Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Assumption and The Coronation

Can you believe we're already halfway through Lent?  If you've been having a hard time keeping your Lenten resolutions or spiritual goals, you still have 20 more days to get back on track. 

These last two Glorious Mysteries conclude the first part of my Lenten reflections on the Rosary mysteries.  Beginning tomorrow, I'll write about the virtues embedded in each of the 20 mysteries.

The 4th and 5th Glorious Mysteries focus on the Blessed Mother.  After Mary's death or dormition ("falling asleep"), she was assumed into heaven and given the gift of a glorified body.  We have no record of how this event transpired, but the Church teaches that Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul. 

At some point (time has no meaning in heaven), Mary was also crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Again we have no record of this event, but the Church honors the feast of the Queenship of Mary  on August 22nd.  Of course, Mary is known under many titles as Queen of... 

Mary‘s Assumption and Coronation are implied in Revelation Chapter 12 and in other Biblical references, but neither is directly stated in the Bible. Both events are part of Catholic Tradition. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Assumption in Sections 966 and 974.  (Catholic Culture has a wonderful and very comprehensive series of articles on Mary's Assumption and on Marian apologetics at this link.)

During Lent, spend some time meditating on Mary's role in Jesus' life.  At the foot of the cross, Christ gave all us the gift of Mary as our Blessed Mother.  She wants to help us imitate her virtue and that of her Divine Son.  Keep praying the Rosary, and she will lead you to Him.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

In yesterday's post on The Ascension, I wrote about how the Apostles were probably a bit lost and confused after Jesus departed from them.  They had a pretty big order, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15), but no specific instructions as to how to carry it out. 

We can often feel the same emotions.  We too are called to spread the Good News, but it can be difficult to discern just how to do that.  The answer can be found in today's mystery, The Descent of the Holy Spirit.  Once filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles took action.  They spoke in tongues, converted thousands and began their work of establishing Jesus' Church on earth.  The Holy Spirit can lead people to do great things.

We receive the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, but it is important to continue to pray for His help to become a true soldier of Christ.  The Holy Spirit is often overlooked in prayer, but He is a very powerful Advocate.  If you are ever in doubt as to what to say when questioned about your faith, say a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit before replying.

You might also add this Prayer of Consecration to the Holy Spirit to your daily prayers:

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth."  Amen

I really love the painting above, Pentecost, by Jean Restout II because Mary is the central figure. (The original is hanging at the Louvre, one more reason to go someday...)  She stands tall with her hands over her Immaculate Heart, looking toward heaven with a serene expression while the Apostles turn away in fear.  Mary is not afraid because she is again encountering her Holy Spouse.  Just imagine the graces she receives!  Recall that at the Annunciation, she was full of grace before the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, filling her with even more grace.  Now at Pentecost, she again receives the grace of the Holy Spirit.  It is clear, to me at least, why the Blessed Mother was chosen by God to give graces to us through her intercession.  One of the best ways to receive her favor is to pray the Rosary every day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Ascension

The Bible gives us few details about Jesus' Ascension into heaven.  Only Mark and Luke mention it in the gospels, and the details are very sparse.  The Acts of the Apostles provides us with a little more information.  I find it interesting that after Jesus disappears into heaven, two men in white robes suddenly appeared (angels?) and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?" (Acts 1:11)  These mysterious men almost seem to be trying to snap the Apostles out of a trance and bring them back to reality.  I'm sure these chosen leaders of the new Church were a bit afraid and were thinking, "Okay, now what do we do?  Jesus is obviously sending us out on our own now."

We often have the same doubts and fears.  We're on our own, unsure as to how we should spread the Good News.  How do each of us fit into the Divine Plan?  The answer can be found in the next chapter of the Acts of the Apostles and in the next Glorious Mystery.  More tomorrow...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Resurrection

During Lent, we take a little break each week on Sunday to celebrate The Resurrection.  (Sundays are not counted in the 40 days of Lent.)

"Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.  But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day." (Mark 2:19-20)

Jesus' suffering and His Resurrection are forever linked by the wounds on His glorified body.  He pleads for us at the right hand of the Father, begging mercy for all our sins.  I found a wonderful reflection on this topic by Fr.James Farfaglia.  Since he is far more eloquent and knowledgable that I am, I direct you to his article, Reflection on the Resurrection: Why Did Jesus Rise With Wounds?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Feast of The Annunciation and The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Crucifxion

I had an interesting juxtaposition of today's Feast of The Annunciation and the next mystery in my Lenten series of reflections, The Crucifixion, at noon today.  I was alone in our little Daily Mass Chapel praying my traditional Lenten Friday Holy Hour after Mass.  I was reading a book on the Seven Sorrows of Mary when the bells in the chapel rang at noon, reminding me to pray The Angelus.  The Angelus is a short devotion in honor of the Incarnation, which of course, we also honor with today's feast.  As the bells continued to chime, it occurred to me that noon is traditionally honored as the hour that Jesus was crucified.  I love it when I get heavenly aid for my blog entries! 

When I meditate on The Crucifixion, I often recall the Seven Last Words of Jesus:

1.  "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Lk 23:34)
2.  "Amen, I say to thee: this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Lk 23:43)
3.  Woman, behold thy son.” To the disciple, “Behold your mother.” (Lk 19:26-27)
4.  "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34)
5.  I thirst.” (Jn 19:28)
6.  It is consummated.”  (Jn 19:30)
7.  Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  (Lk 23:46)      

During Lent, spend some time meditating on these last words.  It's helpful to read commentaries such as this one by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Carrying of the Cross

This entry will be rather brief as I am not feeling so well (allergies maybe?).  I'm going to drink some homemade Nyquil (warm red wine with honey and lemon juice) and crawl into bed with my Magnificat magazine and my favorite guilty pleasure, In Style

When I mediate on the fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, I usually find myself thinking of the Stations of the Cross.  The first ten stations describe the Via Dolorosa ("Way of Sorrows") as Jesus carries His cross to Calvary.  (BTW, in case you didn't know Golgotha and Calvary are words to describe the same place-- the hill where Jesus was crucified.  Golgotha is a Greek translation of the Aramaic term for "place of the skull," while Calvary is an Anglicized Latin translation of the same phrase.)

During Lent, most parishes pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays and often conclude with a meatless soup and bread dinner.  This year, make an effort to participate at least once.  Take your children too!  (You can find simple prayers and meditations for Stations of the Cross for children online to print out beforehand.)  Bring a crockpot of soup or a good loaf of bread from the bakery and meet some of your fellow parishioners.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Crowning With Thorns

Today was one of those really great days.  As always, after I get everyone off to school, I started the day with prayer, reading from my Magnificat magazine.  I spent the morning writing two entries for my new book, Tending the Temple.  While writing, I learned about two fascinating new saints, St. Teresa of the Andes and St. Lidwina (who has been canonized since the article at that link was written).  I got my grocery shopping done in under half an hour, and my cute new rose-colored flats (30% off!) didn't hurt my feet and perfectly matched a spring sweater I already own. 

I also enjoyed a Rosary Workout bike ride.  I mapped out a new route and was rewarded with a few challenging hills and beautiful scenery.  As I pedaled down a road I had not traveled before, I was surprised to see a camel, of all things, grazing next to a donkey.  My first thought was that I was praying the wrong Rosary mystery for this scene!  As I turned the corner, I was brought back to the Sorrowful Mysteries as a rooster crowed loudly. 

According to the gospels, Peter denies Jesus three times and hears the foretold cock crow shortly before Jesus is mocked by the Roman soldiers.  They place an old purple cloak on His shoulders and fashion a crown out of thorns from a nearby bush.  I'm sure they were not gentle when they placed it on His head. 

I often wonder if the centurion who declared that Jesus was the Son of God at the foot of the cross participated in this mock coronation.  Did he watch Jesus silently suffer this humiliation with unimaginable dignity?  Did he see how Jesus' eyes still looked upon the soldiers with love?  Did he realize that he was in the presence of the Incarnation? 

