Mary, Mother of God: Her face speaks peace — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Solemnity of the
Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of God
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
1 January 2020


Gospel
Numbers 6:22-27

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On the first day of the new year, we have the joy and grace of celebrating the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and at the same time the World Day of Peace. Gathered as a Church to celebrate the Eucharist around Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary and our true peace, we welcome with emotion the words of the ancient blessing that the priests imparted on the people of Israel: The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! (cf. Nm 6:26).

We have heard, both in the first reading—taken from the Book of Numbers—and in the responsorial Psalm, some expressions that contain the metaphor of the face in reference to God: “The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!” (Nm 6:25); “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations” (Ps 67:1-2, NRSVCE). The face is the expression par excellence of the person, which makes him recognizable; through it, the feelings, thoughts, and intentions of the heart are shown. God, by his nature, is invisible; however, the Bible also applies this image to him. Showing his face is an expression of his benevolence while hiding it indicates his anger and indignation. The Psalms present believers as those who seek the face of God (cf. Ps 27:9; 102:2, NRSVCE) and who aspire to see it in worship: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Ps 42:2, NRSVCE).

We begin this year with the deep conviction of our faith that the Lord wants to show us his face and that this is a reason for trust and hope. We trust that this year the Lord will look upon us as we journey and that he’ll gaze upon us with infinite kindness. We know that he’ll never turn his face away from us because he is the faithful one and he loves us dearly. We do not know what will happen in this new year, but we’re sure that the Lord will continue to show us his gentle, loving, welcoming face, assuring us that he is with us. The face of the Lord who is looking upon us will overcome our loneliness.

Biblical history as a whole can be read as a progressive revelation of the face of God, until it reaches its full manifestation in Jesus Christ. “When the fullness of time had come,” the Apostle Paul reminded us today, “God sent his Son” (Gal 4:4). And immediately he adds, “born of a woman, born under the law.” The face of God took on a human face, allowing Himself to be seen and recognized in the son of the Virgin Mary, whom we, therefore, venerate as “Mother of God.” She, who kept in her heart the secret of divine motherhood, was the first to see the face of God made man in the tiny fruit of her womb. The mother has a very special, unique and in some ways exclusive relationship with her newborn child. The first face the child sees is that of the mother, and this look is decisive for his relationship with life, with himself, with others, and with God.

Through her face, Mary “gave Jesus the beautiful experience of knowing what it is to be a Son (…) and sensing “the maternal tenderness of God”. At the same time, in contemplating the face of Mary, “the God-Child learned to listen to the yearnings, the troubles, the joys and the hopes of the people of the promise” (Pope Francis, Homily 1 January 2017). Seeing his mother’s face, Jesus recognized himself to be a son and a brother, as the Son of God and as the brother of all people. The mother’s serene gaze communicates security and peace, giving an awareness of being a person and strengthening the ability to relate to others and to God with maturity and generosity. Today too, the face of the Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother, makes us feel like children of God and brothers and sisters to one another.

The face of Our Lady, whose heart was always full of God’s loving presence, allows us to feel that God is close to us and loves us, it instills in us the certainty that God never leaves our side, and that he cares for us and always forgives us. Our Lady’s face also helps us to look at each other as sisters and brothers. It teaches us to see as she does, and it enables us to have a caring vision that seeks to welcome, to accompany, and to protect. Let’s learn to look at each other under the maternal gaze of Mary. May she help us this year to show a kind and welcoming face to all. Let’s not be afraid to go out and look at our brothers and sisters with Our Lady’s eyes, to let her face be seen in our faces. Her face speaks peace to us and makes us capable of being peacemakers.

Peace has much to do with the face, with our own face and the faces of others. Peace begins with a respectful look that recognizes a real person in the face of the other individual, whatever the color of their skin, their nationality, their language, and their religion may be. In this New Year, may people who see our face have no fear, neither let them feel ignored or rejected, because “mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace” (Pope Francis, World Day of Peace 2020).

Peace is destroyed when we live in faceless, anonymous societies where the law that seems to dominate our coexistence is “every man for himself,” all of us being submerged in the sea of selfishness and indifference. We contribute to peace when we fill our lives and our hearts with faces—with faces that have names and stories, with faces that make our hearts beat with charity and solidarity, that move us with tenderness and goodness.

