Category Archives: Mary

Mary, help us be recollected

Friends in Christ, in the gospel today, Our Lord urges us to ‘pray always.’ How do we pray always? After all, we have work to do, duties to carry out, and God certainly wants us to focus on doing our work well.
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The way that we ‘pray always,’ is to try to keep the Lord in mind all day, to keep the Presence of God, and our great model in this, is the Blessed Virgin.
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In the hymn Stabat Mater, or ‘At the Cross her station keeping’, there is a line that urges us to be like Mary: ‘Make me feel as thou hast felt, make my soul to glow and melt, with the love of Christ my Lord; this was Mary’s heart, glowing with love for her Lord, we must be the same.
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In his letter on the Rosary, Pope St. John Paul II spoke of Mary’s gaze on her Son. She gazed on him in his infancy, during his life, at the cross; but this gaze on Christ was ever-present, even after his Ascension. This must be us. With a gaze on Christ all through the day.
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As Mary, said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord.’ She will help us also, to magnify the Lord in our life, and this is best done by keeping God’s presence in mind all day. The saints often spoke of this:[i] St. Ignatius says, ‘We should keep the presence of God in all things, in our conversations, our walks, our eyes, listening, or thinking, when we are eating and in all we do.’
In writing advice to a young woman, St. Francis de Sales says: ‘In this point I wish you to be most docile: real devotion is found in recollection and in aspirations. It can supply the lack of other prayers, but nothing can take it’s place.’ And here he means keeping the presence of God – ‘recollection’
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The reason we pray in the morning and at the night; the reason we pray at meals and the angelus at noon; we read from a holy book, and the bible, and say our Rosary – all of this is to help us to keep the Presence of God all day. To walk with Christ.
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St. Teresa says that once the Lord has given us this habit of keeping his presence all day, we would not exchange it for all the treasures of the world.
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Mary, help us to make many aspirations, and cultivate this awareness of God’s mighty Presence in us. And this will get us to heaven, which we want the most of all.

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[i] How to Pray always, p. 108, 112

Our Lady of the Rosary

Friends in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The origin of this feast goes back to 1571, when Europe was in great danger. The Muslim empire of the Turks, had captured many people, and made them slaves, and now their army was on the move again, preparing to attack Europe. These Islamic armies had already captured the island of Cyprus and smashed the religious paintings and churches there. Now, they were loading hundreds of ships with guns and canon, to begin the assault on Italy, and then the rest of Europe. The Pope had tried to warn of this danger, but people had not listened.
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Still, one brave man flew into action. His name was Don Juan. Don Juan convinced people to get boats together to defend their countries.[i] Yet this Catholic army was very small and gave little hope of victory. Nevertheless, the Holy Father called people everywhere to pray – and to pray especially, the Rosary. ‘We will call on Mary, he said. And she will save us. The Holy Father blessed the little Catholic fleet as it set off for battle against overwhelming odds; he gave each man a rosary.
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On Oct 7th as the battle drew near, the Pope spent the entire night in prayer. Priests offered Mass on each Catholic ship; all the men went to confession and received Holy Communion. For 3 hours, 65,000 sailors recited the Rosary. Then they arranged the formation of boats, into the shape of a cross. Don Juan flew a flag on his ship; a blue flag, for Mary, with a picture of Jesus on it. He went to each man with a crucifix, and said: ‘Give your life for Christ.’ Then he hung the crucifix on the front of the ship.
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At 2 o’clock in the morning they saw the massive, Turkish fleet coming. But then, an amazing thing happened: the wind, which had been against them, suddenly shifted. Now it was with them, helping them. Also, many oarsmen in the Turkish ships who were slaves – they stopped rowing. The battle raged. Don Juan’s ship gained speed, and rammed into the flagship of the Turkish commander. Sailors ran onto the ship and battled with swords and arrows for 2 hours.
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Now during this time, the Pope had been praying; abruptly, the Holy Father rose to his feat, and walked to the window; looking into the blue sky he said: we must thank God. For we have won a great victory in this hour. Truly, at that very hour, the green Moslem flag of Allah was pulled down, and the flag of Jesus Christ was raised up. The Turks had lost, and Europe was safe. The Holy Father wept for joy, and in cities all over Europe, church bells rang in thankfulness. In gratitude to our Lady, this would become a permanent Feast: The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
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Mary wants to give us victories in our life, not in the battles at sea, but in the storms of life. Let us then pray the Rosary daily, for our needs, and especially for Holy Mother church in these days.

