Tuesday, September 18, 2012
He opened the book of nature before me, and I saw that every flower He has created has a beauty of its own, that the splendor of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not the deprive the violet of it’s scent nor make less ravishing the daisy’s charm. I saw that if every little flower wished to be a rose, nature would lose her spring adornments, and the fields would be no longer enameled with their varied flowers.-St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul.
In this beautiful analogy the type of flower seems to symbolize the type of vocation given to a person by God and the detailed differences between two flowers of the same species shows the difference between people with the same vocation lies with the details. Each one of these flowers are supposed to bloom in holiness and show God’s greatness though them. Just as a flower cannot grow and bloom without the sun and the rain neither can a person grow and bloom in holiness without the Son and showers of His grace. It is up to the flower to accept the Rain and Sunlight and if it is unwilling to accept these things because of the desire to become a different kind of flower or not become a flower of holiness at all, then it will wither up and die and shall be cast into the fire. The weeds of worldly desires may choke up the flower and prevent its growth or the rocky ground that does not allow the flower to deepen its roots of faith and humility will be become burnt up by the sun.
The lily should not try to become a rose nor a rose a lily. Each one is beautiful in their own way and cannot be compared, for sometimes the Gardener desires to look upon the daisy and sometimes the lilies and sometimes the rose. “I tell you again and again, my brethren that in the Lord’s garden are to be found not only the roses of the Martyr. In it there are also the lilies of the virgins, the ivy of wedded couples, and the violets of widows.” (St. Augustine, Sermon on Feast of St. Lawrence). If the ivy tries to become the lily how will it survive for each needs to grow in its own environment that suits the purpose of the plant in order to grow and glorify the Gardener.
It does not make one less perfect because they are something different than their brothers and sisters for the happier one is to be as Christ wills him or her to be, the more perfect they become (St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul). How could perfection lie outside of what makes us grow, the Son and showers of grace? Just as the sun shines equally on the cedar and the little flower, so the Divine Sun shines equally on everyone, great and small (St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul).
Then when we do bloom we should not try to be humble and say that we are unattractive and without scent (St. Therese, The Story of a Soul). Only someone who exalts themselves could say something like this because only they would think of humility as speaking poorly of the gifts God has given them. The truly humble soul has no reason to say that they are unattractive and without scent for they know that they are not the source, so instead of insulting Gods gifts to them there soul magnifies the Lord (Lk. 1:46).
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
“Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more [Mary] is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son.”-St. Bernard of Clairvaux
It seems as though many times people, especially non-Catholics, question the honoring and praise of Mary, the Mother of God. This is a terrible mistake that is led by the fear that we are giving worship to Mary and not to Christ because we honor her even though the fourth commandment says honor your father and your mother, yet no one worships their parents, at least I hope not. When we give honor to Mary not only are we worshiping Christ in a more perfect way but we are also imitating Him because Christ never sinned and therefore never broke the fourth commandment.
On the cross Christ seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, He said to His mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother.” And from this moment the disciple made a place for her in his home (The Jerusalem Bible, Jn. 19:26-27). Some people today interpret this as being said only for John and not for the rest of the faithful, however from the beginning of the Christianity it has been understood that she is the mother of the whole body of Christ. We are all members of the Body of Christ because Christ did not say to St. Paul on his road to Damascus why are you persecuting my followers but said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts, 9:4). St. Paul latter confirms this in by writing, “Now you together are Christ body.” (1 Cr. 12:27). How can the body of Christ have a separate mother from the head? In addition to this Mary is the new Eve and just as Eve was the mother of all men and women, now Mary becomes the mother of all that are born anew by water and the spirit (Jn 3:5).
How do we pray to Mary?
Lets look at the most common Marian prayer, the Hail Mary. The opening line is “Hail Mary, full of Grace. The Lord is with thee” (Lk. 1:28). Gabriel greeted Mary with these words. This in effect made her become our mother since she chooses to be the mother of Christ and we are his body. Could there be a better way to greet and ask our mother to ask the favors of her son, than the greeting in which she was asked to become our mother by becoming the mother of Christ? Also there is no one that was, is, or ever will be as humble as Mary, with the exception of her Son, for there has been no one more highly exulted then Mary besides her Son. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted (Mt. 23:12). Therefore when Mary hears the words of Hail Mary she turns to the Holy Trinity and gives more and better thanksgiving then we could ever merit for the graces which God has bestowed on her.
The next line is “blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus” (Lk. 1:42). This is what St. Elizabeth says to Mary when she greets her at the visitation and notice that Mary responds with the Magnificat saying:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,My spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
The Almighty has done great things for me,And holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
In every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,And has lifted up the lowly.
He has fill the hungry with good things.
And the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of His servant Israel
For he has remembered his promise of mercy,The promise He made to our fathers,
To Abraham and his children for ever (Lk. 1:46-55)
This whole saying is about Mary praising the Lord for the gifts that he has bestowed upon her and this is the same type of praise is given every time we imitate St. Elizabeth at the visitation. How much sweeter are these words than any words that we could say to Christ, for they come from His sinless mother who is the greatest of all His creation. When we humble ourselves to have Mary speak to Christ for us, our prayer becomes greater than any prayer we could marit on our own, for it is not just about the words that we speak but also what love that abides in our heart for Christ. What person loves Christ more than His mother who has never sinned against Him and had a mothers love for Him? What person does Christ love more than Mary?
The next line is “Holy Mary, Mother of God.” Mary became the mother of Christ humanity which cannot be separated from his divinity, because Christ is one person with two natures, one divine and one human which was given to him by Mary. He is not two persons with each having its own nature. Therefore Mary is the mother of God even though his divinity created Mary and precedes time. If anyone does not agree that holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead [St. Gregory of Nazianz, Letterto Cledonius the Priest 101 (A.D. 382)]. It is because of Christ being one person that His words may be fulfilled, “Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you.” (Jn. 17:21). How could we become one in the Father and the Son if the Son is not one in himself but two? Since Christ humanity and divinity cannot be separated, Mary must be the Mother of God if she is the Mother of Christ in the flesh.
The final line of the prayer is “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death Amen.” This shows how we always direct our prayer towards Christ and realize that Mary in not the source but the instrument in which Christ has chosen to use. If we can become instruments to pray for one another, how much better is it when the Mother of God and our spiritual mother prays for us especially at the hour of our death when there may be no one else to pray for us?
As we can see praying to Mary is not something that takes away from Christ but makes our prayers more fitting for Christ to receive them and glorifies Him more. Mary, Queen of Heaven and of Earth, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Amen.