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Quotes for a Marian Heart

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 In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”

–Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church

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This Month of October: A Rosary in My Hand

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When I was teaching in a catholic school, I always looked forward to October, the month of the Holy Rosary.  It made me happy seeing my students wear the rosary around their necks with pride. During this time, we pray the rosary inside the classroom, instruct the children on how to say the rosary, and to understand what the mysteries mean.

I grew up learning about the rosary from my family. My grandmother said her rosary religiously. In fact, several times a day and I remember praying the rosary as a family during reunions. Saying the rosary had been ingrained in me since childhood, through my family, my school, and so the rosary to me was part of being Catholic.

All is well until I started experiencing real life: joys and sorrows that I began to realize what the rosary personally means to me.

In praying the rosary, I find comfort during the difficult moments of my life, strength when I am unsure and afraid, guidance when I am lost and my values are being challenged, peace when I’m hearing too much noise from all around me, faith and hope that my dreams and wishes for myself and those I pray for will come true, and most of all, I find love.

To me, the rosary is…. my direct connection to heaven.

This month let’s explore the Holy Rosay from the words of the Blessed Mother and the saints, pray the Novena to Our Lady of the Rosary (The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is on October 7.), and all together endeavor to include the Holy Rosary in our everyday search and yearning for Christ as well as for our families.

Please find the audio rosary guide in our website, Daily Rosary Offering.

Also, we will remember the life of St. Francis of Assisi (Feast Day: October 4) and St. John Paul II (Feast Day: October 22).  Both saints are a reflection of a life we should aspire to live; a life that represents Jesus to others and is inspired by our Blessed Mother.

Let’s include Pope Francis and his intention for the month:

Evangelization – The Mission of Religious: That consecrated religious men and women may bestir themselves, and be present among the poor, the marginalized, and those who have no voice.

God bless us all!

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The Birth of Our Blessed Mother

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THE BIRTH OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY:
A Sign of JOY, of HOPE, and of MOTHERLY CONSOLATION

The feast had its origins in Palestine toward the end of the 7th century brought by the Eastern monks and spread out finding it way throughout and finally rested after the Immaculate Conception feast had been declared on December 8. Logically, nine months after, September 8 had been set as the fixed date for the birth of the Blessed Mother.

‘’..all creation sings with joy, exults, and participates in THE JOY OF THIS DAY… This is, in fact, the day on which the Creator of the World constructed His Temple; today is the day on which by a STUPENDOUS PROJECT a CREATURE BECOMES THE PREFERRED DWELLING OF THE CREATOR’’. (St. Andrew of Crete)

‘’Let us celebrate with JOYFUL HEARTS the BIRTH OF THE VIRGIN MARY, of whom was BORN THE SUN OF JUSTICE…Her birth constitutes the DAWN OF HOPE AND SALVATION TO THE WORLD…’’ (Mass of the Feast).

The birth of Mary is ordained in particular toward her MISSION as MOTHER OF THE SAVIOR.  Her existence is indissolubly connected with that of Christ:  it partakes of a unique plan of PREDESTINATION and GRACE.  God’s mysterious plan regarding the INCARNATION OF THE WORD embraces also the Virgin who is His Mother.  In this way, the BIRTH OF MARY is inserted at the very HEART OF SALVATION. (Full text taken from the Dictionary of Mary)

The words of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, our Mother too…

‘’My birth is cause for your joy.  At the moment your heavenly Mother is born, like the rising dawn, the radiant day of your SALVATION is already NEAR AT HAND and CERTAIN for you.  Close to my crib, Heaven leaps for JOY with the countless cohorts of angels, who have been forever awaiting  this ineffable moment.

‘’Round about my crib, there gather festively the spirits of the prophets and the just who have lived, prepared and hoped in the expectation of this joyous event.  Over my crib, with immense love of predilection, bend down the Father as He contemplates His masterpiece of creation; the Word, in the expectation of placing Himself in my virginal and motherly womb; the Holy Spirit, who is already communicating Himself to my soul with the fullness of LOVE.

‘’For this reason, my birth is above all a CAUSE OF GREAT JOY for you all, who love to call upon me as THE CAUSE OF YOUR JOY.