In many of our countries, injustice and violent repression continue to sow terror and death because we have not learned to recognize human beings who deserve dignity and respect in the faces of others, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Peace will be possible for our people only through “a patient effort to seek truth and justice, to honor the memory of victims and to open the way, step by step, to a shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance” (World Day of Peace 2020).

The ancient priestly blessing of Israel concludes with these words: “The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace” (Nm 6:26). The human face of God who imparts his peace to us is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. Therefore, at the beginning of this New Year, to prepare ourselves to receive God’s blessing in Christ and to be peacemakers, let us run back to the manger like the shepherds (cf. Lk 2:15-26) and confidently turn our faces to the face of the Mother who carries God in her arms. May she, whose face reflects God’s maternal tenderness, preserve our hearts in peace and help the whole of humanity to walk in the pathways of peace.

 

Theotokos BAEZ fave
Credit: Desde dentro…

 

 


Silvio José Báez, O.C.D. has served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua since May 2009, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. A scripture scholar, a former professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum in Rome and editor of the facultys eponymous academic journal, the bishop currently serves at the good pleasure of the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.  Read our profile of Bishop Báez here and search our blog posts concerning the bishop here.

 

This English translation of Bishop Báez's Spanish homily is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

 

Quote of the day: 1 January

The Virgin Mary did not give Christ his divine nature. Nevertheless, she is the mother of the whole person. So it is with us. We do not say of our mothers that they are mothers of our bodies, but not of our souls. We say that they are the mothers of their children and mothers of “us.” Hence, the Virgin Mary is truly the mother of Christ and, since his human nature subsists in the divine person, Mary is likewise truly the mother of God.

It is so awesome that it makes us weep with admiration and thanksgiving to think that a poor little human creature, our sister human being, had the tremendous honor of forming a body and bringing God into the world. She received him, she guarded him, she enclosed him in the humble, narrow limits of her own body. What a privilege! The creator of the world called her “Mama.” She held him in her arms and cradled him at her breast. You know very well that creation was not a passing gesture, as if God had withdrawn, leaving his work to continue according to determined laws. Creation is actually continuing while I speak to you. If God discontinued his creating action, all beings would instantly return to nothingness. Creation is a work that continues unceasingly. This is a consoling thought, which puts us in the presence of God and into contact with the being of God. Thus the little one who was there under Mary’s eyes was continuing the act of creating the world; he was creating and maintaining his mother in existence.

Père Jacques de Jésus, O.C.D.

Listen to the Silence: A Retreat with Père Jacques
The Divine Preparation in Mary and in Us
Conference 5, 8 September 1943

 

Madonna and Child FORSYTH William J IMAmuseum
Madonna and Child
William J. Forsyth (American, 1854-1935)
Pencil on off-white paper, 1888-1891
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

 

 

Jacques, P 2005, Listen to the silence: a retreat with Père Jacques, translated from the French and edited by Murphy F, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 26 December

Oh! How beautiful is this good Mother! How good she is; she smiled at me and listened to my prayer; I thought of entrusting everything to her; and I said to her: Mother, make the foundation quickly, found a Carmel where your Divine Son was born… I believe that our prayer will be answered and that two pieces of good news will come to us at the same time.

Oh, how beautiful Mary is!…

Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified

Prières et Cantiques
Cahiers Réservés 5 (excerpt)

 

Nativity icon detail Shkolnik studio Ted Flickr 5741797808_7252b38d2a_o
The Nativity (detail)
Written by Dmitry Shkolnik
St. Paul Orthodox Church
Dayton, Ohio

 

 

This English translation of the unpublished French manuscript is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution. We are grateful to the Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Holy Land for providing us with the full text of the Cahiers Réservés.

 

Quote of the day: 22 November

Think what must have been in the soul of the Virgin when, after the Incarnation, she possessed within her the Incarnate Word, the Gift of God… in what silence, what recollection, what adoration she must have been wrapped in the depth of her soul in order to embrace this God whose mother she was.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

22 November 1903

 

Margetson, William Henry, 1861-1940; Mary at the Loom
Mary at the Loom
William Henry Margetson (British, 1861–1940)
Oil on canvas, 1895
Victoria Art Gallery

Quote of the day: 27 August

To protect the life of grace means to defend it against any influence that could extinguish it, such as loss of faith or sin. These, of course, endanger the child only when he arrives at the age of reason and freedom. Nevertheless, the child needs protection even before this, for poisonous matter can penetrate into the soul even before the life of reason has begun.

