Our Lady of Joy — Homily for The Immaculate Conception | Silvio José Báez, O.C.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Homily for the Solemnity

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Most Reverend Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua 

 

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
December 7, 2019


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

Tonight we celebrate the Eucharist on the Solemnity for the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which will be followed by the joyful and heartfelt Nicaraguan feast of the Gritería. We Nicaraguans have grown up singing to the Virgin, feeling our hearts pounding with emotion at the cry of “Who causes so much joy? The Conception of Mary!”, turning our gaze to the Mother of the Lord, awaiting Her loving protection, with the certainty shouted at the top of our lungs in churches and in homes in our country: “Mary of Nicaragua, Nicaragua of Mary”.

In tonight’s Gospel, we heard that God sent the angel Gabriel to a house in Nazareth, who upon entering, greeted a young virgin named Mary, saying, “Rejoice, full of grace. The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). The first word that the angel utters is: “Rejoice!” God has chosen Mary to welcome the joy of the Messiah’s salvation in the name of all humanity. She receives from God the proclamation, “Rejoice!” because of the Savior’s coming. God invites her to rejoice even when she is a young woman of scarce resources, belonging to an almost unknown town in Galilee, even when she is part of a people who are subjugated, oppressed and bereft of hope. In this humble young woman of Nazareth, God causes messianic joy to emerge and she, welcoming it, makes it her own to be experienced every day.

Recently the Bishops of Nicaragua stated in this year’s Advent message that “experiencing joy is a challenge for the people who live in Nicaraguan society because we live in a Nicaragua that is ravaged by deep divisions and ruptures, where the abundance of gloomy faces are an eloquent testimony to the deep despair, suffering and sadness that Nicaraguan men and women are going through today.

It’s true. Our Nicaraguan society is bleeding, her heart is wounded, and we have shed tears of sorrow and helplessness; in the people who live on the streets and in the homes of our country and in those of us who live abroad, gloomy faces and troubled hearts abound, expressing sadness, powerlessness, and uncertainty. We can’t deny it. Moreover, we mustn’t deny it, for the joy that the Messiah brings us is born and reborn again and again in the midst of pain and despair.

The Virgin Mary, the first recipient of Messianic joy, reveals to us the secret of this joy, which is possible to experience even in the midst of the night of helplessness and anguish. In today’s Gospel, the angel, after inviting Mary to rejoice, went on to say to her: “The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). It is a very short phrase, but it expresses in synthesis the foundation of our faith and hope. This is the secret of Christian joy: God is in our midst as a powerful Savior. Mary rejoices because she is the bearer of Emmanuel, of ‘God with us’, and this presence causes her to exult with joy. This certainty allows us, like Mary, to sing and exult with joy. She lived with this joy that no one could take away from her, neither poverty, nor the darkness of faith, nor the pain of her son’s crucifixion. The Most Pure Virgin Mary is “Our Lady of Joy”. “The Lord is with you”: this is the secret of the Virgin’s joy and of our joy, for as St. Paul says: “If God is for us, who can be against us”? (Rom 8:31). Let us rejoice, the Lord is with you, Nicaragua! The Lord is with us, dear Nicaraguan sisters and brothers!

Without joy we remain paralyzed, slaves of our sorrows, weakened by the problems of life and the challenges of the times, unable to dream and build a better world. Our Lady teaches us that true joy does not belong exclusively to the realm of affections and feelings, but is rooted in the experience of faith and trust in the Lord’s love. To be happy or sad is a matter of faith when all is said and done. In her prayer of the Magnificat, Mary once again reveals to us the secret of her joy: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior because he has looked with favor upon his lowly servant” (Lk 1:48).

From her littleness and poverty, she contemplates the greatness of God who has gazed upon her with love. Despite her problems, which were not insignificant, she lives with joy because she trusts completely in the Lord and feels loved and cared for by Him. God fulfills all her longings. She needs nothing other than God to live with joy, to be joyful. Our Lady teaches us something as simple as letting ourselves be looked upon by God, always trusting in him; feeling welcomed and enfolded in his tenderness, cared for with a love that is attentive and caring, as we are continually forgiven with mercy. This fundamental feeling that is at the root of faith, by infusing us with joy, gives us a new capacity to overcome with faith the most painful and difficult moments; it makes us able to act with mercy towards others, serving and caring for one another; and, it also gives us the strength and creativity to imagine and build a new society founded on freedom, social justice and respect for human dignity. When we are sad, none of this can be done.

