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.

 

The Holy Family: The fiber of humanity — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

The Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
29 December 2019


Gospel
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.

Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, which reminds us of a particular dimension of the mystery of God’s becoming human in Jesus Christ: the Lord wanted to live in the very heart of a family. He entered the world as a child, born of the Virgin Mary and, through Joseph he received a legal father, was lovingly welcomed and protected by his parents, and was educated by them in the best human and religious values of his people. Ever since then the family, every family, has a certain sacredness. The Son of God sanctifies and gladdens every family with his presence and enables families to experience tenderness, reconciliation, and hope by sustaining them with his tender and merciful love.

The gospel text that we heard reminds us that Jesus’ family was a family like many of our families today, forced to move to foreign lands to save their lives and survive. As soon as Jesus is born, he suffers opposition from the mighty of this world, as will be the case throughout his life. The servant Messiah, devoid of power, always will be spied upon, persecuted, and harassed by the leaders of religion and politics who are governed by selfishness, ambition, and violence. The powerful are afraid of God’s people and respond to the gifts of God with intimidation and terror.

King Herod, who ruled in Judea, fearing the “king of the Jews” (Mt 2:2), who according to the testimony of the Magi was just born in Bethlehem, decided to take drastic measures to eliminate the child. Those who wield power like despots in an authoritarian manner always live in fear of losing their power. Ambitious and thirsty for power, Herod is afraid and orders the murder of all the children under the age of two in Bethlehem (Mt 2:16). Like the ancient Pharaoh of Egypt, like the tyrants of today who dominate by repression and the shedding of innocent blood, Herod chooses to kill rather than lose his power and privileges. History repeats itself.

Because he’s just a little child, Jesus is not able to take care of himself and protect himself from danger and it’s only thanks to Joseph and Mary’s care that his life is saved. Salvation history, woven by God with the fiber of humanity, passes through the daily events of families who are called to protect life by keeping love alive and seeking relationships of closeness and affection.

An angel, a messenger of the Lord, appeared in a dream to Joseph and commanded him: “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph promptly obeys, takes Mary and the newborn with him, and goes to Egypt where they experience the dramatic conditions of refugees, characterized by fear, poverty, uncertainty, and discomfort (cf. Mt 2:13-15, 19-23).

Unfortunately, thousands of families in our Latin American countries can see themselves in this sad reality. I’m thinking especially of Cuba, Venezuela and, more recently, my beloved people in Nicaragua. How many people in our countries, children, women and the elderly included, have to leave their homeland because of hunger or violence in search of an existence with greater dignity or simply to save their lives! I’m thinking today especially of the approximately 80,000 Nicaraguans who’ve had to flee our country, persecuted by a dictatorial government and its dark forces of death, in search of safety, trying to survive at all costs by exposing themselves to all kinds of risks and dangers!

Jesus wanted to belong to a family that experienced these difficulties so that no one would feel excluded from God’s loving presence. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threats shows us that God is there wherever people are in danger, wherever they suffer, wherever they are forced to flee, and wherever they experience rejection and abandonment. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph experienced what it means to leave your own land and become immigrants, to have to flee and take refuge in a foreign country. In the midst of such a painful drama, Mary’s maternal heart and Joseph’s attentive heart always held onto the trust that God never would abandon them. Through their intercession, may this same conviction be rooted in your hearts, dear brothers and sisters, most of you who are immigrants and refugees who have left our countries. Don’t sink into sadness or let yourselves be overcome by despair in the face of difficulties; put your trust in the God who is the protector of the weak and vulnerable and who will never abandon you; live out your exile in communion with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, who will accompany you with their love and help you to envision ever-new horizons.

After some time following Herod’s death, an angel reveals to Joseph—once again in a dream—that he can return to Israel. The situation is as yet uncertain because Archelaus, Herod’s son, reigns over Judea. This is why Jesus and his parents are going to Galilee. Joseph, the great dreamer of the dreams of God, also dreams in Egypt, in a foreign land, and Mary and Jesus share those dreams with him. Exile is a time to welcome the dreams that are born from trust in God. God is also there where men and women dream, where they hope to return to their homes in freedom, and where they plan and make choices in favor of life and dignity for themselves and their families.