There is a lesson for us here.  When we are humiliated, scorned and mocked, how do we act?  Do we lash back in anger or do we endure the humiliation with quiet dignity?  Do we love our enemies and pray for them?  Do we let others see the presence of Christ within us?  Our words and actions, while following the example of Jesus, can change hearts and minds.  Think of those who watch you as possible centurions who might experience a sudden conversion at the foot of the cross.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Scourging at the Pillar

It wasn't until a few years ago that I began to understand how my own sins contributed to Christ's suffering and death.  When I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, walk the Stations of the Cross, or meditate on Jesus' passion and death, I feel a profound sorrow for my sins and a renewed zeal to try to live a sinless life.

When I meditate on The Scourging at the Pillar, I often recall the scene from The Passion of the Christ.  When I watch the film, I always weep when Jesus (as played by Jim Caviezel) sinks to the ground and then slowly gets back up so that the soldiers can continue to scourge Him.  It's almost as if He's saying, "It's not enough yet.  There are still so many sins for which I must atone."  To think that I caused part of that suffering!

I also recall how the actress who played Mary (can't recall her name...) sobbed as if her heart were pierced by a sword as she carefully mopped up the Precious Blood.  We should have that same sorrow for our own sins, even if they are relatively minor venial sins.

During Lent, you can make some progress toward leading a sinless life by going to Confession often.  Frequent Confession gives us more grace to help in avoiding sin.  If it's been awhile, find a good Examination of Conscience booklet or check online for one.  If you can't make your parish's regular Confession times, then call the parish office and make an appointment with a priest.  Remember the 5 steps to a good Confession:

1.  Think about your sins and examine your conscience
2.  Express true sorrow for your sins
3.  Resolve never to sin again
4.  Confess your sins to a priest
5.  Complete the penance that the priest gives you

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Agony in the Garden

For me, the words that stand out in the Biblical account of the Agony in the Garden are, "Could you not watch one hour with me?"  For most of my adult life, even during the height of my very lukewarm Catholic days, I attended Mass on Holy Thursday and stayed afterward to pray for an additional hour during Eucharistic Adoration.  I figured that was the least I could do since Jesus' chosen Apostles did not.

Last year, I took this practice a step further and set a goal to make a Holy Hour every week during Lent.  I found it so profitable for my spiritual life that I decided to pray a Holy Hour at least once a month. I wish I could say that I kept that up, but my monthly Holy Hours were rather sporadic.  To get back on track, I have renewed my weekly Lenten Holy Hour this year.

I usually spend my hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament after daily Mass, usually on a Friday.  (I am blessed that our chapel is open most afternoons.)  I bring prayer books, a rosary and my Bible.  I try to offer up each Holy Hour for a special intention.  I often pray the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross, then spend some time just being in the presence of Christ.  Occasionally I'll bring one of the booklets of Holy Hour prayers and meditations that I picked up in a Catholic gift shop.

I am almost always the only person in the chapel, and I enjoy the silence.  Our chapel is nearly 100 years old and has a beautiful altar and stained glass windows.  We are blessed to have a relic of the True Cross and St. Jude as well. 

I have come to enjoy these weekly visits with Jesus.  I rarely have any big moments of revelation or even an overwhelming feeling of the presence of Christ.  That's fine because I know that He is there and that He appreciates my little visits.  I leave with a sense of peace, ready to take up my cross again and follow Him.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Feast Day, St Joseph and The Institution of the Eucharist

First of all, Happy Feast Day, St. Joseph!  (For the final novena prayer, see this link.  While you're at the site, sign up for email reminders so you won't miss the novena next year.  They also send notices for other popular novenas throughout the year.)

We recently bought 20 acres of beautiful land with a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The man who sold the land to us showed my husband a pile of rocks at the base of a giant oak tree.  He told my husband that he often walked to that site early in the morning and watched the sun rise over the mountains as he said a prayer for a special intention.  After he finished the prayer, he placed a rock on the pile by the tree.  The pile was already quite large, and my husband assured him that we would treat the site with respect and would likely add our own prayer rocks to the pile.

