As #MeToo campaigns rage and countless men are outed for the sexual harassment, abuse and assault of women, it may be time to look to a woman—THE WOMAN—for the answer on how to heal this mess...Read More
Today is the feast of St. Louis de Montfort, who died on this day nearly 200 years ago. St. Louis was French priest who tirelessly promoted both devotion to and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In honor of this feast day, and in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s apparition at Fatima on May 13, I would like to share with you an excerpt from my book, Mary’s Way, about the impact consecrating myself to Mary made on my life. I would also like to ask you to prayerfully consider consecrating your life to Mary—it is nothing short of life changing! Two wonderful resources for the consecration are “Preparation for Total Consecration According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort” and a newer version of the consecration, “33 Days to Morning Glory,” which I am reading now to renew my own consecration on May 13. It is excellent and very enlightening!
Also, I am excited to let you know that Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God will be offered by Ave Maria Press at a 25% discount for Mother’s Day. You can order the book at this link using the code MOM2017.
Blessings and grace to you and yours this Easter season.
From Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God, p. 92-95
Mary, the Woman for All Women
The second nut to crack—the heart problem I had concerning Mary—was harder, as it involved serious questions about my identity as a woman and about my own ongoing conversion. Would I be willing to be changed that I might embrace Mary as the model of my own femininity? Was I prepared to lay down the notions of womanhood in which I had been formed, making space for something new, such as accepting the idea that Mary’s way—and not the way of radical feminism—is the life-giving way for women? And would I let Mary lead me by the hand as I sought to love Jesus and as I tried to help my children find Christ in a post-Christian culture that has lost him almost completely? It was in the midst of pondering these questions not long after my return to the Catholic Church that some- one mentioned to me St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.”
Anyone who has made the thirty-three-day consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart can tell you how powerful and life changing it is, just as the women in our parish Rosary group told me one providential day. Peggy, who had recently made the consecration herself, was sharing with the group what a profound impact it had on her relationship with the Lord and how much personal healing she had received by making it. Always looking for ways to grow deeper in faith, I went to the Catholic bookstore and bought a copy of St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s little gem of a book Preparation for Total Consecration.
While I must admit that I was somewhat taken aback by de Montfort’s seventeenth-century language of making oneself a “slave” of Mary, as well as by the thought of giving myself entirely to her, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to complete the consecration. Jesus tells us to judge a tree by its fruit (Mt 7:18), and shortly after consecrating myself to Mary amazing fruit began to appear in my life.
The first thing I experienced was long-sought-after forgiveness for the men who had hurt me in life, especially the person who had abused me. Though I had prayed for several years to forgive in obedience to Jesus’ words, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you” (Mt 6:14), I still felt nothing but intense anger toward the perpetrator. And while I know that forgiveness is an act of the will—not a feeling—I desired to be free of angry, negative emotions and their impact on my life and family. I clearly remember the day the feelings came that matched the decision I had made to forgive, and they in no uncertain terms came on the heels of my consecration to Mary.
I was alone in our master bedroom when I was spontaneously overcome with such a powerful sense of mercy and forgiveness for my abuser that it caused me to drop to my knees weeping in prayer. It was as though a river of pent-up hurt was released from my heart all at once, matched by a river of tears. Not long after that day, I started to become aware of the unfavorable, combative thoughts I entertained about men as they were occurring in my mind. I began to renounce them as they took shape interiorly, extracting myself spiritually and emotionally from the “man-hating” feminism that had formed me. I can emphatically say that all this lent itself to what happened next—letting go of my defenses against the authority of the Church, including and especially the men who run it. This ushered in what I like to call my “third conversion,” that is, accepting the teaching of the Catholic faith in its entirety, including its magisterium or teaching of office. (My first adult conversion was when I gave my life to Christ in an evangelical church at the age of twenty-three. The second was when I returned to the Catholic Church five years later.)
In the long run, accepting the Church’s authority led me to experience liberating healing in so many areas of life, especially in my relationship with God the Father. My consecration to Our Lady caused the dominoes to begin to fall in my heart and mind, softening me and making me more pliable in the hands of God. And isn’t this the very essence of Marian spirituality? We, like Mary, utter an unceasing “may it be done to me” to the Lord, letting God have his way in us?