‘’My birth is also CAUSE FOR YOUR HOPE.  Even now the REDEMPTION, awaited , longed-for, and predicted for hundreds of centuries, is about to become a real event of your history.  I AM BORN TO GIVE BIRTH TO JESUS, your REDEEMER and SAVIOR.  There breaks a NEW DAWN for all humanity.  Sin is about to be conquered, and for the spirit of Evil, the moment of his complete defeat draws near, while all creation prepares itself to receive the gift of its total renewal.  For this reason, my birth becomes also a cause of hope for all of you, who love to call upon me as MOTHER OF HOPE.

‘’My birth is above all CAUSE FOR YOUR CONSOLATION.  The little creature scarcely born, whom you contemplate again today in her crib, is the object of a wondrous design by which she will become the Mother of Jesus and Mother of all humanity.  And this gives you great comfort in the painful times in which you are living.  Because you all have an Immaculate Mother who KNOWS YOU, UNDERSTAND YOU, HELPS YOU AND DEFENDS YOU.  Above all, in the bloody hours of the great suffering to which you are being called, how much COMFORT you find in the SURE KNOWLEDGE that your Heavenly Mother is always at your side, to share in your suffering, to strengthen your trust and to be a CONSOLATION to your many sorrows.’’ (Msg 333, ‘’My Birth’’ – To The Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons.)

From today’s Liturgy of the Hours…

Antiphon 1…  We commemorate the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a descendant of Abraham, born of the Tribe of Judah and of David’s seed.

Antiphon 2….  When the most holy Virgin was born, the whole world was made radiant; blessed is the branch and blessed is the stem, which bore such holy fruit.

Antiphone 3….  Let us joyfully celebrate the birth of Blessed Mary so that she may intercede for us before Jesus Christ, the Lord.

O MOTHER OF HOLY HOPE AND OF LOVE EVERLASTING, PRAY FOR US…

A M E N…

O GREAT MOTHER OF THE LORD, OUR MOTHER TOO, WE, THY CHILDREN, WHO HAVE RECOURSE TO THEE JOIN THE JOYFUL HORDES AND COHORTS FAITHFUL TO THEE, OUR COMFORT AND OUR CONSOLATION, IN CELEBRATING THIS HOPEFUL DAY OF YOUR BIRTH….

A V E   M A R I A !!!   V I V A   H E S U S !!!

By Dad Contributor, Bro. Manuela Nolasco

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The Road Less Traveled: Responsible Freedom leads to Happiness

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At the outset, God made man according to His image and likeness.” For St. Thomas Aquinas, man is a composite of body and soul. And, the faculties of the soul are intellect and free will. This is then what distinguishes man from animals: ‘man is a rational animal.’

Now, when it comes to man’s free will which is one of the faculties of the soul, man has free choice (freedom); he can make choices because of the free will or freedom that he enjoys. But, of course, we have to consider that man’s freedom is not absolute, that is, choosing and doing anything that he likes or wants to do. No, man’s freedom is rather conditioned or limited, that is, he has to make choices within the bounds of law. And, for us Christians, it is making choices within the bounds of the Ten Commandments or the Will of God. Once a Christian makes a choice beyond the bounds of the Ten Commandments or God’s Will, then he distances himselffrom God. This is then what sin is all about: ‘alienation of man from God.’ It is man who distances himself from God by making a bad/poor/sinful choice, and thus abusing his freedom, that is, making a choice beyond the bounds of the Ten Commandments or God’s Will.

Freedom/Happiness/Spirituality: It is only by making a choice within the bounds of the Ten Commandments or God’s Will that we really and truly experience true happiness, and thus come closer to the original state of which we were created: ‘made into God’s image and likeness.’

In the history of salvation, man alienated himself from God by committing a sin of disobedience (disobeying God’s Will – which is then an abuse of freedom), and thus man became a slave to sin: ‘by one man’s disobedience (Adam), all became sinners.’ But, because of His great love/mercy for us, God did not abandon us, and thus sent His Son Jesus to be our Liberator/Savior, that is, liberating/saving us from the slavery to sin, and thus giving back our original freedom – the freedom to make free choices which are not influenced or shackled by sin: “Therefore just as one man’s trespass (Adam) led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness (Jesus) leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5: 18-19).