Our Lady of Joy is also the Mother of Joy. At the birth of her son, a great joy is announced to the shepherds: “he announced to them a great joy: to them is born this day in the city of David the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2:11). Mary not only gives birth to her son Jesus, but she also gives birth to a new joy, which never ends and of which we can always partake, on the condition that we live in communion with her son Jesus, the Messiah who has brought us joy, by “doing what he tells us” (Jn 2:5), as the Virgin at Cana in Galilee advised to do. Let there be no doubt. To think and act according to Jesus’ standards; to incarnate the Gospel in our personal and social life; always seeking and accepting God’s will, even at the cost of sacrifices and often without understanding everything that is happening to us, that is the pathway of joy. Let’s not fall into the temptation to think that those who ignore or reject God, those who live locked up in their egotism and trample on the dignity of other human beings, are living a joyful life. No. That is not the pathway of joy.

The perfect joy to which we are called follows a different trail and Mary, Our Lady of joy, assures us that it is possible to follow this path when we accept our littleness with serenity and abandon ourselves with trust into God’s hands. It is precisely the mystery of Mary’s Immaculate Conception that gives us the certainty that this joy is possible, for the loving will of a God who has always desired to give us perfect joy has been revealed in Mary, molding each of us in the image of His Son. She, the All Beautiful One, is that beautiful and luminous first fruit of the redemption of Christ, who in the Immaculate Conception of his Mother, the one “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), has brought forth the seed of the joy of a new world in the midst of the history of sorrow and the sin of humanity.

 

Immaculate Conception - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo PRADO
The Immaculate Conception
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696-1770)
Oil on canvas, 1767-1769
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Gallery label (excerpt)
This majestic image was part of a cycle of seven altarpieces commissioned in 1767 for the new royal church of San Pascual Bailón at Aranjuez, founded by Charles III in the same year. The symbols in the altarpiece refer to the virtues and significance of the Virgin. Read more here. Copyright © Museo Nacional del Prado. Used by permission.

 

Pentecost Novena: Edith Stein — Day 7

Pentecost Novena 7-17 Edith IGsize
Pentecost Novena: Edith Stein — Day 7

 

Are you the one who created the unclouded mirror
Next to the Almighty’s throne,
Like a crystal sea,
In which Divinity lovingly looks at itself?
You bend over the fairest work of your creation,
And radiantly your own gaze
Is illumined in return.
And of all creatures the pure beauty
Is joined in one in the dear form
Of the Virgin, your immaculate bride:
Holy Spirit Creator of all!


Saint Edith Stein

And I Remain With You:
From a Pentecost Novena

Day 7

 

The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 4
ICS Publications, Washington DC
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Marie du jour: 10 May

Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum Madonna_DavidOhmer
Cincinnati – Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum | David Ohmer / Flickr

“No one has seen the Father,” St. John tells us, “except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” It seems to me that we can also say, “No one has penetrated the depths of the mystery of Christ except the Blessed Virgin.” John and Mary Magdalene penetrated deeply this mystery; St. Paul often speaks of “the understanding of it which was given to him”; and yet, how all the saints remain in the shadows when we look at the Blessed Virgin’s light!

This is the unspeakable “secret” that she kept in mind and pondered in her heart which no tongue can tell or pen describe! This Mother of grace will form my soul so that her little child will be a living, “striking” image of her first-born,  the Son of the Eternal, He who was the perfect praise of His Father’s glory.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
The Last Retreat, First Day

The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 1: I Have Found God, General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings (p.111)
ICS Publications, Washington DC
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Deep within, Mary had learned to listen to the heartbeat of her Son, and that in turn taught her, throughout her life, to discover God’s heartbeat in history. 

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
From the homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

BAEZ 8Sep18 Tweet
Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua
PERE JACQUES - Virginity is one of the crown jewels IGsize
Père Jacques was the headmaster of the Carmelite boarding school in Avon, France who sheltered Jewish boys as students. When he was arrested, a crowd of shocked students gathered to watch as he was led away; his parting words were, “Au revoir, les enfants.”
The Milky Way over Balanced Rock sandstone rock formation with t
O Immaculate Virgin! You are my Sweet Star
Giving Jesus to me and uniting me to Him.
O Mother! Let me rest under your veil
Just for today.
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus (PN 5)
The Milky Way over Balanced Rock sandstone rock formation with the bright star Sirius on the right at Arches National Park, Moab, Utah | Diana Robinson

Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace

July 23
(In Europe: July 19)

OUR LADY, MOTHER OF DIVINE GRACE

Memorial

‘The Blessed Virgin Mary was eternally predestined, in the context of the Incarnation of the divine Word, to be the Mother of God. As decreed by divine Providence, she served on earth as the loving Mother of the divine Redeemer, His associate, uniquely generous, and the Lord’s humble servant. She conceived, bore, and nourished Christ; presented Him to the Father in the Temple; and was united with Him in His suffering as He died on the cross. In a completely unparalleled way she cooperated, by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity, with our Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason, she is Mother to us all in the order of grace’ (Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, 61).

