Written and Compiled by Carol Monaco
“Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”(Luke 1:28)
In the beginning, God made a beautiful garden and in that lovely garden, man and woman walked with God. Yet, like a choking weed, sin made its way into the garden, causing its full color and life to fade away like a photograph exposed to the harsh rays of direct light.
Then God, in His infinite loving mercy, planned for the world’s redemption. For that redemption, God created a new garden—not of the earth, but of human flesh that no weed or serpent could disgrace. The garden was Mary our Blessed Mother. In choosing Mary by preserving her from sin, and then Mary freely accepting the gift at the Annunciation, God gave hope to our disturbed and broken humanity.
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High…and of his kingdom there will be no end,” (Luke 1:31-33) said the Archangel. With those words, the angel Gabriel tells us Mary would be the Mother of Hope—Jesus—the Way, the Truth, and the Life that will lead us to Heaven.
“If it is the Father’s plan to unite all things in Christ [cf. Eph 1:10] then the whole of the universe is in some way touched by the divine favor with which the Father looks upon Mary and makes her the Mother of his Son. The whole of humanity, in turn, is embraced by the fiat with which she readily agrees to the will of God.”(Rosarium Virginis Mariae; On the Most Holy Rosary; Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 2002)
Christ was born, not just of Mary’s flesh, but because of her consent as a humble handmaid of the Lord. “Mary takes her place within Christ’s messianic service…Christ the ‘Servant of the Lord’ will show all people the royal dignity of service, the dignity which is joined in the closest possible way to the vocation of every person.”(Mulieris Dignitatem; On the Dignity and Vocation of Women; Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 1988)
Let us note that Mary was all human and she lived in perfect unity with the Holy Trinity. With the Holy Spirit, Mary leads us to Christ who leads us to the Father. We too can live in such unity when we say yes to God to know our true vocation in life. Mary’s consent gives us the courage to say: “May it be done to me according to your word.”( Luke 1:38)
Fear need not be a stumbling block. One look at Mary, and we know that we can become better human beings; one prayer to her, and we know that because she is without sin, we can become less sinful. Then we too can rejoice in knowing that the Lord is with us!
Please give us the strength to say “yes” to God’s will and see the dignity in the life and work God wants us to have and may our words, thoughts, and actions reflect the love of God. Amen.
“Blessed are you who believed that
what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”(Luke 1:45)
Before Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, Mary gave us her Magnificat when she visited her cousin Elizabeth.
“And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.’”( Luke 1:46-47
In that one visit, Mary shows us faith, hope, and charity. Mary teaches us how to live. In what we do and what we say, we are here to magnify the Lord.
Truly, Mary was blessed, but the roads Mary traveled were not paved with convenience. Our Lady met her challenges with dignity and God’s grace. When Mary knew Jesus was growing inside of her, Our Lady did not become self-centered or withdraw from people around her. Instead, “Mary…traveled to the hill country in haste” (Luke 1:39) to be with her cousin Elizabeth because she too was with child and Elizabeth was old.
With Jesus living in her and radiating through her, Mary shared the Savior with Elizabeth. When Mary’s greeting reached Elizabeth, the child in her leapt with joy and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She was filled with faith, hope, and love. To believe is to let the Most High come over us, then as we go about our daily tasks, we can bring Christ, His love, and spirit to each one we greet. Mary wants us to have that divine joy in our lives. And we can have it through faith, hope, and charity.
· Faith: For faith, we must pray. Mary prayed, not just with words, but with deeds. Her whole life was a prayer centered on God’s infinite loving mercy, relying on His graces and trusting in His will, particularly as she faced the hardships of poverty and daily struggles of that time.
· Hope: Mary is the Mother of Hope. Each of our lives is so precious that God sent His only Son through Mary to give us hope; to save us for all eternity. Mary is our connection to Jesus. Those who pray to Mary can trust in her Son’s loving merciful response. “The hope that never disappoints is Jesus Christ,” said Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI. (Pope Benedict XVI, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y.)
· Charity: Mary is the wellspring of goodness, according to Pope Benedict XVI. Mary shows us that sacrifices do not feel like sacrifices when they are done as acts of charity—acts of goodness, acts of love. “Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God.” (God is Love; Deus Caritas Est, Encyclical letter of Benedict XVI)
May the Spirit of the Lord dwell in each of us and shine through us with love, compassion, dignity, and respect for all human life and may we answer God’s call to serve selflessly and without hesitation, regardless of the challenges we may face. Amen.