I can’t say that it happened all at once, but the change in me was nothing short of miraculous. And instead of costing me my voice, my power, and my independence, as I had feared, giving myself to Mary caused me to become more completely yoked to Christ, who gave me an authentic voice, true power, and real freedom.
So why do we need Mary? We need Mary because her love and example humanizes us, tenderizes us, and makes us more welcoming of Christ. She teaches us in flesh and blood what it means to be a Christ-bearer—one who receives the Word, believes the Word, conceives the Word, and gives birth to him in a broken, sinful world. Further- more, she shows us how to persevere in suffering, and her intercession helps us to stand steady before it, especially before suffering that involves our children. For Mary, of all women, understands intimately how a mother is cut to the heart when she sees her offspring hurting.
Consecrating my family and myself to Mary was both a life changer and a game changer for all of us, the fruit of which is still unfolding in our lives. After all, Our Lady’s greatest joy is to point us to Jesus and say, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Forty thousand Louisiana families lost their homes this week to what is being called the “Great Flood,” and more homes are about to go under as I write. Meanwhile, I’m reading posts on Facebook that are saying things like: “God is so good! He spared our home. We are so blessed.” And I’m asking very seriously: Really?
So if your home had flooded, would God be less good? And where does that leave the forty thousand now-homeless families in our state? Are they cursed instead of blessed? Or maybe just less blessed than those whose homes were spared?
One of my pet peeves in life is how often we Christians equate “the blessing” with our own physical and material prosperity, and God’s goodness with how well our lives are going on any given day. Without being cognizant of it, we have somehow bought lock, stock and barrel into the “prosperity gospel,” which purports to guarantee blessing in the lives of those who are favored by God—those who pray hard enough, have potent enough “prayer warriors” in their camps, and do this thing called Christianity just right.
This convoluted approach to the Christian faith has seeped deep into our collective Christian psyches, and it seems to reverberate everywhere we turn. It’s also a message that I personally experienced as a despair-provoking battering ram in the midst of multiple life calamities; during the long, painful years I spent with clenched fists asking God: “What does it take to get the flippin’ blessing?”
After many years and much suffering, I finally came to the conclusion that I was asking the wrong question completely. It was then that I began to ask instead: Lord, what IS the blessing?
So what does Jesus actually have to say about “the blessing”? There’s only one place in the Gospels that Jesus repeatedly invokes the word “blessed,” and that is in the Beatitudes. In Luke 6, Jesus uses the word “blessed” four times in a row (nine times in a row in Matthew’s account in Chapter 5). In every case in Luke’s Gospel, the word is followed by an adjective that describes people that most of us would consider anything but blessed: the poor, the hungry, the weeping, the hated, the excluded, and the insulted—those we would probably quickly deem “cursed” today.
I’ve pondered much about Mary—the most blessed woman that ever lived—and how her life would be judged were she alive right now. She was apparently widowed; and then lost her only son to a brutal, violent death upon a cross between two notorious criminals. And that was only after her beloved son was publicly accused of being a blasphemer, a lunatic, and possessed. In spite of this, we find the word “blessed” used repeatedly in regard to Mary; starting when Elizabeth proclaims to her in a loud voice: “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb…blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:42-45). We hear those words again in reference to Mary when “a woman from the crowd” cries out to Jesus saying, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed” (Luke 11:27-28). Jesus’ response—“Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it”—is an implicit reference to his mother’s unwavering faith in God that echoes the words spoken by Elizabeth.
Mary’s life gives us a glimpse of what the blessing looks like, and it is not based on the fact that her life went “well”—at least as the world defines “well.” Instead, her beatitude was found in her steadfast trust in God no matter what trials life brought, in her continuous “yes” to him in the face of great adversity, and in her constant cooperation with his salvific plan, no matter how much it suffering it involved.
This is the blessed state of being to which we are all invited to participate as Christians—a way that defies this world’s way of thinking. It is a way of living in peace and hope that comes only through faith, trust and surrendered abandonment to a God we believe is always good, no matter what happens.
This article was previously published at Aleteia.