From the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, except the following:

Office of Readings

THE SECOND READING

Hom. 4

From the homily of St. Cyril of Alexandria preached at the Council of Ephesus

Our access to the fountainhead of grace is through Mary

Hail Mary, Mother of God, august treasury of the whole world, unquenchable torch, crown of virginity, scepter of orthodoxy, temple indestructible, and place of the uncontainable, mother and virgin. Through you is named blessed in the holy gospel He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hail Mary! You contained the uncontainable in your holy virginal womb. Through you the Trinity is glorified; through you is the cross named precious, and adored throughout the whole world; through you heaven exults; through you angels and archangels rejoice; through you demons are put to flight; through you the devil, the tempter, fell from heaven; through you the fallen creature is taken up to heaven; through you the whole created world, gripped in the madness of idolatry, come to a recognition of the truth; through you comes about holy baptism for believers; through you the oil of gladness; through you churches have been founded through the whole world; through you nations are led to repentance.

What need is there to speak at length? Through you the only Son of God shone His light for those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; through you prophets foretold what was to come; through you apostles preach salvation to the nations; through you the dead are raised to life; through you kings reign, through the Holy Trinity.

What man can sing adequately the praise of Mary? She is both virgin and mother! The wonder astounds me. Shall the Builder be forbidden to inhabit the temple He has built? Shall He be despised who chose His handmaid for His mother?

See then, all things rejoice. May it be ours to fear and bow before the unity of the Trinity, to worship and tremble in awe before the indivisible Trinity, as we sing praises of the ever-virgin Mary, that is the holy Church, and of her Son and immaculate spouse; for to Him is glory for ever and ever. Amen.

RESPONSORY

R/. With confidence let us draw near to the throne of grace, * so that we may receive mercy, and find grace when we are in need of help.
V/. To you do we cry, blessed Virgin, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears, * so that we may receive mercy, and find grace when we are in need of help.

Morning Prayer

Canticle of Zechariah

Ant. It is I who give birth to all noble loving and the holy gift of hope. From me comes every grace of faithful observance; from me all promise of life and vigor.

PRAYER

God of eternal wisdom,
in your providence, you willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary
should bring forth the Author of Grace,
and take part with him
in the mystery of man’s redemption.
May she obtain for us grace in abundance
and bring us to the haven of everlasting salvation.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Evening Prayer

CANTICLE OF MARY

Ant. Our salvation is in your hands, O Mother; smile upon us, and we shall be happy in our service of the Lord our King.

Mater-Divinae-Gratiae_sepia
“She is Mother to us all in the order of grace” (LG 61)

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Day 8

Scripture – Galatians 5:19, 22-25

What human nature does is quite plain. But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.

Reading – Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D., from his retreat to the Carmel of Pontoise, 1943

There are two ways of communing with God. The first is the sacramental way, by reception of the Sacred Host, which allows us to bear Christ’s presence within ourselves. The second and unceasing way consists of God giving himself to us every moment of every day of our lives. In this way, God comes to us in the form of a duty, a joy or a sorrow. God comes to us in other persons, such as an unappealing [person] with whom we have to work or a congenial [friend] with whom we sit at [a meal]. In all these situations, it is God who comes to us, but we do not realize his presence. Yet, whatever the form behind which he hides and whatever the garb in which he presents himself, he is the God of Wisdom, Omnipotence, and Love without limits.

We will be saints, with holiness like that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila and the Little Flower, when God comes to us no longer in divine radiance, but in the form of a crushing threat to our life. Such was the experience of Christ in his Passion. Even if our human nature recoils in fear and trembling, we will be able to commune with God within the recesses of our soul through abandonment. There lies the key to God’s love and peace.

Novena Prayer

O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me
and show me herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!

Excerpt from Listen to the Silence: A Retreat With Père Jacques
Translated and Edited by Francis J. Murphy 
Copyright © 2005 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Day 7

Scripture – Romans 8:5-7

Those who live as their human nature tells them to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants. Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants. To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. And so people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human nature; for they do not obey God’s law, and in fact they cannot obey it.

