The Kings Daughter

A Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Glorious Mystery, The Assumption.

“All glorious is the kings daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold.” Psalms 44:14.

Like everything, excepting eternity and God and God’s love, the Assumption had its beginning and its end. In a way Mary’s Assumption had its beginning with her Immaculate Conception. Beyond this there were what we might think of as stages. The Annunciation, the Visitation, and etc. Of course breaking things down in this fashion is just a human way of understanding a thing, or an attempt at understanding. Time, and those of us who live in time, is (I think) a continuous flow. God, and those with Him, aren’t hampered by time and its limiting view. Anyway …

“All glorious is the kings daughter as she enters … ” Think about the word “glorious”. Compare it to, given Mary’s entry into Heaven, the word “ready”.

Do you think Mary was ready for the Assumption the day prior to it? We’d be tempted to say yes, and given her God-given perfection we could say she was always ready. But she wasn’t. Mary had given her heart and will over to God. Always. So she wasn’t ready the day before because He wasn’t. She was only ready in accordance with His timing. A “part” of her perfection (and I’m breaking things down here just for the sake of human understanding again, primarily my own understanding) is found in waiting on God.

Do we ever get ahead of God? Or do we try to hurry things up because that’s the way we want it or think it should be?

“Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord.” Psalms27:14, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … There are, metaphorically speaking, a variety of assumptions. There’s an Assumption like Mary’s. It takes place in God’s time, not ours. And then there’s the all to human assumption of thinking that we know best when it comes to the timing of anything.

Advertisements

“Open wide … “

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Glorious Mystery, The Descent of the Holy Spirit.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak of the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:4,11.

Ever been to a doctor? Silly question, we all have. Well, on the off chance you can answer that question with a no don’t worry. I’ve been often enough that you’re covered. Doctor visits are all pretty much the same unless its an emergency. But if its just your normal run of the mill visit it keeps to a fairly constant pattern. You get weighed, you might get your height measured, they take your blood pressure, and then the doctor raps you across the knee with that little hammer (I remember one doctor pulling his hammer back, getting ready to strike, and the hammer head flew off.), he shines a light in your ears, takes a tongue depressor and says, “Say ahhhh.”

We have a Great Physician, don’t we? Its advisable to go to Him for regular checkups. But that’s another post. Right now we’ll just concentrate on our Great Physician and us saying ahhhh.

The believers there on that first day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came, were filled with that same Spirit. The Spirit of God. What happened next? They began to tell others about the wonderful works of God, didn’t they? They opened their mouths and out poured the witness of God’s love for humanity. They had no choice. They were driven by that same love.

When my doctor tells me to say “Ahhhh” I don’t really have a lot of choice in the matter. If this relationship with my M.D. is going to work as it should I need to open my mouth. (My doctor has never had a problem getting me to open wide. His problem is getting me to shut it.) We have a relationship with the Greatest Physician. When we’re cooperative we don’t really have much choice in what comes next. Oh, I know people can always stifle God in their lives or turn away from Him. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about people who are willingly under His influence. What comes next? We open our mouths. We have to. There’s to much that’s good that we have to share. Just like those believers at Pentecost way back then.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … When you go to your doctor and he says to say ahhhh why would you keep your mouth shut? Why would we keep it shut when there is so much of God’s goodness to share?

A Nativity Scene

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Joyful Mystery, The Nativity.

“And she laid him in manger … ” Luke 2:7.

Think about these few simple words, about the nature of Christ, and we’ll try to grasp just a little of what this means. Or can mean.

How did the Babe react to being placed in a manger? We aren’t told, but if we know something of Jesus’ nature, from study or personal experience or from whatever inner or outer source, we can imagine. I think, and this is just my thought, that he was peaceful, calm. The Creator of Heaven and earth, Author of Life, THE Perfect Being deserving of … He’s beyond deserving isn’t he? As though he lacks something and needs someone to supply him with fill-in-the-blank because he’s worthy. He is by nature eternally worthy whether we ever know it or not, and we can’t really give him anything he doesn’t already have. With the exception of a childlike heart, our heart, given by us to him. And here he is placed in a rough hewn box of sorts. But I see him reacting peacefully. Why shouldn’t he? What, really, could ever threaten him? Would he lose his self confidence because he was being treated as less than what he was? Of course not. That sort of reaction would more likely pertain to us, but not to him.

