In this mystery with Mary we consider three long days and nights when the Christ child goes missing. When in life have you lain awake at night worrying about the next day, a difficulty in the family or work? Many parents like Mary and Joseph wait late into the night for a child to return home from a party or night out with friends. Many of us have experienced the separation of a mother and child in a supermarket, the panic and fear. Within moments both are united and filled with joy and thanksgiving. Consider Mary and Joseph searching the crowded city of Jerusalem for the child Jesus. Was it even possible for them to sleep those three nights without fearing the worst for him? Were their minds forever fearing the worst-case scenario? In this mystery let us think of parents and children who are separated for many reasons. Parents whose children have emigrated for our shores for work and new life, families who have separated through marital difficulties, grandparents unable to see and visit their grandchildren because of misunderstandings. Mary and Joseph understand the torment of worry and especially those who stay awake at night because of it. Even at times in our own life we feel that Christ has disappeared from us, we feel we must walk alone and at times are forsaken by him. Whatever your worry is this day or night, you will find Christ, in fact he will find you. Stay steadfast in prayer with Mary and Joseph.
Mary is told in this mystery that a sword will pierce your own soul so that the secret thoughts of many maybe laid bare. Mary pondered these words of Simeon in her heart. What can this mean, what am I facing in the future? I know the Lord is with me, but what is this sword? This prophesy will be fulfilled at Calvary when the Lord Jesus will say to his Mother, “Woman behold your son,” referring to St. John. Here Mary’s heart will be finally opened. Mary will watch her beloved child die on the cross thus piercing her heart, but she will be given a new-born, St. John who represents us. This mystery of the presentation is overshadowed by the Calvary but the cross too is overshadowed by Easter light. Every day we may face new trails, and in a blink of an eye the shadow of the cross may fall on our happiness. We are asked always to keep in mind the glory of Easter morning. Nothing we have or own is permanent, and as Christians we must always seek the light even when the shadowy clouds block out the sun for a time. The sun is always shining behind the daily clouds. This cloud on Mary’s joy at the presentation will take the form in time of a sword that pierces, but it will strike a fountain on Calvary. A fountain of maternal mercy, love and compassion for her future children.
In this mystery we too like Mary gaze in wonder at the Christ child. For the first time in history heaven comes down on earth. Human beings will gaze down on heaven itself. The angels sing joyfully and announce the good news to the Shepherds. They make haste joyfully to see the wonders they have been told. The little infant seeks us and beckons us to come to him joyfully. We all seek love, and as humans we seek to embrace love. Love has become incarnate and dwelt among us, love has become personal in a little one. We all seek love in different ways and forms, but true love has come in the human form. Our Saviour has come fragile and in need to be embraced, he has come in a form we can reach out and take in our own arms. God has become a baby so that we might encircle him in our arms. Today create heaven on earth in your homes, your work, your community. Be a missionary of peace in that place, and that love which radiates from your encounter with the little Christ child will reach others through you. Like Mary, let your home or work become a place of encounter for others of love and peace through you. Wherever God is, there is heaven on earth, even in that darkest stables of life.
In this mystery we hear Mary’s song of thanksgiving, the Magnificat. “For he who is mighty has done great things for me,” Mary sings in the presence of her cousin Elizabeth. In the ups and downs of life, we can get tired and wonder what life is really about. Have you today thanked God for the ability to breath and to see? When we arose from our beds this morning, did you thank God for the ability to sleep well and arise alone from your bed? Have you ever thanked God for the ability to dress yourself alone, to walk from your bedroom to your kitchen? To be able to take that fresh glass of water or cup of tea. To feel the warmth of central heating or the simplicity of running hot water in able to wash. Many people this morning may not wake from sleep, may not be able to see, not walk for the first time, or make that little journey to the bathroom or kitchen. Many may not even be able to see the dull wintry morning from their window. God is good and has been good to us, he has done great things for me. Be thankful this day for the small things with Mary.
In this mystery, we hear the words of the Angel Gabriel to Our Blessed Lady, “The Lord is with you.”
As Catholics we hear these words at the beginning and end of every Mass. These words in the scriptures remind the hearer that he/she is called to play an important role in God’s plan of salvation for the world. When Moses was called to lead the people from slavery in Egypt, God told him, “I will be with you.” When Joshua was called to lead the people into the promised land, God told him, “I will be with you.” Mary stands in the shadow of her ancestors as we do. Every morning when we awake we are asked to take on the trails of the day ahead. Often, we feel inadequate, tired, fearful and not prepared. God however challenges each of us to leave our comfort zones this day and rely on him more and more. You may feel tired with the challenges of daily life, work, family, health or community. One thing however is all we need, and it is promised, “the Lord is with you.” Say yes like Mary.