I am happy to be back at my desk after taking a three week sabbatical from writing due to the death of my father and other family commitments. First of all, let me thank those of you who knew of my dad's illness for your prayers and support. He experienced a beautiful, holy death and was buried on the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a most special feast day to me. I am so very grateful to the Lord for the many graces that my dad and our entire family received during his illness and death. I will be sharing some of those later this week in a blog post. God is so good and merciful!
I also wanted to share with you the news of the publication of my new book, Mary's Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God, which will be released on The Feast of St. Monica, August 27. This book is a true labor of love; written in prayer and tears as I reflected upon and retold stories of the miracles God has worked in our lives in the midst of deep suffering. It is my ardent prayer that Mary's Way will not only help parents and grandparents pray more effectively for their children and grandchildren, but that it will bring honor to Our Lady, who has helped our family countless times and in countless ways.
I am delighted by the response the book has received thus far by those who have previewed it, including the following testimonials:
"With poignant and relatable storytelling, Judy invites us into the intimacy of her profound sorrows as a wife, mother, sister, and daughter in the hopes that the lessons of faith she learned will benefit us in our own struggles. If you're a mother or grandmother, you need Mary's Way." Kitty Cleveland, Author, Speaker, Singer
"No matter how great the struggle, God has a way and can bring you through. A great message of encouragement...you clearly made the point that faith and prayer made all the difference...Some of your insights regarding Mary's life and the power of the cross blew me away!" Carol Marquardt, Author
"I am at 35,000 feet and just finished your beautiful book! My heart is bursting and my eyes filled with tears. You have done it again. What a gifted writer you are. Thank you for sharing yet more of your faith and life with so many. I can't wait to order several copies. As I was reading, God placed several people on my heart who I want to give the book to. Can't wait it share with them!" Kelly Reed, Theology teacher
Blessings and grace to you and yours,
“In this Holy Year, we look forward to the experience of opening our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society.” Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, par. 15.
When I spotted them standing on the downtown Denver street corner handing out pamphlets, I kept my eyes down so as not to be accosted by what I thought were Jehovah’s Witnesses. But as soon as I heard the young man say to a passerby: “If you’d like to learn more about the Catholic faith…” I stopped dead in my tracks.
“It’s not very often that you see Catholics on the street handing out flyers about the faith,” I offered with a smile, extending my hand to introduce myself to the brave evangelist. “What group are you with?”
John shared that he was a seminarian at the nearby St. John Vianney Seminary and that he’d recently been ordained a deacon. In evangelization training with St. Paul Street Evangelization, he was there with a group of soon-to-be ordained priests trying to engage passers-by in a non-confrontational conversation about Jesus Christ and the Church, hopefully planting seeds for them to learn more about both.
A disheveled, confused looking young man with a devil’s face on his t-shirt and the word “DEMON” tattooed in large letters on his bicep approached. “Dude, can I have one of those?”
John happily offered him a rosary, which the young man proceeded to place around his neck while explaining that he is a Wiccan who uses magic on people. “I only use good magic, but there are others in my coven who are infernal. The magic makes me very disoriented, because it takes so much out of me,” he continued.
The rosary-adorned Wiccan quickly moved to another group of seminarians to seek more goods, and John, my daughter, Kara, and I joined our voices in prayer for his soul. Before long, he reappeared wanting to hear more about Mary, the Mother of God. “Wicca has a great mother in its religion, too,” he informed us. “We call on her for help,” he explained.
Suddenly, I remembered a story I’d read on the Internet about a former satanic high priest who was awakened to the truth of Jesus Christ via a Miraculous Medal given to him in a shopping mall . I quickly dug into my backpack and found a small white envelope with the words “Blessed Miraculous Medal” on the front and gave it to him.
“Here you go,” I said placing the envelope in his hands. “Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ. Remember to call on her if you ever need help.”
He smiled and took the medal out, then placed it on a beaded chain that fit snugly around his forehead. Off he meandered down the street sporting the rosary around his neck and the Miraculous Medal on his forehead—with us praying a “Hail Mary” for his conversion.
“What led you to the priesthood?” I asked Deacon John after the Wiccan visitor left.
