Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 16, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have the option of celebrating the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in place of the 15th Saturday in Ordinary Time. And since it is Saturday, traditionally Mary’s day, I have chosen to pray with those readings.
Our Alleluia Verse captures in a short sentence exactly why Mary is the perfect model for a Christian life: she heard and acted on God’s word.
Blessed are those
who hear the word of God
and observe it.
Many of you will have been introduced to Our Lady of Mt Carmel as young children. Perhaps you, as I did, received a brown scapular when you made your First Communion. My second grade teacher convinced me that, by wearing that scapular, I had become a very dedicated Christian and friend of Jesus and the Blessed Mother.
According to the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, the Brown Scapular is “an external sign of the filial relationship established between the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of Mount Carmel, and the faithful who entrust themselves totally to her protection, who have recourse to her maternal intercession, who are mindful of the primacy of the spiritual life and the need for prayer.Wikipedia
My little brown scapular is long gone, set aside perhaps when my maturing fashions were inhibited by it in seventh of eighth grade. But the devotion to Mary which it initiated has never left me. It has grown, changed and deepened over these seventy years, but its roots are still entwined with that sepia necklace Sister Grace Loretta once placed in my little hand.
When I entered the Sisters of Mercy in the early 60s, I was so delighted that Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was honored as one of our patron saints. We did it up big back then by wearing our church cloaks and special habit sleeves to Mass on her feastday.
As I pray the Magnificat in today’s Responsorial Psalm, I reflect that Mary has become not only a trusted friend and model for my spiritual life. Her profound faith and poverty of spirit challenge and inspire my deeper understanding of the Gospel in today’s world.
The Mary I love today is a very different woman from the one I idealized in my youth. This change in perception has come about through reflection on the works of modern theologians such as those referred to below. Some of these books are out of print and/or expensive but reviews and excerpts are available online and can be helpful to one’s prayerful study.
For today’s prayer, let us open our hearts to the deep inspiration of Mary of Nazareth. I have referred readers to this excellent article by Elizabeth Johnson — and I do so again — as a great place to start:
Elizabeth Johnson: Truly Our Sister
Rosemary Radford Reuther: Mary, The Feminine Face of the Church
Ivone Gebara and Maria Clara Bingemer: Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Poor
Leonard Boff: The Maternal Face of God
Music: Tota Pulchra Es, Maria –