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[i] He also got the Knights of Malta to help him.

Mary’s Sorrow

Friends in the Lord,
after yesterday celebrating the Triumph of the Cross, we remember today our Sorrowful Mother. The saints tell us, that while everyone must suffer in this life, the suffering would be greater if we could see the pain that is going to come in the future – we would suffer it all, by anticipation. But God shows us mercy and conceals the trials that lay ahead.
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But this was not the case with the Blessed Virgin. For Mary, Simeon foretold that her Son would suffer persecutions and opposition – ‘behold, this child is set for a sign that shall be contradicted, and a sword of sorrow shall pierce thy soul.’ The Blessed Virgin herself told St. Matilda, that when Simeon said this, all her joy was changed into sorrow. Although Mary already knew that Jesus would die for the world, she came to know even more completely the cruel death that awaited her poor Son.
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What grief must she continually have suffered, seeing this dear and good Son always near her, nursing at the breast, running and playing, hearing from him words of eternal life, and seeing his virtuous character.
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Mary revealed to St. Bridget that while on earth, there was not an hour in which this grief did not pierce her heart. ‘As often as I looked at my Son, as often as I saw his perfect hands and feet, so often, I thought of how he would be crucified.
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As often as Mary dressed her son in his little clothes, the more she thought of the day, when they would be torn off in violence. St. Alphonsus says, that as a stag, wounded by an arrow carries the pain wherever he goes, so did the prophecy of Simeon wound the heart of Mary, and stay with her wherever she went.
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And so it was Christ himself, who was the arrow in the heart of Mary.
Why did you go through all of this O Good Mother? Because you knew that by the death of your Son, we, your other children, would be able to live.

Nativity of Mary

Friends in Christ, it is a fun thing to celebrate birthdays. Little children especially, but everyone should see their birthday as a day for rejoicing. It is very true, that every single person, you and I, are needed, as part of God’s world, as part of God’s plan. Each unique person is foreseen by God to play a particular role in the drama of creation.
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And while this is all true, we celebrate a birthday today for which this is abundantly true. Today is the birthday of Mary. In the case of this dear Blessed Virgin, if she had not been born – well, God’s plan of salvation could not have unfolded as he wished. But God had a plan from all of Eternity.
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We see the genealogy given today, all the way back to Abraham. Scholars believe that St. Matthew’s genealogy is tracing the line of St. Joseph, while St. Luke’s genealogy is tracing the family line of Mary, to show us that Mary also is a descendent of David. In any case, we see that God had this all worked out from day one, that this holy and sinless virgin would become the Mother of God, and therefore, our Mother as well.
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Mary had to endure a lot for us; she gave up her only Son. St. Alphonsus says that if there was a dear son of a mother, and in order to save a young man, he allowed himself to be charged with the crime and imprisoned for 20 years, in that man’s place – how much that mother would value that young man, whose freedom her son had obtained.
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Because we have all been redeemed and saved from our crimes by the Son of Mary, her love for us is immense.
Cornelius Lapide says that Our Mother desires for us better things than we can even desire ourselves. He recommends a practice that some do: they say to the Lord, ‘Lord, grant me those things that the Virgin Mary asks for me.’ In other words, putting all in her hands, let her decide what is best.
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A parishioner told me that her little 4 year old granddaughter placed some flowers carefully at the statue of Mary in their yard, and since she had to leave, she said, ‘Gramma,’ you can’t take them, they’re for Mary!’
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Today for sure, all is for you Mary. Happy birthday!

