The Healing Word

October 18, 2021
Feast of St. Luke

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of St. Luke, evangelist, writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, and devoted missionary companion of Paul.

Luke’s Gospel is unique in several ways. 

Six miracles appear only in Luke:

  • the miraculous catch of fish
  • the raising of the widow’s only son
  • healing a possessed, crippled woman
  • healing a man with dropsy
  • cleansing of ten lepers 
  • healing the man’s ear in Gethsemane
Good Samaritan – Vincent Van Gogh

Eighteen parables are unique to Luke, including the beloved stories of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

Prodigal Son – Rembrandt

While both Matthew and Luke contain the story of Christ’s birth, only Luke includes those beautiful passages which now comprise the joyful mysteries of the rosary: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation, and Finding in the Temple.

Only Luke gives us the Magnificat and the cherished words of the Hail Mary.

The Visitation – Domenico Ghirlandaio

Think of all that we would not be able to visualize without Luke’s blessed writings. No Gabriel. No Elizabeth, Zachary, Anna or Simeon. No tender Samaritan or merciful loving Prodigal Father to show us God’s face.

Maybe some of your favorite passages are among these Lucan treasures. You might want to choose one to accompany you throughout your day.


Poetry: Luke by Malcolm Guite

His gospel is itself a living creature
A ground and glory round the throne of God,
Where earth and heaven breathe through human nature
And One upon the throne sees it is good.

Luke is the living pillar of our healing,
A lowly ox, the servant of the four,
We turn his page to find his face revealing
The wonder, and the welcome of the poor.

He breathes good news to all who bear a burden
Good news to all who turn and try again,
The meek rejoice and prodigals find pardon,
A lost thief reaches paradise through pain,

The voiceless find their voice in every word
And, with Our Lady, magnify Our Lord.

Music: The Gospel According to Luke ~ Skip Ewing – a different but interesting take on Luke’s Gospel. The music today is a country song, not really about St. Luke’s Gospel, but certainly reflecting its love and respect for those who are poor.

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111, a rather exultant prayer for such a somber feast.

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
    in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
    exquisite in all their delights.

Psalm 111:1-2

The psalm allows us to see beyond the sorrows we commemorate today. At the same time, the memorial reminds us that these sorrows of Mary were real human sufferings endured for Love.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.
Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

from The Stabat Mater

The scriptures give us precious little of Mary’s life. But each small account demonstrates the same thing: Mary responded, she showed up, she acted, she stood by Jesus until the end.

As Christ continues the work of redemption in our times, where do we stand?


Poetry: Today’s poetic passage is from one of the great classics of Christian literature, A Woman Wrapped in Silence by Father John W. Lynch.

The book is a masterpiece best appreciated in reflective contemplation. I have chosen a sliver of its beauty today, one of many that captures Mary’s joy born of faith-filled suffering. This selection imagines what it was like when Mary remained in the Upper Room as the others, not knowing what to expect, went to the tomb early on Easter morning. The Resurrected Jesus comes to Mary first, before any other appearance.

Or is 
it true or thought of her she found no need
To search? And better said that she had known
Within, they’d not discover him again
Among the dead? That he would not be there
Entombed, and she had known, and only watched
Them now as they were whispering of him,

And let them go, and listened afterward
To footsteps that were fading in the dark.

To wait him here. Alone. Alone. A woman
Lonely in the silence and the trust
Of silence in her heart that did not seek,
Or cry, or search, but only waited him.

We have no word of this sweet certainty
That hides in her. There is not granted line
Writ meager in the scripture that will tell
By even some poor, unavailing tag
Of language what she keeps within the silence.
This is hers. We are not told of this,
This quaking instant, this return, this Light
Beyond the tryst of dawn when she first lifted
Up her eyes, and quiet, unamazed,
Saw He was near.

Music: Much magnificent music is available for the Stabat Mater, a 13th century poem written by Franciscans and interpreted by many musical masters.