Mother and Child
“Glory to God in the highest/and on earth peace
to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
Imagine that you are handed a gift—precious, yet fragile— and you are given a list of instructions so that with good care this gift would become more radiant and beautiful. Would you follow the instructions or would you try to care for it without any guidance? Chances are you would follow the instructions, otherwise this precious gift would lose its beauty and easily break.
Now imagine that you are the giver of this gift and despite the instructions and all the help you are willing to give to care for this treasure, the intended recipient takes the present, but rejects your help. How would you feel if you saw your gift slowly deteriorate and eventually fall to pieces due to the lack of proper care?
Life is just that—a precious gift from God that needs to be handled with great care, otherwise it easily could be shattered by sin. With divine guidance, our life can grow more beautiful and radiate God’s love upon everyone and everything our life touches. God knows taking care of this precious gift is not an easy task; that is why Christ was born.
God chose human, natural birth—to start life as we all do—as a helpless, innocent baby who needed love and great care to grow and thrive. From the mysteries, we learn how to take care of this precious gift of life according to God’s plan—with faith, hope, and love not just for ourselves and those we love, but for every person in our lives and our world.
From the beginning, Mary and Joseph never hid their faith, hope, and love. Through Mary and with Joseph’s protection, our Savior was born and they shared Jesus with all those searching for salvation. They shared the Good News. Jesus is the Good News. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life that can change man’s heart for the better and give us peace on earth with faith, hope, and merciful love.
Help each of us to graciously bring Christ into the world through our words, deeds, and relationships. Amen.
The Sun of Life
“The child’s father and mother were amazed
at what was said about him.” (Luke 2:33)
“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses,” (Luke 2:22) Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. One might be compelled to ask: “Why was purification necessary?”
The Holy Family did not pick and choose which rules to follow according to their own liking, nor did they get lost in the temptations and challenges of their times. God was the center of their lives and yes, Mary who already was all pure, followed the Law of Moses and the will of God, which prepared her for her future roles. And into God’s hands Mary and Joseph presented baby Jesus—the Son of God—at the Temple, preparing Him for His future role.
Also at the Temple, Simeon and Anna prayed and faithfully waited for the Savior to come. Prayer requires patience, and faith requires believing when common sense tells us not to. Prayer and faith carried Simeon and Anna and prepared them for that moment at the Temple.
“For my eyes have seen your salvation,/which you have prepared in sight of all the peoples,/a light for revelation to the Gentiles,/and glory for your people Israel,” said Simeon for the Holy Spirit revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. (cf. Luke 2:30-32) There also was Anna who worshiped, prayed, and fasted in the Temple. She thanked God and spoke about baby Jesus to everyone who was awaiting Jerusalem’s redemption. (cf. Luke 2:37-38)
Truly, Joseph and Mary were amazed at what was said. Their faith and prayer prepared them for how else could they have accepted the words of Simeon, especially when he said to Mary, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35) With those words, Mary was being prepared for that fateful moment at her Son’s cross when she accepted her role as Mother to us all.
We learn from the Presentation that patience, prayer, faith, and obedience prepare us for the lives God wants us to have and give us the dignity to live those lives without hesitation. Although we may not always understand the events in our lives, we will be amazed because with God, nothing is impossible.
Help each of us to prepare ourselves for Our Lord’s presence in our lives and may we sanctify ourselves in Christ-given dignity for the wellbeing of every person— family, friend, foe, and stranger. We pray that each of us find our calling in sharing God’s love and compassion for all. Amen.
Finding the Sun
“And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom
and age and favor before God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
In the Bible, only once do we know of Mary questioning the Lord—“Why?” When Mary and Joseph could not find young Jesus for three days after the feast of Passover, they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem and found Jesus speaking among the elders. “When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’ And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’” (Luke 2:48-49)
Although Mary and Joseph did not understand His reply, they did not retreat from their faith or question God’s will or wisdom. Instead Mary kept all these things in her heart and Our Lady remained fervently committed to God. Even when faced with poverty and adversity, the love of God illuminated Mary’s soul and drove away any shadows of doubt from her home.
