Mary, Help of Christians

Mary, Help of ChristiansToday we celebrate the feastday of Mary, Help of Christians.  This feastday was instituted in 1815 by Pope Pius VII, who had a special devotion to Our Lady which was particularly emphasized during his most difficult years with Napoleon.  The feastday has become more widely known throughout the years due to the work of St. Don Bosco  (also known as St. John Bosco, born Giovanni Melchior Bosco).  The Salesians of St. Don Bosco are celebrating their 150th Anniversary this year. 

Mary, Help of Christians

Mary, powerful Virgin, you are the mighty and glorious protector of the Church. You are the marvelous help of Christians. You are awe-inspiring as an army in battle array. You have destroyed heresy in the world. In the midst of our anguish, our struggle, and our distress, defend us from the power of the enemy, and at the hour of our death receive our soul in heaven.

Our Lady, Queen of Apostles

Queen of the Apostles

The Virgin Mary with the Apostles and Other Saints” (1423-4), Fra Angelico

Excerpt from: “The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin”, by Ven. Mary of Agreda, pgs. 220-221:

Holy Exercises in the Supper-Room Before Pentecost:

She [Mary] assembled them together twice a day in the Supper-room, and being commanded by St. John or St. Peter to speak, explained to them for one hour the mysteries of faith, as if she were conversing with them, rather than teaching them as their Mistress and Queen. She explained the mysteries of the Hypostatic Union and all those contained in the ineffable and divine Incarnation. After this she bade them entertain themselves for one hour longer on the counsels, promises and doctrines they had learned from their Divine Master; to consecrate another part of the day to the recital of the Pater Noster, with some psalms; and to employ the rest of the time in mental prayer. In the evening they took some slight nourishment of bread, fruits and fish; thus by prayer and fasting they prepared for the coming of the Holy Spirit. She incited them to mental prayer, teaching them its excellence and necessity, because the noblest occupation of the reasonable creature is to raise his mind above created things to meditate on the divine, and that nothing should be preferred to this holy exercise.

By these holy lessons, the Mother of Wisdom and the Mistress of Charity enlightened the minds and inflamed the hearts of the Apostles and disciples, filling them with fervor and disposing them to receive the precious gifts of the Paraclete…

Note: The feastday of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles, is a moveable feast, because it is connected with the dates of Easter and the Ascension, which are also moveable feasts. The feastday of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles, is celebrated on the Saturday after the Ascension, but this can lead to some confusion now. Officially, the Ascension occurred forty days after Easter Sunday, so it always falls on a Thursday, therefore the Saturday immediately afterwards we would celebrate this feastday of Our Lady; but with more and more areas celebrating the Ascension on the Sunday before Pentecost, the description of this feastday as being “the Saturday after the Ascension” might lead many to believe (as it did I) that it fell on the eve of Pentecost. In Canada and most of the United States the Ascension is celebrated on the Sunday before Pentecost; there are only six ecclesiastical provinces in the U.S. that continue to celebrate the Ascension on Thursday. So all this to say, perhaps the easiest way for us to remember this feastday of Our Lady is to say it is forty-two days after Easter Sunday!!!

Feastday of Our Lady of Fatima

Our Lady of Fatima 4[Excerpt from the homily preached by Pope John XXIII (then Patriarch of Venice) at Fatima on May 13, 1956, for the twenty-fifth aniversary of the consecration of Portugal to the Immaculate Heart of Mary]:

Salute means safety from the evils of this world, and Nicopeja means Queen of Victories (note: here he is referring to two icons, the Madonna della Salute and the Madonna Nicopeja). But I am not thinking of military victories, which always mean violence, the ferocity of men, and blood. I am thinking of spiritual conquests for the truth, for the Gospel, for the Holy Catholic Church and her august head, for justice, liberty of souls and nations, and of the whole world.

I wish to say once more in my name and in the name of this enormous throng, gathered here from every land: O, Our Lady of Fatima, through the virtue of your Immaculate Heart, obtain for us from blessed Jesus, the fountain of every grace, justice, charity and peace! Amen.

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Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima for Peace

O Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Peace, you appeared to the children of Fatima at a time of great unrest and turmoil in the world. You asked then that the world pray for peace, so that the Reign of God may be known in every land.
Our world today continues to be mired in the vicious and fruitless cycle of hatred, violence and war. Your message of peace to the children of Fatima is needed as urgently today as it was when you first delivered it.
Grant us, Mary, that peace which is so much more than the mere absence of war. Grant us God’s peace, so that we might see every man and woman as a brother or a sister, as fellow creatures of the one God. Help us to build a world of justice, which is the only sure foundation of peace. And bring us all one day into the fulness of union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in eternity. This we ask through Christ, your Son and our Lord, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

[Taken from the booklet: Our Lady of Fatima with Prayers and Devotions, in the “Florentine Lives of the Saints” collection]

Joy Is Like The Rain

I saw rain drops on my window,
Joy is like the rain.
Laughter runs across my pane,
Slips away and comes again.
Joy is like the rain.

I saw clouds upon a mountain,
Joy is like a cloud.
Sometimes silver, sometimes gray,
Always sun not far away.
Joy is like a cloud.

I saw Christ in wind and thunder,
Joy is tried by storm.
Christ asleep within my boat,
Whipped by wind, yet still afloat,
Joy is tried by storm.

I saw rain drops on a river,
Joy is like the rain,
Bit by bit the river grows,
’til all at once it overflows.
Joy is like the rain.

(By: Sr. Miriam Therese Winter, 1966)