Exile, even when forced by socio-political circumstances, can become a time of salvation, an authentic experience of God in darkness and pain. The great majority of you, who are either immigrants or refugees because of egotism, corruption, and violence, have a special place in the heart of God. He comforts, protects and invites you not to reproduce the same dehumanizing patterns of behavior of those who forced you out of your own country. Those who live outside their land are called to behave honestly in public life in the country that welcomes them, to respect its laws and to conduct themselves with integrity in all aspects of life. But that isn’t all. Immigrants and refugees must cultivate selfless friendships and fraternal charity towards one another, you must help each other in times of difficulty and, as far as possible, create networks of humanitarian aid and support among yourselves.

The family of Nazareth, which knew exile with all its difficulties and was protected by God, returned to its land and invites all exiles and refugees to feel loved and protected by God. Don’t lose hope that a safer future is reserved for you, too. Let us ask Jesus, Joseph, and Mary that you always may find an outstretched hand to help you and that you may experience fellowship, solidarity, and the warmth of friendship. Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t forget your country, because as our great Rubén Dario said, “if the homeland is small, a great one can dream of it.” To my Nicaraguan compatriots outside the homeland, I remind you that Nicaragua is made for freedom, not for living like hostages. From now on, let us dream and strive to build a more dignified country for everyone, one that is free, just, peaceful and democratic. God is with us.

 

 

"Holy Family" by Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649) is licensed under CC0 1.0
Holy Family
Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649)
Etching, 1633
Cleveland Museum of Art (Licensed under CC0 1.0)

 


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.

 

O Emmanuel

Tú me apareces, Virgen, en lo alto del Calvario,
de pie junto a la Cruz, cual preste ante el altar,
ofreciendo a Jesús, tu Hijo, el Emmanuel,
a fin de la justicia de su Padre aplacar…
Un profeta dijo, ¡oh, Madre desolada ! :
« ¡No hay dolor que se pueda al tuyo comparar ! »
¡Oh, Reina de los mártires !, ¡desterrada prodigas
por nosotros tu sangre, corazón maternal !

Santa Teresa del Niño Jesús

Por qué te amo, María
Pn 54, Estrofa 23

 

saint-therese-of-lisieux43_7jun97 TWsize
1897 | Photo credit: © Office Central de Lisieux / archives-carmel-lisieux.fr

 

Mary, at the top of Calvary standing beside the Cross
To me you seem like a priest at the altar,
Offering your beloved Jesus, the sweet Emmanuel,
To appease the Father’s justice…
A prophet said, O afflicted Mother,
“There is no sorrow like your sorrow!”
O Queen of Martyrs, while remaining in exile
You lavish on us all the blood of your heart!

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

Why I Love You, O Mary!
Pn 54, Stanza 23

St. Joseph: Silence, Humanity and Love — Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.

Homily

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua

Saint Agatha Catholic Church
Archdiocese of Miami
22 December 2019


Gospel
Matthew 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

 


 

Dear brothers and sisters:

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, on the eve of the Christmas celebration, the liturgy of the word is centered on the person and experience of Saint Joseph, a young worker from Nazareth engaged to Mary, whom he loved and who he was going to marry. Before living together, Joseph discovers that she is expecting a child whose paternal origin is not entirely clear to him. The Gospel says that Joseph was “just”, that is, he faithfully fulfilled the law of the Lord; and not wishing to disown her in public, he decided to do so in private, sending her away quietly (cf. Mt 1:19). Was he surprised to see that Mary was pregnant since they had not had relations? Is it possible that his fiancée didn’t involve him in the event by sharing with him what she had understood from God about this birth?

Something unexpected and unpleasant is interjected in the marriage plans of the two young people. That pregnancy could only be the fruit of betrayal and, from the point of view of the cultural and religious customs of the time, Mary was considered an adulteress and according to the Law of Moses, she was to be stoned to death for her infidelity. Adultery was a break with the patriarchal order that dominated society; since the woman was deemed as belonging to the husband, so the aggrieved husband could denounce her and have her killed for her sin.

