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A blessed Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!  She is also honored today under the title Our Lady of Victory.  The two titles really go hand in hand, as the Rosary is a proven instrument of victory over danger and evil.

I finally made it to Confession this evening, so that was a bit of a personal victory for me.  Or rather a victory of God’s grace and mercy within me.

And now I go forward on this blessed day, healed and whole once more.  I asked Our Lady of Victory for her prayers and help.  I asked her to help me be a strong and virtuous and faithful daughter of God, always victorious over sin–a woman modeled after her.  I prayed for a renewed dedication to the Rosary.  I also asked her prayers and help for the United States, since this county is under her patronage.

Lord, hear her prayers and mine!

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7 October, one of the most significant days in history.

On this day in 1571, near the Greek town of Lepanto, a joint navy of Christian states dealt a crushing defeat to the Turkish navy, preventing an invasion of Europe.  The defeat was so crushing that it was considered miraculous.

The victory was attributed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope St. Pius V having urged all the Catholics in Europe to pray the Rosary for victory.  Pope St. Pius V was a Dominican, and the Dominicans had long been the special custodians and propagators of the Rosary.  Tradition says that the Rosary was given to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin herself, as a special weapon against heresy and other dangers.  The victory at Lepanto reaffirmed the Rosary’s power.  This feast day has also been known as the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

Pope St. Pius V also gave Mary the title, Our Lady of Victory, and this is one of the titles under which she is Patroness of the United States, my beloved patria!

So, as a Catholic, as a Dominican, and as an American, this feast day is very special to me!

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Today is the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Happy birthday, Mama Mary!  You’re one of the greatest gifts God has given to us!

I finally got to Confession this morning–yay!  I’m back on track!  I can receive Communion!

Now if I can just get back into the swing of things at my job…

AssumptionA happy and blessed Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to one and all!  This beautiful feast day celebrates one of God’s pledges to all humankind of our own future glory if we remain faithful to Him and seek His kingdom.

Mary was the first person to receive the salvation of Christ, and we have followed her there.

Mary was the first to enter into the mystery of His incarnation, and we have followed her there.

Mary was the first ordinary human being to enter body and soul into Heaven, and we shall follow her there one day.

I love these stanzas from a traditional hymn:

Death, once the wages owed to sin,
In its defeat deserteth thee;
Thou, consort of thy dearest Son,
In body to the stars art raised.

Higher, resplendent, glorious,
Woman most perfect doth ascend:
Our human nature doth in thee
The peak of every beauty reach.

O Queen triumphant, turn thine eyes
On us exiled from Heaven and thee:
With thee to help us may we reach
The happiness of home in Heaven.

(From the hymn O Prima Virgo Prodita;
translation from the Angelus Press 1962 missal)

And then, there is Mary’s own sublime hymn of praise, the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
for He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
He has put down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of low degree;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel,
in remembrance of His mercy,
as He spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and his posterity for ever.

(Luke 1:46-55; translation from the
Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic ed.)

I’ve prayed this hymn countless times; it is a standard part of the Divine Office’s evening prayer. But as I heard it proclaimed by our priest during Mass this morning… it took on a whole new power and beauty. It brought tears to my eyes. It just reminded me of how good God has been to me personally… and how Mary has helped me to know Him and His goodness.

Let us thank the Lord for giving us such a good mother, and let us thank our mother for helping us to better know and love her Son.

I wish all my readers a wonderful 2009–may it be filled with every blessing for you and your loved ones!

Remember: it’s also the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God–a holy day of obligation, so don’t forget to go to Mass!

I just want to say that it has been a great joy to share this blog with you and to hear from some of you in reply.  You readers have helped to make this blog worthwhile.  I am grateful, and I remember you each day in my prayers.

This past year has been a momentous one.

On a personal level, I was admitted to the Order of Preachers on 9 March–still one of the happiest and most exciting days of my life so far!  Being admitted to the Order as a novice Lay Dominican has helped me to mature greatly, both spiritually and intellectually.  It has provided me a tremendous support system–a true family, spanning the globe and the Communion of Saints and nearly 800 years!  I look forward to continuing my journey in 2009 and beyond!

