SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING column for January 2, 2001
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
Solemnity should be kept solemn!
I do not know if this is the standard throughout the United States, but in our diocese the Solemnity of Mary while a holy day of obligation, was not obligatory this year, probably due to the Feast of the Holy Family on December 31st.
I wax nostalgic about this, my dear brothers and sisters, because it seems to me that each year there are more and more compromises regarding Holy Days of Obligation, and the shortage of Masses available in the local parishes for these few Days are at a bare minimum. It is as if, and here I can only refer to our local diocese and our own parish, that these Holy Days of Obligation are more days of "obligation" in the sense that it is a job that must be done … the Holiness of the Days are not emphasized, and the attitude of many pastors is that Sunday Mass suffices, and there are no other reasons to have "special" celebrations back to back.
I am so sorry that this attitude pervades this diocese, and perhaps pervades many others. It is hard not to look back and remember that these Holy Days were truly "Holy", and their meaning was emphasized not only by the priests who spoke from the pulpit, but also at home by my own parents, who were faithful to all their obligations, even to the moment of their deaths.
It is as if, in a secular sense, the revelries of the previous day, New Year's Eve, supercede the awesome Solemnity of Mary the following day. Is it that most are too tired from partying that the extra Mass they would be obligated to attend, is facilitated by the lack of emphasizes on the diocesan and parish level?
Oh, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! Do we understand what this Feast really means? It is so vital for all of us to see the Work of God Himself in this Feast. How could we have Christmas, how could we have Easter, how could we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, the Feast of the Assumption, the Feast of Pentecost, Christ the King, etc., if Mary had not given her "fiat" to the God at the moment of the Annunciation. Think about it: the mysteries of the Rosary would not be if Mary had said "no" to the Archangel Gabriel. She, among all women, the New Eve, was chosen by God to be the Mother of His Only-Begotten Son-the Mother of God! What an awesome privilege, and what an awe-inspiring feast for all who truly believe in the role of Mary in Salvation History.
It is proper and just that we honor the Mother of God, and begin our "New Year" by so doing. By our recognition of Mary's role, as planned by God from all eternity, and her eternal "fiat" to Him, we bring God's Infinite Mercy, Love, Peace, Joy, Trust, Confidence, and Hope as the true "New Year's resolutions we are all wont to make.
Oh, we are quick to make worldly resolutions for a "new year": things such as losing weight, buying a new house, working our way up the corporate ladder in our work. But how much thought do we give to our spiritual resolutions?
This Feast brings to my mind very clearly the privilege that was ours when we went as humble pilgrims to Lourdes in May of 2000. Never, ever, will I forget that Peace that exists in that place where Our Blessed Mother came as the Immaculate Conception. There, to Bernadette, Our Lady came and through the role as Mediatrix, Advocate, and Co-Redemptrix, she brought forth a spring of healing, miraculous waters. I am certain in the heart of my soul that no one who has ever traveled to Lourdes and has bathed in these miraculous waters has come away empty. The miracle may not be a physical cure of the body, but all are healed of maladies of the soul, which supercedes the body at all times. There in Lourdes, the role of Mary, Mother of God, was brought home to me in priceless ways, for it was so clear to me that through Her intercession, Our Dear Lord, her Divine Son, bestowed upon us, and to the thousands who were there, incomparable graces that will last a lifetime, not just at the moment of our presence in this very holy place.
Why then could we not then, as Catholics of clear conscience and humility of heart, honor Mary, Mother of God with all our heart on this Solemn Feast on the First Day of the Calendar year, which starts out our real spiritual new year? How fitting that Holy Mother Church has chosen this day to honor the Mother of God, through whom Our Blessed Lord was pleased to be born into the world, to live and work among us, and to give to us His New Covenant, which did not annihilate the Old Covenant, but completed it.
How fitting that we are given an opportunity on this day to come to the Altar through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to present ourselves, our very lives, to the Our Blessed Mother who, as the best of all mothers, takes us directly to Her Divine Son. She intercedes for us, she prays for us, she guides us, guards us, and points always to the Son of God!
Lately I was thinking about how many things an earthly mother does to unravel the mess that we so often make of our lives within the family context - be it a family where the children are still at home, or our extended family when our children go out on their own. Moms are there to be the heart of the family, and Mary, who was given to us as our Mother, is the true heart of any family that seeks to follow in the footsteps of Our Blessed Savior.