The child’s soul receives impressions from what he sees, hears, and touches; indeed, even experiences before birth can leave impressions upon the soul, and these impressions can have unpredictable consequences in later life. Therefore, the mother must keep pure the atmosphere in which the child is living.

Above all things, she herself must remain pure and faithful; she must try, as much as possible, to keep far from the children those people whom she cannot trust implicitly. Before the age of reason is reached, this nurturing of the flame of grace is ensured through the prayer of the mother, and it is also ensured because the child is thus confided to the protection of the Mother of God.

 

World Meeting of Families Wed am Mass 21644441252_f337712429_o US Papal Visit Flickr
A mother keeps her daughter cheerfully engaged during the Wednesday morning Mass at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, 23 September 2015 | Photo credit: Antoine Mekary/Aleteia for US Papal Visit / Flickr

 

With the age of reason, direct influence becomes possible. The child must learn to know and to love the Father in heaven, the child Jesus, the Mother of God, and the guardian angel. With increasing understanding, a deeper and more extensive penetration into the world of faith is possible. The pure, uncorrupted child’s heart has no difficulties in this and asks for more and more.

The sources of grace provided by the sacraments must also be made accessible. They are the strongest nourishment of the life of grace and the most efficacious safeguard against the dangers which come about almost unavoidable in this very time when, in many instances, various and uncontrollable influences encroach upon the influence of the mother and of the strictest family circle.

Saint Edith Stein
The Church, Woman, and Youth (25 July 1932)

 

Edith Stein 1931 Wien
Edith Stein, 1931 | Photo: Discalced Carmelites

 

On July 24 and 25 I attended a very enjoyable convention for young girls in Augsburg. At the leadership meeting, I had to give a talk on “The Task of Woman as Leader of Youth to the Church.”

Letter 120 (excerpt) to Sr. Adelgundis Jaegerschmid, OSB, 28 August 1932

 

Gelber L, Leuven R, and Stein E 1996, Essays on Woman, translated from German by FM Oben, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Stein E 1993, Self-Portrait in Letters 1916-1942, translated from German by J Koeppel, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 25 August

Our Lady of the Grapes Mignard_vierge_raisins
La Vierge à la grappe
Pierre Mignard (French, 1612-1695)
Oil on canvas, 17th c.
Louvre Museum

 

Mary triumphs, she gives the fruit of life!… She triumphs over the dragon that devours her children!… The Mother gives her life for her children… She gives her fruit to save her children!…

Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified
Mariam Baouardy, the Little Arab
Prayers and Canticles, Notebook 8

23 July: Our Lady 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)

Flos Carmeli: Novena 9

I remember that when my mother died I was twelve years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself. It wearies me now to see and think that I was not constant in the good desires I had in my childhood.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life: Chapter 1


Acuérdome que cuando murió mi madre quedé yo de edad de doce años, poco menos. Como yo comencé a entender lo que había perdido, afligida fuime a una imagen de nuestra Señora y supliquéla fuese mi madre, con muchas lágrimas. Paréceme que, aunque se hizo con simpleza, que me ha valido; porque conocidamente he hallado a esta Virgen soberana en cuanto me he encomendado a ella y, en fin, me ha tornado a sí. Fatígame ahora ver y pensar en qué estuvo el no haber yo estado entera en los buenos deseos que comencé.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
El Libro de la Vida: Capítulo 1

 

1991.48
The Virgin Placing St. Teresa of Avila Under the Protection of St. Joseph
François Guillaume Ménageot (French, 1744–1816)
Oil paint over pen and brown ink, on paper, mounted on canvas, ca. 1787
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

SEQUENCE HYMN
Flos Carmeli

Flos Carmeli,
vitis florigera,
splendor caeli,
virgo puerpera
singularis.

Mater mitis
sed viri nescia
Carmelitis
esto propitia
stella maris.