We are told that we must become like little children in order to enter into Heaven. We need to be innocent, joyful, trusting. Which means that we set the wrong kinds of ego and fear aside along with hardheartedness. And we can. With his help. When we’re laid in a manger of rough wood, when life becomes uncomfortable, we remain calm. Because we know he’s there in that “manger” with us. After all, is there any place, any set of circumstances when and where he isn’t with us?

“And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Accepting crosses is a part of our existence as followers of Christ. It takes a real Christan to carry a cross. And it takes a child-like heart to be content with rough hewn mangers.

The Cup of Sugar

A Rosary Meditation: The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation.

“And she cried out, ‘Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’ ” Luke 1:42.

Elizabeth sees Mary coming up the walk, runs out to greet her, and bubbles over joyfully with the above statement. Inspired by the Holy Spirit of course.

I remember being told about a monk, a Benedictine, and this is a factual story, who had been given the task of offering hospitality to any guests that might arrive at the monastery. But he had other things to do as well. As he was knee deep in alligators given all these other duties he wasn’t all that geared up for guests. Of course someone showed up. He heard the door and knew he had to stop what he was doing and go take care of this person. In exasperation he said: “!#@%! Now I’ve got to go do hospitality!” 🙂 Monks are human too.

With hospitality, Elizabeth’s greeting of Mary, and being human in mind …

Have you ever seen someone, maybe a next door neighbor, walking towards your door and muttered, “Oh great. What do they want now?” Hey, you’re knee deep in alligators and don’t have the time, or inclination, to dole out a cup of sugar. You’ve got enough to do all ready and now you have to stop and take care of someones needs. Just peachy, ain’t it?

When Elizabeth saw Mary coming down the path she had no way of knowing Mary was there to help her in her time of need. It could’ve been a logical assumption on Elizabeth’s part that Mary was there because she needed something from Elizabeth. But rather than say something like “Ratz! Now what?” Elizabeth went to meet Mary and was, lets just say, hospitable.

OK, whats the difference between Elizabeth and our monk? (We’ll leave ourselves alone and out of this for now. If we see ourselves in one example or the other, well, it’ll be food for thought on the individual level.) And the answer is really simple. When Elizabeth spoke she did so under the influence of the Holy Spirit. God had control because Elizabeth faithfully gave herself over to God. Now when the monk spoke what influence was he under?

Back to that neighbor walking up our walk. We see them and have an immediate reaction within ourselves. And …

“And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Abraham saw three strangers coming towards his tent and ran out to implore them to eat and rest at his camp. When the meal was ready he even served them himself. The above verse references his actions. You know, honestly, I’ve never seen anybody walk by my place and gone running up to them saying, “Here, let me give you a cup of sugar!” But, metaphorically speaking, that’s just what Elizabet did, isn’t it? Most of us can probably identify, if we’re honest about it, with the monk. The question is now: “What need’s to change so that I give hospitality to neighbors and strangers alike? What cuts me off from that right attitude?” Because whatever gets in our way in serving others also gets in the way of our relationship with God.

 

Carry the Message

A Rosary Meditation: The First Joyful Mystery, The Annunciation.

“When she heard him … ” Luke 1:29a.

The Angel Gabriel carried a message, didn’t he? The angel announced Christ to Mary. ( “You will have a child … ” ) Latter Elizabeth did the same. ( ” …  mother of my Lord … ” ) John the Baptizer announced Christ as well. ( “Behold the Lamb of God!” ) And then there was the Samaritan woman at the well. ( ” Come see the man who told me everything I ever did. Couldn’t he be the Christ?” ) The people that Jesus healed, even when he told them to be quite about what had happened to them, announced him to others. The Twelve Apostles announced him, the people they converted announced him, the Church he founded with Peter as its head continues announcing him to this very day. And all of these, from Mary to the woman at the well and everybody else, have something in common.

