Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

The Eighth Sorrow

Fotografo Enzo LiardoThe eighth Sorrow of my maternal and Immaculate Heart is that my Son is so offended in the Sacrament of His Love. This sorrow of mine will endure until the end of time, when the Real Presence of my Son in the Most Holy Sacrament will give way to the sight of His Divine Majesty.

Then will faith give way to vision, and hope to possession. Then will love be secure and everlasting for all who will have died in the embrace of His Divine Friendship. Until then, know that my maternal Heart suffers and grieves over the irreverence, the coldness, and the ingratitude of so many souls towards the Sacrament of my Son’s undying love.

It is in this Sacrament that He loves His own, loving them to the end — to the end of every created possibility and to the end of this passing world. His Eucharistic Love surpasses all the laws of perishable nature: there is no greater miracle on the face of the earth than the Real Presence of my Son in the Sacrament of the Altar. Even so, He is forsaken, neglected, and handed over to sinners to be betrayed again and again, and this by His chosen ones, His beloved priests, the men whom He chose to be the consolation and joy of His Heart.

This is my own Heart’s eighth Sorrow: the betrayal and neglect of my Son in the Most Holy Eucharist. How is He betrayed? His priests, my own sons, betray Him when they fail to make Him known, when by not teaching the mystery of His Real Presence they leave souls in the darkness of ignorance, without fire or light. They betray my Son when, by their example, they discourage reverence, and adoration, and a loving attention to His presence.

They betray Him when they offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass unworthily, and when they hand Him over to sinners who have no intention of giving Him their hearts and seeking His mercy and His pardon for their sins.

They betray Him when they leave Him alone in locked churches and when they make it difficult or impossible for souls to approach His tabernacles, and rest in the radiance of His Eucharistic Face.

They betray Him when they allow His churches to become places of noise and worldly chatter, and when they do nothing to recall souls to the living Mystery of His Love, that is His presence in the tabernacle.

Shall I tell you more of this eighth Sorrow of my Heart? It is when you are lacking in generosity, when you fail to respond to love with love, when you are not generous
in being present to Him who is present in the Most Holy Eucharist for love of you.

I speak here not only to you, but to all my priest sons and to all consecrated souls who live with my Son under the same roof, and yet treat Him coldly, or casually, or with a distant formality.

This too is the eighth Sorrow of my Heart: that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated quickly, with little reverence, with no thanksgiving, and with all the attention given, not to my Son, the Lamb, but, rather, to the human presence of His minister, who, by calling attention to himself, takes from God what belongs rightly to God alone: the loving attention of every heart during the Holy Mysteries.

What more shall I tell you? Do you not grieve with me over this eighth Sorrow of my Heart, made up of many sorrows repeated again, and again, and again? Grieve with me today, and console my maternal and Immaculate Heart by adoring my Son, the blessed fruit of my womb, and by giving Him all that you are in an immolation of love.

(From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of A Priest)

Ember Wednesday of Lent


Santa Maria Maggiore

One of the graces that comes with living in Rome is the opportunity to go often to the basilica of Saint Mary Major, Santa Maria Maggiore, the stational church of this Ember Wednesday in Lent. The basilica was erected under the patronage of Pope Sixtus III in the wake of the Council Ephesus (431) at which the Immaculate Virgin was solemnly proclaimed Theotókos, that is, Mother of God. The Holy Roman Church expresses her devotion to the Mother of God most notably in the place given to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in the sacred liturgy. Traditionally, the scrutinies for ordination to the priesthood that take place on the Ember Saturday were held on this day in the basilica dedicated to the Most Holy Virgin of whom Saint Proclus of Constantinople wrote:

O temple, in which God became a priest, not changing our nature, but reclothing it, in his mercy, with that which he is, according to the order of Melchizedek.

Ad Te Levavi
The Introit Psalm is the same one intoned on the First Sunday of Advent in the same stational Church of Saint Mary Major: “To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul. In thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed” (Psalm 24: 1–2).

Moses on Sinai
The First Lesson presents, in the account of Moses entering into the midst of the cloud on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12–18), an image of the priesthood, for every priest is, effectively, called to go apart from the people, to ascend the mountain, and to disappear into the cloud. The same sequence appears in the rites of Holy Mass when the priest, entering the sanctuary, separates himself from the people, ascends the altar steps, and, then, at the beginning of the Canon, disappears into the mystery.

Elias Comforted by an Angel
The Second Lesson gives another image of the priesthood in the prophet Elias. Profoundly discouraged and weary, he sleeps in sorrow. Twice, he is awakened by an angel who says to him: “Arise, eat: for thou hast yet a great way to go” (3 Kings 19:7).  “And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb” (3 Kings 19:8)  The Tract that follows, continuing the psalm of the Introit, is the prayer of every priest who says to God, “See my abjection and my labour, and forgive me all my sins”.