“It was attending Denver’s World Youth Day in 1993 with Pope John Paul II. Following his visit, it was like a wave of the Holy Spirit came through the whole city and nothing has been the same since. There’s a lot of strange stuff in this city, but there’s a profound Catholic presence also. God is really moving here.”
Deacon John and I said our goodbyes and I walked into the corner department store I originally intended to enter to resume shopping with my daughters.
“Is there anything left in this world that will satisfy me?” a song screamed from the store’s speakers, seeming to speak right to the confused young Wiccan we’d just met on the street corner, seeming to speak to all of the searching people in the world. I thought of John Paul II’s words to the Church on World Mission Sunday in 1985, “Jesus alone can satisfy humanity's hunger for love.” Jesus alone, I prayed.
This article previously appeared on Aleteia.
My good friend, Pat, was the first person I knew who returned to the Catholic Church. We struck up a deep friendship at a little evangelical church in New Orleans, and five years later the Blessed Mother brought us both back to the faith of our childhood. Pat who now lives in Asheville, N.C., recently launched a new ministry called “Theotokos Prayer.” The ministry evangelizes others and encourages them to pray through the vehicle of beautiful, handcrafted prayer strands. Each strand features personalized medals, crosses and colors which hold a special meaning for the recipient. My prayer strand, which Pat gave me as a wedding gift, has a medal of my patron, St. Jude, as well as a cross with the four major basilicas of Rome on it. I had it blessed by Pope Francis during our honeymoon in Rome and I absolutely love it!
It is my delight and honor to introduce to you “Theotokos Prayer” by sharing with you Pat’s first blog from their website. I encourage you to visit www.theotokosprayer.com to order a personalized prayer strand for yourself or someone you love. I promise, you will not be disappointed! Blessings and grace! Judy
How Theotokos Began
“That man has learned to live well who has learned to pray well.” St. Augustine
Theotokos began with a handmade gift of a St. Joseph’s chaplet. My dear friend, Betsy, had begun making chaplets and wanted to share this ministry with me. We then started to give them to the homeless, First Communion classes, family and friends. We discovered along the way that people of all denominations and walks of life were drawn to this form of prayer—using prayer strands on which to pray. Customizing the strands (which have the number of beads of a decade of the Rosary) by choosing specific beads and patron saints made the strands even more meaningful for the recipient. I would write letters to the recipients affirming God’s love for them and their family often during times of great struggle, as in the loss of a loved one, or deep joy, such as the birth of a child.
As this journey unfolded, friends and family encouraged me to develop a way to reach more people. Thus, Theotokos was born. The purpose of Theotokos, which means “God bearer” or “Mother of God” in Greek, is threefold. Foremost is to have people draw closer to God and each other through prayer. Secondly, to reach people who would not ordinarily be drawn to the Rosary, Our Blessed Mother and the Saints. Thirdly, to have the strands blessed, thereby fulfilling the request of the Blessed Mother for people to have blessed objects in their homes and on their person.
The Pope has called for creative ways to evangelize our culture and this endeavor seeks to do just that. There are moments in everyone’s life that are opportunities to reach out to our family and friends. These prayer strands are one simple way of reintroducing faith to the people in our circle of influence.
Currently there are five strands for specific occasions or needs: the Child Strand for the birth of a child, Baptism, or First Communion; the Family Strand to aid families in praying for one another; the Healing Strand for those suffering in all the forms our suffering may take; the Wedding Strand, and finally the New Orleans Saints strand (they need a lot of prayer). People are drawn to beauty and each of these strands is carefully crafted to be as beautiful and appealing as possible. I also have images enclosed with each prayer strand that evoke beauty, such as a picture of Mother Teresa or a bride with her new spouse. The one closest to my heart is of our eldest daughter, who died in 2001. This image of Ashley embracing her then two-year-old daughter so lovingly depicts the treasure of children.
Prayer is a gift that is meant to be shared with and for others. I am humbled at being able to bring this endeavor to fruition with the aid of the Holy Spirit and the inestimable help of dear friends accompanying me along the way. Thank you!