So, when it comes to freedom: It is not much of ‘freedom from’ – like slavery from sin, but more of ‘freedom for’ – like becoming true children (sons and daughters) of God. Yes, we have been saved by Jesus from the power of sin and death through His Paschal Mystery, that is, His Passion, Death and Resurrection. And His freely given and gracious saving act was done once and for all, but continues till the end of time. The memory of Jesus’ offering of Himself for our salvation is not only being remembered but also is made present (actual) every time we celebrate the Mass (Eucharist). According to Pope Francis, the difference is that the one (sacrifice) of Jesus was bloody, and the one (sacrifice) in the Mass is unbloody; but both are the same sacrifice of Jesus that saved us and continues saving us from the power of sin and death until the end of time.

Jesus then ransomed us with His own blood (offering freely His own life) in order to free us from the power of sin (slavery/evil/Satan), and thus giving back our freedom to become true sons and daughters of God.  Reflection: Isn’t it that God became poor so that we might become rich (i.e., God the Son taking our human nature, except sin, so that we might become rich with grace in God’s sight)? Isn’t it that God became man so that we might become like God (since we were made into God’s image and likeness)? Didn’t Jesus freely choose suffering and death in order to offer us everlasting life (since God created us in order to share His Divine Life with us)?

Lastly, sin is alienation from God, that is, being away from God’s grace, and thus results to unhappiness because this is not the purpose why God created us. God created us because He wants to share His Divine Life with us – which is the true/real meaning of life. As St. Augustine says: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”

 By Moms for Mary with Priest and Close Family Friend, Fr. Mirador

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Words from Pope Francis

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Pope Francis reminds us this week (May 21-26, 2018):

“The Gospel calls us to live outside our comfort zone, because anyone who follows Jesus, loves the poor and the lowly.”

“Love of God and love of neighbour should be the two cornerstones of our lives.”

“Today we are united in prayer with our Catholic brothers and sisters in China, on the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians of Sheshan.“ (5/24)

“ A Church that loves the poor is always tuned to the God Channel. It never loses the Gospel signal.”

“A Christian’s life should be invested in Jesus, and spent for others.”

“God needs people who bring His forgiveness and His mercy into the world.”

“Holy Spirit, you who sustain the Church, come down upon us again, teach us unity, renew our hearts, and help us to love as Jesus taught us.”

~Amen.

Resource: Tweets by Pope Francis

 

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Quotes for a Marian Heart

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Love Mary! She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her.”

~ St. Gabriel Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows

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How do we help our children develop a love or devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary?

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This very relevant question can be considered as the tip of the iceberg of the fundamental question: how can parents introduce their children to their faith tradition? In other words, how do parents help their children in the transmission of the faith? The devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary derives from the faith in Jesus Christ; the love for her is the ramification of the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The Blessed Mother herself always points to Jesus Christ as seen in John 2:5. Thus the key question remains: how do parents help their children develop faith within the framework of their religious tradition?

Many Catholic parents are concerned with spiritual or faith life of their children. They would like to see their children grow into adulthood with a strong faith in God. But how many of these parents intentionally or purposefully do something to help their children grow in that faith? Most children in the Catholic Church are baptized as babies. Some parents consider their work of educating their children in faith done once they get them baptized. Later if these children abandon their faith or remain baptized by name, the blame is put on the society, the Church, etc. While the society and the Church may share the responsibility in this matter, we should not neglect the fact that the family is where faith usually sprouts from and is nurtured; the family is in principle the cradle of the faith. Parents have a greater responsibility in bringing their children to faith and in nurturing it.

I happened to read an article by Martin Kroh (2010) about the formative period of party identification. The article shows that the passing on of the party identification from parents to children is affected by the fluidity of the formative period (childhood or adolescence) and by the saliency of parents’ partisanship. Timing (appropriate formative period) is important but still more important is the saliency of parents’ partisanship. The more vital party identification is in the parents’ social identity, the more likely will these parents pass on their views to their children in an early age. This is true not only in the political context of party identification but also in other contexts including faith transmission. Psychology tells us that the development of a child takes place in a context where other agents with their beliefs and practices play an important role in the determination of the human paths the child’s development can take (Schachter & Ventura, 2008). Parents play a crucial role as co-participants in determining the human paths development of their children; they are the primary “partners-in-identity-formation” or “co-constructers of their children’s identity”.