Losing Jesus for three days was certainly cause for anxiety, but with quiet fortitude and faith, Mary with Joseph sought out Jesus where we will find Jesus—in God’s house. During uncertain and troubling times, we may find it difficult to enter God’s house to pray, to hope, and to trust. However, we can turn to Mary for guidance and support because her whole life represented faith, hope, and trust in God in every circumstance. Remember, losing young Jesus for three days was not Mary’s first trial and not her last.
Truly, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph understand our difficulties and daily struggles. In other words, God understands and knows what we need to get through our daily lives. For God to help us, we must let Him into our lives so we can grow in wisdom and favor before Him. Therefore, when we seek Jesus, let us also look within ourselves. That yearning we feel, that longing to find what we need to make our life complete may be Our Lord calling us from within our souls. Our body is indeed our temple.
Please give us the grace and dignity to meet difficult challenges, anxieties, and losses with faith, hope, and trust. May our hearts never harden and may our lives be transformed with the love of God. Amen.
One in Three
“This is my beloved Son,
with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
We see the unity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as we did in the Joyful mysteries when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the Most High overshadowed Mary so Christ could be born. We also see the bond between John and Jesus, as they were united in the Visitation when John leapt with joy in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting, carrying Jesus within her.
Here, Christ empties Himself to be filled with the Holy Spirit in an act of humility, obedience, and love of God, for John said “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus replied: “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:14-15)
After John baptized Christ, the Heavens opened up; the Spirit of God descended like a dove, coming upon Him, and the voice from Heaven said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
“As Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became ‘sin’ for our sake” receives the Holy Spirit which invests “him with the mission which he is to carry out”—to free us from sin. (Rosarium Virginis Mariae; On the Most Holy Rosary; Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 2002.) Our own baptism washes away our original sin and the Holy Spirit is poured upon us, allowing us to enter into a divine relationship that God wants for all of us—to be his beloved children with whom He is well pleased. In this relationship, we too have a mission.
When we open our hearts, minds, and souls to God’s loving graces, the light of Christ comes into the world through us in our daily living. Like Mary, we experience God’s love working within us and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can share this love with those in our lives and with all of those we meet. Like John the Baptist, we decrease to allow Our Lord to increase in our lives.
Give us the grace to empty ourselves in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit in our souls and may each of us embrace humility, obedience, and the love of God to fulfill our roles in life as His beloved children. Amen.
“You have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10)
Similar to going in haste to share the coming of Jesus Christ with her cousin Elizabeth, who was with child, at the Wedding Feast, Mary, united with her Son, shares Jesus through her intercession. Wanting to spare the wedding party the angst of running out of wine, Mary calls on Jesus for help.
Although it was not yet His time, with faith, hope, and love Mary tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) With that, Christ turns water into wine, the very best—in essence giving the guests a taste of Heaven. In His first sign, “Christ…opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers,” wrote St. John Paul II. (Rosarium Virginis Mariae; On the Most Holy Rosary; Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 2002)
Are we willing to do whatever the Lord tells us in order to experience a taste of Heaven on earth? In other words, are we willing to believe in the Gospel, repent, and “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect”? (Matthew 5:48) When we do what the Lord tells us, when we trust Him, when we allow Him to work through us, we experience His unlimited love and goodness and we are able to see the world in a new and glorious way.
Remember, with God, nothing is impossible. When we open our hearts, say yes to God, and welcome the Holy Spirit into our souls, our lives are transformed. With every breath we take, with every move we make, and with the grace of God, we can sanctify our lives. Like Mary, our souls can proclaim the greatness of the Lord and our spirits can rejoice in God our savior! Regardless of who we are – young, old, rich, poor, married, single, healthy, or sick – we can magnify Our Lord in the way we live, work, and love.
Our Blessed Mother will help us. Christ listens to His mother when she intercedes on our behalf because Mary is united with her Son in the work of our redemption. And as Mary guides us closer to her Son, we discover that our attachment to earthly wants decreases as our unity with Christ increases. The more we become Christ-like in our daily living, the more we become God’s loving children in whom Our Lord is well pleased. By the power of the Holy Trinity with Mary’s intercession, we can make our world a better place. In essence, we can give our world a taste of Heaven.
Heavenly Mother, with the power of your intercession, may the Lord send each of us the grace to help those in need and may our trust and faith in God increase with every prayer. Amen.