As you know I am Catholic. Recently a friend of mine asked me why I, and Catholics in general, say the rosary. It seems like such a boring prayer. I gave her a simple answer, simple and inadequate. And then I said to her I’d think more about it and answer her again in a better way.
So I have been thinking about this and a day or so ago, suddenly, like a curtain opening, I knew exactly what I was going to say. An insight I had from an angle I’d never even thought of before. As usual, I’m going to tell you a story but first a little background.
If you are Catholic I hope this rings true and if you are not Catholic, or not Christian, I invite you to read on for the next few minutes and maybe glean some understanding into this Catholic custom.
I can fully understand how people think the rosary is a boring repetitive prayer, more suitable as a cure for insomnia than anything else. Hail Mary … Holy Mary … Hail Mary … over and over again, the same thing every day….
It has always been there in my life. As a child it was a cue for giggling misbehaviour; just make sure you knelt out of swiping distance of the long arm of the parental law. As a teenager something to be more or less abandoned until exam time when out of desperation it would be resorted to in the hopes that Mary would put a good word in for us in the ear of her son that he would overlook our laziness and procrastination and all those TV shows that filled our study hours … Hail Mary … Holy Mary … Pray for us … I promise I’ll be good forever … now and at the hour….
As a young couple we prayed more fervently, every day together, again and again, praying for help to overcome all the seemingly huge obstacles which stood between us and our longed for wedding day. Mother of God … Pray for us….
And then children come along and it’s an ideal we so often fell far short of. A hit or miss in the hustle and bustle of nappies and laundry and copy books. We’d fit in shortened versions, look out helpful tools for the children and try our best to make this prayer a part of our family life and all too often long-fingering it till bedtime and closing eyelids … Mum and Dad, Husband and Wife, Me and John praying in half sleep and promising that tomorrow we’d do better.
However I cannot say I ever really understood this repetitive prayer. I knew it, I loved it and could see the palpable differences it made to my young family whenever it was part of our family life. But understand it? Not really.
Now you know the story of our little girl and her diagnosis and all that went with it. I’m not planning to drag the rear end out of that tale but it is a story that has so many facets to it, many of which are only unfolding with the passing of time. This story is one of those things which completely passed me by when it was actually happening.
So back we go to a few years ago. A little girl, not quite three, is in distress … my own little girl, back on the ward after her very big operation. Her ragged little heart has just been stopped and restarted, patched, shunted, stitched and changed. Her bones have been wired back together, she has three painful drains coming out of her little body, machines and monitors are attached to her small limbs and her chest. Every vein has been exhausted from blood being drawn.
I have a little camp bed set up beside her with a sleeping bag which is calling me because I am exhausted. But I’m not as exhausted and worn out and wretched as the little girl beside me. I am her mother and that gives me all the energy I need to stay awake.
I am longing to do something for this suffering child who cannot sleep though she needs to. All night she reaches for me to hold her hot little hand in mine. All night she whimpers:
“I want you”
“I’m here, Baby”
“I want you“
“I’m here, Baby”
“I want you”
“I’m here, Baby”
All night long, over and over and over again “… I want you … Mommy … I want you … I’m here Baby.”
A hundred times, a thousand times and then the sun starts to rise and she wakes up from her fifteen minute sleep….
“I want you”
“I’m here, Baby”
All day and all the next night. What could I do but hold that little hand and stroke it and assure her I’m here … I’m here. That’s all she wanted. She could say nothing else, a little child who clung to her Mommy in her time of distress.
Was I bored of this little conversation repeated incessantly? What do you think? No I wasn’t bored. I wasn’t bored because it wasn’t boring. Every time she uttered those sorrowful words “I want you” my heart filled to overflowing, it’s capacity increasing with every little whimper. Of course I wasn’t bored and it was an honour to be able to say “I’m here, Baby” to be the one who was able to give that longed for comfort. The assurance that her mother who loved her was watching her and was never going to let go that feverish little hand.
And THAT my dear is why I will never not say the rosary till the day I die. Mary is not bored of our repetitive plea Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. She’s not bored, because it’s not boring. She has no intention of letting go of our worn out and wretched hand. She is awake because she is the mother who loves her child and loves us all the more when we turn to her and say over and over and over again
“Mommy … I want you.” How The Whimper Of A Sick Child Is Like The Rosary
Jennifer is a young mother of six, living in Co. Kildare. She runs a blog ‘Raindrops on my Head,’ at http://jenniferkehoe.blogspot.ie
One hundred years have passed since the Virgin Mary appeared on six occasions to three shepherd children in a small village called Fatima in Portugal. The world was at war and the Portuguese government had declared that God was dead. Churches were closed and priests and religious were imprisoned or expelled from the country. These little children, Lucia dos Santos aged ten, her cousin Francisco Marto aged nine and his younger sister Jacinta aged seven were to become messengers of peace in a country where God was not allowed to be called upon or mentioned by name.