Its not everyone that gets the privilege of announcing Jesus to others. There is one, and only one, class of people who get to do the announcing. Oh, God uses anybody he pleases, this is true. As an example, even Lucifer announces Christ. He does his announcing via the hatred he has for God and His children. When Satan vents his anger it gets to be pretty obvious who Jesus is. Otherwise why go to all that trouble if Jesus only, well, something other than the Messiah? So in a way all things announce Christ. But only one class of people announces him with an invitation attached. John said “Behold!” The Samaritan woman said “Come see!” was

The people doing the announcing with the invitation included are the people who have encountered Christ and accepted the invitation themselves. And when others hear the Good News and respond to it, accepting the invitation, there’s one sure way to recognize them. They start announcing.

“Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … If we want what Jesus offers in the above verse, if we want him to announce us to his Father, we need to do some announcing ourselves. There are a lot of ways to do this. Support missioners, bankroll good seminaries, pray, volunteer, and the list goes on. But there is one BEST way. Its something else those folks I mentioned above have in common. After they accepted the announcement, accepted the invitation, accepted Jesus, they all did one thing by the grace of God, each person in the way God gave them. They changed. And people saw the change. There are lots of ways to announce Jesus to others, but a good example? Works wonders.

 

We have been blessed …

Pope Pius XII was Pope at the time of my birth who, if the truth be known (and it is known by those who set Hollywood’s retelling of history aside), was a hero of World War II. Then came Pope John XXIII, who opened windows and doors for us all. Next was Pope Paul VI, who was Pope when I converted. He was instrumental in putting into practice those positive changes brought about by Vatican II. There was the short Papal reign of Pope John Paul I, 33 days if I recall correctly. Pope John Paul II was a hero of a different sort. A staunch defender of liberty he helped bring about the demise of communism by peaceful means such as the Rosary. And, this is all just my opinion of course, he allowed the world to see his physical decline rather than hide himself away, which would have made our Pope inaccessible. He showed the world that you’re still a viable, worthwhile human being loved by God even in illness. He’s followed by Pope Benedict XVI who made some very subtle changes behind the scenes, changes that have had and will have a greater impact on the Church than most would think. And now we have the gift of God we call Pope Francis, a very personal Pope, one that is personable, one that is one of us, announcing Christ to the world through word and deed.

For nearly a century we have been blessed. I’m sure the blessings stretch back much further but I don’t so I talk about the Popes of my lifetime. It won’t be long now that we will celebrate Life in a special way. Easter. In celebrating Life lets give thanks for the life of the Church and how God manifests that life to the world through the good Popes we’ve been so blessed with.

We have been blessed. We are blessed. We will be blessed. Thank God.

Loving Fear

A Rosary Meditation: The Fifth Glorious Mystery, The Coronation.

“I am the mother of fair love, and of fear … ” Sirach 24:24a.

Have you ever noticed just how many verses in the Old Testament fit the Blessed Virgin even though they aren’t a direct reference to her? Its a little hard for me to think this is all accidental or the product of wishful thinking. And I don’t think, even given eternity, we’ll ever really plumb the depths of God’s word. But then that’s no excuse for not trying, is it?