The Memorare

Friends in Christ, one of the most loved Catholic prayers is the Memorare. I pray it every day, and I know many do the same.
‘Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided…..’
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The introduction to this prayer reminds us, that it has never been known, that anyone was ever left unaided, who has run to Mary. Today is 1st Saturday; it is an opportunity for us to reflect on this faithful protection of Our heavenly Mother.
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St. Bonaventure says that the Blessed Virgin seems to have no other desire than that of helping those in need. ‘O Lady, he says, ‘you were made Mother of God for the wretched; you are all mercy, and your only wish is to show it.’
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When we think of people in great need, in desperate need, I think first of sinners. People who feel that they either have committed too many sins to ever be forgiven, or those who feel that what they did is too great a sin, or that they are so caught in a habit of sin, that they feel they will never escape from it. But these are the very ones that Mary wants the most.
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In the Old Testament, Rebecca was a sign, and image of Mary. When Abraham’s servant asked her for a little water to drink, Rebecca replied, that not only would she give him plenty for himself, but for all his camels as well.
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On this passage St. Bernard says: ‘O Mary, you are far more generous than Rebecca; for you are not satisfied with distributing the treasures of your mercy only to the Just, signified by Abraham’s servant; but your mercy is poured out generously on sinners, signified by the camels.’
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The generosity of Mary, says Richard of St. Lawrence, ‘is like that of her Son, who always gives more than is asked for.’ The Memorare prayer, as we have said, first states that no one was ever denied help from Mary. This was never known. The 2nd part of the prayer then goes on to ask her help; and notice that we go to her in great humility:
‘Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
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I have seen some persons on their death bed, who had said this prayer in their life – which I did not know at the time. And when I or a family member prayed it, their face lit up with peace and hope.
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Blessed Raymond Jordano used to say, ‘Mary is God’s treasure; he who finds her finds every good; and everyone can find her, even the most miserable sinner in the world.

The Queen Mother

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, and this comes as we conclude the Octave of the Assumption. Mary as Queen – What kind of Queen?
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In ancient Israel, who was the Queen? Was King David’s queen one of his thousands of wives? No. They were not worthy of being Queen. The Queen was the King’s Mother. There was actually an official position in the government, known as the Gebira,[i] the Queen Mother, and this was true of the other kings of Israel.
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It also seems, that anything the Queen asked of the King, was likely granted. This was the tradition, she was the mother! These Queens were therefore images, types, of the real Queen to come.
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It is also a little-known fact, that Adam and Eve were supposed to be a King and Queen. They were given DOMINION over the earth – were given to RULE the earth and all the creatures there. This fact is seen in ancient Jewish weddings, where the couple wears crowns, as well today in Eastern Catholic Rite marriages – the couple wears crowns. This recalls the role of the original man and woman: King and Queen.
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But if Eve was meant to be the Queen of the earth, Mary is the New Eve, and therefore Queen. We see this in Scripture as well: Jesus is the King, as says the inscription on the cross: ‘King of the Jews.’ And the Book of Revelation describes Mary as a woman clothed with the sun, and a CROWN on her head. King and Queen.
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Yet how much more than King David’s mother or any of the other queens – how much more wonderful is this Queen of Heaven.
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The greatness of kings and queens, says Seneca,[ii] consists in how much they relieve the suffering and sorrows of their subjects. Kings should be involved therefore in works of mercy, but not so as to forget justice and punishment, which must sometimes be given by their power.
But it is not this way with Mary, who is a Queen not of justice or of punishment, but a Queen of mercy intent only on pardoning sinners, and so the church calls her, The Queen of Mercy.
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Gerson says, God’s kingdom is as it were, divided into two parts, justice and mercy. Reserving justice and power to himself, he yielded the Empire of mercy to Mary, so that all mercies dispensed to us should pass through the hands of Mary.
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The secret is,[iii] that the children of Mary are the best of the world. They are the spoiled children, who enjoy the choicest possessions of their Mother, who is the Queen of heaven and earth.

Fr. Luke Winkelmann

[i] 1 Kings 2:19 – ‘So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him about Adonijah; the king got up to meet her and bowed before her; he then sat down on his throne; a seat was brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down on his right.’ (There are many other instances of the Gebira)

[ii] Glories of Mary, p. 37.

[iii] Glories, p. 678.

