Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

It is impossible to describe here the light, splendor and admirable beauty of her glory; it will suffice to consider that as the divine Mother gave to her most holy Son a human form in her virginal womb, and gave it most pure and spotless for the Redemption of the world, so, in return for this gift, the Lord gave her in this resurrection and new birth a glory and a beauty like to His own. In this mysterious and Divine correspondence, each gave as far as was possible, for the Virgin engendered Jesus Christ like to herself as far as possible, and Jesus Christ, in raising her, communicated to her His glory, as far as a pure creature is capable of receiving it.

The magnificent procession departed from the sepulchre chanting celestial melodies and ascended through the region of the air to the empyreal Heaven….

Vested with this wonderful glory, the Holy Virgin arrived at the throne of the Divinity, and the three Divine Persons received her into Their eternal and indissoluble embrace. She seemed as if absorbed within the three Divine Persons, and as if submerged in that infinite ocean of the abyss of the Divinity.

[Venerable Mary of Agreda, The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin]

Consecration Renewal – Day 25

Day 25 of Consecration Preparation from 2008 (or renewal)

From “Mary, Human and Holy” (Antonio Bello)
Chapter 24: Woman of the Third Day

Although it cannot be found in the Scriptures, Bishop Bello believes that Mary witnessed the Resurrection. The risen Jesus appeared to others afterwards, and theologians “tell us that the resurrection was hidden from everyone’s eyes”, but in his heart of hearts Bishop Bello believes that “Mary was an exception – she alone must have been present at this supreme turning point in human history.”  Bishop Bello reminds us that Mary was alone at the Incarnation; she was the first to see the face of God after the birth of Jesus; why would she not be given the great privilege of being the first to “look upon her glorified Son”? Bishop Bello writes: “…the bond between Mary and Jesus was so close that they shared every redeeming experience; this leads me to think that the resurrection, the peak moment of redemption, would have found her united with her Son. If she hadn’t been, it would seem a strangely unjustified absence.”  [may I just mention here that Bishop Bello’s beliefs are confirmed in the visions of Venerable Mary of Agreda in, “The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin”, Chapter 28]

He continues to show us how Mary is decidedly linked to the day of resurrection through Scripture passages. In the Gospel of Luke, when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus, He was discovered in the temple “on the third day”, and Bishop Bello tells us that scholars believe this whole story of Jesus’ disappearance and rediscovery on the third day is a foreshadowing or a “veiled prophecy” of the Triduum. In the Gospel of John, when Mary intervenes at the wedding at Cana, Bishop Bello tells us that, “John introduces this episode with the deliberate phrase: the third day.”

Holy Mary, pull away the burial cloth of despair from our face and fold up the shroud of our sins. Despite the lack of work, housing, and bread, comfort us with the new wine of joy and with the unleavened Easter bread of solidarity.

Give us peace and keep us from selfishness. Bestow on us the hope that, when the moment of the decisive challenge comes for us, you will be the arbiter who, on the third day, will at last confirm our victory.

Presentation of Mary

 The Memorial of the Presentation of Mary is celebrated on November 21st.  The theme of this Memorial is:  total consecration to the Lord through Mary.

Although not mentioned in the Bible, this ancient feast is based on information taken from one of the apocryphal Gospels, the Protevangelium of James.  In it we are told that at the age of three, Mary was taken by her parents to the Temple of Jerusalem, where she was presented and would remain until the age of marriage, in the company of other young girls in the charge of holy women.

 

The Dictionary of Mary [Catholic Book Publishing Co.] gives us some informaiton about the actual history of the Memorial:

This event was already commemorated in the 6th century in the East.  Gregory XI in 1372 heard of the feast, kept in Greece on November 21, and instituted it at Avignon.  In 1585, Sixtus V extended it to the Universal Church. 

If you’re anything like me, you may have wondered how Mary’s parents could possibly have given up their baby girl at the age of three to complete strangers; you may have felt very badly for Mary, assuming she would have felt very abandoned, lonely and frightened – traumatized, in fact. We have a tendency to forget that Mary’s human life was like no other, that she was imbued with mystical knowledge from the time she was within the womb of her mother, and from that very time within her mother’s womb she had no desire other than to serve God and be in complete union with His Will. Venerable Mary of Agreda shares her mystical visions of this time in Mary’s life [The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin, from the Mystical City of God]:

When the time arrived for the accomplishment of the vow which her parents had made, of consecrating her to the service of the Temple, she herself was the first to beg them, with all humility, to fulfill their promise without delay, and she most fervently entreated God to inspire them to do it promptly.  The Lord granted the humble prayer of His beloved, and her parents, obedient to the heavenly inspiration, parted with their amiable child, though not without the deepest sorrow.

The grief of St. Ann, in particular, exceeded even that of Abraham when commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac.  At the expiration of the three years St. Joachim and St. Ann, accompanied by many of their relations and by a great number of angelic spirits, who, during the journey, sang hymns of praise to the Most High, left Nazareth and journeyed to Jerusalem, bearing in their arms their young and happy child.