  1. Stabat Mater – Antonio Vivaldi
    A short piece – Section 5: Eja Mater, fons amoris performed by Tim Mead

Eja, Mater, fons amóris
me sentíre vim dolóris
fac, ut tecum lúgeam

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord.


2. The complete work by Vivaldi is below for those who would like to hear it:


3. A little bit of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater here with the same fabulous Tim Mead and Lucy Crow

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 13. We can imagine it being sung in Mary’s voice as we celebrate her birth.

Though I trusted in your mercy,
    let my heart rejoice in your salvation.
Let me sing of the LORD 
    Who has been good to me.

Psalm 13:6

These psalm verses can bring us deeply into Mary’s generous, prophetic soul. She is, even before the Annunciation, a holy young woman, at peace and unity with God ….

I have trusted in your mercy


But when she is invited to donate her solitary peace to the infinite self-giving of God, Mary says, “Yes!”.

Let my heart rejoice in your salvation


With her “Yes”,
Mary’s sacred peace
no longer belongs to herself.
She has given it
in order to become
an agent in our salvation.


Mary realizes that the moment Israel has longed for has dawned in her little room, her little cottage, in little Nazareth. And her faith is large enough to believe that God could do such a thing!

Annunciation – Henry Osawa Tanner

Mary calls us to make our dream of salvation larger than ourselves – to allow God to release the power of mercy, astoundingly, from our small and simple lives.


In this great fiat of the little girl Mary, the strength and foundation of our life of contemplation is grounded, for it means absolute trust in God, trust which will not set us free from suffering but will set us free from anxiety, hesitation, and above all from the fear of suffering. Trust which makes us willing to be what God wants us to be, however great or however little that may prove. Trust which accepts God as illimitable Love.

Caryll Houselander – The Reed of God

Poetry: After the Annunciation- Madeleine L’Engle

This is the irrational season
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
there’d have been no room for the child.

From A Cry Like a Bell:Poems 


Music: Hail Mary – Boyce and Stanley

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103, a well-known and loved hymn of praise. It is a fitting psalm for today’s feast which unites us with Mary as we pray.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all the benefits of the Lord.

Psalm 103:1

Mary lived much of her life in the actual presence of God, in the person of Jesus her Son. And no doubt, she received this holy proximity as a surpassing gift.

But even more importantly, Mary lived her whole life in total awareness of God – before and after Jesus was present with her.


There is a practice many of us learned as children called “Blessing the Hour”. The prayer goes like this:

Let us remember the holy presence of God
Let us adore God’s Divine Majesty.

Sometimes a classmate was assigned to watch the clock and ring a little bell to trigger our prayer. We needed a reminder, every hour, that our whole life is held in the Breath of God.


But Mary always remembered. She lived so completely within God’s promise of mercy that she became the vessel of its accomplishment.

My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, 
and my spirit rejoices in you, my Savior. 
For you have looked with favor upon your lowly servant, 
and from this day forward all generations will call me blessed.
For you, the Almighty, have done great things for me, 
and holy is your Name.
 
Your mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear you.
You have shown strength with your arm; 
you have scattered the proud in their conceit; 
you have deposed the mighty from their thrones 
and raised the lowly to high places.
You have filled the hungry with good things, 
while you have sent the rich away empty.
 
You have come to the aid of Israel your servant, 
mindful of your mercy
—the promise you made to our ancestors―
to Sarah and Abraham and their decendants forever.

So today, like Mary, let us remember the holy Presence of God in our every moment –

  • the Lord who is kind and merciful.
  • and pardons all our iniquities,
  • and heals all our ills
  • and redeems our life from destruction,
  • and crowns us with kindness and compassion

Psalm 103:2-3,8


Poetry: John O’Donohue, ‘The Annunciation’, in Conamara Blues

Cast from afar before the stones were born
And rain had rinsed the darkness for colour,
The words have waited for the hunger in her
To become the silence where they could form.
The day’s last light frames her by the window,
A young woman with distance in her gaze,
She could never imagine the surprise
That is hovering over her life now.
The sentence awakens like a raven,
Fluttering and dark, opening her heart
To nest the voice that first whispered the earth
From dream into wind, stone, sky and ocean.
She offers to mother the shadow’s child;
Her untouched life becoming wild inside.

