Malankara World Journal Feast of the Nativity of St. Mary - Special
Volume 2 No. 95 September 7, 2012
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Table of Contents: Issue 95
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11. Prayer of Mary
This Sunday in Church (Sept 9)
Fourth Sunday after Shunoyo/the Assumption of St. Mary
Before Holy Qurbana
This Week's Features
|Prayer of Intercession: To Mary, the Light of Hope|
by Pope John Paul II
This is a novena prayer written by LL Pope John Paul II. It is meant to be recited on nine consecutive days.
Immaculate Heart of Mary,
From famine and war, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God,
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
May it put a stop to evil.
by St. Ambrose
When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman to show that God is able to do all that he wills.
When she hears this, Mary sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve God's word; she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.
Filled with God, where would she hasten but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, laborious efforts. Quickly, too, the blessings of her coming and the Lord's presence are made clear: as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary's voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary's presence, but he is aware of the Lord's: a woman aware of a woman's presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.
The child leaps in the womb; the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, but not before her son. Once the son has been filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for joy, and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. When John leaps for joy, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, but we know that though Mary's spirit rejoices she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in his mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.
You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works.
Let Mary's soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary's soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. In another place we read: Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.
Source: From a commentary on Luke by Saint Ambrose, bishop
Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary - Sept. 8
"This day was set aside by the Orthodox Church in the early first century, but not observed until the eighth century when Pope Sergios saw fit to join with the Orthodox during his reign which extended from A.D. 687 to 701. All of Christendom agreed on the date that the Virgin Mary was born, but for some reason the date was not an official feast day in the Roman sector for more than a third of the length of existence of the Christian Church. The lack of communication between East and West ended in the Schism of 1054, a break which now appears to be an ever-narrowing gap, hopefully to be closed in a reunion upon which the Mother of God is sure to smile.
The familiar story of Mary's birth has had variations in splinter groups of Christianity, but there is no doubt that her birth came about as an act of God. Her parents, Joachim and Anna, were childless and were fast approaching the years which would place Anna beyond the age of childbearing. Perhaps it was because of the intensity of their prayers that a child be born to them that their prayers were not only answered, but their child would, in turn, bear a child ordained by God as his Son. No one who calls himself a Christian can accept the virgin birth as anything but an act of God.
Although Mary is known as the mother of God, she has been accorded numerous titles in the Orthodox Church of which few are aware. They include, in addition to Mary, Mother of God: The Repose (Koimesis) of the Blessed Virgin, Mary Pantanissa, Mary of Tinos, Mary of Malcheon, and Mary Vlacherne (just to mention a few of the many honors applied to her name). Considered the Mother of Mothers and the Mother of all Mankind, she is venerated in a manner which helps to sanctify the role of motherhood and the preservation of the family as the only hope for civilization. In an age of equal rights, the God-given right to motherhood, which is the mainstay of Christianity, is lost in a cloud of other 'rights' that have no meaning in the presence of God. Those who clamor for those 'rights' are not aware that there is no inferiority in women, proof of which is an approach to God and a reading of the Bible as a stronger document than any constitution.
It is regrettable that the immaculate conception, not to be confused with the virginal birth of the Saviour, is a concept of the Mother of God which the Roman Church assumed in 1854 and with which the Orthodox Church is in total disagreement. This concept holds that Mary was born without the stain of original sin brought upon all mankind by Adam and Eve. But the Orthodox position holds that since Jesus Christ is God, he is, therefore the only one who is without the original stain. The point could be argued endlessly; but in spite of dogmatic differences, there is no lessening in the adoration of Mary as the Mother of God. There can be no doubt that she was made pure on the day of the Annunciation when told by Gabriel she was going to be the Virgin Mother of the Messiah.
The Orthodox position stems from the concept that if the immaculate conception is taken literally, then Mary would assume the stature of goddess alongside God. The popularity of the name of Mary attests to the glorification of the Virgin Mary. The Greek Orthodox can feel exultation from calling out the name "Panagia" which means 'All-Holy' and is the Greek word for the most sacred figure in Christianity, aside from the Son she mothered."
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia
by St. John Eudes
Among all the virtues which shine as so many stars, or rather as so many suns in the heaven of the holy childhood of our thrice-hallowed Mary, I shall mention here twelve of the most remarkable.
The first is her innocence; the second her simplicity; the third her humility; the fourth her obedience; the fifth her patience; the sixth her love for God; the seventh her charity towards her neighbor; the eighth her contempt of and disengagement from the world and from herself; the ninth her virginal purity; the tenth her silence; the eleventh her gentleness and meekness; the twelfth her modesty.