Joseph was just, that is, a faithful observer of the Lord’s law, but not in the style of the Pharisees, attached to the letter of the law. Joseph fulfills the law of the Lord by acting with profound humanity. With Joseph, justice means humanity, as the Book of Wisdom says: “the righteous must be kind” (Wis 12:19). He breaks with the logic of domination and possession. The other person is not first and foremost a sinner, a personified error, or a traitor, but a human being who has received life as a gift and commitment; a person who has the right to make changes and to live. Joseph proves to be truly just.

Joseph is not ashamed, he doesn’t belittle Mary and he doesn’t act in such a way as to expose her to shame and death. He doesn’t react in an impulsive and disciplinary fashion, but he looks for a solution that respects the dignity and integrity of his beloved Mary. Joseph’s justice is manifested in the fact that he was “unwilling to expose her to shame”, in not acting as if he owned her by deciding that she had to suffer and die. Nor does he care about his image as a man whose honor has been tarnished and whose rights have been violated by his future wife. Joseph acts with humanity and love.

Joseph’s actions were a huge, painful inner struggle for him. How many questions, how many doubts, how much uncertainty assail Joseph! It’s at this moment that God intervenes by revealing to Joseph in a dream the mystery of the conception of Mary’s son: it is the work of the creative power of God’s Spirit (v. 20-21). That dream obviously not only tried to resolve the conflict that had arisen between two spouses, but its ultimate aim was above all to reveal the identity of the child that was growing in Mary’s womb. Her child is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit; he is a creature that only God could give us. Joseph, accepting divine revelation about the divine origin of Jesus and accepting his role as the legal father of the child, presents himself as a “just” man, again not on the ethical-legal level of the old covenant like the Pharisees, but in the evangelical sense of the new covenant, as one who thoroughly fulfills the divine will—even without thoroughly understanding it—with absolute trust in God. He is the just and obedient man, open to God’s ways and docile to his will.

Joseph—who never speaks, of whom the Gospel doesn’t recall even one word, a silent and strong man, simple and energetic, practical and free—is also a dreamer.  The fate of the world was entrusted to his dreams because the just man has the same dreams as God. Today we need dreamers who are committed to making their dreams come true. It takes courage to dream, not mere imagination. Dreaming means not being content with the world as it is, but rather having the courage to see and imagine the most humane and the happiest future for everyone. Shakespeare said that “we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” (The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1, lines 1887-1889).

“When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Mt 1:24). He doesn’t hesitate. Now he knows that God is asking him to do the hardest, not the easiest thing, and he decides not to leave Mary—not to run away; he abandons his doubts and decides to do God’s will (Mt 1:24). Maybe he knew the saying of his wife, Mary: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) because in silence he repeats the same thing with his attitude when he gets up: “Here is your servant. Use me”. His willingness to choose God’s will, even if it is the most difficult and incomprehensible, his courage of faith not to run away but to stay and collaborate with God, changes Saint Joseph’s life forever. It will be his rule of life. Saint Joseph is like Abraham. He always walked without knowing where God was taking him, but he journeyed in serenity, knowing that he was in God’s hands.

Joseph accepts the legal paternity of the child; he will give him his last name. In this way, Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary, is directly linked to the dynasty of King David. The Son of God is now also the son of David. He receives his name from his legal father. Joseph names him as the angel has indicated: Jesus, in Hebrew yehoshua, means “The Lord saves”. The divine origin of Jesus and his saving mission are wonderfully condensed in his name. That is why he was born, that is why he came into the world, as the angel explained to Joseph: “He will save his people from their sins” (v. 21). From now on Joseph will be the father of Jesus. He will walk in faith before the mystery of that son who is growing up before his eyes, who was his own but at the same time was not, welcoming the mystery of God in him through loving care and the silence of faith.

Saint Joseph’s life isn’t the life of a man who seeks his own fulfillment no matter how much it costs, who wants to do what’s convenient for him, whatever he pleases, and whatever sets him apart; but rather, his is the exemplary life of a man who denies himself, who doesn’t run away in the face of difficulties, and who humbles himself to let God lead the way. He hasn’t allowed himself to be paralyzed by doubt and fear in the face of the incomprehensible, nor has he allowed himself to be guided by a reasonable plan that he himself organized in human terms; rather, responding to God’s wishes, he has renounced his will in order to give himself over to the will of the Other, to the magnificent will of the Most High. In this way, he shows us that a person is completely fulfilled through this complete renunciation of self in order to do God’s will.