The Blessed Virgin asked these little children to pray the Rosary for peace, and to offer sacrifices for sinners to atone for their failures and sins which offended God so much. The Blessed Virgin spoke not of an angry God but a compassionate lover who cared for his children like any parent. God wished to save his children from their sins and so the Virgin came as a messenger of peace to call these little ones to a close discipleship with Jesus.
After the first apparition, little Jacinta kept proclaiming enthusiastically, “O what a beautiful Lady,” and on returning to her home broke her promise to keep the vision a secret. She told her family, “There was something within me that would not keep me quiet.” The same effect has been produced throughout salvation history, whenever someone has experienced a true, interior and personal encounter with God. This very experience caused the hearts of Jesus’s disciples and countless others in history to “burn within them.” The encounter with the living God fills the soul with an unquenchable joy and light and transforms the witness to bear all sufferings for the proclamation of the gospel of peace. Our Lady told the children that they would suffer much and asked if there were willing to be her witnesses, they agreed.
The Catechism teaches us that “taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.” We do not have to take on extra penances but to carry the crosses that may come our way each day as witnesses and believers in our families and society. We too live in similar times to these three children where it has become more and more difficult to witness to our Christian faith in our modern society. We find it difficult to communicate the faith to our children and grandchildren and at times we may even receive closed doors at the mention of faith and moral living. Lucia’s mother refused to believe her daughter even up to the very end of her life and much suffering was caused to the two families as their humble farms and crops were trod upon by thousands of spectators.
Our Lady came repeating the gospel command, “repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk.1:15) These very words were the first words spoken to us by the Lord. The Fatima message speaks to us of God’s mercy for sinners if they only turn to their loving God. We cannot force anyone to believe but we can as Our Lady asked that we pray for them and offer sacrifices for their conversion. We are not asked to condemn the sinner, but love them into new life. Our simple tools are prayer and sacrifice. God wishes to save all his children and promises us that they will have a home in heaven if they only listen to the voice of his Son who does not come to control their lives but set them free.
Our Lady asked the children to pray the rosary daily for peace in the world and in our hearts. The Blessed Virgin herself gave us this prayer through St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominicans. The Rosary is the Gospel on a string, where we sit with Mary and contemplate the life of her Son through her very eyes. These mysteries which Our Lady asked us to keep her company while praying, open for us the mysteries of salvation. They make Christ present here and now wherever we pray this great prayer. The Dominicans commonly called the Rosary the “mass of the evening.” For the Mass of the morning makes present on our altars the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection. At the altar, we can be present to that one saving sacrifice of Christ and to participate in that mystery where the graces of Calvary are poured forth into our world. The “mass” of the evening, the holy rosary, makes present in our homes, workplaces and even our cars the other mysteries from the life of Jesus from which we can draw strength, grace and hope for the situations in which we find ourselves. The Rosary makes present the Lord Jesus in the here and now of daily life. In moments of joy, sorrow and glory, we find a safe harbour in Our Lady’s rosary.
The Virgin Mary at Fatima who called herself “Our Lady of the Rosary,” asks us to pray the Rosary for peace. If we are at peace, those around us will be at peace, our homes will be centres of peace and from there our world will be transformed.
The Fatima message is as relevant today as it was in 1917. The Blessed Virgin came as a messenger of peace, her presence transforming the lives of these children. They in their turn have become beacons of light and love from the turbulent secular society in which they lived. Our Lady’s message of peace issued from her Immaculate Heart, a heart untouched by corruption and sin. It is in this heart we can trust and have recourse to when we feel we have nowhere else to turn. Fatima calls us to conversion, to love and trust our faith, to repent of our sins, to adore God in the Blessed Eucharist, to pray daily for conversion. The message also reminds us of the reality of heaven and the need to pray for the holy souls who rely on our prayers and sacrifices. In many ways, the six apparitions are like a catechism of our Catholic faith. In this Centenary year, may we rediscover the beauty and truth of our faith, and know the God who loves us and forgives us daily. Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of the Rosary pray for us sinners, and enfold us in your mantle of mercy.