Today my family gathered at that pile of rocks and asked St. Joseph to watch over the construction of our new home and to help us grow in holiness as a family.  We placed a rock on top of the pile, the first of many, I'm sure.  As a military family, we have often called upon St. Joseph to help us sell our old home and find a new one.  Now that my husband has retired from the Air Force, I hope we will enjoy many wonderful years in this newest home.

Now, back to the Rosary Mysteries for Lent...

I recently bought one of the wonderful Glory Stories CDs and played it for my two middle school-age children in the car.  (The CDs are aimed at slightly younger children, but the stories are told so well that all of us enjoy them.)  We listened to the story of Blessed Imelda, the patron saint of First Communicants. 

During Imelda's lifetime, children did not receive First Communion until about the age of 14, but Imelda did not want to wait that long.  She watched longingly as others at Mass waited in line for the Body and Blood of Jesus.  She often said, ""Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?"  At age 11, a miracle occurred, allowing her to finally receive her First Communion.  She returned to her pew in a state of ecstasy and literally died of happiness.

During Lent, spend some time meditating on the 5th Luminous Mystery, The Institution of the Eucharist.  As you wait in line for Communion, think of Blessed Imelda's words.  Are you so filled with joy at the prospect of actually receiving Jesus' Body and Blood that you could die of happiness? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Transfiguration

The weather was beautiful once again today.  I think we reached 80 degrees!  I just had to go out for a bike ride again, but I ended up fighting a pretty strong wind.  At times, I felt like I wasn't going anywhere.  As I pedaled furiously, the mountains in the distance reminded me of the fourth Luminous Mystery, The Transfiguration.

I wondered if Peter, James and John were working as hard as I was on my bike when they climbed Mount Tabor with Jesus.  Jesus frequently went "up the mountain to pray" and was no doubt accustomed to arduous climbs, but I'm not so sure about Peter, James and John.  Like most Jews of that time, they walked everywhere, but I don't know if they often climbed steep peaks like Mount Tabor.  They might have wondered where they were going and why, exactly, they had to work so hard to get there.  The reward for their efforts was to see Jesus in His glory, a brief glimpse at the possibilities of the Resurrection.

Lent can sometimes feel like fighting a strong headwind or like an arduous climb up a mountain.  At times we're not sure where we're going or why we're working so hard.  If you feel discouraged, reflect on the mystery of The Transfiguration.  Remember that our ultimate goal is heaven, where we too will some day experience a transfiguration at our own resurrection.

Reminder:  Today is Day 8 of the St. Joseph Novena.  His feast day is tomorrow!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Proclamation of the Kingdom

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Since I'm Irish, I wore green all day and made a delicious Beef and Guiness Stew

I finally dusted off my road bike for the first time in quite awhile.  An injury has kept me from riding, and it was wonderful to get outside and pray the Rosary as I enjoyed the beautiful spring weather.  The sheep and cows were grazing, the grass was a beautiful shade of emerald green, and a few wildflowers added color to the backdrop of the rolling hills with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

As I prayed the Luminous Mysteries, I reflected on The Proclamation of the Kingdom.  Jesus tells us that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10:7)  Lent is the perfect time to reflect on how we live that reality each day.  Heaven is ours to enter if we follow in the footsteps of Christ.  A good place to start is to carefully read The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), which are often cited as part of this third Luminous Mystery.  Spend some time reflecting on how they apply to your daily life.

Reminder: Today is Day 7 of the St. Joseph Novena.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Wedding Feast at Cana

My parents had to obtain a special dispensation to get married during Lent.  My dad had just joined the Air Force and received orders to Japan, so the wedding had to happen quickly in order for my mother to accompany him. 

We don't usually think of weddings during Lent, but Jesus actually begins His road to Calvary with this first miracle at Cana.  He says to Mary, "My hour has not yet come," letting her know that if he works this miracle then he will manifest His divinity and change both their lives forever.