“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.” Philippians 4:6-7
For many years, I have tried to explain to my Protestant friends how and why Catholics love Mary. I came across this exquisite reflection by Thomas Merton this week in his book, "New Seeds of Contemplation." He says it much better than I could ever hope to do, so I share this with you on this special feast of Our Lady. May we all come to resemble Jesus by resembling Mary, whose poverty, hiddenness, and total abandonment to God made her a perfect instrument of His glory.
Blessings and grace to you! Judy
Mary alone, of all the saints, is, in everything, incomparable. She has the sanctity of them all and yet resembles none of them. And still we can talk of being like her. This likeness to her is not only something to desire – it is one human quality most worthy of our desire: but the reason for that is that she, of all creatures, most perfectly recovered the likeness to God that God willed to find, in varying degrees, in us all.
It is necessary, no doubt, to talk about her privileges as if they were something that could be made comprehensible in human language and could be measured by some human standard. It is most fitting to talk about her as a Queen and to act as if you knew what it meant to say she has a throne above all the angels. But this should not make anyone forget that her highest privilege is her poverty and her greatest glory is that she is most hidden, and the source of all her power is that she is as nothing in the presence of Christ, of God.
This is often forgotten by Catholics themselves, and therefore it is not surprising that those who are not Catholic often have a completely wrong conception of Catholic devotion to the Mother of God. They imagine, and sometimes we can understand the reasons for doing so, that Catholics treat the Blessed Virgin as an almost divine being in her own right, as if she had some glory, some power, some majesty of her own that placed her on a level with Christ himself. They regard the Assumption of Mary into heaven as a kind of apotheosis and her Queenship as a strict divinization. Hence her place in the Redemption would seem to be equal to that of her Son. But this is all completely contrary to the true mind of the Catholic Church. It forgets that Mary's chief glory is in her nothingness, in the fact of being “Handmaid of the Lord,” as one who in becoming the Mother of God acted simply in loving submission to His command, in the pure obedience of faith. She is blessed not because of some mythical pseudo-divine prerogative, but in all her human and womanly limitations as one who has believed. It is the faith and fidelity of this humble handmaid, “full of grace” that enables her to be the perfect instrument of God, and nothing else but His instrument. The work that was done in her was purely the work of God. “He that is mighty hath done great things in me.” The glory of Mary is purely and simply the glory of God in her, and she, like anyone else, can say that she has nothing that she has not received from Him through Christ.
As a matter of fact, this is precisely her greatest glory: that having nothing of her own, retaining nothing of a “self” that could glory in anything for her own sake, she placed no obstacle to the mercy of God and in no way resisted His love and His will. Hence she received more from Him than any other saint. He was able to accomplish His will perfectly in her, and His liberty was in no way hindered from its purpose by the presence of an egotistical self in Mary. She was and is in the highest sense a person precisely because, being “immaculate,” she was free from any taint of selfishness that might obscure God's light in her being. She was then a freedom that obeyed Him perfectly and in this obedience found the fulfillment of perfect love…
In all the great mystery of Mary, then, one thing remains most clear: that of herself she is nothing, and that God for our sakes delighted to manifest His glory and His love in her.
It is because she is, of all the saints, the most perfectly poor and the most perfectly hidden, the one who has absolutely nothing whatever that she attempts to possesses as her own, that she can most fully communicate to the rest of us the grace of the infinitely selfless God. And we will most truly possess Him when we have emptied ourselves and become poor and hidden as she is, resembling Him by resembling her...
This absolute emptiness, this poverty, this obscurity holds within it the secret of all joy because it is full of God. To seek this emptiness is true devotion to the Mother of God. To find it is to find her. And to be hidden in its depths is to be full of God as she is full of Him, and to share her mission of bringing Him to all men.
In honor of May, the month of Mary, and in conjunction with my live interview on Dina Marie on KBVM 88.3 in Portland this morning from 10-11 a.m. Central, I am re-posting this blog on Our Lady. I'll be discussing Mary and Motherhood, so please join us at http://tunein.com/radio/Catholic-Radio-883-s31902/. God bless!
Susan thought her Catholic friends had drunk the proverbial “Kool-Aid.” A staunch evangelical Christian, she was offended and angry after attending my sister-in-law Hedy’s Medjugorje Rosary group and witnessing what she considered to be “blasphemous” prayers being said to Mary. As Hedy continued to host Rosary groups, Susan felt obliged by conscience to end their friendship, convinced that Hedy was not only in idolatry, but was leading others astray through her devotion to Mary.