How many of us have real concerns that occupy our thoughts and our time as we plead for our family, for our extended family, for our parish, and our diocese, and for the entire world. We, as earthly moms, can only hope, through God's grace, to guide our family in a loving manner. How much more so does Mary, Our Mother, work tirelessly, eternally, to help us in this earthly sojourn, to help us, through her Intercession, to "fix" the messes that are part of human experience. Through her, we have the opportunity to have the help of the Heavenly Family to not only "fix" our own frailties and faults, but to carry through onto each generation her role as Advocate, Mediatrix, and Co-Redemptrix.
All of her titles are contained in this Feast of the Solemnity of the Mother of God, for no title could be given her were she not the Mother of God, ever-virgin, blessed among all women. If we meditate upon the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, we can see that she is present in all of them, for there was not one moment from the time of her Immaculate Conception, to the time of her Assumption that she was not one with her Divine Son. She is the model, the perfect example not only of motherhood, but also of the perfect disciple. If we wish to be pleasing to God, if we wish to be given the graces that will help us to attain to that degree of holiness to which we have been called by God, can we fail to call upon Our Mother-the Mother of God? Did not our Lord, in true humility of heart, remain always obedient to Mary and Joseph in all things until He began His public life? And even then, He deferred to Her at the Wedding Feast at Cana, and in His Footsteps she walked to Calvary, to the Tomb, and was there at the time of the Resurrection, and the Ascension. She was there to be "mother" to the apostles in those first crucial years after Her Divine Son had ascended to the Father. She was there as Mother of the Church, for her earthly presence went on for many years after the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Our Lord. She was there when the promised Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, descended upon the apostles and the Blessed Mother at the First Pentecost. Her guiding heart and hand was laid upon Salvation History from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception and continues now, and unto the final moment when all time ends.
If you had the opportunity to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on this the Solemnity of the Mother of God, I hope you did so with awe and wonder in your heart, knowing that by honoring Mary, we give all praise and glory, adoration and love first to God, to whom all adoration belongs. Yet, it pleases God infinitely when we, in recognizing our own weaknesses, honor Her to Whom the Savior was conceived in Her Immaculate Womb, to be born in a mean stable and to live a life of poverty that was by far the richest life ever lived! Mary shared in everything that Her Divine Son did and said from the beginning of His earthly life, and continued to share even when He had ascended. She was no less Mother when Her Divine Son, in fulfillment of the Scriptures, ascended to His Father, only to send the Holy Spirit, the spouse of the Blessed Mother, to fulfill the promise made by Christ that He would send the Paraclete.
Let us, then, my dear brothers and sisters, strive to make this day truly holy by making it our first and only resolution to lead a holy and blameless life for the entire year of 2001. Let us strive to attend Mass on other Holy Days that aren't "counted." Let us not forget that Mary, who has spoken to many visionaries and locutionists throughout the centuries, speaks not in our time, but in God's Time, and that all will be fulfilled in the fullness of that Infinite Time.
Though the day is over, still let us go together to honor her belatedly for this Solemn Feast. Just a visit to her Divine Son's tabernacle in your parish church will be enough to show God your heart. There ask Jesus to always be at our side and send His Blessed Mother to bring us safely to our Heavenly Home. We cannot know that time, but if we leave all things to God, and trust in Him fully, and love His Blessed Mother and honor her as He Himself did, then we do not have to worry or be anxious over the coming year. Rather, we can and must life that year, each day, in the fullness of Love, which flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the Immaculate Heart of Our Blessed Mother. Their hearts beat as one…and we must pray that our own heart beats in unison with the Two Hearts.
Whenever we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, let us truly make an offering of ourselves, of our very lives, to Our Lord through the Intercession of Our Blessed Mother. As Mary relied in the fullness of faith, hope, and love on God for all things, we can only pray and ask the grace to do the same.
You may rest assured that she, Our Mother, will heed our pleas, and present us to Her Divine Son in such a manner that our petitions, which flow from our heart, will, through the Infinite Mercy of Our Lord, be answered.
May each of you, my dear brothers and sisters, make of this year a true "New Year" of total commitment to Our Lord Jesus Christ, as Mary continues to do as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
With what joy should our hearts be filled at this time! With what Hope! With what Peace!
That is my prayer for each of you, and I thank you for praying also for your very little sister in Christ who loves you in His name and for His Sake,
Your very little sister in Christ,
January 2, 2001
volume 12, no. 2
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
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