All posts tagged: Mary

The Pondering Heart: Notre Dame’s Special Consecration to Our Lady

The start of each academic year indicates a season of rejoicing in new beginnings. The commencement of this academic year, however, also invited the Notre Dame community to engage in a year-long process of remembering. On November 26 of this year, our community will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the founding of Notre Dame. This will be a year of celebration, a year of honoring and remembering those who have gifted us with Notre Dame. Standing out amidst the countless individuals who have contributed to the foundation and growth of our university are Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and Fr. Edward Sorin, one of the first Holy Cross priests and founder of our university. As we begin this year of thanksgiving and remembrance, it seems appropriate to give special attention to these two holy men, both of whom carried within them a deep love for the holiest of women, Notre Dame, Our Mother. In a letter addressed to the Holy Cross priests, brothers and sisters on the Feast of the …

The Hope of the Assumption

Glorious things are spoken of you, O Mary, who today were exalted above the choirs of Angels into eternal triumph with Christ (Entrance Antiphon, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Elite athletes exist at the edge of the possible and the physically absurd. Last year, in Brazil, we learned this once again: The marathon runner, who pushes his or her body beyond human limitations to complete the 26.2 miles in the same time that it takes to drive a car from South Bend to Chicago. The swimmer, whose powerful legs and lungs, enables her to move through the water in record time, all the while performing with grace. The sprinter, who runs so swiftly, with such ease, that we re-imagine what the human being can do when formed according to such perfection. The gymnast, who defies all laws of gravity, in the vault, the parallel bars, the floor routine. At the end of the Olympics, do not all of us (no matter the lack of our own athletic prowess) in some way expand our imaginations to …

Motherhood and the Eucharist

Iam a new mother, but each day I realize more and more that the journey into motherhood is a process of becoming. Reflection on this process often leads me back to Our Blessed Mother, who also had to become a mother. As Mary became the Mother of God, a fitting model for all mothers, she did so in the presence of Christ. In many ways, her tiny child became the model of motherhood for her: “The Babe that I carry carrieth me, saith Mary, and He hath lowered His wings, and taken and placed me between His pinions” (Ephraem, “Rhythm the Twelfth,” p. 53). In this passage, Mary sees her participation in the kenotic mystery of the Incarnation as the realization of her role as both Mother of God and child of God. When a mother gazes down at her child, perhaps she sees herself—not just her physical reflection in the features of her child but in the spiritual reflection of herself also as a child of God. This encounter between mother and child can lead …

May Crowning: Honoring Our Queen and Our Mother

A long-standing tradition in the Church has been to adorn a statue or image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with flowers at the beginning of May, a month dedicated to her honor. I have vivid memories of the May Crowning at my grade school, when all of the students were invited to bring flowers from home that would then be put into vases and carried in procession to the front of the church, where a large statue of Our Lady was prominently placed. If you were lucky, you were the one chosen to carry the vase in the procession as your class representative. If you were super lucky, you were the one chosen to carry the circlet of flowers and crown Mary at the culmination of the service. Here at Our Lady’s University, the McGrath Institute for Church Life brought back the tradition of the Marian Procession and May Crowning last year, an event that will take place once again this year on Sunday, May 7 at 1pm, beginning at the Grotto of Our Lady …

The Feast of the Holy Family: Not Just a Model

Those of us suspicious of the pious platitudes that too often make their home in Catholic homiletic practice know that the feast of the Holy Family is a “code-red” day for such platitudes. We families assemble in our parishes and are exhorted that we should conform our domestic life according to the peaceful, loving relationships of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The image of the Holy Family that we receive is one pictured on holy cards where perfect beauty and order and attention are mutually given by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (I suppose there were no smartphones to distract attention . . . otherwise Christ would have been found wandering around Jerusalem playing Pokémon GO instead of in the Temple). Those of us with toddlers normally do not hear this point of homiletic insight (ironically) because our children want to take up their vocation as amateur arsonists by playing with the candles placed before the statue of the Blessed Mother or to take a swim in the baptismal font. But for those of us able to attend to the preaching this …