{I found the image at the Australian EJournal of Theology, which has some lovely artwork, as well as very interesting subject-matter.}

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!!!

The Annunciation

Excerpt from, The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin, by Venerable Mary of Agreda, pages 52-53:

…Mary was troubled, because, through her profound humility,she believed herself the least of all creatures, and again she could not understand how she was to become a mother, yet, at the same time, preserve her vow of chastity.  The Archangel having explained the difficulties and dissipated her doubts, the Blessed Virgin humbly bowed her head and gave her consent to the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word.  Absorbed in the thought that God wished her to become His Mother, she offered ardent acts of love and conformity to the Divine Will.  Her chaste heart, generally compressed by the ardor of its motions and of her affection, distilled three drops of blood, which fell into her virginal womb.  Of these the Holy Ghost formed the little body of our Saviour, so that, by the force of divine love, the most pure heart of Mary alone furnished that from which was formed the divine body of the Son of God.  The Incarnation was really effected at the moment in which Mary, bowing her head, pronounced the words:  Ecce ancilla Domini; fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum – “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.”  At the same instant the most holy soul of our Saviour was created and infused into His body, and His Divinity was united to His humanity by the Hypostatic Union.  This was operated on Friday, the 25th of March, at dawn of day, the same hour in which Adam had been created.

The Divine Child


 

In “The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin”, taken from “The Mystical City of God”, Venerable Mary of Agreda devotes Chapter 11 to the journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus.  In this excerpt we pick up the story, as revealed to Venerable Mary of Agreda, after Joseph and Mary have found shelter in the grotto where animals were lodged:

As the night was cold, St. Joseph kindled a fire, after which they took some slight nourishment, and with great interior devotion passed some time in holy conversation.  Then the Blessed Virgin begged St. Joseph to take a little respose, while he, on his part, asked her to do the same.  He prepared and arranged a place for her by covering with some clothes the manger which was in the grotto; then he retired into an obscure corner and began to pray.  Almost immediately he was rapt in sublime ecstasy, during which he beheld all the wonderful events which happened on this night.

In the meantime the Holy Virgin was raised to a state of high contemplation, in which she intuitively beheld the Divinity in a manner so ineffable that human tongue cannot express it.  This ecstasy continued during the hour immediately preceding the birth of Our Lord.  Coming to herself, she felt that the Divine Child began to move in her womb; this motion caused her no pain, but, on the contrary, such inexpressible joy, with effects so supernatural and sublime that the human understanding is incapable of comprehending them.  Her body became so beautiful and her face so resplendent that she seemed no longer like a creature of earth.  She was on her knees, her eyes raised towards Heaven, and her hands crossed upon her breast.

In this humble and pious posture, returning to herself out of her ecstasy, she gave birth to the only Son of the Eternal Father, who was also her own Son – Jesus Christ, our Saviour, both God and Man.  This glorious event happened at midnight, and on Sunday, according to the teaching of the Roman Church.

The Divine Child came into the world most beautiful and resplendent, without detriment to the holy virginity of Mary, for He passed through her virginal womb like a ray of the sun.

His body was glorious and transfigured, for the glory of His soul was reflected on it.  Immediately after His birth, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel [in corporeal form], taking Him in their arms, showed Him to the Holy Mother in the same manner as the priest exposes the Sacred Host to the adoration of the faithful… 

The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin, pgs. 80-81

The Holy Name of Mary

Today I would like to share a passage from Venerable Mary of Agreda’s, “The Divine Life of the Most Holy Virgin [pgs. 17-18]”, taken from her work, “The Mystical City of God”.  The event being described takes place shortly after St. Ann had given birth to Our Lady:

After they [the angels] had rendered their homage, God sent the Archangel Gabriel to announce the good tidings to the holy patriarchs in Limbo.

At the same time He ordered an innumerable multitude of Angels to transport into Heaven the body and soul of her who was to become the Mother of the Eternal Word.  At her entrance into Heaven, the little Mary prostrated herself with love before the royal throne of the Most High.  She was received by God Himself upon His throne, and the titles of Mother of God and Queen of all creatures were given to her, although she remained still ignorant of the designs of this profound mystery, God concealing them from her for His greater glory.  It was determined to bestow a name on this well-beloved child, and a voice, proceeding from the throne of God, said:  “Our chosen one must be called Mary.  This name shall be marvelous and magnificent.  Those who will invoke it with devout affection shall receive abundant graces; it shall be terrible against Hell, and shall crush the head of the serpent.”

The Almighty commanded the angelic spirits to announce the blessed name to St. Ann, so that what had been decreed in Heaven might be accomplished on earth.  The Angels appeared to St. Ann, bearing luminous bucklers, on which was inscribed the name of Mary, and announced to her that this was the name to be bestowed upon her child.