1. To her alone, after her divine Son, could perfect innocence be attributed, because she was exempt from all sin, original and actual, and because she never injured anyone in any manner whatever.
2. She practiced excellently well those words her divine Son would one day utter: "Be ye simple as doves" ( Mt. 10:16). And the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse, praises her, saying, "Thy eyes are as those of doves" (Cant. 1:14). She was a stranger to curiosity and duplicity. She had but one single end and aim in all her intentions, desires and actions, that of pleasing God and accomplishing His most adorable Will.
3. She was so humble that she regarded and treated herself as the least of creatures. She told St. Mechtilde that the first virtue she had practiced was humility. (1)
4. She obeyed God in the person of her parents and superiors so perfectly, that she never occasioned them the slightest pain.
5. As no one, except her divine Son, had ever endured such labor, persecutions, privations, opprobriums and agony, as she, so no one ever practiced such patience and this even from her childhood. She knew then that the Son of God would come into the world and suffer most atrocious torments and a most cruel death to save mankind, and this knowledge, joined to her inconceivable love for God, caused her such intense sorrow as to furnish ample matter for the exercise of patience such as hers.
6. Her love for God was so great that she would have preferred to be annihilated rather than give any creature the least spark of the love she owed to the Creator. She left all, sacrificed all, for love of Him. She had no will but His. And if the Eternal Father calls his Son "Virum voluntatis meae," (Is. 46:11) He may also call her "Virginem voluntatis meae," or, better, "My pleasure in her, Vocabitur voluptas mea" (Is. 62:4). For the divine Will always reigned perfectly in this admirable Child: she always placed her joy and delight in willing what God willed, which is the sovereign test of divine love.
7. She had so much charity for her neighbor, that never was there in her anything contrary to this virtue. From reading the Holy Scripture she knew that one day His cruel enemies would crucify that Savior Whom she loved incomparably, yet even for these she incessantly implored mercy of the Eternal Father, and offered Him for their salvation the precious Blood of the adorable Redeemer, which was to be shed for them.
8. From the beginning of her life, she had lived in supreme contempt of the world, and, with far greater reason than St. Paul, she could say: "Omnia arbitror ut stercora" (Phil. 3:8); she was entirely dead to self, to her own wishes and inclinations, her own will and self-love, to all self-interest and satisfaction in spiritual as in corporal things, seeking nothing save to please Him in Whom and for Whom alone she lived and breathed.
9. It is the opinion of several Doctors that this precious Infant made a vow of virginity at the first moment of her life. And they assure us that if it had been proposed to her to be the Mother of God and cease to be a virgin, or to continue to be a virgin and lose the dignity of being Mother of God, and if God had commanded her to choose between them, she would have preferred virginity to the divine Maternity. And this is proven by her words to St. Gabriel: "Quomodo fiet istud," etc. (Lk. 1:34). "Integritatem angelicae demonstrationi indicat anteponendam," says St. Gregory of Nyssa.
10. So profound was the silence she observed during her childhood, that neither in the Holy Scriptures, nor in ecclesiastical history, nor in any author, is there recorded one single word spoken by her either at the home of her parents, on the day of her presentation in the Temple, or during the time she dwelt therein.
11. There never was in any other mere human creature such meekness and gentleness; "Honey and milk are under thy tongue" (Cant. 4:11); thy lips distil only sweetness. "My spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb" (Ecclus. 24:27).
This heavenly sweetness was not confined to her childhood, however, for she has retained it and will retain it for all eternity. This is true even in regard to the most frightful sinners. She never rebukes them when they invoke her, especially regarding their salvation, no matter how fearful their crimes may be. And Holy Church therefore sings: "Vita, dulcedo et spes nostra. O benigna! O clemens! O pia! O dulcis Virgo Maria!"
12. She was clothed with modesty so surpassingly great that one would have taken her for an Angel incarnate, who charmed and edified marvelously all those who beheld her.
Praise and immortal thanks be given to You, O God, for all the perfections with which You have enriched this admirable Child. Eternal honor and benediction to our amiable Mary for all the glory she has rendered the Most Holy Trinity by the practice of the virtues she exercised during her wondrous Childhood.
(1) "O virtutum Regina, dic obsecro, quae erat prima virtus in qua te in infantia exercuisti?" At illa respondit: "Humilitas et obedientia atque amor." Liber, spec. grat., p. l, cap. 29.