Inter spinas
quae crescis lilium
serva puras
mentes fragilium
tutelaris.

Armatura
fortis pugnantium
furunt bella
tende praesidium
scapularis.

Per incerta
prudens consilium
per adversa
iuge solatium
largiaris.

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam
reple laetitia
qua bearis.

Paradisi
clavis et ianua,
fac nos duci
quo, Mater, gloria
coronaris. Amen.

SCRIPTURE
John 19:25-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother.”

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!

 

 

Many of the images of St. Teresa are found in the Iconografía Teresiana online collection of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Alba de Tormes; other works are found in the PESSCA online collection of Spanish Colonial Art
Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars

Per Adversa: Novena 8

The way of suffering and love

1. On another day the Lord told me this: “Do you think, daughter, that merit lies in enjoyment? No, rather it lies in working and suffering and loving. Haven’t you heard that St. Paul rejoiced in heavenly joys only once and that he suffered often. Look at my whole life filled with suffering, and only in the incident on Mount Tabor do you hear about my joy. When you see My Mother holding Me in her arms, don’t think she enjoyed those consolations without heavy torment. From the time Simeon spoke those words to her, My Father gave her clear light to see what I was to suffer. The great saints who lived in deserts, since they were guided by God, performed severe penances; and besides this, they waged great battle with the devil and with themselves. They spent long periods without any spiritual consolation. Believe, daughter, that My Father gives greater trials to anyone whom He loves more; and love responds to these. How can I show you greater love than by desiring for you what I have desired for Myself? Behold these wounds, for your sufferings have never reached this point. Suffering is the way of truth. By this means you will help me weep over the loss of those who follow the way of the world, and you will understand that all your desires, cares, and thoughts must be employed in how to do the opposite.”

2. When I had begun prayer I had such a bad headache I thought it would be almost impossible to pray. The Lord said to me: “In this way, you will see the reward that comes from suffering, for since you did not have the health to speak with Me, I have spoken with you and favored you.” And so it is certain that I must have been recollected about an hour and a half. During that time He spoke the above words to me and all the rest. I was not distracted, but neither did I know where I was; and I was so happy I don’t know how to describe it. My headache went away — which surprised me — and I was left with a great desire for suffering.

It is true, at least I haven’t heard otherwise, that our Lord didn’t have any joy in life other than this once, nor did St. Paul. The Lord also told me I should keep very much in mind the words He spoke to His apostles, that the servant must not be greater than the Lord.

Saint Teresa of Avila
Spiritual Testimonies: 32


1. Esto me dijo el Señor otro día: “¿Piensas, hija, que está el merecer en gozar? No está sino en obrar y en padecer y en amar. No habrás oído que San Pablo estuviese gozando de los gozos celestiales más de una vez, y muchas que padeció, y ves mi vida toda llena de padecer y sólo en el monte Tabor habrás oído mi gozo. No pienses, cuando ves a mi Madre que me tiene en los brazos, que gozaba de aquellos contentos sin grave tormento. Desde que le dijo Simeón aquellas palabras, la dio mi Padre clara luz para que viese lo que Yo había de padecer. Los grandes santos que vivieron en los desiertos, como eran guiados por Dios, así hacían graves penitencias, y sin esto tenían grandes batallas con el demonio y consigo mismos; mucho tiempo se pasaban sin ninguna consolación espiritual. Cree, hija, que a quien mi Padre más ama, da mayores trabajos, y a éstos responde el amor. ¿En qué te le puedo más mostrar que querer para ti lo que quise para Mí? Mira estas llagas, que nunca llegaron aquí tus dolores. Este es el camino de la verdad. Así me ayudarás a llorar la perdición que traen los del mundo, entendiendo tú esto, que todos sus deseos y cuidados y pensamientos se emplean en cómo tener lo contrario”.

2. Cuando empecé a tener oración, estaba con tan gran mal de cabeza, que me parecía casi imposible poderla tener. Díjome el Señor: “Por aquí verás el premio del padecer, que como no estabas tú con salud para hablar conmigo, he Yo hablado contigo y regaládote”. Y es así cierto, que sería como hora y media, poco menos, el tiempo que estuve recogida. En él me dijo las palabras dichas y todo lo demás. Ni yo me divertía, ni sé adónde estaba, y con tan gran contento que no sé decirlo, y quedóme buena la cabeza -que me ha espantado- y harto deseo de padecer.