Mary is, and there can’t be any real debate about this, the Queen Mother. Her Son is King of Heaven and Earth, she’s his mother, there’s nothing else she logically could be. Every queen has her coronation, which means Mary’s Coronation is a given. So she IS Queen of Heaven and Earth. And that’s because she’s the Mother of Christ Jesus. So she reigns even now. That we haven’t yet seen this reality makes it no less real. I’ve never seen air molecules either but that doesn’t keep me from breathing.The Mother of Christ, THE Queen. As the Mother of our Lord the above verse from Sirach (I love Sirach) is very fitting. Jesus, being God, is Love. And in that He puts the fear of God in us, via the Holy Spirit, bringing us to conversion we might well think of Him as fear. Not the run and hide sort of fear. But that respectful kind of fear, fearing to offend our most Dearly Beloved. Which helps keep us on the straight and narrow. So its a wholesome fear. There are lots of “fears” or rather kinds of fears. Like the kind I felt the other night when, at the end of the old Vincent Price movie, “The House on Haunted Hill”, which I still watch with relish, Elisha Cook looks into the camera and says, “They’ll be coming for me next. And then … they’ll come for you.” I still get goosebumps at that point. Some fears are good, or fun, like the shiver I feel at the end of that movie. Some aren’t so good, like the unreasoning phobias some people suffer with. But then there’s the fear that’s best, and that’s the fear of God.

Think about the above verse as a message from our Queen Mother. Any good queen, and think here of the various queens down through history that have been rightly declared saints by Christ’s Church, would give her subjects a loving word, wouldn’t she? And that’s what Mary does for us by her example. A loving fear of God. We need to really listen to our Queen.

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars … ” Revelation 12:1, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Maybe the sun spoken of here is the Son. And the loving word she shares with us? Is the Loving Word.

From the Heart

A Rosary Meditation: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, The Crucifixion.

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them … ‘ ” Luke 23:34a.

Have you ever been slighted? You know, the guy who never payed back that $10 you loaned him. Or the person who borrowed your best pair of sewing scissors and never brought them back. Is it hard to forgive things like that? Well, honestly, yes it can be. Should it be? No, of course not. But a lot of the time it is anyway, isn’t it?

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” There have been times when I’d hear myself say those words and know I should cringe. Or I’d read that parable about the ungrateful servant and sadly feel a kinship. And I hate to say this but I don’t think I’m that much different from anyone else. So we all suffer, by whatever degree, from a problem with forgiveness. The good news is that we can learn and grow, which is a big part of our ongoing conversion. So just because we had a problem forgiving the last time? That’s got nothing to do with this time.

The individuals problem with forgiveness can be, and I believe generally is, two fold. It can be really hard to forgive, and it can be just as hard to accept forgiveness. On the one hand the other person isn’t worthy while on the other hand we feel unworthy. You know what? That’s right on both counts because none of us are worthy. And being worthy is about as far removed from the point as the east is from the west. No, its further.

Forgiveness is never about who’s worthy. If it was we’d all be doomed. When Jesus forgave all those involved in his crucifixion he didn’t say, “Father, forgive those that are worthy … ” When Jesus forgave from the cross he forgave the Roman soldiers, the Pharisees, the crowd that had screamed, “Crucify him!”, the High Priest, and … Everybody that had anything to do with his suffering. That includes you and me. You see, we can learn and grow and become forgiving. But God doesn’t learn or grow, He doesn’t need to. He already knows how to forgive from the Heart. We learn from Him.

So if its not about being worthy of forgiveness what is it about?

“Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just (Think: those who are worthy.), but sinners.” Matthew 9:13, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Forgiveness is always about mercy and never about being worthy. We work out our salvation, this is true. Faith without works is dead. But mercy isn’t earned. If you could earn it, well, it wouldn’t be mercy. It would be your rightful wage. Mercy is a gift that flows from Calvary. And we all know what it was that flowed there. Its mercy that gives us opportunity to work out our salvation. And its mercy that the other person needs from me just like I need it from them and we both need it from God.

P.S. My friend, the one I requested prayer for, came by and they seem to be doing much better. Please keep praying. And for those of you who read “The Saga of the Shrimp” a short while back? I’m waiting on my last two packages to arrive and then … The Saga Continues. 😉

Death holds no terror

A Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Glorious Mystery, The Assumption.

“For he has so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men.” Judith 13:25.