Of course, this year was very important for the United States, as we participated in our presidential election and saw the landmark election of our first black president.  The joy and excitement of that landmark was unfortunately darkened by disappointment, worry, and dismay at President-elect Obama’s extreme pro-abortion stance.  As his inauguration approaches, those feelings remain, along with a rather tense expectancy: What will he really do as president? Will he or won’t he moderate his stance on abortion?

This new year is full of promise as well, however: the pro-life movement has been mobilizing to meet the challenges of the new administration, with unprecedented support and guidance from our Catholic bishops.  There’s a definite energy, vigilance, and seriousness in the air–some of that “crusading spirit” I mentioned the other day.

All in all, I think we’ve got an interesting and exciting year ahead!

I hope everyone had a blessed Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  May our blessed mother and patroness of the United States help us through her intercession to draw closer to her Son.

For me, lately, life has been… oh, I wouldn’t say difficult, nor bad… but rather blue and not very pleasant.  It’s hard for me to put my finger on it.  I feel like there is a lot going on inside me and around me, but I can’t understand what.   I feel all at sea.  Flummoxed (there’s a great word).

Then again, I think maybe I’ve just reached one of those times in life where I just need a nice big cry.  Just one of those times.

Having this special feast day of our blessed mother gave me some comfort… she herself gives me comfort.  She has such understanding of all the things we go through in our lives and in our striving to make good disciples and submit ourselves to God.  Oh, to have her virtues and faith.  Oh, to never forget how great and how good God is!

I’m not really sure what to say… except to ask you to please remember me in your prayers.  Ask the Lord to make things a little clearer and to help me know and fulfill His will for me.

Fortunately, there is a song that sort of ties all these thoughts and feelings together:

Mary at the foot of the Cross
When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”  Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.”  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.  (Jn. 19:26-27)

Today’s memorial of Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows follows naturally from yesterday’s Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.  It brings us with Mary to the foot of the cross where she remains despite her unimaginable sorrow.  Her faith and perseverence is an example to all Christians.

The “Beloved Disciple” does not only refer to St. John the Apostle, but represents all Christians.  We too are called to stand by the cross, not to flee it as all the other apostles did in their weakness.  Christ says to each one of us, “Behold, your mother.”  Each of us is free and responsible to choose our response: will we imitate St. John and take her into our homes and into our hearts as our mother, or will we turn our backs and leave her to suffer alone?

All Christians are to strive to do Christ’s will.  As the brief scripture above makes clear, He spent some of His final excruciating breaths to entrust His beloved and devoted mother to His beloved and devoted disciple.  So surely there is only one right response for us to make.  And yet there are Christians, and even Catholics, who regard her with indifference or perhaps even coldness.

Her pure heart, however, pierced by a sword and tried and tested like gold in fire, knows no resentment.  She prays tenderly for all her children, expecting nothing in return.  Let us pray with her that all Christians may return her love and make a home for her in their hearts.

(photo by Flickr user bcostin)

The Assumption, Mary and Jesus reunited in HeavenWhat a joyful day for our Lady: at last, she is reunited with her beloved son and Lord, in His everlasting kingdom, never again to be parted!  That’s what I think of when I think of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother.

It fills me with joy and with hope, for I know that we too are able to follow her and share personally in her joy!  The joy of at last meeting our Lord face to face, being safe and secure with Him, never again having to worry about separation from Him.  Finding at last the fullness of life and peace.  And through Him, being reunited with our own family and friends who have gone before us.

So, a joyful feast for all mankind!  Let us keep our eyes focused on it each day!

 

“As sailors are guided by a star to the port,

so Christians are guided to Heaven by Mary.”

~~ St. Thomas Aquinas

I think this is a beautiful image that St. Thomas gives us… and this picture matches it very well!

It reminds me of my first tumultuous days as a Catholic “revert.”  A time of darkness and grief and confusion, and I was still trying to get reacquainted with God.  But Mary I could understand very well; she had lived through her share of sorrows, and she was both a comfort and a guiding light to me. 

  

 

This blog is brought to you by a Lay Dominican

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
(Image from a painting at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Metairie, Louisiana)

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