Source: Excerpted from St. John Eudes, 'The Wondrous Childhood of the Most Holy Mother of God', Third Part, Chapter 2, and edited by the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, at www.heartsofjesusandmary.org.
by Fr. Eugene Lobo S.J. Rome
There are many Marian feast days celebrated in the Church. The principal ones are the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, the Annunciation, the Assumption, and the Nativity of our Lady. The Feasts of our Lady are dear to us. Before we are born, our mothers are our entire world; they enfold, nourish, and protect us. When we are born they continue to care for us, by comforting, nursing, and teaching us as we grow. Mothers do not stop being mothers just because we are grown. Our mother will always be our mother.
So it is with our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. She will always be Jesus’ Mother, and she will always be our Mother with Jesus our brother. And if, for whatever reason, our own birth mother is not quite all we would like her to be, our Blessed Mother stands ready, arms open to take us in. As our Mother, she will continue to nourish, protect, comfort, and teach us as we grow. Daily prayers that greet and thank her for her love and care, and intercessory prayers that ask for her aid, ensure her place in our families, our homes, and our hearts. She is the Mother of God, the Queen of the Saints, the humble spouse of the Church, and attentive patron of hundreds. It is not surprising that there are So many feast days dedicated, to Mary.
The feast of the Nativity of Mary is celebrated on the 8th of September. Mary who is prepared by divine providence to be the Mother of Jesus the son of God, is conceived in the womb of her mother Anna. Her father was Joachim. Her birth is considered by the Church as a Solemn event. Our Lady’s birthday has been described as “the hope of the entire world and the dawn of salvation”. That is why the Liturgy of the day says: “Let us celebrate with joy the birth of the Virgin Mary, of who was born the Sun of Justice…. Her birth constitutes the hope and the light of salvation for the whole world…. Her image is light for the whole Christian people”.
St. Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” The opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary’s Son as the dawn of our salvation and asks for an increase of peace.
The Church’s calendar observes the birthdays of only three persons: St. John the Baptist and Mary, Mother of Jesus, and Jesus, Son of God. John the Baptist was sanctified even before his birth. Luke tells us that Elizabeth felt the infant John “leap in her womb” when Mary approached her soon after the Annunciation. Mary was preserved sinless in anticipation with the privilege of being the Mother of God from the moment of her conception. The origin of this Feast is sought in Syria or Palestine at the beginning of the 6th century. It goes back to the consecration of a church in Jerusalem, which tradition identifies as that of the present basilica of St. Ann. At Rome the Feast began to be kept toward the end of the 7th century, brought there by Eastern monks. Gradually and in varied ways it spread to the other parts of the West in the centuries that followed.
Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Birth of Mary. This Feast provides us with an occasion for praise and thanksgiving in honour of the personal sanctity and vocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the mother of the Lord Jesus. There is nothing contained in Scripture about the birth of Mary or her parentage, though Joseph’s lineage is given in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, appear in the apocryphal “Gospel of James”, a book dating from the 2nd Century AD, not part of the authentic canon of Scripture. According to this account, Joachim and Anna were also beyond the years of child-bearing, but prayed and fasted that God would grant their desire for a child. God listened to their prayers and granted them the child.
According to tradition, the house in which Mary was born in Nazareth is the same one in which the Annunciation took place. Then she was offered in God’s holy temple and remained there, showing to all a great example of zeal and holiness, withdrawn from frivolous society. When, however, she reached full age and the law required that she should leave the temple, she was entrusted by the priests to Joseph, her bridegroom, as the guardian of her virginity, a steadfast observer of the law from his youth.
In celebrating the nativity of Mary, Christians anticipate the Incarnation and the birth of her Divine Son, and give honour to the mother of Our Lord and Saviour. This Feast provides us with an occasion for praise and thanksgiving in honour of the personal sanctity and vocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the mother of Jesus.
This Feast of the Nativity of Mary has two aspects: first, the Heaven’s view that enables us to enter into God’s plan for the salvation of the world; and the second, what happens on earth has the freshness of dawn and of a first morning. As seen from Heaven it is a Trinitarian Feast. On the other hand the Feast of the Nativity of Mary affects our Christian life and family. Her Birth is an event which belongs at the very heart of the History of Salvation. She is the symbol of the hope and expectation of God’s faithful people and at the same time she is the beginning of a new hope, the beginning of the dawn of that newness which her Son would bring for all creation. With Mary’s birth, sorrow and darkness begin to be dispersed. Each of us comes here with our hopes and aspirations, with our problems, concerns and anxieties which trouble our hearts. As we begin our pilgrimage we must allow Mary to change our hearts. We ask Mary for the gift of that freedom which she would show in her willingness to accept the word of the Angel.