Mary is the Ark

The Assumption
Beloved in Christ, today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. I thought on this great day, we could take a closer look at the Holy Scriptures, and see what they are teaching us.
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Remember in the Old Testament, the holiest object of the Jewish religion, was the ark. This is not Noah’s ark, rather, it is the golden box which was carried by Israel through the desert, and then placed in the temple of Jerusalem. This Ark was the place where God himself came to dwell with his people, in the Cloud of Glory.
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In the temple, two large statues of angels were on either side of it. And since the golden Ark held the presence of God, that is why our tabernacle has two angels by it – to recall the Ark of the Old Testament.
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When King David first brought the Ark up to Jerusalem, this important event is described in the book of kings. If we look closely, we will see many parallels between the bringing of the ark to Jerusalem, and Mary going up to Elizabeth, which is the gospel today.

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In the Book of Kings, it says, that David “arose and went” into the Judean hill country; the gospel says that Mary arose, and set out for the hill-country of Judea. Very similar.
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It is written: ‘David leaped and danced before the ark – and in the gospel it says, John the Baptist ‘leaped’ in the womb of Elizabeth.
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David asks, ‘how can the ark of the Lord come to me? And Elizabeth asks, ‘how can the mother of my Lord come to me?
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There are more parallels: David shouts in the presence of the ark, and Elizabeth exclaims with a loud cry in the presence of Mary. And in the Book of Kings it says that the ark remained in the house of Obededom 3 months; and St. Luke tells us: Mary remained with Elizabeth – for 3 months.
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These are not coincidences. St. Luke writes his gospel this way, showing these parallels, to show us that Mary is the Ark of the New Law. As God’s Glory Cloud came down to the Ark of the Old Law, God himself, Jesus, came down to the Ark of the New Law: Mary. So Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, she carries God.
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In the Book of Revelation, chapter 12, it says that the Ark was seen up in heaven. The Ark? Yes. And then it describes it: ‘A woman clothed with the sun.’ Mary is the Ark because she carried the Son of the Eternal Father in her womb.
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On today’s feast we remember that Mary was taken up into heaven body and soul. This dear Blessed Virgin shows us the way, that we too will one day be resurrected in heaven. Pray for us Mary in this life, until we see you and Jesus in the next.

Dedication of St. Mary Major (i)

Friends in Christ, today we honor the great Basilica of St. Mary Major, in Rome. What is the story of this great Church?
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Well, from the earliest days of the Faith, Mary was called the Mother of God. By this title, we teach that her Son, Jesus, really is God. But in the 5th century, there would be a challenge to this truth.
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One day, the proud Bishop of Constantinople, named Nestorius, stepped into the pulpit of his cathedral to deliver a sermon.[i] In a shocking statement, he claimed that the Child in the womb of Mary was not God. The congregation was shocked and bewildered. Then a young man stepped out from the crowd; and summoning his courage, his voice thundered out to the Bishop: ‘the Eternal Word chose to be born to Mary. She is Mother of God!!!
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We do not know how Nestorius reacted to this interruption, but months later, Bishop Proclus answered Nestorius to his face in the same cathedral: ‘This Jesus, he said, ‘was in the Father’s bosom and also the womb of his mother. This Child was adored by angels, while he sat with tax-collectors. This Jesus, hung on the Cross but was never absent from heaven; His Mother is Mary, and so she is the Mother of God!        
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The congregation broke into thunderous applause. But Nestorius would not listen to the Church, and he spread his errors like a cancer. In 431AD, the Church called the great Council of Ephesus. The question put before the Bishops: is Jesus One Divine Person or not? Is that little baby born to Mary, true God and true Man? or not?
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You know, it was only a short distance from where they were meeting, to where Mary had lived in her little house on the hill. Looking out over the city, she had prayed for the early Church. And here, centuries later, she still watched and prayed from heaven. Prayed, that we would get it right about Jesus.
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It was night when the decision was made: ‘Yes! Declared the Church: This is the Faith.’ The people greeted the decision with joyous shouts: Mother of God! Mother of God! they cheered, and formed a torchlight procession winding throughout the city; The people of Rome decided to build a grand church in honor of the Mother of God, but where?
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In a dream, it was revealed that the Church should be built where snow would fall. Snow. In Rome, in August. Indeed it did. On August 5th, in the miserable heat of Rome, a blanket of white snow descended onto the Esquiline Hill, and there was built the Basilica we call, St. Mary Major. This great Mother of God is also called, Our Lady of the Snows.