Jonas Preaches Penance
The Gospel recounts the preaching of Jonas, a type of every priest of Jesus Christ: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Prayer and penance go together: the Ninivites represent the works of penance, whereas the Queen of the South, come from afar to hear the wisdom of Solomon, represents the Ecclesia audiens, the listening Church who, in imitation of the Virgo audiens, Mary Most Holy, who “kept all these words, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

With the Virgo Audiens
Our Lady appears explicitly in the Gospel when Our Lord is told that His mother and brethren were standing outside, seeking to speak with Him. Stretching forth His hands to the disciples who were listening to Him, He said: “Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:49–50). The imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, even in the life of the priests, consists in humble listening to the Word, and in obedience to the will of the Father. For this reason, the Offertory Antiphon, which continues the Gospel, has the priest say, in imitation of the Virgin:

I will meditate on thy commandments, which I have loved exceedingly, and I will lift up my hands to thy commandments, which I have loved. (Psalm 118:47–48)

Wavering Hearts
The Secret alludes to the drama of every man’s wavering heart, asking God to correct the inclinations of the heart that make one inconstant and subject to fluctuations. The Communion Antiphon completes the cry of the wavering heart, and develops the prayer already voiced in the Offertory Antiphon:

Give ear, O Lord, to my words, understand my cry. Hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God. For to thee will I pray: O Lord. (Psalm 5:2–4)

Light to See and Strength to Do
The Prayer Over the People is the petition of a people who, dwelling in darkness, but having heard the call to penance, want to change their lives effectively so as to live in the light:

Enlighten our minds, we beseech Thee, O Lord, with the light of Thy brightness: that we may be able to see what we ought to do, and have strength to do what is right.

The Rosary of the Seven Dolours

The Ember Wednesday of Lent, with its stational Mass at the basilica of Saint Mary Major, constitutes a Lenten homage to the Mother of God. There are also two feasts occurring in February that compel me to post once again what I wrote nine years ago concerning the Rosary of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The two feasts, well placed in Lent, are that of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites today, February 17th, and that of Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata on February 27th.

The Rosary of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a way of rememorating certain events in the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Compassion of His Virgin Mother. The fruits of this particular prayer are compunction of heart, detachment from the occasions of sin, chastity, humility, reparation, compassion, intimacy with the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and desire to contemplate the Face of Christ. The power of this prayer — something that many have experienced — comes from allowing one’s own heart to be irrigated and purified by the tears of the Mother of God. The tears of the Sorrowful Mother bring purity and healing wherever they fall.

It is significant, I think, that the first three of Our Lady’s Sorrows were shared with Saint Joseph and the last four with Saint John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus. Both saints appeared together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lamb at Knock in County Mayo on 21 August 1879. Saint Joseph and Saint John, the two men chosen by God to live in the intimacy of the Virgin Mother, were also chosen by God to enter into the mystery of her sorrows.

Here is one method of saying the Rosary of the Seven Dolours:
+ Incline, unto my aid, O God.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia. (In place of Alleluia, from Ash Wednesday until Easter is said: Praise be to thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.)

1. The prophecy of Simeon.
Lectio: “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. ” (Lk 2:34–35).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart upon hearing Simeon’s prophecy, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to God’s people Israel” (cf. Lk 2:32).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

2. The flight into Egypt.
Lectio: “And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son. ’” (Mt 2:13–15).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart at the flight into Egypt by night, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, born “to save his people from their sins” (cf. Mt 1:21).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

3. The loss of Jesus for three days.
Lectio: “And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’ s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.” (Lk 2:48–50).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when together with Saint Joseph thou didst search for Jesus for three days, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

4. Her meeting Jesus, carrying His cross.
Lectio: “He was oppressed and was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. . . . Yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Is 53:7, 12).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst encounter thy Jesus bearing His cross, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “despised and rejected by men” (Is 53:3).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

5. Her standing beneath the cross on Calvary.
Lectio: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’ s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.” (Jn 19:25–27).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst see thy Child’s hands and feet nailed to the wood of the Cross and His side pierced by the soldier’s lance, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus Crucified, bowed in death.
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

6. The Sacred Body of Jesus, taken down from the cross.
Lectio“To what shall I compare thee? or to what shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? to what shall I equal thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Sion? for great as the sea is thy destruction. Let tears run down like a torrent day and night: give thyself no rest” (Lam 2:13, 18).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst behold the lifeless Body of Jesus taken down from the cross, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “beautiful above the sons of men” (Ps 44:3).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

7. Her witnessing the burial of the Sacred Body of her Son.
Lectio: Joseph of Arimathea “went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid. And it was the day of the Parasceve, and the sabbath drew on. And the women that were come with him from Galilee, following after, saw the sepulchre, and how his body was laid” (Lk 23:52–55).
Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst behold the Body of Jesus wrapped in a linen shroud and laid in the tomb, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, covered with a veil in death.
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