Es verdad que al menos yo no he oído que el Señor tuviese otro gozo en la vida sino esa vez, ni San Pablo. También me dijo que trajese mucho en la memoria las palabras que el Señor dijo a sus Apóstoles, “que no había de ser más el siervo que el Señor”.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Las Relaciones: Capítulo 36

 

The crucified Christ appears to Saint Teresa of Avila_Alonso Cano_Museo del Prado
The crucified Christ appears to Saint Teresa of Avila, Alonso Cano, Oil on canvas, 1629, Museo del Prado, Madrid

 

SCRIPTURE
Colossians 1:24-2:5

It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church. I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering God’s message to you, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints. It was God’s purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to pagans. The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory: this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ. It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly.

Yes, I want you to know that I do have to struggle hard for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for so many others who have never seen me face to face. It is all to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. I say this to make sure that no one deceives you with specious arguments. I may be absent in body, but in spirit I am there among you, delighted to find you all in harmony and to see how firm your faith in Christ is.

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!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars

Carmelitis Da Privilegia: Novena 7

Her vision of our Lady in the choir of the Incarnation

1. On the eve of the feast of St. Sebastian, the first year in which I was prioress at the Incarnation, at the beginning of the Salve Regina, I saw the Mother of God descend with a great multitude of angels and sit in the prioress’s choir stall where there was a statue of our Lady. In my opinion I didn’t then see the statue but our Lady herself. It seemed to me she looked something like she does in the painting the countess gave me; although the power to discern this was quickly taken away, for my faculties were soon held in great suspension. It seemed to me there were angels above the canopies of the stalls in the back and above the front stalls; although they were not in corporeal form, for this was an intellectual vision.

She remained for the whole of the Salve, and she told me: “You were indeed right in placing me here; I shall be present in the praises they give my Son, and I shall offer these praises to Him.”

2. After this I remained in the kind of prayer I now have, that of keeping my soul present with the Blessed Trinity. And it seemed to me that the Person of the Father drew me to Himself and spoke very pleasant words. Among them, while showing me what He wanted, He told me: “I gave you My Son, and the Holy Spirit, and this Blessed Virgin. What can you give Me?”

Saint Teresa of Avila
Spiritual Testimonies: 21


1. La víspera de San Sebastián, el primer año que vine a ser Priora en la Encarnación, comenzando la Salve, vi en la silla prioral, adonde está puesta nuestra Señora, bajar con gran multitud de ángeles la Madre de Dios y ponerse allí. A mi parecer, no vi la imagen entonces, sino esta Señora que digo. Parecióme se parecía algo a la imagen que me dio la Condesa aunque fue de presto el poderla determinar, por suspenderme luego mucho. Parecíame encima de las comas de las sillas y sobre los antepechos, ángeles, aunque no con forma corporal, que era visión intelectual.

Estuvo así toda la Salve, y díjome: “Bien acertaste en ponerme aquí; yo estaré presente a las alabanzas que hicieren a mi Hijo, y se las presentaré”.

2. Después de esto quedéme yo en la oración que traigo de estar el alma con la Santísima Trinidad, y parecíame que la persona del Padre me llegaba a Sí y decía palabras muy agradables. Entre ellas me dijo, mostrándome lo que quería: “Yo te di a mi Hijo y al Espíritu Santo y a esta Virgen. ¿Qué me puedes tú dar a mí?”.

Santa Teresa de Jesús
Las Relaciones: Capítulo 25

Choir Incarnation Avila British Library Blogfeatimage
Engraving of Carmelite nuns in prayer at the Monastery of the Incarnation; note the canopies above the choir stalls

 

SCRIPTURE
Romans 12:1-2

So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.

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!

 

Novena citations taken from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. 
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars,
Nativity_MELCHERS Gari
The Nativity
Julius Garibaldi “Gari” Melchers (American, 1860-1932)
Oil on canvas, ca. 1891
Gari Melchers Home and Studio, Fredericksburg

 

Mary was also a model of faith. Oh, how pleasing that faith was to the Heavenly Father! It was her faith that made Jesus grow in Her more each day. If we have such faith, Jesus will also grow in our hearts.

Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified
Thoughts of St. Mary of Jesus Crucified

 

Marie du jour: 23 May

He was creating and maintaining his mother in existence

 

It is so awesome that it makes us weep with admiration and thanksgiving to think that a poor little human creature, our sister human being, had the tremendous honor of forming a body and bringing god into the world. She received him, she guarded him, she enclosed him in the humble, narrow limits of her own body. What a privilege! The creator of the world called her “Mama.” She held him in her arms and cradled him at her breast.

You know very well that creation was not a passing gesture, as if God had withdrawn, leaving his work to continue according to determined laws. Creation is actually continuing while I speak to you. If God discontinued his creating action, all beings would instantly return to nothingness. Creation is a work that continues unceasingly. This is a consoling thought, which puts us in the presence of God and into contact with the being of God. Thus the little one who was there under Mary’s eye was continuing the act of creating the world; he was creating and maintaining his mother in existence.

Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D.
The Divine Preparation in Mary and in Us
Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise, Conference Five 
Wednesday morning, 8 September 1943

 

Nativity Arundel MS 157 folio 3verso British Library (2)
The Nativity, Arundel MS 157, folio 3v
The Book of Psalms, Psalter of the Virgin Mary, and Little Office of the Virgin Mary
English, 1st quarter of the 13th century
Latin and Anglo-Norman proto-gothic script on parchment
The British Library, Digitised Manuscripts Collection

 

About the illustration

This English manuscript is an early example of a Psalter with the Hours of the Virgin Mary attached. The manuscript’s origin is unknown, but probably has a connection with Oxford since its Calendar contains three feasts of St Frideswide (d. 727): the latter was abbess at Oxford and venerated there as local saint by the 10th century; her relics were discovered and elevated in 1180 and preserved at the Augustinian Priory of St Frideswide at Oxford. The manuscript also contains the ‘Psalter of the Virgin Mary’ that has been attributed to St Anselm (b. c. 1033, d. 1109), abbot of Bec and archbishop of Canterbury. This relatively rare attribution can also be found in the 13th century Oscott Psalter which has also been associated with Oxford because of its inclusion of St Frideswide in its Litany of Saints.

Learn more about this manuscript here

 

Listen to the Silence - A Retreat with Père Jacques (p. 34)
Translated and edited by Francis J. Murphy
ICS Publications © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

 

 

Marie du jour: 14 May

O loving Queen, Mother of might most holy,
O deign to place us all within thy breast!
For in thy power, thy children all, though lowly,
Do set their hope, trusting in thy behest.

Blessed Teresa of Saint-Augustine
Excerpt from a Christmas carol


Blessed Teresa of Saint-Augustine, the prioress of the martyred Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiègne, France, was born Marie-Madeleine-Claudine Lidoine in Paris, 22 September 1752.  When she introduced herself as a candidate for formation in the Carmel of Compiègne, she was unable to raise the funds for the necessary dowry that postulants were expected to bring with them to support the financial needs of the community. The prioress of the Carmel of Saint-Denis, Venerable Mother Teresa of Saint-Augustine — lovingly remembered by her baptismal name, Madame Louise — was the daughter of King Louis XV. When she learned of the difficulty the promising candidate faced in acquiring the francs needed for her dowry, Madame Louise supplied the balance of the funds required for the young Madame Lidoine’s admission to formation. In recognition of her benefactor’s great generosity, the Discalced Carmelite novice took the same religious name as her benefactor: Teresa of Saint-Augustine. Madame Louise’s generosity was well repaid when her protégée, now prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, led her nuns bravely and joyfully to the scaffold in revolutionary Paris on 17 July 1794.