Susan and Hedy had become friends several years earlier through their children, as each had several kids attending the same school in the small Gulf Coast town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. The two families had grown very close—even taking family vacations together. But their friendship hit a breaking point when Susan and Hedy both became more fervent in their respective faiths, causing Susan to take a stand against Hedy’s perceived “idolatry”—a stand that left the friends and their families estranged for five years.
Eventually, Susan hit a personal faith crisis wherein she recognized that she could “talk the talk” of Christianity, but was unable to “walk the walk” toward the personal holiness she desired. After seriously reflecting upon the people that she knew who truly “walked the walk” as Christians, Susan came to the humbling conclusion that it was the Catholic women she had encountered along the way who had unequivocally treated her with kindness, patience, love and mercy. Though she still questioned their theology, she simply could not deny the fruit their lives bore.
“How could their lives be so full of the fruits of the Holy Spirit,” she asked herself, “when their faith is so theologically compromised?” That question led her to a massive interior dilemma about the authenticity of the Catholic faith, which she felt simultaneously drawn to and terrified by. After much prayer and wrestling with God, Susan made a decision not to be led by fear. She returned to the Catholic Church, through which she had made a brief foray a few years earlier when she was confirmed Catholic upon her marriage into a large, Catholic family. (Susan was baptized Episcopal and raised as “nothing,” and her husband had ultimately followed her into Protestantism.)
Susan began to attend Mass and pray the Rosary, while going to the people she had accused of “idolatry” to apologize to them. Surprising even herself, she developed a great love for the Catholic faith, spending the next few years making beautiful handmade Rosaries “in reparation for my blasphemies against the Blessed Mother,” as she tells it.
Fast forward to 2014, when Susan called to ask me where she could buy copies of my book, Miracle Man (which happens to be very Marian, by the way. I, too, had wrestled with Hedy about her devotion to Mary at the same time as Susan—a story I tell in detail in the book. Let’s just say Hedy and the Blessed Mother won.) After meeting me on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans to buy six copies of Miracle Man, Susan gave the book to her anti-Catholic sister Elizabeth. None of us could have guessed what would happen next.
Elizabeth’s first reaction was severe annoyance at the book’s Catholic overtones and references to Mary, which she found offensive and irritating. But she pressed on to the finish, wanting to know how the story ends. By the time she closed the book, Elizabeth was weeping profusely, and she couldn’t stop crying. She went to bed perplexed, wondering why she had been so profoundly affected by the story.
During the night, she dreamt about “the most beautiful Lady” she had ever seen, who was surrounded by light and filled with a depth of love that Elizabeth had never before encountered. Elizabeth began to follow her, recognizing the Lady as the Blessed Mother. When she awoke, it was clear to her for the first time in her life why Catholics love Our Lady so much, and why she is placed in such high esteem. That story to be continued.
I can happily say that I have indeed drunk deeply of Mary, and oh, how sweet it’s been. She has led me into the heart of the fruit of her womb, Jesus. And He has led me into the heart of the fruit of His sacrifice on the Cross, the Eucharist. Food and drink like I’ve never tasted; the Bread of Angels, the Cup of Eternal Life. I’ll drink that cool, sweet aid any day.
Blessed is the womb that bore you,
and the breasts at which you nursed.
Cut away the umbilical cord, but don’t cut away the heart. Because the heart—the feminine heart—helps hold the world together.
I watched with tears in my eyes yesterday as the women of the Our Lady of the Lake Altar Society processed up the center aisle of the church, carrying roses and bouquets for the annual May crowning while singing hymns to Our Lady.
Triumph all ye cherubim! Sing with us ye seraphim! Heaven and earth resound the hymn! Salve, salve, salve Regina!
Hail, Holy Queen, we cry with such resounding joy that it carries a exclamation point! Why? Because we know that our salvation was and is contingent upon the intersection of divinity and humanity in Mary’s hallowed womb. We understand that the world and the Church need the balance of the feminine heart, the heart that mothers children, the heart that gives life, the heart that takes its piercings and releases the offering of blood, sweat and tears into the ground of its saplings, who move too fast from suckling to separating. But even as they pull away, a mother’s heart stays put.