Mary’s birth is the fulfillment of the faith of the Church. Faith is the gift that comes from God. One of the favorite stories in the Gospels is the story told in the Gospel of Saint Mark chapter 5, is the visit of Jesus to his home town and his own people do not accept him. They knew him too well and could not expect great things from so familiar a person. Jesus “was amazed at their lack of faith” and that therefore “he could work no miracle there”. But we have the response of Jesus when Mary and his cousins visit him and he says his family is the one which hears the word of God and keeps it. This applies to Mary who always listened to the word and meditated in her heart and is reflected in her nativity. Her total faith fulfils the faith of the Church.
St Paul speaking to the Romans tells us that Jesus descended from David according to the flesh that is he became a human person, and was declared to be Son of God by the Spirit. This summarizes the Feast of the Birth of Mary as predestined by the Lord God who called her to be the Mother of Jesus, God incarnated. Created as a new creation, the Second Eve, Mary was immaculate in nature from the moment of her conception. Mary was created holy, gave birth to the Son of God in holiness, lived a holy life in the Presence of the Lord God and was taken to Heaven in the fullness of her holiness. Truly, she shall be blessed every generation. That message of faith given to us on the nativity of Mary challenges all of us. There are times when our self-sufficient society would willingly banish the sight of suffering. In Lourdes Mary has created a city where the sick and the weak are the privileged partners of our care and concern. That is a sign from Mary also of the type of society we should be building. May we experience the presence and the faith of Mary in our lives in these days.
The present feast forms a link between the New and the Old Testament. It shows that Truth succeeds symbols and figures and that the New Covenant replaces the Old. Hence, all creation sings with joy, exalts, 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. The birth of Mary is ordained in particular toward her mission as Mother of the Saviour. 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 the History of Salvation.
September 8 is specially remembered for social celebrations. It marks the end of summer and beginning of fall, this day has many thanksgiving celebrations and customs attached to it. In the Old Roman Ritual there is a blessing of the summer harvest and fall planting seeds for this day. The winegrowers in France called this feast “Our Lady of the Grape Harvest”. The best grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed and then some bunches are attached to hands of the statue of Mary. A festive meal which includes the new grapes is part of this day. In the Alps section of Austria this day is “Drive-Down Day” during which the cattle and sheep are led from their summer pastures in the slopes and brought to their winter quarters in the valleys. This was usually a large caravan, with all the finery, decorations, and festivity. In some parts of Austria, milk from this day and all the leftover food are given to the poor in honour of Our Lady’s Nativity.
A boy who was a witness to a crime was on the witness stand in court. He was approached by the defense attorney who asked, “Did anyone tell you what to say in court?"
“Yes, sir,” answered the boy.
“I thought so,” said the attorney. “Who was it?
“My father, sir."
“And what did he tell you?” the attorney asked accusingly.
“He said that the lawyers would try to get me all tangled up, but if I stuck to the truth, everything would be all right.”
Adapted from an article by Fr. Eugene Lobo S.J., Rome
Oh! on what a sea of sorrow
Was the Virgin-Mother cast,
When her eyes with tears o'erflowing
Gazed upon her Son aghast,
From the bloodstained gibbet taken,
Dying in her arms at last.
In her bitter desolation,
She, a hundred times and over,
Oh, dear Mother! we beseech thee,
To the Father, Son, and Spirit,
Come, all you faithful, let us hasten to the Virgin: for long before her conception in the womb, the one who was to be born of the stem of Jesse was destined to be the Mother of God. The one who is the treasury of virginity, the flowering Rod of Aaron, the object of the prophecies, the child of Joachim and Anne, is born today and the world is renewed in her. Through her birth, she floods the church with her splendor. O holy Temple, Vessel of the Godhead, Model of virgins and Strength of kings: in you the wondrous union of the two natures of Christ was realized. We worship Him and glorify your most pure birth, and we magnify you.
Troparion (Tone 4)
Today from the stem of Jesse and from the loins of David,
Kontakion (Tone 3)
Today the Virgin Theotokos Mary
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
In your holy birth, Immaculate One, Joachim and Anna were rid of the shame of childlessness; Adam and Eve of the corruption of death. And so your people, free of the guilt of their sins, celebrate crying: "The barren one gives birth to the Theotokos, who nourishes our life."
|To learn more about St. Mary, her life, and her place in the Church, please visit Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary. This supplement also features an eBook on St. Mary written by our Holy Father, His Holiness our Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka 1, Iwas.|
By: Deacon Keith Fournier
Mary's Prayer teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows.