This Christmas we contemplate Saint Joseph, with the Virgin and the Child in the manger; Joseph—who had an unwavering trust in God, which allowed him to accept a situation that was difficult in human terms and, in a certain sense, incomprehensible. May he teach us that to be righteous is to be human; that to be a believer is to trust and obey God; and, that to be a believer it isn’t necessary to speak much. Joseph never spoke in the Gospel, because, as Saint John of the Cross says, “what is wanting, if anything is wanting, is not writing or speaking—rather these usually superabound—but silence and work.”

 


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, he 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.

 

 

RIZI-Francisco_Dream of St Joseph_IMA
The Dream of St. Joseph
Francisco Rizi (Spanish, 1608-1685)
Oil on canvas, about 1665
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Gallery label

In a subject that became popular in Spain during the 17th century, an angel appears to St. Joseph in a dream and explains that Mary has miraculously conceived a child. The luminous angel points to a vision of Mary with the infant Christ in her womb and the dove of the Holy Spirit above her. The veneration of the expectant Virgin as protectress of women in childbirth was prevalent at the Spanish court.

The artist’s forceful draftsmanship, fluid brushwork, and radiant color exemplify the most important tendencies of late Baroque painting in Madrid.

Rizi was born in Spain, the son of a Bolognese painter who worked for Philip II at the royal complex of El Escorial. In 1656 Rizi became royal painter to Philip IV. He was also a stage designer.

Learn more about this painting here. Learn more about Francisco Rizi 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: 19 December

The work of salvation takes place in obscurity and stillness. In the heart’s quiet dialogue with God the living building blocks out of which the kingdom of God grows are prepared, the chosen instruments for the construction forged. The mystical stream that flows through all centuries is no spurious tributary that has strayed from the prayer life of the Church—it is its deepest life.

When this mystical stream breaks through traditional forms, it does so because the Spirit that blows where it will is living in it, this Spirit that has created all traditional forms and must ever create new ones. Without him, there would be no liturgy and no Church. Was not the soul of the royal psalmist a harp whose strings resounded under the gentle breath of the Holy Spirit?

From the overflowing heart of the Virgin Mary blessed by God streamed the exultant hymn of the Magnificat. When the angel’s mysterious word became visible reality, the prophetic Benedictus hymn unsealed the lips of the old priest Zechariah, who had been struck dumb.

Whatever arose from spirit-filled hearts found expression in words and melodies and continues to be communicated from mouth to mouth. The “Divine Office” is to see that it continues to resound from generation to generation. So the mystical stream forms the many-voiced, continually swelling hymn of praise to the triune God, the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Perfecter.

Therefore, it is not a question of placing the inner prayer free of all traditional forms as “subjective” piety in contrast to the liturgy as the “objective” prayer of the Church. All authentic prayer is prayer of the Church.

Saint Edith Stein

The Prayer of the Church (excerpt)

 

_MG_2639
Alex Proimos / Flickr

 

 

Stein, E 2014, The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, translated from the German by Stein W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 17 December

Amaury-Duval
Head of the Virgin, Eugène Amaury-Duval, 1865

Total Virgin

“She was a virgin even of herself.”
Père François de Sainte-Marie, O.C.D.


In a house of mirrors that coveted her image
she never walked
with her own beauty
nor made a feast of her goodness,
inviting friends from the far and wide.
She never sat down with her own innocence
to dialogue together,
nor called a stranger in
to sit at her hearth and be glorified.

She was a maiden promised to one lover
whom she was always seeking.
Though he hid in her heartbeat and settled himself
behind her breath,
he was distance, too. Journeys dwindled to places
beside her own, and miles melted beneath
her steps of wanting. She could by-pass all
meadows that trap us with their poisonous flower
and their soliciting pools
and winding lanes that skirt the only death.

She was out on a road alone, hastening onward,
gathering all as a gift, the small and great
fragments of mystery and reality.
Everything was for Him, even her own being.
Since love marks neither measurement or weight
she carried all, without touching or tasting.