Music: In His Presence – Sandi Patty

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

May 31, 2021


A “Women’s Feast”?

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation, when a newly-pregnant Mary travels to be with her shockingly pregnant older cousin, Elizabeth. Although a universal feast, it is certainly a feast for women to treasure.

The Carmignano Visitation, a unique masterpiece by one of sixteenth-century Italy’s greatest painters, Jacopo da Pontormo (1494-1557)

The Gospel is replete with the quiet but powerful understandings women share with one another:

  • the haste to support one another
  • the blessing and bolstering of each other’s faith
  • the shared joy to cause a baby’s leap in the womb
  • the desire for mercy and justice for the suffering
  • the “staying with” until need’s end

Of course, men too experience many of these holy sensibilities, but today most certainly invites women to celebrate the gifts of God within their bodies, minds and spirits.

Perhaps we might pray on these things while watching this movie clip of the imagined scene:


Poetry: Two poems to honor the two blessed women of this scene

The Visitation by Joyce Kilmer
(For Louise Imogen Guiney)

There is a wall of flesh before the eyes
Of John, who yet perceives and hails his King.
It is Our Lady’s painful bliss to bring
Before mankind the Glory of the skies.
Her cousin feels her womb’s sweet burden rise
And leap with joy, and she comes forth to sing,
With trembling mouth, her words of welcoming.
She knows her hidden God, and prophesies.
Saint John, pray for us, weary souls that tarry
Where life is withered by sin’s deadly breath.
Pray for us, whom the dogs of Satan harry,
Saint John, Saint Anne, and Saint Elizabeth.
And, Mother Mary, give us Christ to carry
Within our hearts, that we may conquer death.


Visitation Villanelle by Sarah O’Brien

She came to me, the mother of my Lord,
and grinned with amazement at the sight.
All creation with me seemed to roar.

Grey haired, belly swollen like a gourd,
I stood to kiss her in the morning light.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.

Her voice, as she crossed the threshold of my door,
rang through my womb –  from a great height,
all creation with me seemed to roar.

The baby leapt – tethered only by the cord.
The joy coursing through us! I shouted outright.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.

Already she faced her share of the sword
She who believed all God said would be, might –
All creation with me seemed to roar.

Blessed one! With your yes you moved us toward
the home we long for, and all things made right.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.
All creation with me seemed to roar.


Music: Also two selections for this wonderful Feastday:

Ave Maria (Schubert) sung in German, as Schubert wrote it, by the incomparable Marian Anderson


Magnificat (Bach)
Imagine composing this powerful first movement based on only a single word: “Magnificat

Gaudete Sunday: Rejoice!

Third Sunday of Advent

December 13, 2020

The day takes its name from the Latin word Gaudete (“Rejoice”),
the first word of the Introit prayer for this day’s Mass taken from Philippians 4:
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. 


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we prayerfully rejoice with Mary’s courageous and hopeful song:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed.

Today is a break day midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming. On Gaudete Sunday, the Church is no longer inviting us to adore merely “The Lord who is to come”, but calling upon us to worship and hail with joy “The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand“.


While the whole Church is called this Sunday to rejoice in the approach of the Christ-event,  Mary’s Magnificat calls us to celebrate a specific “nearness” – God’s preferential affinity for those who are poor:

The Lord has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
remembering the promise of mercy.

The Gaudete message is not about a cheap and frenzied Christmas celebration. It is a profound reminder that Divine Joy seeks its home in a holy emptiness – in a heart space that has been reflectively cleared of spiritual arrogance.