A Look toward Heaven
“This is the time of fulfillment.” (Mark 1:15)
The night Christ was born, the Angel appeared before shepherds in the field, proclaiming the Good News—that a Savior had been born. Years later and fully grown, Christ our Savior set out on His mission calling on all to repent and believe in the Gospel.
We are called to be active participants in our salvation. Just as the shepherds sought out Jesus in the stable, we must seek out Jesus by following the teachings of the Bible. We also must make room in our souls for the Living Word through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. This is the time to break the bonds of sin and to unite with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
For our conversion, we need to draw closer to Christ in humble trust for the forgiveness of our sins, according to St. John Paul II. Christ’s ministry of mercy “continues…until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church.” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae; On the Most Holy Rosary; Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 2002)
All too often we are mired in our mistakes and anxiety of our sins. However, Pope Francis tells us Jesus does not give up and never stops offering “himself and his grace that save us…This is a message of hope, a message of salvation, ancient and ever new.
And we are called to bear witness with joy to this message of the Gospel of life, the Gospel of light, of hope and love, because this is Jesus’ message: life, light, hope, love.” (Pope Francis; Angelus; January 5, 2014)
Our goal is to turn our sights toward Heaven and to live our lives in a way that will lead us to Heaven. We cannot perform miracles, but we can perform acts of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness as Our Lord did. Unfortunately, we also live in a time when sin appears to be losing its meaning. Our actions are rationalized. We may think we are trying to accomplish something good, but if we have to lie, mislead, manipulate, and cheat to reach a certain goal, what good are we accomplishing?
God gives us the means to accomplish great and wonderful acts to better our world, but we have to turn to Our Lord and ask for guidance and strength. To improve our world, we have to better ourselves by turning away from sinful behavior because sin does destroy life. That is why Our Lord calls on us to believe in the Gospel and repent. Yes, God is merciful. He does not want His children destroyed. “As I live…,” said the Lord, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” (Ezekiel 33:11)
Help each of us to live our lives with love and by bearing witness in what we do. May our little acts of kindness grow and may we find dignity and grace in our ordinary lives so that we are not led into temptation. Oh Lord, deliver us from evil. Amen.
“Rise, and do not be afraid.” (Matthew 17:7)
In the Joyful mysteries, Simeon filled with the Holy Spirit, took baby Jesus in his arms and exclaimed: “For my eyes have seen your salvation…” (cf. Luke 2:30) as Mary listened in amazement. In the Transfiguration, we see Jesus our Savior in the splendor of Holy light with a voice from Heaven saying: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5c)
To love and to listen, like Jesus and Mary, are what we need to do as we proceed on our spiritual journey. Christ listens to our prayers; Mary listens to our prayers and intercedes on our behalf for Our Lord’s loving mercy. For that divine love to truly penetrate our lives and our world, we need to be opened – “Ephphatha”—to hear His voice.
To hear the Lord’s call we need that quiet room in our lives, to be silent, to be still. That means we must clean out the clutter, not only from our rooms, but from our minds as well. To quiet ourselves means to have faith in knowing Our Lord already knows what is in our hearts and He knows what we need.
Therefore, do not be afraid of silence. Listen to Our Lord. “Let His word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness,” said Pope Benedict XVI. (Pope Benedict XVI, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y.) In the Transfiguration, as Christ prayed, His face changed in appearance and His clothes were a dazzling white. He reveals to us the dignity and fullness of life that is meant to be ours. His love illuminates and envelops us, drawing us to embrace all that he has to give.
Like a butterfly breaking through its cocoon, God wants our beauty, our inner goodness, to come through us by the way we live and treat one another, friend and stranger alike. Just as a new butterfly pumps blood to its wings in order to fly, we need God’s strength pumping in our souls in order to live the way God wants us to live to bring beauty into our world. Therefore, do not be afraid. Let us use our time in this world to spread our wings and rise in holiness.
May each of us be open to the Word of the Lord and may those Words transform our lives and give us the grace to be Christ-like in our daily living so that our world becomes a better place. Amen.