“They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”
And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
Discussing the things which had happened, all seemed lost and the hope that once attracted them to be disciples appeared to have been dashed. But, we are reminded that elsewhere in the Scriptures Jesus said, “When two or three are gathered in my name there I Am in their midst.” As they walked away from Jerusalem, Jesus “drew near and went with them.” Faith is a fragile gift – suffering from discouragement, the disciples listen as Jesus opened the scriptures to them. The flame of faith begins to be kindled once again, yet they are kept from recognising him. “Stay with us,” they ask Him, as he motioned to go on: this is the prayer of the Christian. We no longer see Him in the flesh, yet He is no less present. They recognised him in the breaking of the bread, we too, in faith, see Him before us truly present in the Sacrament of the altar.
“They returned to Jerusalem.” Our Lord shows us that the Eucharist is the place and the moment where we now encounter him most fully. His Word and his Body feed us and nourish us for the journey. It is when we are united around Christ, as His Body the Church, celebrating the Liturgy, that we truly know him and he reveals himself to us.
One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, Gloria.
Queen of Preachers: Pray for us.
Hail Holy Queen.
Prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary
O Virgin Mary, grant that the recitation of thy Rosary for me each day, in the midst of my manifold duties a link of unity in all my actions, a tribute of filial piety, a sweet recreation and a help to walk joyously in the path of duty. Grant, especially, O Virgin Mary, that the study of thy mysteries may gradually form in my soul a pure, bright, fortifying, sweet-scented atmosphere which will penetrate my will, my memory, my understanding, my imagination and my entire being. Thus will I acquire the habit of prayer while working, without the help of formulas, by interior movements of admiration and supplication, or by aspirations of love. I ask this, O Queen of the Holy Rosary, through Dominic, Thy son of predilection, the illustrious preacher of thy mysteries, and faithful imitator of thy virtues. Amen. (Bl. Hyacinth Cormier, OP)
Prayer in honour of St. Dominic
Father, through the intercession of St. Dominic, Doctor of Truth and Light of the Church, make your love glow in our hearts. After the example of so great a saint, make us heralds of your Gospel in a world that hungers for you but often does not know its needs. Give us St. Dominic’s unswerving loyalty to the Holy Church and may we, like him, be founts of true wisdom for our weary world. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”
Mary Magdalen received the grace of being the first to see Our Lord after His Resurrection. At first she did not know Him, then He called her by name. She heard His voice before witnessing the glory of His resurrected countenance. Christ then commissioned her to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles, His brethren. She is the apostle to the Apostles. I am a Christian. I am united with Christ by Baptism and already participate in the life of His Resurrection. By my Confirmation I am called to be an apostle. Christ invites me to imitate Mary Magdalen and tell the world that I have seen the Lord.
Jesus wants me to share in Mary’s profound joy, a joy which stems from being close to Him and communicating His Gospel in a cheerful, generous and authentic manner.
May I follow Mary Magdalen’s example and proclaim Christ as my living Lord – by courageously defending the teachings of His Church. May I persevere in this task until the day He calls me by my name and permits me to see the glory of His resurrected body in Heaven.
Holy Mary, my Mother, you are the Queen of the Apostles. Help me to proclaim your Son’s resurrection to my family and friends – by my thoughts, words and deeds.
One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, Gloria.
Queen of Preachers: Pray for us.
“Say to them, the kingdom of God has come near to you.”
While travelling toward Jerusalem, Jesus appoints, and sends out in pairs, seventy-two disciples. He sends them ahead to visit all the places he himself will visit. The disciples were sent out with very particular instructions about how they were to travel, what they were to bring with them and how they were to behave when they found a place that welcomed them.
To those who welcome them, Jesus tells his disciples to announce that the Kingdom of God is very near to them. To those who do not make them welcome, Jesus tells them again to say that the Kingdom is God is very near. Jesus makes it clear that the presence of the disciples and the kingdom that they bring with them, will be seen by some as a blessing and seen by others as something less positive.
In either case, Jesus insists that the response of the disciples should ultimately be the same. His disciples are to draw attention to the proximity of the Kingdom of God, both as something to be welcomed and something to give pause for thought. For those who welcome the representatives of the Kingdom a great peace will be imparted, whilst those who do not welcome them, will miss out on this peace.
The peace that the disciples carry with them comes from the place they start their journey from, in the presence of Jesus. They go before him to announce his coming, bringing the gifts he wishes to give. It is the job of the disciples to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, so let us pray that we may be true disciples of the Lord, realising that as he sent them, so he sends us now.
One Our Father, Ten Hail Mary’s, Gloria.
Queen of Preachers: Pray for us.