The Irrational Season

This is the irrational season when love blooms bright and wild. Had Mary been filled with reason there’d have been no room for the child. —Madeleine L’Engle, “After the Annunciation”   A colorful catalyst to the fifth century Christological controversies of Asia Minor was one Proclus of Constantinople, whose sermons on the cult of the Virgin in Constantinople apparently riled up Nestorius, who balked at going so far as to name Mary Theotokos. Proclus’ homilies are bold, beautiful celebrations of Mary’s status in salvation history, richly textured with lyrical metaphors and poetic hagiography. His “Homily One,” which was delivered with Nestorius in attendance, was written for a Marian feast during the Nativity cycle. Traditionally, the time leading up to Christmas has been a time for Marian reflection. Although key Marian feast days still bookend December 25 (Immaculate Conception on the 8th, and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on January 1st), Marian devotion is not a hallmark of most popular Advent preparations. Before Paul VI moved the great feast of Mary the Mother of …

Advent and Discernment

The Vocation of Discernment It strikes me how frequently opportunities for discernment become moments of crisis in life. As an undergraduate in my senior year, the impending future after graduation is a popular topic of discussion amongst my friends and classmates. The various dimensions of how life will look after graduation have been coming together like the pieces of a puzzle for the past four years. Yet for many seniors, a few pieces of that puzzle have yet to be found—the image of the future is incomplete. When we realize that we cannot gaze at our future selves with clarity, a sense of urgency and anxiety can set in. This often seems like the appropriate time to employ a spirit of discernment by asking God what he wants us to do with our lives and how we can proceed forward. The process of discernment involves not only listening for the words of Jesus, “Come, follow me” (Mt 1:7; Mk 4:19), but also preparing to go where he beckons. Disposing ourselves to hearing these words often …

To Stay on Target: The Immaculate Conception

On Thursday, March 25, 1858, standing in the Grotto of Massabielle, Lourdes, Our Lady identified herself as the Immaculate Conception. This self-revelation, four years after the proclamation of the dogma of this mystery of our faith, belongs to the core of her message to St. Bernadette and is unique compared to other apparitions. As the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary resembles and proclaims God’s authentic, i.e. immaculate, concept of the human person created in his image and likeness. To say it differently: in Mary’s person radiates forth the authentic blueprint that God designed for each of his children. It follows that she is the ideal exception and we are the unfortunate rule of God’s wish for us! The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception celebrated on December 8 honors Our Lady as the personification of the re-created order in Christ. Having been pre-redeemed and fully redeemed, Mary’s spiritual wealth constitutes that dimension of her being which is veiled to the outside and transcends time and matter. In its depth it is fully known only to God. …

A Dogma of Consent

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception is a doctrine that continually mystifies me. Each year as December 8th rolls around, I annually struggle to understand what exactly is so significant here that elevates this feast to a holy day of obligation. The meditations of last year never seem to have borne discoveries that adequately satisfy my questioning. What is so important that it merits mandatory Mass attendance? Why is this doctrine one that Pope Pius IX felt infallibly imperative to declare solemnly a dogma in 1854? Currently, a pressing topic in sexual ethics on college campuses is the term “consent.” There are seminars, talks, trainings, and various programs all centered on teaching undergraduates the importance and value of consent. The moral imperative of obtaining the consent of one’s sexual partner is impressed upon students as an avenue towards helping the students understand the gravity of a sexual encounter, and inviting the students to step into another person’s shoes, envisioning the encounter through the eyes of the other. Accordingly, students are taught to be mindful of …

Mary, Icon of Evangelization: Queen of Heaven and Earth, Hope of the Downtrodden

When I was a young boy praying the Rosary, the title of the fifth glorious mystery (La Coronación de la Virgen Maria como Reina del Cielo—the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven) led me to visualize a beautiful woman, dressed in royal clothing and wearing a lovely crown of glowing jewels. This was not surprising, since I was formed to imagine the Virgin Mary as an angelic woman, totally beyond our human condition. Even our catechism seemed to affirm this limited view of Mary—she was conceived without original sin and therefore would not have suffered the consequences of such sin, including temptation, disappointment, and suffering. She would not have been human like us. There was no doubt that she was our loving and compassionate mother, always ready to listen to our lamentations, to console us at any moment. The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe revealed this truth exquisitely. Her compassionate voice, “You have nothing to fear; am I not here who am your mother?” rang deeply within our hearts, giving us an unquestioned …