Volume 1 No. 25 September 5, 2011
Nativity of St. Mary Special Edition If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
Table of Contents
Sometimes, you read something and then
immediately falls in love with it. It has a mesmerizing effect on
you. This was the case with me when I first read the article "Lovely
Lady" by Dr. Phyllis Tickle. I wanted that article. Problem was that
Dr. Tickle was out of the country on business and was due back only
in mid September, too late for this Special Edition. Well, remember
"Impossible Possible" lesson we had yesterday? I worked hard. Dr.
Tickle read my email and responded immediately giving us permission
to publish it. "Nothing is impossible with God."
Why was this article so special. That Dorothy's poem is something else. Imagine Mary and Infant Jesus. We, Orthodox faithful, believe that Jesus was human and divine at the same time when he was in the earth; it was a perfect union. Now imagine Mary taking care of a child who is God! We get curious. We want to ask her some questions. Dorothy's poem does that. It is a masterfully crafted article. Like Dr. Tickle, I am sure you will also make a copy of this article and take it with you to read and meditate.
Yesterday, we learnt what "full of grace" means from LL Pope John Paul II. Today, we continue that theme and present you with the "Beauty of Hail Mary Full of Grace" by St. Louis Marie de Montfort. Just read it and, I am sure you will say, "WOW!" After reading these articles, I am sure next time when you pray, "Hail Mary Full of Grace" we will have a different mind set.
More articles on Virgin Mary can be found in Malankara World Supplement on St.
by Dr. Phyllis Tickle
I have a son-in-law--actually Sam and I have four sons-in-law--a great treasury of good men bringing strength and affection to our lives, but I have one son-in-law whose own mother died not too many months ago. As one would expect, he and our daughter made two or three trips back to his home after that death, and they did with sorrow and peace all the things that human passing requires of those of us who love and have been loved.
One of those trips back home--the last one in fact--was to close down the old home place, emptying it of the personal effects that had been his mother's life and his own childhood, dividing goods and memorabilia amongst all the siblings, cleaning the remaining shell of home for re-sale to some other family. Several weeks after that most painful week of rending and leave-taking, our daughter came into my office one day and laid on my desk a piece of paper. "We wanted you to have this," she said, "because we thought you would care for it the way Dorothy did. She kept it with her all the time."
What my daughter had sat on my desk was actually a photocopy, but even in photocopy, it was clear that the original of which this was the image had been well-worn and, indeed, carried into Dorothy's daily life. Here, then, is what she had so valued, the prayer-poem she had so honored.
They were right, of course, our daughter and son-in-law. I do treasure their gift. I carry it now, in fact, or more correctly, I carry a photocopy of their photocopy sealed in clear plastic in my breviary. I treasure Dorothy's prayer. I have to call it Dorothy's for there is no indication on my copy of where she found it or of who originally wrote it. I treasure Dorothy's prayer-poem as a mother, for of all the gifts my adult sons and daughters have given me in the years of their maturity, I can think of few that have sunk with greater meaning into my own life, nor can I think of any that have more touched me with their candor and grace.
But just as my daughter also knew and understood in making their gift, I treasure the Lovely Lady as a professional religionist as well as a mother and mother-in-law. That is to say, that for one who like me makes her living as an observer of and commentator upon religion, the Lovely Lady is a proof text of sorts of where many Americans, observant Christians or cultural Christians or just would-be Christians, where many Americans are yearning to be. What the Lovely Lady prayer speaks to-the reason she so moves my heart and so presumably moved and sustained Dorothy's-is that, as a picture poem, it carries our Lord to complete humanness.
Dorothy' poem assumes the most fundamental of human relationships, that of mother with child, and then assumes from there all of the normal emotions for God that inform human childhood. What the prayer does, in other words, is almost naively, but very persuasively, give us a God who has an emotional life. Such a daring feat becomes a shocking one when it is pulled out and articulated for what it is, but buried in the innocence of a small poem, such a feat becomes a shrewd and small, but mighty, miracle.
What Dorothy's poem subtly does is jump all the barriers of the centuries. In two dozen lines of very ordinary verse, it removes the encumbrances of 2,000 years of doctrine and distance. Doctrine and distance, blessedly, have given us who are here today, the incarnate God who is Christ, but they have also sealed away from our hearts and from all immediacy the vulnerable human being who was the incarnation itself. Even those of us who know and walk with Jesus, and say so in just those terms everyday, cannot know the inside corridors and mansions of His own interior life. They are blocked to us, they are nowhere recorded for us, they are forever a barrier between us. Only He knew them--He and the Lovely Lady.
The centuries have given Christians the divinity of Christ. Mary, as always, gives contemporary Christians a bridge of connection with His ancient and original humanity. It is a connection, an intimacy in knowing, a consoling comfort in identify, that fills the hearts of thousands today who yearn to find the heat and flesh of the God they hold in their thoughts to be the Son of God. In this, my daughter was correct. But it is as an observant Christian, more than as a mother or as a professional observer, that I treasure her gift of the rhymed prayer.
There is much discussion amongst us these days about the Virgin Birth. In fact, I suspect that few, if indeed any, of the historic tenets of our faith are under anything like the barrage of skepticism and revisionism that are presently assaulting the twelve verses from the Gospel of Luke that are our appointed Scripture for this Christmas Sunday. That concerns me deeply as a Christian. It concerns me because, for Christians, belief or disbelief in the virgin birth has become a point of division and of mutual scorn that eats away at the far more fundamental imperative of Christian love. It concerns me as well because so long as we Christians are ourselves pinioned and flailing on the spikes and stakes of our scornful divisiveness, we become a human fence between our non-Christian friends and neighbors and the faith which we say we wish to offer them.