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[i] See Carroll, Vol 2, p. 92.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Mt. Carmel is located on the western edge of Galilee, overlooking the blue Mediterranean Sea. It is on Mt. Carmel, that Elijah beat the pagan prophets at their own game, and it was on top Mt. Carmel, that during the 12th Century during the Crusades, a group of brave and pious Knights came together. Fighting off the Muslim onslaught, they organized themselves into a religious order, being called the Carmelites.
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As pressure from the enemy continued, the General of the Order at the time, Simon Stock, prayed fervently for assistance from the Blessed Virgin. Appearing to him on this day, in the year 1251, Mary designated the Brown Scapular as the special mark of her maternal love. That is why the present feast is also known as the feast of the Scapular. Mary made this promise: ‘Those who die wearing the scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.’
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On another occasion, Our Lady appeared to Pope John XXII saying, ‘for those who wear the Scapular, I the Mother of Grace, will descend on the Saturday after their death, and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, and lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.’ This additional promise, Mary’s bringing us to heaven the Saturday after our death, is called the Sabbatine Privilege.        
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If one wants to participate in this devotion, here is how it is done: You must commit to a life of chastity, according to your state in life. Single people will live in a pure way, and married people will keep their marital love wholesome, according to the laws of the Church. One also promises to have devotion to Mary, entrusting oneself to her; Devotion to Mary can be by many ways, perhaps best is praying the Rosary. Finally, you must be invested with the scapular, which any priest can do. This investiture must be done with a cloth scapular, but it can then be later substituted with a scapular medal if you like.
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One should kiss the scapular each day and say, ‘Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us.’ You should never take it off except to shower. Pope John Paul II always wore the scapular. He once said that the Scapular is the sign of the protection of the Blessed Virgin in life’s journey, and also at death. Devotion to her, he said, cannot be limited to prayers on certain occasions, but must become a habit,’ a regular part of life.
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Mother of beautiful love

Beloved in the Lord, a priest went to the house of a dying man, who was very rich. The man was surrounded by his assistants and maids, and in a luxurious house, but he thought little of religion and saw no need for the priest. He died in a bad state.
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But soon thereafter, the priest was called to a different home. The home of an old woman, quiet and poor, who had faith; and she also had a devotion to Mary in her life. There the priest found, in that poor place, no servants or maids, no fancy furniture or riches. But what does he see? He sees in that cottage a great light, and near the bed of the dying person, Mary the mother of God, who was consoling her, and with a cloth was wiping the sweat from her brow.
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The priest seeing Mary, had not the courage to enter, but she made a motion to him to approach. He entered, Mary pointed to a seat, that he might sit down and hear the confession of her daughter. The woman then made her confession, received Holy Communion, and at last expired happily in the arms of Mary.
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Friends in Christ, On this Saturday of Our Lady, let us consider this: Let us think of how much the saints loved their neighbor, because of their love of God. We can think of St Francis Xavier, and all that he did for the people of the Indies and the lands that he visited. The dangers that he went through, in the mountains and in caves, traversing the ocean in boats and storms, out of love of God and neighbor.
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Francis de Sales, who in order to convert the heretics of Chablais, risked his life every morning crawling on his hands and knees over a frozen beam in order that he might preach to them on the other side of the river. St. Paulinus became a slave in order to obtain freedom for the son of a poor widow. So many saints, because they so much loved God, did this much for their neighbor.
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But as St. Alphonsus says, who ever loved God more than Mary? She loved him more than all the saints and angels ever did. And therefore, how much does she love her neighbor?
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If we concentrate all the love of mothers for their children, husbands and wives for one another, all the love of angels and saints, it does not equal the love of Mary toward a single person. Mary is called the Mother of Beautiful love. Beautiful love, is to love God and our neighbor for his sake. And beyond all the angels and saints, Mary loves us most, and wishes to bring us safely to Jesus.