Prayer to the heart of Mary

Sacred Heart of Mary, holy heart of Mary, listen to my plea.
I ask for your love and your guidance and your strength in this time of loss and brokenness.
I ask for your help, your assistance, and your strength in this time of confusion.

You were called to serve God by harboring and nurturing an innocent child. For so much of your life you took care of him, and it was through your example that he was able to heal the world.

Help me guide others in the way that you guided Jesus.
Help me to see and nurture the light of God that is within them.

I am unable to do this for myself. I ask for your divine guidance and love. Please help me to see the many examples of mercy and glory that appear in tiny ways before me. They remind me of God’s eternal presence.

Help me to nourish, support, and nurture others in the same way that St. Monica prayed for her son St. Augustine.

I pray to be able to help others reach their full potential, to grow into God’s light, to be able to take care of themselves and take care of others, to know the glory that is being connected to God.

To do this, help me to reconnect and recommit to the Sacred Heart of your son, Jesus, the heart that is exposed for all the world to see. It is a reminder to trust in being vulnerable. It is a reminder to not be afraid of being open.

Mary in the Woods

On Friday morning while on retreat at St. Meinrad, I found one of the two grottoes with Mary that are on this campus. Both of these special places are hidden away in the woods, away from the church, not on the map.  They are nearly impossible to find unless you ask for directions from someone who has been there.

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I’ve read that statues of Mary have been discovered in caves and in fields – and when they are removed and placed in churches, within a few days they have miraculously returned to where they were found.  It is as if Mary does not want to be in church, in a cold, lifeless building.  Mary is all about being among us, the commoners, where we are, as we are.

I find it significant that this image of Mary depicts her as if she is a non-Catholic at Mass.  This arm position says to the priest to give a blessing only – that this person cannot take Communion.  Following their rules – she could not take Communion because she was not Catholic.  She was Jewish.  But if it weren’t for her saying “Yes” to God – to letting the Holy Spirit of God work through her, Jesus would never have come into this world.  The Catholic Church could learn a lot from Mary.

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The other grotto is quite far away.  You have to walk away from the seminary, the guest house, the church.  You have to walk by two small lakes and into the woods. I found it on Saturday.  This is the view looking back at the place where we stayed on retreat.  It is the closest building to this grotto, and also the furthest building from the church.  This is significant.

The actual grotto is another five minute’s walk from here.

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There are no signs or path.  You’d never know that this was here until you are almost upon it.

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Mary greets you with open arms.

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Notice the detail – she is barefoot, and she is stepping on a snake with fruit in it’s mouth. This is the snake from the Garden of Eden, and that is the apple that Eve and Adam ate.  Mary is the antidote to that poison.  It is said that they brought original sin into the world with this act of rebellion against God.  Mary brought grace into the world by acting in accordance with the desires of God.

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Someone had been here before me and left an offering of wildflowers for her.  They had faded and were musty.  We must daily refresh our faith and reconnect to the true Vine in order to remain alive in spirit.

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Annunciation

In a gloomy little corner at St. Meinrad’s, there is a painting of the Annunciation.  It is very hard to see – there is little natural light and I couldn’t find a light switch for artificial light.  It is the the only painting in that corner.  It is more of a passage way to get to another room.  It is an afterthought.

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Yet notice that they have a holy candle mounted on the wall next to it.  A white candle, especially in a red sconce, indicates that the presence of Jesus is there.  Yet someone has let the candle go out.  These candles are normally placed next to the tabernacle or aumbry that has consecrated hosts (Communion wafers).  I’ve never seen one next to a painting – but this painting indicates the moment that Jesus became a physical part of the world by entering into Mary’s womb.

 

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Because the only light was right in front of it, I had to stand at an angle to take the picture otherwise my shadow would have gotten in the way.

 

Notice the dove, a sign of the Holy Spirit.  There are lilies too – symbols of the purity of Mary.

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This is the archangel Gabriel, come to ask Mary if she is willing to be the bearer of Christ.

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Everything is immaculate in this painting – so why is there a breach in this wall?  Does it refer to when Jesus died on the cross and the division between the Holy of Holies was rendered in two?  That signified that God and humans are reconciled – there is no longer a division between us.  We no longer need an intermediary of a priest to speak with God – we can do it directly.

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Dwell

brace
I made this bracelet to illustrate God dwelling among us. This is the picture of the whole thing, which has three units of the same “story”.

Here I’ve blocked off just the story itself. It reads going up.
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This is how you read it –
(light green beads) God created the world. God sustained it for thousands of years.

(Deep green small bead)
Then, God said to the Jewish people
“I want to dwell among you”
and the Mishkon,
the traveling tabernacle, was built.
The tangible reminder that a non-tangible presence was among them.
It wasn’t a house for God
so much as a reminder
that God was already present with them.

(Large deep green bead)
Thousands of years passed with Jews following the One God.

Then the Holy Spirit (red bead)
spoke to Mary (blue bead).
God wanted to dwell among us even more intimately.
God took up residence inside Mary.
It wasn’t something forced.
She was asked.
She said “Here I am. I’m your servant.
Do unto me according to your will.”

God took up residence within her and created a pure, holy, being, a blend of past, present and future, fully human, fully Spirit, and the culmination of the Jewish hope. (Bead with green, red, blue, and white)

Never before in human history has God spoken to someone and asked them to make a place for God within themselves. He’d asked plenty to trust and to follow, but never to actually have God dwell within.

When Jesus came into the world, he asks us to do the same – to make a place for God in our hearts, to let God work through us. God is not in a building – God never was. God is here, within us, now.

Everything starts in darkness – a Christmas observation

Here’s Mary. She’s been told that she is going to bring forth the Messiah, the Savior, the King. This has been promised to her by an angel.

But things aren’t looking so good.

Her fiancé almost left her when he found out she was pregnant. Perhaps her family and friends actually did leave her – we hear nothing about them, and she and Joseph were alone when it came time to give birth. Far away from home, with no support system, no help. Stuck in a barn – no place for anybody to be, much less a place to give birth. Much less a place to give birth to a King.

How must that all have seemed to Mary? She had to start doubting everything. Maybe it was all a dream? Maybe she was going crazy?

Maybe she started talking to God, maybe a little less reverently than you’d expect. “Yeah, right, God! Sure, you promised that this special thing was going to happen, but what about this? What about right now? It doesn’t look so good, God. In fact, it looks pretty bad.”

But here’s something interesting to consider. In Judaism, everything starts in darkness. The day starts the night before – it runs from sunset to sunset – not sunrise to sunset. The month starts at the new moon – when it is darkest. When you can’t see anything.

This is God’s way.

Anything good starts when it seems like things are at their worst. The lowest point is the beginning.

Remember “It is always darkest before the dawn”, and “It can only get better”? That. A thousand times that.

When things seem to be at their darkest, that is when God is working the hardest, bringing forth the Light.

Jesus’ provision for his mother

Jesus’ mother, along with Mary Magdalene and his aunt Mary (who was the wife of Clopas), were standing by his cross. When Jesus noticed his mother standing with the disciple he loved, he said “Woman, here is your son.” To the disciple he said “Here is your mother.” From that point on the disciple made her a part of his family.

JN 19:25-27