In honour of the tears shed by Our Lady during these Seven Dolours: Three Hail Marys.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
grant that I may weep for my sins. Hail Mary.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
soften the hardened hearts of sinners. Hail Mary.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
grant that I may make reparation for my sins. Hail Mary.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

cuoreimmacolato2.jpg
Blessed Are the Pure in Heart
In the Beatitudes, Jesus, the Son of Mary, gives us the key that unlocks for us the mystery of today’s feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). There was in Mary Most Holy nothing to keep her from seeing God, nothing between the eyes of her soul and the Face of God. Repeatedly in the last years of his pontificate, Saint John Paul II and, after him, our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, invited us to place ourselves at the school of the Virgin there to learn the contemplation of the Face of Christ. The Face of Christ is seen only with the eyes of the heart.

To Contemplate With Mary the Face of Christ
Sixteen years ago in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Saint John Paul II said:

I have felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary . . . and an exhortation to contemplate the Face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, His Most Holy Mother. To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the Face of Christ” (RVM, art. 3).

Saint John Paul II returned to this intuition in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, saying:

In my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ’s Face, and among the mysteries of light I included the institution of the Eucharist. (EDE, art. 53)

The Eyes of Your Heart
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Saint Paul brings into a fuller light the meaning of this promise of Jesus when he tells us that, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6). In the same vein, he prayed for the Christians of the Church at Ephesus: “I cease not to give thanks for you, making commemoration of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:16-18).

Incarnation
Mary’s Immaculate Heart, her illumined Heart, her Heart free of every shadow, was created for the contemplation of Christ, the Human Face of God. While He was yet hidden in her womb, the eyes of her heart beheld His Face. After His birth, holding Him against her breast, she gazed at His Face and saw the radiance of the glory of God.

Hidden and Public Life
During the years of His hidden life, her eyes grew adjusted to the obscurity of faith, allowing her to see on the Face of her growing Son the splendour of the Word beheld from all eternity by the Father. During His public life the enlightened eyes of her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart saw what other eyes darkened by sin could not see.

Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension
During His bitter Passion, Our Lady saw the Face of Christ despised and cruelly disfigured: the glory of God shining through an ignominious veil of spittle and of blood. Her pure Heart beheld His Face in the glory of His Resurrection and, at His Ascension, received its indelible impression so deeply that, from that day forward, anyone seeking the Face of Christ could find its image in her Immaculate Heart. “And His mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

Pentecost
After Pentecost, the Mother took her place in the heart of the Church, her Immaculate Heart becoming the Church’s living memory, the inexhaustible treasure from which Luke and John drew their Gospels. Her Immaculate Heart was the hidden spring of the Church’s prayer, the sanctuary of the icon of the Holy Face “not made by human hands.”

In the Church
“Devoted to the breaking of the bread” (cf. Acts 2:42), Mary, Mother of the Church, recognized, as did no other, in the Host and in the Chalice the Eucharistic Face of her Son. When, at the hour willed by God, she fell asleep, it was to pass from the vision of the Eucharistic Face to the face-to-face that lies beyond the sacramental veils. “As for me, I shall behold Thy Face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Thy glory” (Psalm 16:15).

From One Degree of Glory to Another
The Pure Heart of Mary, the God-seeing Heart of Mary, intercedes for us in this and in every Holy Mass that, with the “eyes of our heart enlightened,” we might see, through the veil of the Sacred Host, the Eucharistic Face of her Son and so “be changed into its likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Love and Confidence in the Heart of Mary

BVM-Visitation-Mosaic.jpgFor today’s feast of the Most Pure Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I offer this translation of a text of Mother Mectilde de Bar. It is taken from a conference she gave on 7 February 1695.

I would not know how to incite you enough to the love and to the confidence that you ought to have in the most holy Heart of the Mother of God. There is no reason to fear not being received well, since she refuses no one. Love and confidence must grow in us, considering that our Institute came forth from her holy Heart.

You will say to me, “But I don’t have the capacity to love her, nor do I have all the devotion necessary to draw her benevolence and protection down upon me!”

We read in Scripture that she loves those who love her, but I will tell you something more: she loves even those who do not love her, inasmuch as she loves sinners. Affection and tenderness towards the holy Mother of God is a particular grace and a sign of predestination. Ask her to obtain this for you from her divine Son. However incapable you may be, you can always formulate desires: desire to love her, to exalt her, to honour her, each one of you individually, as much as and more than all the saints together.

When you begin to love her, she will teach you to know her divine Son and to love Him. Only through her is it possible to know our Lord Jesus Christ; it was she herself who revealed Him to me. “No one knows the Son if not the Mother, and no one knows the Mother if not the Son.” This is why all that we can think and say on her account is very far from the reality.

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