Sunday, August 12, 2018

August 22--The Queenship of Mary

The fifth Glorious Mystery celebrates Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. We may wonder why this is so, since in contemporary kingdoms a queen is the consort of the king. However, in ancient Israel the queen was not the consort of the king, but rather his mother! The Hebrew word was Gebirah, “Queen Mother” or “Great Lady”. The queen mother played an important role in establishing her son on the throne, such as Bathsheba did for Solomon. However, Mary did not seek the throne for Jesus. She serves Jesus and points to Jesus as the true king.

The Gebirah also influenced the kingdom because of her status as queen mother. In Israel, the queen mother would sometimes rule in the place of her son. Our Queen Mother, Mary, never rules in place of Jesus, but he does follow her wishes, as he did at the wedding feast at Cana, when Mary commanded the servants to, “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn. 2:5) The queen mother also interceded on behalf of the subjects of the kingdom. She was their advocate. Mary, THE Queen Mother, is our advocate as well, interceding on our behalf. We pray in the Hail Mary: “Pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.” 

Mary is acknowledged as Queen of Heaven and Earth because of her role as Mother of God. She was the first disciple of Jesus. She leads us to him. Jesus honors her as his mother and gave her to us to be our mother: “Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’” (Jn. 19:27) Just as John took Mary into his home, we need to take Mary into our homes, so she may bring us to her son, the King. Mary, our Queen, pray for us.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

August 15--Feast of the Assumption of Mary

Praise be to God for our Blessed Mother Mary, who, because of her role as Mother of God, first disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, was assumed body and soul into heaven at the end of her life!

This dogma was defined on November 1, 1950 by the Venerable Pope Pius XII: “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

As evil came into the world through the sin of Eve, salvation came into the world through the obedience of the New Eve, Mary. It was through Mary’s cooperation that God effected salvation. She proclaimed the grace of salvation when she visited her cousin Elizabeth:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their throne but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Lk 1:46-55)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

August 6--Transfiguration of the Lord

Jesus told his disciples who he is: The Son of God, God incarnate, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. But he also gave them a taste of his glory in a way that could strengthen them after the shock of the Passion and Crucifixion, namely through his Transfiguration! They went to a mountaintop, where Jesus was transformed with dazzling white clothes, Elijah and Moses talking with him. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, two of the main sections of the Old Testament. Then Peter asked to make three tents for them. Tents, or booths, are traditionally built by Jews to remember their time during the Exodus. Thus, they celebrate the Feast of Booths in the fall.

But wait, there’s more! A cloud overshadowed them! This was the presence of the Holy Spirit, just as in the Old Testament, the cloud covered the meeting tent when God was present. They were in the presence of God. And yet, there is still more! A voice comes from the cloud: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Wow! No wonder Peter, James, and John were stunned. But Jesus told them, in effect: “Don’t tell anyone about this until after the Resurrection.” Then they were confused by that!

There is enough in that one moment to keep them, and us, meditating on the mysteries of God’s way. The Transfiguration is the fourth of the Luminous, or Mysteries of Light. They shed light on Jesus in much the same way as Jesus shed the light of his glory on his disciples and us. He shows us that his Passion leads to his Resurrection. When we suffer, we participate in the Passion of our Lord, and thus we will also participate in his Resurrection. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

July 30--Bl. Solanus Casey, Religious

“It seems to me that were we only to correspond to God’s graces, continually being showered down on every one of us, we would be able to pass from being great sinners one day to be great saints the next.” These are the words of today’s saint, Bl. Solanus Casey. Bl. Solanus was born in Wisconsin in 1870 to Irish immigrant parents. He had many different jobs before he heard his calling: lumberjack, hospital orderly, guard in the Minnesota state prison, and street car operator. However, once he heard his call he tried to become a diocesan priest, but his academic limitations kept him from that. Instead, he was able to join the Capuchin Franciscans and become a “simplex” priest, or one who was not allowed to preach publicly or hear confessions.

Even with these limitations on his priesthood, he became known for his inspirational talks, which he was allowed to give, as well as his services for the sick. In Detroit he served as porter, a receptionist and doorkeeper, for his order. He died in 1957 and was beatified in 2017.