Life which comes as a virgin to us all,
most safely came to her.
Time, when she passed, remained inviolate.

 

Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.

 

Powers, J 1999, The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

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: 15 September

Mary, at the top of Calvary standing beside the Cross
To me you seem like a priest at the altar,
Offering your beloved Jesus, the sweet Emmanuel,
To appease the Father’s justice…
A prophet said, O afflicted Mother,
« There is no sorrow like your sorrow ! _ »
O Queen of Martyrs, while remaining in exile
You lavish on us all the blood of your heart !

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Why I Love You, O Mary (PN 54, excerpt)

 

Calvaire_Rochefort-en-Terre_Bretagne (2)
This detail from a streetside Calvary shrine in the village of Rochefort-en-Terre is typical of many found scattered throughout Bretagne, France | Source: Flickr creative commons

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

Better and more than anyone else, we who are doubly the children of Mary should imitate her, to be enriched as faithful children with the fruits of her maternity; seeking the unum necessarium, the one thing necessary for salvation.

Saint Raphael Kalinowski
Mother of God, Hope of the World

 

Annunciation_CARRACCI Agostino_Louvre
The Annunciation
Agostino Carracci (Italian, 1557-1602)
Oil on canvas, late 16th c.
Louvre Museum

 

Praskiewicz OCD, S 1998, Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to his Life and Spirituality, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 10 June

Watercolor Day 266 of 365 - Jinho Jung Flickr
266/365 성모상1 | Jinho Jung / Flickr

 

Let her gaze at you.

The gaze of Mary is God’s gaze directed at each one of us. She looks at us with the same love that comes from the Father and blesses us.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Homily for the Immaculate Conception, 2018

 

Homily translation is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without 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: 31 May

Why I Love You, O Mary!

You make me feel that it’s not impossible
To follow in your footsteps, O Queen of the elect.
You made visible the narrow road to Heaven
While always practicing the humblest virtues.
Near you, Mary, I like to stay little.
I see the vanity of greatness here below.
At the home of Saint Elizabeth, receiving your visit,
I learn how to practice ardent charity.

~   ~   ~

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Why I Love You, O Mary (PN54, Stanza 6)

Saint Thérèse’s first draft of the poem is featured in the image above. Stanza 6 is the second stanza on the right side of the page. Lines 5-6 and 7-8 of the stanza appear in brackets.

 

Bell, Robert Anning, 1863-1933; The Meeting of the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth
The Meeting of the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth
Robert Anning Bell (British, 1863–1933)
Tempera on linen, 1910
Manchester Art Gallery
This is a biblical scene of Saint Elizabeth receiving the visit of the Virgin Mary. Elizabeth is dressed in gray and red robes and is kneeling and clutching at the waist of Mary, who is dressed in blue and white robes. Mary is bending over to take Elizabeth’s face in her hands. It is set in a flat landscape with a low horizon. The two women are framed by the wall of a building immediately behind them to their right, and some shrubbery further away in the center and left.

 


View the complete image of St. Thérèse’s first draft of the poem, an image of her second draft, details of her corrections, and images of the finished poem and its full text in English or French at the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.

Quote of the day: 31 May

 

When I read in the Gospel “that Mary went in haste to the hill country of Judea” (Lk 1:39) to perform her loving service for her cousin Elizabeth, I imagine her passing by so beautiful, so calm and so majestic, so absorbed in recollection of the Word of God within her. Like Him, her prayer was always this: “Ecce, here I am!” Who? “The servant of the Lord,” (Lk 1:38) the lowliest of His creatures: she, His Mother! Her humility was so real for she was always forgetful, unaware, freed from self. And she could sing: “The Almighty has done great things for me, henceforth all peoples will call me blessed.” (Lk 1:49, 48)

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Last Retreat, Fifteenth Day

 

Magnificat-Siby-Flickr
Magnificat | Siby / Flickr

 

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

Marie du jour: 28 May

Hail Mary full of rage Ben Wildflower
Hail Mary Full of Rage
Ben Wildflower (American)
Woodcut print
benwildflower.com

 

Let us not forget the prophetic words of the Virgin Mary that never have been disproved by history: “The Lord pulls the powerful down from their thrones.”
(Luke 1:52)

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
9 June 2018

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: 24 May

True Carmelites are committed to saving the world

 

Day by day they grow in prayerfulness and year-by-year they become living embodiments of our Rule and Constitutions. Admittedly, we may be far from perfect at the beginning of our religious life. However, once we have completed our apprenticeship, we must be the living embodiment of our Rule and Constitutions for no other reason than to work with Christ for the salvation of the world. Pray to our saints and to the Virgin Mary to help you to attain that goal. Amen.