I often wondered why Mary chose to push Jesus out in the world, in a manner of speaking, at this point.  One day I was praying all the decades of the Rosary in chronological order during a long bike ride when a possible answer came to me.  I had recently mediated on the 5th Joyful Mystery (The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple) and was thinking of how Mary held Jesus back in the Temple when He was on fire and ready to begin His ministry at age 12 when a Jewish boy becomes a man.  Mary took Him back home and He went obediently.  As I thought about the Wedding Feast at Cana, it occurred to me that since Jesus obeyed Mary in not beginning His public ministry, He patiently waited until she decided it was time.  I was so surprised by this revelation that I actually stopped my bike to think about it.  Of course, this is my own thought and not Church teaching or interpretation as I have not seen this idea anywhere in print.  I do know though, that the more often I pray the Rosary, the better I understand the mysteries so perhaps this understanding was the work of the Holy Spirit.

Today is Day 6 of the St. Joseph Novena.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Baptism of Jesus

After Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River, "the Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness.  And He was in the wilderness forty days, temped by Satan..."  This passage also calls to mind last Sunday's Gospel reading describing the temptations that Satan presented to Jesus after His extended fast.  These 40 days in the wilderness are the foundation of Lent.  Jesus spent time alone with His heavenly Father, fasting and praying, before beginning His adult ministry.  In the same way, Lent is a time of renewal, a time to focus on what is truly important.  Like Jesus, we too will be tempted as we strive to improve in virtue and holiness.  Be watchful, as Satan and his minions will hover nearby, ready to pounce as soon as they perceive any progress in your spiritual life.  I try to pray the St. Michael prayer every day during Lent.  In case you don't know it, I'll post it here:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Note:  If you are praying the St. Joseph Novena, here's the link to Day 5.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

I often think about the bittersweet aspects of the 5th Joyful Mystery.  Like all parents, I can identify with Mary and Joseph's intense anxiety as they frantically search for young Jesus as well as their overwhelming joy when they finally find Him in the Temple.

To me, Lent often evokes the same conflicting emotions of anxiety and sorrow as well as joy and relief.  I worry that I'm "doing enough" for Lent and become frustrated if I don't accomplish  my planned prayers and devotions for a particular day.  I do better when I try to realize that my efforts are bringing me closer to God and not farther away.  This allows me to focus on the joy of learning more about my faith and enriching my prayer life through my Lenten practices.

I find the most joy in a practice I started two years ago of making a weekly Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament during Lent.  It calls to mind Jesus' words to Mary and Joseph in the Temple, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49) 

Note:  Today is Day 4 of the St. Joseph Novena.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

No reflection today, but don't forget the St. Joseph Novena

Sundays are not considered to be part of Lent as it would be inappropriate to fast or do penance on the day we celebrate the Resurrection, so no reflection today. 

If you're praying the St. Joseph Novena, then today is Day 3.  Here's a link to the novena prayer.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Presentation

In the Biblical account of The Presentation (Luke 2:22-40), the devout and righteous man Simeon is a key character.  The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. Through the Holy Spirit, Simeon instantly recognized the infant in Mary's arms as the long-awaited Savior, but I imagine he was at least somewhat surprised that the Redeemer was a tiny baby in the arms of a poor woman.

Most Israelites expected that the Messiah would be a mighty warrior king who would defeat all their enemies and restore the earthly kingdom of Israel to the Jewish people.  The image of a tiny helpless baby who was born into poverty would not exactly fit the mold, but the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that this child was indeed the "a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." (Luke 2:32)

During Lent, spend some time reflecting on your expectations of God.  Do you expect Him to "fix" your problems or those of others?  Are you angry or discouraged if your prayers aren't answered the way you want them to be?  Do you think of God as a driving taskmaster, a lenient Father who overlooks your faults, or a distant and vague authority figure?  Pray to the Holy Spirit to lead you in your search for God and be open to finding Him in unexpected people, places or events.