Sometimes I think its best to let saints speak. So … From St. Alphonsus de Liguori …

“And now death came; not indeed clothed in mourning and grief, as it does to others, but adorned with light and gladness. But what do we say? Why speak of death? Let us rather say that divine love came, and cut the thread of that noble life. And as a light, before going out, gives a last and brighter flash than ever, so did this beautiful creature, on hearing her Son’s invitation to follow him, wrapped in the flames of love, and in the midst of her loving sighs, give a last sigh of still more ardent love, and breathing forth her soul, expired. Thus was that great soul, that beautiful dove of the Lord, loosened from the bands of this life; thus did she enter into the glory of the blessed, where she is now seated, and will be seated, Queen of Paradise, for all eternity.” Glories, p. 420.

Death isn’t always a terror. For the followers of Christ its a homecoming. That’s no terror. Its a release from the bondage of the world and a prelude to our resurrection. For Mary it all happened at once. I suppose the terror of death stems from a knowledge of sin and its rewards. There was nothing like this in death for Mary. For Mary death meant only to follow her son. She loved him, loves him, enough to want to follow him in all things. This would include death. It would also include her Assumption. He had ascended, under his own power. Remember that her only desire was to follow him. Mary couldn’t ascend into Heaven on her own, but being perfect her love reached Heaven and that left God with what choice? Mary, being sinless, could only be gathered up by God and taken to a Realm where no sin enters, neither can it reign. She couldn’t be left here, her body left to suffer the decay that’s only one result of sin and death. To ever think that there was no such thing as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is like saying God is not love. And we know better.

“In every nation which shall hear thy name, the God of Israel shall be magnified on occasion of thee.” Judith 13:31.

Just a thought … “She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.” Pope Pius XII. Consider what a mother we have! So many go, sadly, to a mothers grave, leaving flowers on a birthday or Mothers Day. With Mary as our mother we’ll never be able to do that. There is no grave, there never will be. There is a knowledge that mother has gone on ahead of us. She waits there for us with Him. And death ought never hold a terror for the Christian.

 

Believing is Seeing

Today’s Gospel Reading (short version) is John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38.

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, “ but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.”They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     You know, we’re all born blind. Our blindness stems from original sin. But as hopeless as the situation may seem, being born into darkness, its not hopeless at all. And we needn’t worry about the means God uses to restore our sight, to bring us to conversion. The man we read of here was born blind. There were doctors who were knowledgeable then just as there are now. There was nothing they could do for him. None of their elixirs or potions would help. There are things modern medicine can’t deal with either. The common cold is a good example. But what did Jesus do?
     “He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.”
     Jesus didn’t use any of the things a doctor would have. He didn’t use anything the world would have turned to. He used mud made with spit. And he does things like this all the time. The simple element of water becomes a vehicle of grace in baptism, simple oil brings comfort, and perhaps healing if its Gods will, during the anointing of the sick. Everyday bread and wine are changed by a miracle into God Himself. And mud gives sight to one born blind.
     We usually complicate things. If it had been me trying to help the blind man see I’d have looked for all sorts of herbs and minerals and would’ve put him on a regimen of diet and some sort of exercise. I’d have complicated things. And the blind man? He’d still be blind.
     Jesus never complicates things. He always keeps things simple. And then the world, like the Pharisees here, debate and argue about how such a thing could happen. How was it that this man, blind from birth, now sees? Jesus is still using simple things to open eyes, to bring about conversion. Something as seemingly insignificant as a string of beads. And the world wonders, people around us argue and debate. How could it be that someone like this one, who lived such a life of depravity, now be so different, so … Changed? When a persons eyes are open their viewpoint changes.
     When people begin to see after having been blind they change. Because they change the world, the folks around them, casts them out. People with real sight don’t fit in with the crowd that’s stumbling around in the dark, blindly. So they get cast out. And that’s a good thing. When they threw the man who could now see out who was it that immediately came looking for him?
     When we receive our sight and the world wonders, as we experience conversion, the ongoing process of turning to and drawing nearer to God, and the world sees the difference and shoves us aside because we don’t fit in anymore don’t worry about being cast out. Because when we’re cast out He takes us in. And that’s a sight to behold.