POETRY: Mary At The Nativity by Tania Runyan

December 25, 2018

The angel said there would be no end to his kingdom. So for three hundred days I carried rivers and cedars and mountains. Stars spilled in my belly when he turned. Now I can’t stop touching his hands, the pink pebbles of his knuckles, the soft wrinkle of flesh between his forefinger and thumb. I rub his fingernails as we drift in and out of sleep. They are small and smooth, like almond petals. Forever, I will need nothing but these. But all night, the visitors crowd around us. I press his psalms to my lips in silence. They look down in anticipation, as if they expect him to spill coins from his hands or raise a gold scepter and turn swine into angels. Isn’t this wonder enough that yesterday he was inside me, and now he nuzzles next to [...]

ADVENT REFLECTION: A Holy Friendship by Enuma Okoro

December 19, 2018

From Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. (Luke 1:56) Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge stands before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (James 5:7-10) The narrative leaves out so much information concerning the [...]

ADVENT REFLECTION: Mary And Elizabeth by Enuma Okoro

December 18, 2018

From Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were [...]

POETRY: Magnificat by Mary F. C. Pratt

December 12, 2018

Under pine trees in the snow, the chickadees around my head, I wept for the will of God, this hungry woman fed. All the shadows shifted while my back was turned. Once and always on my finger one soft and small gray bird. Not a twisting due to prayer, but all its own, and mine together. And so I bear the gift, carry it through time— this deepest darkness, astonishing [...]

POETRY: From A Woman’s Life by Maura Eichner

July 18, 2018

What Mary knew was just enough for the usual day; pull water, flint fire, bake bread, smile, pray the dark orations, sleep, wake wait. When pain hones a nerve, when birth or dying clotted an hour, she leaned to the curve of living, resilient to fear, laughter, suffering. Partings are a little death. Each one’s journey is a thing wholly without precedent. She looked at the sky for compass. None. She, too, created a road to travel [...]

POETRY: The Good Portion by Paul J. Willis

April 20, 2018

Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42) Is it waking to this calm morning after a night of dry winds? Is it scrambled eggs, the ones with cheese, or the hot glaze of a cinnamon roll? Is it the way you laugh over breakfast, that generous gift, your laughter? Is it rinsing the plates and pans in the sink? Or leaving them in a cockeyed stack, these things of use, these things of beauty that will not be taken [...]

SAINTS: Mary — A Mother At The Foot Of The Cross, by Greg Friedman

April 14, 2017

From: Lent With The Saints Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42 No mother should bear the death of her son. I heard that sentiment expressed in my family as a teenager, when my favorite uncle died of cancer in his forties. My grandmother was never the same afterward. The Stations of the Cross capture similar feelings, at the fourteenth station, popularly known as the Pietà. It is a scene full of grief, a mother holding the lifeless body of her son. John’s Passion story, read on Good Friday, depicts Mary at the foot of the cross. Standing next to the disciple whom Jesus loved, Mary hears Jesus say, Woman, here is your son. And to the Beloved Disciple he says, Here is your [...]

PRAYER: Prayer For And To The Dead, by Donald Spoto

November 9, 2015

From In Silence Praying for those no longer living is among the most ancient forms of prayer, as is evident from the Egyptian Book of the dead and the witness of the ancient Near East.  It is linked not only to social and familial continuity, but also to belief in a life beyond this world and to the notion that the dead are somehow in process of reaching a final state of being.  African tribal rituals, for example, often included prayers to the dead: O good and innocent dead, hear us: attend to us, you guiding ancestors, for you are neither blind nor deaf to this life we live.  You did yourselves once share it.  Help us, then, for the sake of our devotion, and for our good. As for intercessory prayer on behalf of the dead: perhaps [...]