"By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body" (CCC # 973).
I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word" (Luke 1:38). This is Mary's "Fiat", her "Yes" to the Lord. It was spoken from a heart filled with pure love for God. In a Biblical context, "heart" is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to our center, the core of each of us, the place where our deepest identity is rooted, and from which our fundamental choices about life are made.
The Annunciation reveals the meaning of the Christian vocation. The Virgin of Nazareth teaches us how to live our real lives in a real world, by saying Yes to the One who created the world and is recreating it through His Son. When the Angel of the Lord appeared, bearing the message and calling her to a special mission, she said "YES." We are invited to say "Yes" as well and believe that "nothing is impossible with God." Let's consider her response to the message: "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word." It is in these words that we discover the vocation of every Christian.
Among the multitude of profound reflections in the writings of the early Church Fathers on Mary, the Mother of God, we find these words of the Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nyssa: "What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for 'we no longer know Christ according to the flesh,' but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."
Each of us can say "Yes" to God. Each of us can respond with our entire being, with a Fiat of surrendered love. When we do so, our positive response marks the beginning of a participation in the very life of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We become sons and daughters of the Most High and enter into the life of the living God. In Him we find our deepest identity, our real selves, through our participation in the One who made us, who redeems us, and who transforms us by His continual grace.
Our holiness comes through touching the Holy God, through being filled with His life and love.
Conversion begins when we say our own Fiat with our words and our deeds. It introduces to us a new and dynamic way of living with God, and in God. As we lose ourselves in Him, we find ourselves again, made new and completed. This holy exchange-our life for His-is the essence of the spiritual journey. It is not about power but powerlessness. It is not about increase but decrease. It is not about becoming greater but about becoming smaller. In short, true spirituality is about surrender.
Centuries of Christian people have learned that as we lose ourselves in Him, He reveals Himself as a God who can, does and will act in our very real, human daily experiences. He makes it possible for us to have a genuine relationship, a dialogue, with Him. He certainly wants us to live life to the fullest. However, precisely because we were made for Him, we find our fulfillment in emptying ourselves, in selflessness. Then, of course, we are filled and fulfilled in Him. However, this is a fruit and not a goal. He is the goal.
Mary's Prayer teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows. Mary's way is to become an ark within, where the same God who became incarnate within her takes up His residence in us.
He comes to dwell in all men and women who say "Yes" to Him.
Mary's Prayer is an invitation to participate in the ongoing incarnation of God's Love, for the sake of world. It is an invitation to live redemptively. In living a surrendered life we not only are transformed ourselves, but we also participate in the mediation of God's love to others. The ongoing creative and redemptive work of God's love continues through us as we learn how to become arks, or dwelling places, through which Love comes alive for all those around us.
We enter into Christ's incarnation as we participate in the Prayer of Mary. But first, we must hear God's invitation. We must learn to listen for it with our whole hearts. In response, we can respond the same way Mary did: "Behold the servant of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy word..."
God takes the initiative. He may whisper to our hearts through His Holy Spirit, or he may speak through a chosen messenger, His angel. But it is God who always initiates and then awaits our response. Mary, in her selflessness, was open to the angel's visit. She recognized who was speaking. She listened, received and responded. In so doing, she demonstrated the framework of all authentic spirituality. God initiates a relationship and we respond in surrender to Him. This dynamic, this heavenly road, leads to a dialogue, a conversation, a way of life.
One day in a school in London, a teacher said to a class of 5-year-olds I'll give 10 pounds to the child who can tell me who was the most famous man who ever lived."
An Irish boy put his hand up and said, "It was St. Patrick."
Then a Scottish boy put his hand up and said, "It was St. Andrew."
Then a Jewish boy put his hand up and said "David."
Finally, a Gujju Patel boy raised his hand and said, "It was Jesus Christ."
The teacher said, "That's absolutely right, Jignesh, come up here and I'll give you the 10 pounds that I promised."
As the teacher was giving Jignesh his money, she said, "You know Jignesh, since you're a Hindu Gujarati; I was very surprised you said Jesus Christ."
Jignesh Patel replied, "Yes. In my heart I knew it was Krishna, but Bijness is Bijness!!!!! !
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