 

Virgin and Child with a Rose - BOUCHER Francois - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Legion of Honor
Virgin and Child with a Rose
François Boucher (French, 1703 – 1770)
Oil on canvas, ca. 1765-1770
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco – Legion of Honor

François Boucher was the court painter to King Louis XV

Excerpt from William Bush, To Quell the Terror: The Mystery of the Vocation of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne Guillotined July 17, 1774 
Copyright © 1999, 2013 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
 Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Marie du jour: 12 May

I remember that when my mother died I was twelve years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself. It wearies me now to see and think that I was not constant in the good desires I had in my childhood.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, Chapter 1

 

grayscale photo of religious statue
Photo by Alem Sánchez on Pexels.com

 

The Book of Her Life: Chapter 9; The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila 
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. (unless otherwise noted)
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC 
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

Marie du jour: 8 May

 

Why I Love You, O Mary!

O beloved Mother, despite my littleness,
Like you, I possess The All-Powerful within me.
But I don’t tremble in seeing my weakness:
The treasures of a mother belong to her child,
And I am your child, O my dearest Mother.
Aren’t your virtues and your love mine too?
So when the white Host comes into my heart,
Jesus, your Sweet Lamb, thinks he is resting in you!…

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Why I Love You, O Mary!
PN 54, Stanza 5

The Last Supper Preston-on-Stour
The Last Supper, detail from a window in Preston-on-Stour | Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr

On 8 May 1884, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux made her First Holy Communion; on that same day, her sister Pauline professed her Carmelite vows in the hands of the saintly foundress of the Carmel of Lisieux, Mother Geneviève of St Teresa.

Of that day Saint Thérèse wrote, “Ah! how sweet was that first kiss of Jesus! It was a kiss of love; I felt that I was loved, and I said: “I love You, and I give myself to You forever!” There were no demands made, no struggles, no sacrifices; for a long time now Jesus and poor little Thérèse looked at and understood each other. That day, it was no longer simply a look, it was a fusion; they were no longer two, Thérèse had vanished as a drop of water is lost in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus alone remained; He was the Master, the King.” (Ms A, 35r)

Later, Pauline (her religious name was Mother Agnès of Jesus) recalled: “At the end of the afternoon,” she says, “I saw my little Thérèse in the parlor, with her veil as white as my own. She gazed at me with so profound and gentle a look. What a moment for us both! I went out quite comforted, a little like the apostles when they descended from Mount Tabor: a heavenly atmosphere surrounded me. Oh, my God, if the sight of an earthly angel could so fortify me, what will it be to see in eternity the very fountain-head of goodness, from whence proceeds all the beauty of the saints!” (Circular letter, Carmelite death notice for Mother Agnès of Jesus)

Mutter_Agnes_von_Jesus
Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline Martin), photo circa 1900 | Photo: Carmel of Lisieux / Wikimedia Commons
Learn more about
Mother Agnès of Jesus here

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

Marie du jour: 4 May

Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.

Saint John of the Cross
Prayer of a Soul Taken with Love
Sayings of Light and Love, No. 27

LONGHI Madonna and Chilld
Madonna and Child
Barbara Longhi (Italian, 1552-1648)
Oil on canvas, about 1580-1585
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
This small Madonna is one of the few known works by Barbara Longhi. Daughter of the Mannerist painter Luca Longhi, her work was praised by contemporaries, including Giorgio Vasari, for its “purity of line and soft brilliance of color.”
The subject of the reading Virgin was a popular one in the Renaissance. It exalts a feminine ideal, embodied by the Virgin, in which the ability to read is exercised in the service of prayer. On another level, the book held aloft by the Virgin can be seen as a symbol of the Word. This meaning is reinforced by the figure of the infant Christ, resting his arm against the globe of the world and raising his hand in blessing.
Learn more here

 

Sayings of Light and Love, 27
The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross, Revised Edition
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D.
With Revisions and Introductions by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.
ICS Publications
Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

 

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.”

Mary, Mother and Teacher

She is the model of all
who live by the Spirit of the gospel;
As we look up to her in prayer we learn
from her mind to love you above all things,
from her spirit to be rapt in contemplation of your Word, and
from her heart to serve the needs of others.

ndmc_protection
Early image of the Blessed Virgin clothed in the Carmelite habit surrounded by Carmelite saints
Excerpt from the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Teacher in the Spirit; taken from The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, published by the Congregation of Divine Worship in 1986.

Quote of the day: 5 January

Blessed Virgin, my good Mother, remember that I am still your child, a poor orphan; have compassion on me, teach me what to do.

St Mariam of Jesus Crucified
Prières et Cantiques

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