MYSTICISM: Mary’s Example, by Mother Teresa

January 9, 2015

From Total Surrender The Magnificat is Our Lady’s prayer of thanks.  She can help us to love Jesus best; she is the one who can show us the shortest way to Jesus.  Mary was the one whose intercession led Jesus to work the first miracle.  “They have no wine,” she said to Jesus.  “Do whatever he tells you,” she said to the servants.  Let us go to her with great love and trust.  We are serving Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor. ♥ Through all the work we do for Jesus, with Jesus, to Jesus, we will ask him to deepen our love for his mother, to make it more personal and intimate, so as to: love her as he loved her, be a cause of joy to her as he was, keep close to her as he kept close, share [...]

DIVINITY: Natural Woman

January 8, 2015

I think that perhaps what I have experienced recently in visions may be considered the sharpest turn in focus that I have ever experienced.  Yes, there have been an infinite number of times when, having come to the “end” of a vision quest, the ultimate revelation is so far from what I expected that it sometimes takes years – decades, even – to mull over, absorb, and understand. But, for the most part, the path has seemed a logical progression.  From this step to the next, perhaps a curve here and there, a moment to remember the rules of the road so as not to get too discouraged, and then the light at the end.  The finger of God pointing.  Here it is, Julia.  This is what you have been looking for. And then, of [...]

MARY: Dogma, by Kathleen Norris

January 1, 2015

From Meditations on Mary Dogma is an instrument for penetrating reality.  Christian dogma is about the only thing left in the world that surely guards and respects mystery. (Flannery O’Connor) I am indebted to the writer and sculptor Edward Robinson for pointing out to me that the word “dogmatic” as used today means, ironically, to have abandoned the original spirit of dogma.  In the early church, he says, dogma simply meant acceptance, or consensus, what people could agree on.  The Greek root from which “dogma” comes means “what seems good, fitting, becoming.”  Thus, the word “beauty” might be a more fitting synonym for dogma than what has become its synonym in contemporary [...]

MARY: Trees Of Life, by Judith Dupré

December 30, 2014

From Full of Grace The relationship of the Virgin Mary and Christ to their Old Testament forebears gained its most potent visual symbol – a branching tree – in the early twelfth century.  Known as a Tree of Jesse, the symbol visually represents Christ’s royal lineage as a stylized tree or vine that typically grows from the reclining figure of Jesse, the father of Kind David.  From Jesse branch the names or images of Old Testament figures, culminating in the Virgin, from whose body Christ blossomed.  The medieval religious imagination, grounded in the natural world as a matter of survival, adopted the image of a tree as a means of mapping relationships between people and expressing them chronologically. Also known as the [...]

MARY: Sing And Proclaim All Days by Justin Lang

December 29, 2014

From Mary: Images of the Mother of Jesus in Jewish and Christian Perspective The fundamental liturgical structures of the Marian feasts communicate first of all an atmosphere that mystically envelops the venerator of Mary.  And the prayers and hymns of these feasts attempt to articulate further this specifically Marian sense of life.  There exists here a characteristic dialectic between a verbal and melodius exuberance and a blissful movement into silence.  The famous Hymnos akathistos, for example, allows the entire height and depth of the Marian mystery to shine forth in ever new cascades of words, as we can observe in the following lines: Hail, Mother of the most holy star; hail, Morning light of the mystical life. Hail, you who [...]

POETRY: Prayer To The Virgin Of Chartres by Henry Adams

December 29, 2014

Gracious Lady:— Simple as when I asked your aid before; Humble as when I prayed for grace in vain Seven hundred years ago; weak, weary, sore In heart and hope, I ask your help again. You, who remember all, remember me; An English scholar of a Norman name, I was a thousand who then crossed the sea To wrangle in the Paris schools for fame. When your Byzantine portal was still young I prayed there with my master Abailard; When Ave Maris Stella was first sung, I helped to sing it here with Saint Bernard. When Blanche set up your gorgeous Rose of France I stood among the servants of the Queen; And when Saint Louis made his penitence, I followed barefoot where the King had been. For centuries I brought you all my cares, And vexed you with the [...]