The truth in both our camps is that no one knows. As with the infant needs and adolescent emotions and young adult interior of Jesus of Nazareth, only He and the Lovely Lady know what really happened. Only they, too, know by what means and machinations He really came to be among us. Once, in adulthood, He Himself addressed this, I think, if I read correctly, with a good deal of relish and perhaps some humor.
On that occasion, He had just been tested three times in a row in a public forum by the religious leaders of his day and by their cleverly contrived questions of dogma and practice. After He had rendered his answers to their questions--presumably with success--He turned, while they were still all together, and took them on with a dogma/doctrine question of His own.
"What do you think of Messiah?" he asked them. "Whose Son is He?"
"Why, David's," they answered immediately, for that answer was, and remains, central to Judaism, being in many ways the lynch pin that holds all the rest together and gives it purpose in as much as without it, Judaism has neither consolation nor design.
Good Jew and irregular rabbi that he was, Jesus accepts that answer as the only one possible and counters with the only response possible. "If that be true," He says, "then how can it be that David, inspired by God himself, calls Messiah Lord? If David calls Messiah Master, how can Messiah be David's son?"
And there was, of course, no answer to that question. There never is to a mystery. There is no answer because an answer would only wither the elegance, the poetry, the awful beauty of faith and leave us merely human again, stripped bare of all that exceeds us, for in the end it is Dorothy's poem that holds the truth:
Let us pray.
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ at his coming may find in us a mansion prepared for Himself who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
About the Author: Phyllis Tickle, founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly, is one of the most highly respected authorities and popular speakers on religion in America today. She is the author of more than two dozen books on the subject, including the recently published The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord and The Divine Hours, a series of manuals for observing fixed-hour prayer. A lector and lay eucharistic minister in the Episcopal Church, Tickle is a senior fellow of the Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral.
Oh ... Morth Mariam Yoldath Aloho (Mother of God) Pray for us.
by St. Louis Marie de Montfort
Even though there is nothing so great as the majesty of God and nothing so low as man insofar as he is a sinner, Almighty God does not despise our poor prayers. On the contrary, He is pleased when we sing His praises.
Saint Gabriel's greeting to Our Lady is one of the most beautiful hymns which we can possibly sing to the glory of the Most High. "I will sing a new song to you" (Ps. 143:9).
This new hymn which David foretold was to be sung at the coming of the Messiah is none other than the Angelic Salutation.
There is an old hymn and a new hymn: the first is that which the Jews sang out of gratitude to God for creating them and maintaining them in existence—for delivering them from captivity and leading them safely through the Red Sea—for giving them manna to eat and for all His other blessings.
The new hymn is that which Christians sing in thanksgiving for the graces of the Incarnation and the Redemption. As these marvels were brought about by the Angelic Salutation, so also do we repeat the same salutation to thank the Most Blessed Trinity for His immeasurable goodness to us.
We praise God the Father because He so loved the world that He gave us His only Son as our Savior. We bless the Son because He deigned to leave heaven and come down upon earth—because he was made man and redeemed us. We glorify the Holy Spirit because He formed Our Lord's pure Body in Our Lady's Womb—this Body which was the Victim of our sins. In this spirit of deep thankfulness should we, then, always say the Hail Mary, making acts of faith, hope, love and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of salvation.
Although this new hymn is in praise of the Mother of God and is sung directly to her, nevertheless it greatly glorifies the Most Blessed Trinity because any homage that we pay Our Lady returns inevitably to God Who is the cause of all her virtues and perfections. When we honor Our Lady: God the Father is glorified because we are honoring the most perfect of His creatures; God the Son is glorified because we are praising His most pure Mother, and God the Holy Spirit is glorified because we are lost in admiration at the graces with which He has filled His Spouse.
When we praise and bless Our Lady by saying the Angelic Salutation she always passes on these praises to Almighty God in the same way as she did when she was praised by Saint Elizabeth. The latter blessed her in her most elevated dignity as Mother of God and Our Lady immediately returned these praises to God by her beautiful Magnificat.
Just as the Angelic Salutation gives glory to the Blessed Trinity, it is also the very highest praise that we can give Our Lady.
One day when Saint Mechtilde was praying and was trying to think of some way in which she could express her love of the Blessed Mother better than she had done before, she fell into ecstasy. Our Lady appeared to her with the Angelic Salutation in flaming letters of gold upon her bosom and said to her:
My daughter, I want you to know that no one can please me more than by saying the salutation which the Most Adorable Trinity sent to me and by which He raised me to the dignity of Mother of God.
By the word Ave (which is the name Eve, Eva), I learned that in His infinite power God had preserved me from all sin and its attendant misery which the first woman had been subject to.
The name Mary which means "lady of light" shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up heaven and earth.
The words full of grace remind me that the Holy Spirit has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through me as Mediatrix.
When people say The Lord is with thee they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the Eternal Word became incarnate in my womb.
When you say to me blessed art thou among women I praise Almighty God's divine mercy which lifted me to this exalted plane of happiness.
And at the words blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus Christ adored and glorified for having saved mankind.
Source: Excerpted from St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s book, 'Secret of the Rosary,' Montfort Publications, 1991, Part I.
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