greatest possible happiness to the world. Each time we celebrate her birth, we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large.

Click here for more about our Blessed Mother!

 

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