POETRY: Mary And Gabriel by Rupert Brooke

December 17, 2014

Young Mary, loitering once her garden way, Felt a warm splendor grow in the April day, Out of the gold air of the afternoon, One knelt before her: hair he had, or fire, Bound back above his ears with golden wire, Baring the eager marble of his face. Not man’s or woman’s was the immortal grace Rounding the limbs beneath that robe of white, And lighting the proud eyes with changeless light, Incurious. Calm as his wings, and fair, That presence filled the garden. She stood there, Saying, “What would you, Sir?” He told his word, “Blessed art thou of women!” Half she heard, Hands folded and face bowed, half long had known, The message of that clear and holy tone, That fluttered hot sweet sobs about her heart; [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Thirteenth Station — Jesus Christ Is Laid In The Arms Of His Mother, by Evelyn Underhill

April 17, 2014

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Eternal Wisdom Embraced by Human Love It has been said by a great preacher that “Jesus dead in the arms of Mary is the central fact of the world’s tragedy.”  Here we see it at last in its results – what, left to ourselves, we would do to Perfection if he would let us: the foolish cruelty, the destructive instincts of the separated human will apart from grace, from God. Yet poignant though this picture be, terrible in its revealing power, perhaps it were truer to say that this cradling of the dead Christ in the arms of his human mother is the “central fact” which brings to a point the highest honor that humanity has yet attained. Upon my flowery [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourth Station — Jesus Christ Is Met By His Mother by Evelyn Underhill

March 16, 2014

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Eternal Wisdom Encounters Human Love It is surely humanity’s most poignant moment when the best that it has produced confronts the best that the spiritual universe has given. Then, as at no other station of our journey, the awful travail of the Eternal Wisdom is revealed to the soul in whom he has been born, and who has learned to love him as her dearest possession, adore him as her God. In this supreme hour she looks into the eyes of that Perfection who is at once her creator and her son: the most intimate of all mysteries, the most mysterious of all intimates.  That glance brings with it the full realization of her impotence, as well as of her love.  [...]

HOMILY: The Sword Of Faith, by Karl Rahner

February 4, 2014

Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents [...]

THE CHURCH YEAR: Candlemas/Presentation Of The Lord by Kathleen Norris

February 3, 2014

From The Cloister Walk And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “Behold the child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35) The darkness is still with us, O Lord.  You are still hidden and the world which you have made does not want to know you or receive you.  You are still the hidden child in a world grown old.  You are still obscured by the veils of this world’s history, you are still destined not to be acknowledged in the scandal of your death on the cross.  But I, O hidden Lord of all things, boldly affirm my faith in you.  In confessing [...]

POETRY: Descending Theology — The Nativity, by Mary Karr

December 25, 2013

She bore no more than other women bore, but in her belly’s globe that desert night the earth’s full burden swayed. Maybe she held it in her clasped hands as expecting women often do or monks in prayer. Maybe at the womb’s first clutch she briefly felt that star shine as a blade point, but uttered no curses. Then in the stable she writhed and heard beasts stomp in their stalls, their tails sweeping side to side and between contractions, her skin flinched with the thousand animal itches that plague a standing beast’s sleep. But in the muted womb-world with its glutinous liquid, the child knew nothing of its own fire. (No one ever does, though our names are said to be writ down before we come to be.) He came out a [...]

POETRY: Incarnation by Lynn Ungar

December 24, 2013

The trees have finally shaken off their cloak of leaves, redrawn themselves more sternly against the sky. I confess I have coveted this casting off of flesh, have wished myself all line and form, all God. I confess that I am caught by the story of Christmas, by the pronouncement of the Spirit upon Mary’s plain flesh. What right did the angel have to come to her with the news of that unprovided, unimaginable birth? What right had God to take on flesh so out of season? When Mary lay gasping in water and blood that was of her body but not her own did she choose one gleaming, antiseptic star to carry her through the night? The flesh has so few choices, the angels, perhaps, none. The trees will shake themselves and wait for spring. The [...]