His mercy is from age to age
to those who bow in awe.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

Luke 150-51

How do we become, like Mary,
poor and humble before our God,
open to the Awesome Joy who is Christ?

We can pray according to Paul’s blessing to the Thessalonians in our second reading:

May the God of peace make us perfectly holy
and may we entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The One who calls us is faithful,
and will also accomplish it.


Poem: Heart Cave – Geoffrey Brown

I must remember to go down to the heart cave
And sweep it clean, make it warm, with fire on the hearth
And candles in their niches
The pictures on the walls glowing with quiet lights
I must remember to go down to the heart cave
And make the bed with the quilt from home
Strew rushes on the floor
And hang lavender and sage from the corners
I must remember to go down to the heart cave
And be there when you come.

Music: Gaudete – Steeleye Span 

This British folk rock group had a hit in 1973 (No. 14, UK singles chart) with an a cappella recording of the song. Guitarist Bob Johnson heard the song when he attended a folk-carol service with his father-in-law. 
This single is one of only three top 50 British hits to be sung fully in Latin (the others were both recordings of “Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
Requiem)

Guadalupe: The Largesse of Mercy

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray in praise of Mary, with a passage from the Book of Judith as our Responsorial Psalm:

Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God, 
the creator of heaven and earth.

Judith 13:18

Judith rescues her people’s future by an act of heroism against the enemy. That “deed of hope” saves the whole community from deadly oppression.

You are the highest honor of our human race.
Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.

Judith 13:19

Judith’s deeds foreshadow Mary’s sublime obedience to the power of God. Her dynamic faith and trust free Mary to respond to God’s outrageous willingness to become flesh for our salvation.

Mary said,
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38

Down through history, Mary continues to inspire that kind of faith in God’s People. Today, we remember two such inspired individuals:

Saint Juan Diego who, in receiving graces from Our Lady of Guadalupe, offered a “deed of hope” for the Mexican people.


Venerable Catherine McAuley who, in responding to her founder’s call, released the “deed of hope” ever afterward known as “the Sisters of Mercy”.


What “deed of hope” wants firing
in your heart today?

Let’s look to Mary and the Saints she has inspired, to encourage us.

Poetry: from Hafiz

Light
Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown in an ancient fertile plain
You hold the title to.

Love will surely burst you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy…
A life–giving radiance will come,
The Beloved’s gratuity will come…..


Music: Sub Tuum Praesidium- “Beneath Thy Protection” – is the oldest preserved extant hymn to the the Blessed Virgin Mary. (mid 3rd century)

Sub tuum praesidium
confugimus,
Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias
in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis
libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

We fly to Thy protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from all dangers,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

Psalm 98: Mary’s Echo

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

December 8, 2020


Sing to the LORD a new song,
Who has done wondrous deeds;
Whose right hand has won victory,
God’s holy arm.

Psalm 98:1

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we pray with Psalm 98, a song foreshadowing Mary’s prophetic Magnificat.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has looked with favor on His humble servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed,
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

Sister Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, describes the Mary’s Magnificat like this:

… in the line of the great biblical singers Miriam, Moses, Deborah and Hannah, Mary launches into divine praise. Her spirit rejoices in God her Savior, for poor and common woman though she may be, the powerful, living, holy God is doing great things to her. Not to her only but to all the poor, bringing the mighty down from their thrones, exalting the lowly, filling the hungry with good things, sending the unrepentant rich away empty all of this in fulfillment of the ancient promise. In her very being this is happening, for she embodies the nonentities on whom God is lavishing rescue. This great prayer, a revolutionary song of salvation, places Mary in solidarity with the project of the coming reign of God whose intent is to heal, redeem and liberate.


Psalm 98 focuses us on the point that our prayer today with Mary is about God’s power for the poor, the lowly, the hungry, the bereaved, frightened, lost, lonely and sorrowing — all the beloved aching children of God.