Limitations can hinder us, or they can free us. If we focus on our limitations as hindrances, then we get caught up in what we can’t do. We can descend into self-pity, “Oh woe is me. I can’t….” However, if we, like Bl. Solanus Casey, embrace our limitations, we can focus on what we can do. Bl. Solanus Case was “just” a porter, not a teacher, not an administrator, not a theologian. He embraced his limitations, which allowed him to serve in the unique way to which God was calling him. We are all called to serve God in our unique way, sometimes helped by our limitations.

Monday, July 16, 2018

July 23--St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious

Europe has six patrons, three men and three women. Today’s saint is one of them. St. Bridget of Sweden was born in 1303 and had a vision of the crucified Jesus at an early age, which guided her throughout her life. She married at 14 and had eight children; her daughter Catherine is a saint. When her husband died after 28 years of marriage she became a Third Order Franciscan. Later, she founded a religious order for men and women, the Order of the Most Holy Savior, called the Bridgettines. She traveled to Rome in 1349 seeking approval of her order from the pope, who was in Avignon, France. It wasn’t until 1370 when the pope moved back to Rome that her order was approved. During that time, she remained in Rome praying, prophesying, and writing about her mystical experiences. She died in 1373 and was canonized in 1391. 

The Order of the Most Holy Savior was reestablished, due to its dissolution during the Reformation, in 1911 by St. Elizabeth Hesselblad, who was born in Sweden. The charisms of the order include living the lives of the crucified Jesus and the Blessed Virgin at the foot of the cross as well as having special concern for the reunification of all Christians in ecumenism.

The motto of the Bridgettines is Amor meus crucifixus est, “My love has been crucified.” Jesus is our love and he was crucified for our sins, so that we may achieve salvation. St. Bridget lived these words in her life. We are also called to reflect upon, pray, and live these words. We are blessed by the words, lives, and examples of the saints, the cloud of witnesses praying for us. St. Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

July 18--St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest

The man was a scoundrel, a mercenary, a gambler, an insubordinate, a vagabond, a quarreler, and a laggard. And yet the desire for something greater, which was distorted and exemplified through these failings, allowed God to transform the man to become St. Camillus de Lellis. St. Camillus was all these in his childhood and youth. From the age of 17 till 24 he fought, gambled, tried to repent, fought, and gambled again. In 1574, at age 24, he tried to repent yet a third time, seeking admission to a Franciscan monastery. He learned to work, discipline himself, and stop gambling. However, he had an open sore on his leg that plagued him for years and prevented his acceptance. So, he went to a hospital for the poor in Rome and volunteered there yet a second time after failing before. He worked there for five years, eventually becoming superintendent of the nurses.

The desire for greatness that skewed his youth through self-centeredness spurred his efforts to other-centeredness to the point of sainthood. He saw the wretchedness of the poor of Rome, their sicknesses, their addictions, and their helplessness. He sought them out and nursed them. He founded a group of men who would devote themselves to nursing the poor. But he saw they needed more. He knew that he could help their spiritual lives by becoming a priest and gathering his followers into a religious order. They served those with the plague, the dying, and the destitute. St. Camillus saw Jesus in those he served and loved.

St. Camillus de Lellis was not a particularly good person as a youth, but he persevered, through the grace of God. We pray for those who have made bad choices in their lives. We pray for their conversion. St. Camillus de Lellis, pray for them.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

August 1--St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop and Doctor

Many people may remember a TV lawyer show called "Perry Mason" starring Raymond Burr. Every week Perry was called upon to defend someone who "obviously" committed the murder. By the end of the show Mason not only managed to clear his client of the charges, he also figured out who the murderer was. In ten seasons he lost only two cases. Today's saint lost only one case in his entire legal career, but it was enough to help him realize that God was calling him to the priesthood and to a life of care of souls rather than property.

St. Alphonsus Ligouri was important in the Church for many things. He founded the Redemptorist order in the 18th century, which was dedicated to serving peasants in rural areas. But he is also known for his guidance on moral matters. As a former lawyer and priest who heard confessions, he walked the fine line between being lenient and strict. He wanted people to both understand that sin is always an evil thing, but also that we are forgiven for our sins when we repent. He wrote extensively on the topic, which is why he is a Doctor of the Church and patron of moral theologians.

Some say that morality is whatever our consciences choose is right. Our consciences don't choose right or wrong, they discover the truth of the morality of an action. Plus, we have to form our consciences to help us know the truth. That means we must listen and follow those who guide us on moral truth, namely the Church's Magisterium, or teaching authority. St. Alphonsus knew this and guided his charges appropriately.