MARY: Mother Of The Suffering — The Lone Fisherman, A.D. 1218

December 24, 2013

From The Secrets of Mary, by Janice T. Connell God is with his people in mysterious ways.  He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.  Long ago, God manifested his love for families in a special way that is remembered and honored even now.  The place was La Garde, France.  The year was 1218.  But it could well be today, for spiritual reality never changes.  In a small fishing village off the coast of Marseilles, a sudden storm shocked and frightened everyone.  The wind was fierce and the waves were violent. A small fishing boat was stranded in the storm.  In it was a terrified fisherman who fully expected to perish at any moment.  Just when he thought all hope of survival was gone, he spotted a celestial radiance hovering [...]

PRAYER: Rosary — Miraculous Confirmations, by Karen Edmisten

December 23, 2013

From Keeping Company With Jesus And Mary The Blessed Mother herself has affirmed and encouraged the rosary a number of times, especially over the last two centuries.  Not surprisingly for a mother, two of her most powerful affirmations came to us through children.  And those affirmations were associated with miraculous events. In Lourdes, France, in 1858, the Blessed Mother appeared to a simple, uneducated but immensely faithful girl from a very poor family, fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous.  In the first vision the Blessed Mother held a beautiful rosary, and young Bernadette, though confused and fumbling, did her best to pray along.  Mary appeared to Bernadette eighteen times over a period of several months, and although no one [...]

POETRY: Thomas Merton Sings Of Angels

December 20, 2013

Song for Our Lady of Cobre The white girls lift their heads like trees, The black girls go Reflected like flamingoes in the street. The white girls sing as shrill as water, The black girls talk as quiet as clay. The white girls open their arms like clouds, The black girls close their eyes like wings: Angels bow down like bells, Angels look up like toys, Because the heavenly stars Stand in a ring: And all the pieces of the mosaic, earth, Get up and fly away like birds. The Messenger There is some sentry at the rim of winter Fed with the speech the wind makes In the grand belfries of the sleepless timber. He understands the lasting strife of tears, And the way the world is strung; He waits to warn all life with the tongue of [...]

POETRY: Canticle For The Blessed Virgin, by Thomas Merton

November 1, 2013

I Die, Boreas, And drown your ruins in the gaudy sea, December, clash your cymbals once again And put them away. The crops come thronging from the ground. The land is green with strength. The harvests sing like confidence In the ascetic earth. Let there be no more patience With your iron music, death: Stand, continents, and wear the spring your crown! The ox-eyed land, The muted lakes, The cloudy groves that praise you, Lady, with their blooms, Fuse and destroy their lights And burn them into gold for you, great Virgin, Coining your honor in the glorious sun. The skies speed up to meet you, and the seas Swim you the silver of their crests. If you delay to come, we’ll see the meteors, by night, Skimming before your way, Lighting the [...]

POETRY: Hagia Sophia, by Thomas Merton

August 16, 2013

I. Dawn.  The Hour of Lauds. There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness.  This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans.  There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy.  It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility.  This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom. I am awakened, I am born again at the voice of this my Sister, sent to me from the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Thirteenth Station — Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

March 16, 2013

From The Journey to Peace There were also women present looking on from a distance.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome. These women had followed Jesus when he was in Galilee and attended to his needs.  There were also many others who had come up with him to Jerusalem.  As it grew dark (it was Preparation Day, that is, the eve of the Sabbath), Joseph from Arimathea arrived – a distinguished member of the Sanhedrin.  He was another who looked forward to the reign of God.  He was bold enough to seek an audience with Pilate and urgently requested the body of Jesus.  Pilate was surprised that Jesus should have died so soon. He summoned the centurion and inquired whether Jesus [...]