Thus parents are responsible for their children’s progress in faith. The social doctrine of the Church affirms that parents have the right and duty to educate their children; they have the mission to form their children in faith. The importance the Church attaches to the parents’ role in the religious/spiritual development of their children is evidenced by the convocation in 2006 of the World Theological-Pastoral Congress on the theme “The Transmission of Faith in the Family” (L’OsservatoreRomano, Aug. 16, 2006). Considered as the privileged place for forging the personality, the Congress acknowledged that the family is the basic reality with regard to the transmission of the faith to children. The Congress argued that when parents live like real Christians, that is, when their words and behavior translate generosity and Christian meaning of life, their children gradually learn to follow their example and are oriented towards religious values and sacramental life.

Parents can help their children develop devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, the ultimate concern should be how to have their children on board for the journey of faith. Having an infant be baptized is just the beginning of the training journey; many other agents will contribute in this training, but the parents’ role is crucial. They lay the foundations and monitor the progress by checking the contribution of other agents. The Congress above mentioned stated: “Parents must take on this mission (children’s formation in faith) both in the home … and by following carefully the formation given in school and other educational centers”. This requires that parents remain authentic in practicing Christian values, that they are actively involved in Church’s activities, and that they show practical interest in their children’s progress in religious education. It is the salience of their Christian living that will be their strongest weapon to win the battle of keeping their children as active members of the faith community. How genuinely pervasive their professed faith is in their day-to-day life will be a determinant of the transmission of that faith to their children.

Catechism lessons or knowledge of catholic doctrine does not guarantee faith unless someone incarnates or models what is taught. Telling beautiful stories about the Blessed Virgin Mary or teaching the doctrine of the Church about Mary is important but more important is a life that embodies the virtues inspired by the Blessed Mother. Knowledge is needed that leads to faith as an expression of a relationship, relationship with God. But for the knowledge to lead to faith, especially in the case of children, the importance of parents’ role modeling cannot be overstated. It was his encounters with the Blessed Mother full of tenderness and unconditional love that deepened Juan Diego’ s devotion, trust and dedication to her. Juan Diego once delayed his rendez-vous with Our Lady because he was overwhelmed by a family concern (a very sick uncle) and he intended to avoid meeting her by using a different path to reach the city (Johnston, 1984). But in his attempt to avoid her he meets her. And she was the same loving, tender, understanding Lady who called him as in previous encounters and asked: “what is the matter, my little son? That is not what a disobedient child would expect to hear from most mothers. In his disobedience Juan Diego still heard the low, gentle, and full of esteem voice calling him Juanito”. That made a deep impression on him. His worry for his sick uncle, his shame and confusion for attempting to avoid her, all these immediately gave way to an enthusiastic commitment to execute what she was requesting. Are the catholic mothers who want their children to develop devotion to the Blessed Mother reflecting her image in their daily life? The sad thing with most of us is the gap between what we preach and what we do. That can sabotage the effort to bring children to authentic devotion and true faith.

Take the case of a mother, member of the Legion of Mary, about to leave the house for the weekly prayer meeting and is told by one of her daughters:Mom, you always go to those prayer meetings and you call each other sister Malta, sister Beth, sister Rose Yet yesterday I overheard two of your sisters saying negative things about another sister. What kind of sisters are you?” When I heard this remark I said to myself, this young lady could also call my attention if one day I would blatantly fail to practice what I preach when on the pulpit. These two were my mother and one of my sisters. Yes, we are not perfect but the point I am trying to make here is this: how can my mom convincingly introduce the Legion of Mary to my sister or invite her to join the group if she (my sister) repeatedly sees that its members are not incarnating basic values of the Christian faith following the example of the Blessed Mother? And this is more of a concern when it comes to transmitting faith or a devotion to children because, as someone said, “children are sensitive and astute with an uncanny ability to distinguish between adults who only talk a good game and those who play the game by the rules they preach”. The parents’ own faith needs to be conspicuous in the sense of permeating all aspects of their life if they want to pass on that faith to their children.