Note:  If you're praying the Novena to St. Joseph, today is Day 2.  Here's a link to the novena prayer.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Nativity

I often read Luke's account of the Nativity, but today I decided to read the other account, written by Matthew.  Interestingly, Matthew focuses on St. Joseph's role.  He must have been shocked, hurt and perhaps humiliated when he discovered that his fiancee was pregnant.  Even so, he did not want to report Mary's possible infidelity to the authorities as she would have been put to death.  His plan was to "send her away quietly," no doubt to distant relatives who could shelter her until she gave birth.  Fortunately, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that the child in Mary's womb was the promised Savior.  St. Joseph, no doubt relieved and probably surprised to discover his new role as foster father of the Redeemer, took Mary into his home as his wife.

I think that a good lesson for Lent in this story is to realize that even St. Joseph jumped to conclusions and made an incorrect assumption.  We often quickly make our own judgments and assume that people are guilty of some sin without knowing all the facts.  We can resolve to leave the judging to the Just Judge and to pray for the person we think might be in trouble.  Of course that doesn't mean that we shouldn't speak up or ask what's going on in a charitable manner.  Instead, we should "remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5)

Note:  There are two theories about St. Joseph and Matthew's Nativity story.  The more popular theory is the interpretation above, that St. Joseph really thought that Mary was pregnant by another man.  The other theory is that St. Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit but felt afraid and unworthy to be the foster father of the Messiah.  You can read an insightful and interesting defense of this theory here.  I'm not sure which theory to believe, but I do know that St. Joseph is a very powerful intercessor.  Many Catholics believe that St. Joseph was sanctified at some point, although he was born with Original Sin like the rest of us.  This makes sense because as the foster father of Jesus, he would have to be obeyed according to the Fourth Commandment.  The question then becomes, if he was sanctified, then when?  Perhaps it occurred when the angel appeared to him in the dream.  Lots of food for thought!

It's no coincidence that St. Joseph is the topic of my post today.  Interestingly, yesterday another blogger (John-Paul, what a great name!) sent me an email and asked me to post a link to a novena to St. Joseph.  The novena begins today (his feast day is March 19th, one of the few feasts the Church celebrates during Lent).  Since I am very devoted to St. Joseph, I had planned to post the link at the end of my Nativity reflection.  Imagine my surprise when I felt compelled to turn to Matthew's gospel and his emphasis on St. Joseph.  While you're visiting John-Paul's blog, be sure to sign up for more novena reminders.  I did.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Visitation

The first thing Mary does after consenting to be the Mother of God is to pack her bags to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Charity is her first concern, and she will be bringing the Son of God out into the world although He is still hidden in her womb.  The first two people to encounter Him are overwhelmed by His presence.  John the Baptist, still in utero, leaps for joy while his mother Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. She cries out,

"Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." (Luke 1:42-45)

We imitate Mary in The Visitation every time we receive the Eucharist for we are taking Jesus, hidden inside us, out into the world.  During Lent, be aware that you are carrying Jesus to every person you encounter after Mass.  You have many opportunities to overwhelm them with His presence.  Pray for the graces to emulate the Blessed Mother in your words and actions.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Rosary Mysteries for Lent: The Annunciation

Ash Wednesday blessings to everyone!  I thought it might be helpful to post reflections on the Rosary mysteries in the context of Lent for the next 40 days.  Since there are 20 mysteries, I'll go through them twice, in chronological order.

While reading the Biblical account of the first Joyful Mystery, The Annunciation, the words "May it be done to me according to your word," always stand out for me.  They bring to mind the words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Not my will, but yours, be done."  Both Mary and her Divine Son were in perfect unity with God's plan.  They did not rebel but simply did what the Father asked. 

Too often, I find myself rebelling.  I get angry and think, "I am right to be angry!  That person was wrong!"  I know in my heart that I should forgive and ask for forgiveness, but I just don't want to.  It can be difficult to do what God asks of us, even when we know in our hearts it is the right thing to do.

During Lent, pray and listen carefully to what God is asking of you.  Work harder to make your answer be, "May it be done to me according to your word."