Mary says there is a Power much greater than the one that oppresses any of us. Look to that Power with hope. Draw strength from that Promise.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his mercy and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

Psalm 98: 2-3

Mary and Psalm 98 invite us to a “new song”
in a world that seems to have forgotten how to sing.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

Psalm 98: 3-4

Poem: Segments of a poem “A New Magnificat” by Hillary Watson, Pastor of Shalom Community Church, Ann  Arbor, MI.

And why should I not be smiling,
knowing what I know now
about what comes after all this
when all the evil falls down,
when justice bursts like a sweet flood through the streets
and all the pennies thrown into all wishing wells
rise up like miracles?

Let me tell you the Good News:
There is Good News.
That’s it:
goodness, somewhere, rushing toward us
in the place where future meets present tense.
Hope unwinds across the fragile world
and whispers its nightmares away.

There is a good day coming, I can see it,
when the walls built up between countries
crumble back into the earth they rose from
and all the people run free where they want
like every contour of every nation was shaped by the same God,

there’s a day coming when bullets freeze themselves
in the policeman’s guns, when all the Border Patrol cars
stall out in one breath, their guns and tasers
melt into plows and paintbrushes,

and the children trapped in desert camps
sing down the walls that hold them,
they sing back the road to their mothers and their fathers.

Music: The Magnificat- sung by the Daughters of Mary

Psalm 144: My Mercy!

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday, November 21, 2020

From 2018 Post:
We celebrate the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This feast memorializes a story not present in Scripture. We know of it only from apocryphal writings, those considered of unsubstantiated origin. It tells of Mary’s dedication in the Temple at the age of three. Some versions say she remained there until the age of twelve, thus giving her life fully to God even from youth.

On the day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “we celebrate that dedication of herself which Mary made to God from her very childhood under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who filled her with grace … .” (Liturgy of the Hours)


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on Mary’s holy feast, we pray with Psalm 144, a song attributed to David as he thanks God for his war victories.

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.

How strange that the Church would use this psalm to celebrate gentle Mary as we commemorate her Presentation in the Temple. The traditional story, not included in scripture, is that Mary’s grateful parents brought her, at age three, to be dedicated to God.

The Presentation of Mary by Titian

Psalm 144 reminds us, as we pray with Mary today, that life can be filled with daunting challenges. It can even, at times, seem like a war. Pope Francis has described our times as beset by a “culture of death’:

It is difficult both to recognize and to contradict the overwhelming barrage of selfish, materialistic messaging our culture throws at us. It really is an ongoing battle.

But it is a battle we face not with weapons of violence. We stand up, like Mary, by the power of the God in whom we trust.

My mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who rallies strength around me.


We pray with Mary:

  • to discern the path of grace for our lives 
  • to turn our whole lives over to God, 
  • to become a portal for God to enter our world

We pray for the courage to be God’s new song of hope for our times.

O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to your beloved,
and deliver us from the grasp of evil.


Poem: To the Immaculate Virgin, On a Winter Night – Thomas Merton

Lady, the night is falling and the dark
Steals all the blood from the scarred west.
The stars come out and freeze my heart
With drops of untouchable music, frail as ice
And bitter as the new year's cross.

Where in the world has any voice
Prayed to you, Lady, for the peace that's in your power?
In a day of blood and many beatings
I see the governments rise up, behind the steel horizon,
And take their weapons and begin to kill.

Where in the world has any city trusted you?
Out where the soldiers camp the guns begin to thump
And another winter time comes down
To seal our years in ice.
The last train cries out
And runs in terror from this farmer's valley
Where all the little birds are dead.

The roads are white, the fields are mute
There are no voices in the wood
And trees make gallows up against the sharp-eyed stars.
Oh where will Christ be killed again
In the land of these dead men?

Lady, the night has got us by the heart
And the whole world is tumbling down.
Words turn to ice in my dry throat
Praying for a land without prayer,

Walking to you on water all winter
In a year that wants more war.

