Mary, Full of Grace

The Octave Day of Christmas

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

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Theotokos, a mosaic mural from the Gelati Monastery, Georgia, (1125-1130 AD)

January 1, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate Mary, Mother of Jesus.

I begin my prayer today by asking a question posed by distinguished theologian, Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ:

What would be a theologically sound, spiritually empowering and ethically challenging theology of Mary, mother of Jesus the Christ, for the 21st century? This question has no simple answer, for the first-century Jewish woman Miriam of Nazareth, also held in faith to be Theotokos, the God-bearer, is arguably the most celebrated woman in the Christian tradition. One could almost drown surveying the ways different eras have honored her in painting, sculpture, icons, architecture, music and poetry; venerated her with titles, liturgies, prayers and feasts; and taught about her in spiritual writings, theology and official doctrine.

To see Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s excellent article, click here.


In my own prayer today, though, I am not reaching for a deeper theological understanding of Mary. I simply want to talk with her as my Mother, my older Sister, my Friend. I want to seek her guidance and her inspiration. I want to thank her for her continual willingness to bear Christ into the world, and into my life.

How significant it is that the Church begins the year inviting us all to Mary’s Light! Our first reading blesses us in a way that Mary might bless us:

The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!

Mary was all about giving us the LORD, not giving us herself. We see Mary best when we see her holding Christ toward us – the “God-bearer” or “Theotokos”.

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Theotokos Vladimirskaya icon, Vologda, Vladimirskaya Church, mid-end 16 century

This title, used especially in Eastern Christianity, originated in the 3rd century Syriac tradition. It affirms Mary as the Mother of Jesus, Who was both human and divine in nature.

Our reading from Galatians assures us that we too, by our Baptism, are the daughters and sons of God – thus becoming Mary’s own. She is our Mother too by the power of this sacrament.

Our Gospel reveals the spirituality of Mary who “pondered” all the mysterious workings of God deep in her heart. This Mary is my revered sister, guiding me as I meet the unfolding of God in my own life.

Today, let us pray with Mary, our Mother, our Sister, Bearer of God. Let us pray for the whole Church, the whole world – all of whom she tenderly loves.

Music: Two selections today.

A Peaceful Hymn to the Theotokos – Nuns of the Carmazani Monastery in Romania

Prayer of Pure Love – Leddy Hammock and Sue Riley

Prayer of the Imagination

An added meditation for today’s Gospel about the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple


Anna

Prayer of the Imagination (For Anna, the Prophetess)
by Leddy Hammock and Susan Kelly
(Text and Music below)

Now, in this moment I close my outer eyes
and look within with my inner eyes.
I see a vision of wonder,
for I am the daughter of the vision of God,
of the tribe of the blessed ones,
a soul under grace.
I judge not by appearances.
I believe in God’s promises.
I fast from shadows and I live on light.

From my youth, I have served at the temple,
a vessel to a holy purpose.
Prayer is the temple where I dwell
Here I behold the image of the Lord.
I close my eyes and behold that image,
the eyes of the Infinite beholding me
all through the ages,
so tenderly gazing with love and compassion,
enfolding me.

Prayer is the temple where I dwell.
Here, I behold the image of the Lord.
The thoughts held in mind
are mirrored in kind all around me,
reflecting through all that I see.

Now, I behold with inner vision
the wonders that will be in the fullness of time.
The dreams of all my days and nights
are incensed in the inner sanctum.
My thoughts of truth are flowers on the altar of light.
In the presence of the Holy of Holies,
I keep the high watch.
Gifted with the inner sight,
I see beyond the present.

I am an old, old soul, yet ageless in eternity.
Though outer eyes may seem to dim with time,
the inner eyes are crystal clear.
Though outer vision may seem obscured by time and place,
or clouded by the sorrows and the slavery of sense,
another world’s revealed so clear.
And what I see will be.
My thoughts are giving form,
And held in mind, shall reproduce in kind.

O Lord, I take a long loving look at the real.
I prophesy.
Christ is here.
I have seen the Lord, Thine image,
and held that image to my own heart.
I am the Spirit of Imagination.
I am Anna, the prophetess, woman of power

Music: Imagining- Hammock and Kelly