Like the mother I spoke to yesterday, one of the three whom I call, “The Daughters of Jerusalem.” They can often be seen kneeling together praying for and suffering over their children. When I see them conjoined in prayer, I think of Jesus’ words: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23:28). And I think of Our Lady, who was a daughter of Jerusalem.
“My daughter just had her first baby,” one of the women shared with me before Mass. “She asked when she can expect to get a good night of rest, and I told her you’re never going to sleep again!” she smiled. “Because mothers never stop lying awake at night worrying about their children!”
Then there’s the mother I see day in and day out in the chapel on her knees, praying and weeping for the teen who’s taken to cutting herself; her beautiful, beloved daughter who has turned against herself. I watch her wipe her tears; I see the broken heart she bears as she grips her Rosary with tired fingers and as she does not sit down, never sits down, the entire time she spends each day offering the raw-kneed sacrifice of her bleeding heart for the child to whom she gave life. That, the fruit of a mother’s love, consumed for the fruit of her womb.
And let’s never forget the Mother at the foot of the Cross, standing beneath her Son’s broken body so she can receive, let it fall on her face and her veil, His precious blood—the same precious blood that formed in her womb with her consent. Her primordial affirmation also made life possible for us, hence the adage of the Church Fathers: “Death through Eve, life through Mary.” There she stands beneath His battered flesh, her tears and sweat mixed with His, uttering the unceasing: “yes.” Yes until it’s finished. Yes as she receives His body from the Cross. Yes as He disappears from her sight.
It is good that we remember and sing praise.
Don’t tell me the Church wants us to deify Mary, for that would, indeed, be blasphemy. But what we need, oh so desperately need in order to be human, is to experience and celebrate more deeply the feminine heart of the Church in this all too lopsided, hostile world.
May after May we remember the Woman who continually births Love into the world. Roses, crowns and hymns are hardly enough to recognize the feminine beauty found in Mary's heart, the axis that every Christian church and every woman in the world needs to reclaim.
by Kara Klein
What a joy and delight to hear the amazing testimony of my daughter, Kara Klein, at the Magnificat Breakfast this week. Truly, the Lord has done great things for her, and holy is His name. Enjoy her guest blog!
Recently at the national Focus conference I heard gifted speaker Sara Swafford tell a group of single young women: “Become the woman of your dreams and you’ll attract the man of your dreams.” This struck a deep chord in me.
As we enter into a new year, and resolutions fill conversations and various forms of media, I’ve been asking myself:
“What do I want for this new year? Not merely, what do I want to do, but who do I want to become? Who is the woman of my dreams?”
Initially, what comes to my mind is: perfection. I want to be perfect, of course. Virtuous and valiant, strong yet sweet, to always do the right thing, say the right thing, know the right thing, to be successful in all I attempt, to love without faltering.
Yet I once heard the very wise Fr. Jacques Philippe say: “More than God wants our perfection, more than he wants our success, He just wants our trust.”
What kind of woman would I be if I didn’t so much grasp after being perfect as much as I trusted in God with my whole heart? If my whole presence exuded the reality: “All is well. We have a Father. He is real, and He is good. We can trust Him with our entire being, abandon ourselves to Him without reserve. And no matter what happens—though the mountains crumble around us and the earth melt like wax before us—we are in His loving hands, and He is working all things for our good.”
Probably I would be less like Eve, and more like Mary. Less like the one who took matters into her own hands out of fear that her Maker was holding out on her, and more like the one who said, “the Lord has done great things for me and holy is His name!”
I think we Christians complicate our lives more than we realize. We think we have to do so much, be so much, achieve so much, discover so much; when all we really have to do is say “yes.” A simple “Let it be done unto me according to your will. Today.
Yes to loving the person that is right in front of us; yes to accepting with peace life as it unfolds before us; yes to trusting radically like a little child. Simple, but not easy.
To be a woman whose trust and joy are not based upon the ever-changing circumstances around her, but solely in a God who loves her. That is a woman of faith. And that is the woman of my dreams.