Reading – Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, from her Letters

Yes, my darling, I am praying for you and I keep you in my soul quite close to God, in that little inner sanctuary where I find Him at every hour of the day and night. I’m never alone: my Christ is always there praying in me, and I pray with Him. You grieve me, My Framboise; I can well see that you’re unhappy and I assure you it’s your own fault. Be at peace. I don’t believe you’re crazy yet, just nervous and overexcited, and when you’re like that, you make others suffer too. Ah, if I could teach you the secret of happiness as God has taught it to me. You say I don’t have any worries or sufferings; it’s true that I’m very happy, but if you only knew that a person can be just as happy even when she is crossed. We must always keep our eyes on God. In the beginning, it’s necessary to make an effort when we’re just boiling inside, but quite gently, with patience and God’s help, we get there in the end.

Novena Prayer

O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me
and show me herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!

Excerpt from Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel 
Copyright © 2003 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Day 6

Scripture – Romans 15:4, 13

Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us. May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Reading – Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, from her Writings

Do everything for love of Him. Do not seek to please others. They are so mistaken in their judgments! God sees deeply within you at every moment, as though you were the only person alive. Be aware that as you sleep, as you work and live, there is an infinite Being concerned with giving you life, with loving you eternally and infinitely!

How I wish I could fill you with these thoughts, which make everything else pale in comparison, so that there is nothing before you but God! Then, what peace, what joy we might experience. We would understand that God is our center. We would be living the life of love, the life of heaven.

Novena Prayer

O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me
and show me herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!

Excerpt from Barbara Haight Garcia, OCDS, The Writings of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes: An Abridgement
Copyright © 2003 by Library of Congress 
Published by New Life Publishing

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Day 5

Scripture – Psalm 16:7-11

I praise the Lord, because he guides me,
   and in the night my conscience warns me.
I am always aware of the Lord’s presence;
   he is near, and nothing can shake me.

And so I am thankful and glad,
   and I feel completely secure,
because you protect me from the power of death.
I have served you faithfully,
   and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead.

You will show me the path that leads to life;
   your presence fills me with joy
   and brings me pleasure forever.

Reading – Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, O.C.D., Spiritual Maxims on the Presence of God

The [practice of the] presence of God is an application of our mind to God, or a remembrance of God present, that can be brought about by either the imagination or the understanding.

I know someone who, for forty years, has been practicing an intellectual presence of God to which he gives several other names. Sometimes he calls it a “simple act,” a “clear and distinct knowledge of God,” an “indistinct view,” or a “general and loving awareness of God.” Other times he names it “attention to God” “silent conversation with God,” “trust in God,” or “the soul’s life and peace.” This person told me that all these forms of God’s presence are nothing but synonyms for the same thing, and that it is at present second nature to him. Here is how:

This person says that the habit is formed by the repetition of acts and by frequently bringing the mind back into God’s presence. He says that as soon as he is free from his occupations, and often even when he is most taken up by them, the recesses of his mind [esprit] or the innermost depths of his soul are raised with no effort on his part and remain suspended and fixed in God, above all things, as in its center and resting place. Since he is generally aware that his mind, thus held in suspension, is accompanied by faith, he is satisfied. This is what he calls “actual presence of God,” which includes all the other types of presence and much more besides, so that he now lives as if only he and God were in the world. He converses with God everywhere, asks him for what he needs, and rejoices continuously with him in countless ways.

It is important, however, to realize that this conversation with God takes place in the depths and center of the soul. It is there that the soul speaks to God heart to heart, and always in a deep and profound peace that the soul enjoys in God. Everything that takes place outside the soul means no more to it than a lit straw that goes out as soon as it is ignited, and almost never, or very rarely, disturbs its inner peace.

Novena Prayer

O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me
and show me herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!

Excerpt from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God 
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
 Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Day 1

Scripture  –  Acts 27:23-25

For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship came to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must stand before the Emperor. And God in his goodness to you has spared the lives of all those who are sailing with you.’ So take courage, men! For I trust in God that it will be just as I was told.

Reading  –  Saint Teresa of Avila, Spiritual Testimonies: 50 – Father Gracián’s health

(Seville, probably 1575)

Father Gracián’s health

1. Having been so distressed over our Father’s health that I couldn’t be at peace, and begging the Lord very emphatically one day after Communion that since He had given our Father to me He not allow me to be without him, the Lord told me: “Don’t be afraid.”

Novena Prayer

O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me
and show me herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!

Excerpt from the Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila
Copyright © 1976, 1980, 1985 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 8 – 16

O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me
and show me herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!

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