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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

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     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.

 

A Mother’s Touch

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

“When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary … ” Luke 1:41a.

Mary going to Elizabeth, knowing she needs help during and after her pregnancy. Elizabeth, probably having seen Mary coming down the path, goes out to meet her. Its a very touching scene. Two mothers, both in need. Elizabeth in need of help because of her advanced age and the bearing of her first born. Mary in need of acceptance and understanding, of faith and trust, because she’ll soon be showing and everyone will know she’s pregnant during her engagement and prior to her marriage.

Both of these women were putting someone else first. At first glance you might think that Mary was putting Elizabeth first, helping her when she herself was going to need so much help. And that Elizabeth, having been enlightened by the Holy Spirit as to Mary’s position as mother of the Messiah, was putting Mary first because of Mary’s importance. And I think that all of this is true to an extent. Of course there’s a lot more to it all but these things are a part of the whole. But when it comes to putting someone else first there was much more to it.

They were putting one another first but more importantly they were both putting God first. And not just in certain areas of their lives, holding back others. There were no “compartments” in their living. No “This parts mine and this parts God’s”. They each gave God their all, which is one of the reasons they were both given such important positions. The mother of the forerunner of the Messiah and the mother of Messiah. I can’t think of two more important women in the history of the world. And they both put themselves after God and after others. Humility, service, love, self-sacrificing living. All for God.

These two righteous mothers set us a joyous example. Its touching. And it should be. It should be touching our hearts, yours and mine, that these two women, arguably the two most important women of all time, put God first, others (us) second, and themselves third. A mother’s touch can be a marvelous thing.

4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up, 5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil: 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth: 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Douay-Rheims. 

Just a thought … The above scripture passage sounds like a good description of Mary and Elizabeth, doesn’t it? It reminds me of them. How much does it remind me of me, or you of you?

Proud to be Humble

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

“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” Luke 1:28.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have an angel sent from God tell you that you’re “full of grace”? You’d know that the angel would only say what God told him to, and so you’d know it was true. But would you really know it, the same way you know that your eyes are blue or that your hair is thinning? How would that work? If you were really full of grace wouldn’t you be totally humble as a result? If you were totally humble could you admit to yourself that you were full of grace? Wouldn’t that be pride? How could you reconcile the two? Or are we missing a point here, you and me, because we’re NOT full of grace (even while being in the state of grace) and as a result looking at the thing in the wrong light? Because if an angel said that to me, well, I wrestle with pride in certain areas already. Well …

Pride. There are at least two kinds. There’s the all too human kind. “Look at me! Look what I did!” That’s the kind we don’t want. Why? Because of ourselves we can do nothing. So the right sort of pride would say, “Look at God! Look at what He used me to do!” Now that’s a good kind of pride. Its not about “me”, its about HIM. If Mary ever felt pride it was because she was proud of Him.

Humility. Humility is, simply put, honest self evaluation. That’s all it is, its no more complicated than that. For example, if I tell you I’m good at something when I’m not its nothing more than bragging. And its a lie. If I tell you that I’m not good at something when I am, in an attempt to be humble, I’ve lied again and no lie was ever humble. But if I’m honest with you about what I’m good at and what I’m not good at, that is if the topic comes up and I need to tell you at all, then I’m humble. Want to be humble? Easy. Be as honest about yourself with others as you can be, but only if there’s a need to talk about yourself at all. And if there is a need make certain God gets the glory for your talents, and that He doesn’t get the blame for your shortcomings. Mary was humble. And she was humble because she was honest.

The verse above, just the words, “full of grace”, say a lot more about Mary, and by extension us, than you’d think. And they give us, by giving us a lesson, a goal. To be rightly proud of our God and what He does and as honestly humble as we can be given our current state as we grow in grace. Which is just what Mary, as our mother, would want for us.

“Pride goeth before destruction: and the spirit is lifted up before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … I suppose we could do theological cartwheels ’round the subjects of pride and humility. And there are times when those cartwheels are fruitful. Hey, good mental exercise never hurt anybody. But I think its a lot easier to just be honest about ourselves, giving God the glory for any good in ourselves, and rightly taking the blame for those things that aren’t so good. Honestly.

Beauty in politics

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

“Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun?” Cant. 6:10.

This is a fitting description of the Mary, Queen of the Universe. Being Royalty of the highest order I don’t suppose that it would be possible to give her to much praise, especially when you consider that all of the praise given her is given her only because of God’s will pertaining to her. Which means all praise and honor given her reverts to Him. In honoring Mary we are giving thanks and praise to God for what He has done with her and through her. Its a little like saying, “I thank God for you”, to a family member or friend.

Human royalty, earthly royalty, being what it is there’s always the chance that the ruling monarch, whether king or queen, might not be all they should be. There are tyrants and despots. Not every king is like St. Louis of France. And there’s only one Queen who rules from Heaven.

So we have much to be thankful for. We have a Queen that we can go to for help in time of need, knowing she won’t send us packing. For some reason I just pictured the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland screaming, “Off with their heads!” Happily the Red Queen has no rule over us. But in giving thanks for a Queen like Mary think about all we do have to be thankful for …

Mary is beneficent. Simply put, she’s good to her subjects. Good to you and me.

Her purity. There is only love and goodness of heart here, and it pours out to all her subjects.

Her care for us. In the parable told by Jesus about the shepherd searching for the lost sheep he also told of a lady who lit a lamp and swept the house til she found a lost coin. That’s Mary.

We could go on, but the point here is rather simple. We are subjects of Heavenly Royalty. It doesn’t matter in the long run who sets in Parliament or who lives in the White House. We need to realize this. And we should give thanks for the blessing that is ours in such a wonderful Queen.

“And thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. ” Isaiah 62:3, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … In taking part, voting, running for office, whatever your involvement may be, in the political system you live with in this world, please remember that all of our real and lasting Rulers are already in office.

Destination

A Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, The Carrying of the Cross.

“And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha.” John 19:17, Douay-Rheims.

We all have crosses, don’t we? And sometimes we dwell on them. That’s normal up to a point. Its OK to be human. It may as well be OK because we’re going to be human regardless. A lot of attention is paid to crosses. Maybe not so much attention is paid to what they do for us. We’re to intent on what they do TO us. So lets pay attention to something other than the cross and what its doing to us for just a minute. Lets look instead at what it does FOR us, where it takes us.

Destination. We all live and die and do what we do in between but very few seem to think much about the journeys end. Oh, I’m not talking about death here. That’s too obvious. I’m talking about our destination here in this life as we carry our cross. The ends we come to in our earthly journey. I say “ends” plural because laying down one cross at the place it takes us to usually means we pick up another and head for the next destination, the one this new cross is meant to carry us to.

The destination it (our current cross) is meant to carry us to. You see, its not just that we carry crosses. Its that they carry us as well. They carry us on to our next destination, our next stop in this life. They carry us because they create the circumstances needed to prod us on. Where would we be without them? Jesus’ cross took him to Calvary. Where would we be without his? Your cross might take you to hospital, or to court, or to any number of things, people, places, and situations. Lots of destinations aren’t anymore comfortable than the cross itself. But try not going to hospital when you need to, or stay away from court regardless the subpoena. What’s that get us? Where does that get us? It gets us crosses that could’ve been avoided. Some we need to get us from here to there. Others we pick up all on our own.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24, Douay-Rheims.

Jesus’ cross was necessary, it was needed. Maybe a hospital cross or court cross is something necessary and needed for us. Maybe we need to go where they take us.