Père Jacques of Jesus, O.C.D.
The Apostolate
Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise, Conference Thirteen 
Saturday evening, 11 September 1943

Holy Hill main church Erik Aldrich Flickr
A moment of personal reflection and prayer is captured by photographer Erik Aldrich inside the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians in Holy Hill, the Discalced Carmelite church and retreat center in Hubertus, Wisconsin | pureimaginations / Flickr

 

Listen to the Silence - A Retreat with Père Jacques (pp. 104) Translated and edited by Francis J. Murphy ICS Publications © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Come, you who, descending into Mary, caused the Word to take flesh: effect in us by grace what you accomplished in her by grace and nature.

Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi
from the Office of Readings for her feast day

 

Annunciation_Sosenko 1913

Annunciation
Modest Danilovich Sosenko (Ukrainian, 1875-1920)
Oil on canvas, 1913
Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum

Marie du jour: 22 May

In Mary we do not see the Lord, but we see her always by the Lord’s side

 

Her service is rendered directly to Him: through the prayer of intercession, she intercedes with Him for humankind; she receives from His hands graces to be bestowed and does indeed transmit them. She does not represent the Lord but assists Him. Her position is thus analogous to that of Eve by the side of the first Adam. But Mary is beside Jesus not for His sake but for ours.

Saint Edith Stein
Problems of Women’s Education
Lectures for 1932 Summer Semester, German Institute for Scientific Pedagogy

 

Coronation of the Virgin_LIPPI Fra Filippo_Sant'Ambrogio-Uffizi
Coronation of the Virgin from Sant’Ambrogio
Fra Filippo Lippi, O.Carm.
Tempera on panel, 1439-1446
The Uffizi, Florence

 

Essays On Woman
Edited by Dr. Lucy Gelber and Romaeus Leuven, OCD; Translated by Freda Mary Oben, Ph.D.
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Book 2 (p. 29)
ICS Publications, Washington D.C. © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Marie du jour: 20 May

She raised her head as a servant of the Lord welcoming his word

The gospel says, “raise your heads” (Luke 21:28).  The Lord wants us to look to the future with hope. There are certainly problems, there are situations that create fear; but as Christians, we who believe in Jesus Christ who is to come, we raise our heads.

Raising your head means being able to talk to God. Lifting your head is a gesture of humility in the gospel. It is the one who stands up to meet the Lord and listen to him, to be available to walk wherever he sends us, to be available to listen to his voice, to speak with him like the Virgin Mary did: she raised her head as a servant of the Lord welcoming his word.

Annunciation_Nicolas Poussin_1657 NatlGalleryLondon (2)
The Annunciation
Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594 – 1665)
Oil on canvas, 1657
The National Gallery, London

She raised her head — full of grace — to do the will of God in everything and always to be moved by the Spirit that had descended upon her most holy womb. Mary teaches us to raise our heads; that is not the lifting up of the haughty, the head-raising of the proud, who look at others from above, who are so sure of themselves that they think they don’t need others.

To raise your head in the gospel means raising your head to meet God and abandoning yourself into his hands; it means gazing at him with love and welcoming his love like the Virgin.

Bishop Silvio José Báez, O.C.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Homily, First Sunday of Advent, 2015 (excerpt)


About the painting:

The archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin that she will bear the Son of God. New Testament (Luke 1:26-38). Above her hovers a dove who represents the Holy Spirit, the medium through whom the Christ Child was conceived. Unusually, the Virgin’s cloak is painted yellow. This color probably had symbolic significance, possibly as a sign of hope and/or purity.

Learn more from The National Gallery

 

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