On this day in 1917, Our Lady appeared for the first time to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, with a simple message. She asked the children to pray the rosary daily for peace in the world. This request was constant and ever-present over the following 6 months when she continued to appear to them. Why would she appear to these young, uneducated, poor children? I think part of the answer to this question is that she is presenting herself as mother to all of us; that no one goes unseen. Her loving gaze is always upon us and she is constantly interceding for us, mothering us.
According to Lucia, the eldest of the visionaries, “(Mary) was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water when the rays of the burning sun shine through it.” Her beauty and radiance can be encountered by each of us through the rosary. All she desires is to draw us closer to her Son, Jesus, and for each of us to attain holiness.
As we celebrate this feast today, pull your rosary out and pray it with a sincere heart.
The month of May in the year 2020 is already upon us! Traditionally, this month is dedicated to our Blessed mother and I thought I would take this opportunity to share a little bit about Mary in my life.
One of my earliest memories of Mary’s intercession was in the year 1977. I was six years old, soon to be seven, with one older brother and three younger brothers. My mom was pregnant with baby number six and I was desperately hoping and praying for a little sister. On my birthday that year, I received a package in the mail from my grandparents in California. We were living in Nebraska at the time and rarely saw them, so this was a very special occasion to actually receive a gift from them. They always sent lovely cards with my grandfather’s sketches and the unmistakably beautiful and perfect handwriting of my grandmother. But, this year was a special one since in addition to the card, there was something more.
The gift was a plaque with the image of Our Lady of Grace. On the back was a little stamp with grandma‘s handwriting in red ink that said, “For your 7th birthday. October 5th, 1977.”
As I stared at my very own picture of Mary, I remember my heart feeling full of joy and contentment. With her loving gaze and open arms, I knew she was with me and that she loved me. It then dawned on me that I should ask Mary to help me get a sister! So, I placed the plaque right by my bed and sometimes slept with it under my pillow. I prayed and placed full trust and confidence in her to bend the ear of God and tell him my heart’s desire. I had plenty of brothers, Lord, please give me a baby sister!
Well, my prayer was joyfully answered on January 11, 1978. My dear sister, Tara Kathleen Marie, was born into our family and I couldn’t have been happier! She was named after my mom and Our Blessed Mother. None of us other kids had two middle names, so I knew it was a sign of Mary’s love for me that my little sister would be named after her. (Another brother and sister came after Tara, making a grand total of eight. I ended up with five brothers and two sisters!)
This answered prayer was the beginning of a love and appreciation for Mary in my life. The plaque from my grandparents has been with me every step of the way ever since. For the last 25 years or so, I have displayed it in my kitchen where Mary greets me every morning and multiple times throughout the day. (I am in the kitchen a lot!) I am reminded of her constant love and intercession for my family and am grateful to my grandparents for this lifelong gift of faith and trust.
“Let the soul of Mary be in each of us to magnify the Lord and the spirit of Mary be in each of us to rejoice in God.” ~St. Ambrose
I am inspired by something I came across from the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and want to share it…
From their Facebook page:
“What if everyone on Sunday, April 5, in the morning puts a branch on the door of their house or on the window, to celebrate Palm Sunday?
It could be any green branch you can get. This would help, despite the social distancing, to be connected as we enter into the Holiest of Weeks.
Want to join?
We may be physically isolated, but not separated. We are united as the body of Christ.
We are the Church.”
Since we will not be receiving traditional palms at Mass this year, we are going to use the green leaf stems that you see in the picture. After Mass, I’m going to tie them together with a red ribbon and place them on a pillar on our front porch.
WE ARE THE CHURCH…Yes we are!!
Join us in making Palm Sunday special and memorable!
The JOY of Advent is revealed today.
Actually, joy is revealed to us every day, but we must choose it. The gift of this 3rd Sunday of Advent reminds us that Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is near and He wants us to choose Him…to choose joy as He is the only one that can fill our hearts with what joy truly is.
Joy is all around us. It is rooted in our relationship with God and can be found in the ordinary moments of life. As Christians, we should always be able to find reasons to be joyful. It is more than a mere feeling of happiness that can dissipate quickly as circumstances change.
How do you define joy?
For me…joy is that constant state of my heart and soul that resides deep within my being. It is the foundation of my faith that does not always “feel” happy. It requires nurturing through prayer and meditation, surrender of my will to His, and active service to others (most importantly, service to my husband and children).
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:4-7
St. Paul wrote these words from prison and leaves no room for despair or anxiety. All is joy, despite his grim circumstances. How can we be like St. Paul and find joy in all things? He provides the answer in his own words and example. When Christ is in us and we are in Him, the result is joy. If we find ourselves journeying through tough times, sadness, loss or grief, we can still choose joy and rejoice in Christ and all He has done and is doing for us.
We rejoice because…
He is near.
He will never leave us.
He will never forsake us.
He will never forget us.