Music: Blessed Be the Lord, My Rock – by Abbie Betinis sung by St. Pius X Choir, Atlanta, Georgia

Blessed be the Lord, my rock and my fortress, 

  my stronghold, my deliverer, 

  My shield and he in whom I take refuge. 

We are like breath, 

  our days are like a passing shadow. 

Bow thy heav’ns, O Lord, 

  come down! 

Stretch forth thy hand from on high, 

  rescue me, deliver me. 

I will sing a new song to thee, O God. 

– Psalm 144

Our Lady of the Rosary

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

October 7, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 117. Since it is also the Memorial of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, I’ll refer you to a previous post on Psalm 117.


For today, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, we may wish to focus on that venerable prayer which had its origins in the very early Church. In fact, those early versions of a rosary are connected to the Psalms:

Prayers with beads like the rosary may have begun as a practice by the laity to imitate the Christian monasticism of the Liturgy of the Hours during the course of which the monastics prayed the 150 Psalms daily. As many of the laity could not read, they substituted 150 repetitions of the Our Father for the Psalms, sometimes using a cord with knots on it to keep an accurate count.
(The Catholic Encyclopedia)


The shape of the rosary as we pray it today emerged more clearly in the 13th century as Marian devotion blossomed in the Church. The tendency of that devotion was to place Mary, and other saints, between us and God. They, having already gained heaven, were deemed to have intercessory power we lacked. So praying the rosary became an “asking prayer” rather than a meditation on the whole of Christ’s life. In many ways, our relationship with Mary also took on a sentimentalism which lessened her true and unique power as witness and companion in the Communion of Saints.


Theotokos of the Passion – 17th century

Today, Marian theology, as well as rosary devotion, looks to a clearer understanding of Mary’s role as participant in the continuing redemptive act of Jesus. Praying with her, in any form, is an opportunity to experience Jesus from her perspective and to apply that grace to our own life and world.

“Remembering Mary as a friend of God and prophet in the communion of saints, a woman who is truly sister to our strivings, allows the power of her life to play in the religious consciousness of the church, encouraging ever-deeper relationship with the living God in whom our spirits rejoice, and allying us with God’s redemptive designs for the hungry, the lowly, and all those who suffer, including in an unforgettable way women with their children in situations of poverty, prejudice, and violence.”

Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ – Truly Our Sister

I try, as I pray the rosary, to imagine Mary within each particular mystery or circumstance of Christ’s life. What did she experience? How did she grow in grace? What is she guiding me toward in my relationship with God?

I also ask Mary to allow those graces and insights to bless and heal not only my life but the life of the world, particularly where there is great pain or suffering for women and children.


In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being
~ Denise Levertov
(Reading this poem, we may think of our prayer as a “breathing” enveloped in the Presence of God. The “holy ones”, like Mary, easily ride that breath of prayer. When we pray with them, as in the Rosary, they “rock” us into the silent rhythm of God.)

Photographer: Johannes Plenio
Birds afloat in air's current,
sacred breath?  No, not breath of God,
it seems, but God
the air enveloping the whole
globe of being.
It's we who breathe, in, out, in, in the sacred,
leaves astir, our wings
rising, ruffled -- but only the saints
take flight.  We cower
in cliff-crevice or edge out gingerly
on branches close to the nest.  The wind
marks the passage of holy ones riding
that ocean of air.  Slowly their wake
reaches us, rocks us.
But storms or still, 
numb or poised in attention,
we inhale, exhale, inhale,
encompassed, encompassed.

Music: Beneath Your Compassion (Sub Tuum Praesidium) performed here in Russian by the PaTRAM Institute Singers

The oldest known devotion to Mary can be found in the words of a hymn that is documented to have existed and been sung before the middle of the 3rd century. 

Beneath your compassion,
We take refuge, O Theotokos:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble;
but rescue us from dangers,
only pure, only blessed one.