One ingredient characteristic of parents’ living faith is their unconditional love for their children. All steps taken to bring children to faith or to a particular devotion should be imbued with love. In 1Cor. 13: 1-13 St. Paul gives the features of that love. “…If I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing” (v. 2). I mentioned earlier that Juan Diego’s devotion, trust and dedication to the Blessed Mother were strengthened by Our Lady’s unconditional love for him. He disobeyed her by delaying the appointment and he was attempting to avoid her. Still she goes to meet him with the same tenderness and loving attitude. Her question to him does not have an accusatory tone but an invitation to talk, she wants to listen. Such unconditional love melts resistance and instillsconfidence, trust and commitment.

The question we are reflecting on is: how do we help our children develop a love or devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary? We may focus on how the devotion can be inculcated on children or on how the devotion can be impacted on children. I advocate the latter. Rather than forcing it, the devotion should be induced. To impact the faith or the devotion on children emphasizes change, transformation on the parents’ side which will affect and induce change on their children. That requires integrity of Christian life coupled with conscious, intentional, purposeful initiatives to embark the children in the faith journey with its varied devotional expressions.

Parents concerned with their children’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary might want to consider living their faith in a conspicuous, genuine and pervasive way. Their role modeling is the key. Let the mothers look at the Blessed Mother and emulate her; let the fathers look at St. Joseph and emulate him. Then children will eventually look at the Child Jesus and imitate him. Thus the call is to replicate the Holy Family. Let our families become holy families where faith in God who loves and saves us through His Son Jesus Christ permeates all aspects of life.

 By Fr. Gabriel Ngombedua

References

Johnston, F. (1984) The wonder of Guadalupe. The story of the miraculous image of the Blessed

                  Virgin in Mexico. Manila: Sinag-Tala Publishers.

Kroh, M. (2010) The Formative Period of Party Identification: Parental Education in Childhood

            and Adolescence. American Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting.

           Available at:  https://ssrn.com/abstract=1669285

Schachter, E.P. & Ventura, J.J. (2008) Identity Agents: Parents as Active and Reflective

                 Participants in Their Children’s Identity Formation. Journal of Research on

                 adolescence, 18 (3), 449-476

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Feast of Our Lady of the Cenacle

 

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Acts 1:14

14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

The Cenacle

The Cenacle is the upper room in which Jesus Christ celebrated the last supper and instituted the Sacrament of His Most Holy Body and Blood, making His Apostles the first priests of the Church. He appeared to his Apostles during His Resurrection, again in the Cenacle. It was in the same Cenacle where the Apostles gathered around the Virgin Mother of Jesus, while they awaited the promised Gift of the Holy Ghost, by persevering together in prayer. On Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended upon them  in the Cenacle.

Our Blessed Mother in the Cenacle

Perseverance in prayer is made possible by the presence of Mary. When we feel that our prayers are empty, tiresome, or futile; we must look to her and ask her to pray in our stead. She draws us into her prayer and we unknowingly, have successfully persevered in our prayers.

Commit to pray always with the Blessed Mother and you will persevere in prayer.

Being near to the Blessed Mother also means being near to the Church. Additionally, where Mary is, the Holy Ghost is too. Distancing from Mary is choosing the earthly over the holy, imperishable treasures of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Humility of heart grows when one is close to the Blessed Mother. When one grows in humility, the heart is empty and ready to be anointed by the Holy Ghost.

The grace of the Holy Ghost and an abundant outpouring of His gifts is drawn down by humility. There is no space into which the Spirit of God can dwell without humility. It was by Mary’s humility that she caused the heavens to open over the Church gathered in the Cenacle.

The gift of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, were obtained by the Blessed Mother by her humility and unceasing prayers. God pours out His Love upon the lowly of heart and not the proud. The Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is the lowliest of hearts, free of all pride and self-recognition, and open to all the gifts of the Holy Ghost. And these were given her in such abundance that the Church, till the present,  continuously receives all graces from her Heart as from a pure and inexhaustible fountain.

Let us approach her as closely in the Cenacle and unite ourselves with her solemn prayer.  Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Resource: http://vultuschristi.org/index.php/2015/05/feast-of-our-lady-of-the-cenacle/