In Darkness There is Light
“Do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19)
“If the Holy Eucharist is a mystery of faith which so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for sheer abandonment to the word of God,” then the Blessed Mother is our guide and support in acquiring this disposition, according to St. John Paul II’s encyclical on the Eucharist. (On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church, Encyclical Letter of John Paul II)
When the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the Most High overshadowed Mary, the Blessed Virgin conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of His body and blood, according to the encyclical. St. John Paul II went on to say that in essence, Mary became the first tabernacle. When Mary visited Elizabeth, Jesus allowed Himself to be adored by radiating His light through Mary.
And as Mary and Joseph presented baby Jesus in the Temple and later found 12-year-old Jesus speaking in the Temple, we find the Son of God in Church present in His “full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.” (On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church, Encyclical Letter of John Paul II) We too become living tabernacles when we receive the body and blood of Christ sacramentally in Holy Communion.
The Eucharist is about Christ’s eternal life within us, according to St. John Paul II. When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we unite with Jesus Christ and through Him, with Him and in Him, we unite with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
And as Mary accepted Christ into her body, when we accept the body and blood of Christ into our body, we also accept Mary’s call to trust and obey her Son without hesitation. (On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church, Encyclical Letter of John Paul II)
We will find in the Eucharistic mystery the courage and energy to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd, and to serve Him, according to St. John Paul II. We do a disservice to the Holy Eucharist if we do not allow its power to replenish our soul and strengthen our faith so that we can become more Christ-like in our daily lives.
What an incredible gift of love! Christ’s gift of the Holy Eucharist increases the gift of the Holy Spirit within each of us, according to St. John Paul II. With these gifts, we are called to share the light of Christ as Our Lady did in her lifetime; we do so in memory of Him. As St. John Paul II said: “All those who partake of His Banquet with dignity become living instruments of His presence of love, mercy and peace.”(Pope John Paul II, Basilica of St .John Lateran, June 10, 2004)
Help each of us to embrace our God-given dignity by becoming living instruments of Our Lord’s presence of love, mercy, and peace. Amen.
is Our Faith?
“Watch and pray that you may
not undergo the test.” (Mark 14:38)
The Joyful and Luminous mysteries prepare us for the Sorrowful
mysteries. We learn about obedience and acceptance of God’s will even when we do not fully understand His plan for our lives. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus encounters “all the temptations and confronts all the sins of humanity, in order to say to the Father: ‘Not my will but yours be done’” [Lk 22:42]. (Rosarium Virginis Mariae; On the Most Holy Rosary; Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 2002)
Mary’s yes at the Annunciation gives us the Hope of eternal life in paradise and Christ’s “Yes” in the Garden of Gethsemane “reverses the ‘No’ of our first parents in the Garden of Eden.” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae; On the Most Holy Rosary; Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 2002) As we saw Christ’s preparation in the Joyful and Luminous mysteries to take away the sins of the world, we see Christ prepare Himself again in His agony in the garden.
“Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me…” (Mark 14:36) Yes, Jesus the man, clinging to His rock in the garden, was frightened and yet He remained steady in His faithfulness to His Father’s will. Remember: God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to save it. Through His agony and passion, He laid out the path to Heaven for every human being ever to live.
We also see that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41) among Christ’s followers. His disciples are unable to stay alert, to keep watch at His request as He prayed. However, Christ was not alone in His agony, putting Himself completely in God’s hands. “And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.”(Luke 22:43)
Each one of us knows the meaning of despair especially when we face a calamity beyond our control. We feel powerless and we find it difficult to see dignity in that powerlessness. Do we run away from Our Lord like the disciples; or do we pray for a change of heart? Do we pray for an increase in faith, hope, and love to unite with Jesus as we face our pain and suffering?
God understands our fears. He calls on us to draw closer to Him through prayer particularly in our hour of need. Like Christ, we should pray and we can ask that our cup pass from us if it is God’s will, not ours. Then like Christ, we must follow God’s will wherever it takes us. He will give us the strength, the hope, and the love to face whatever test of faith comes our way.
Heavenly Mother, in our hour of darkness, help us to turn to Our Lord and accept His will even as we suffer. Amen.
Dark Night of the Soul
“My kingdom is not here.” (John 18:36)
In the Joyful and Luminous mysteries, we see the Messianic mission of selfless love and forgiveness unfold as God, through the loving consent and self-offering of Mary, sends His only Son into the world to save humanity. In the Sorrowful mysteries, the Son of Man is handed over to His enemies to face unimaginable suffering.
Surrounded by hate, Christ could have overcome His adversaries and returned to His Kingdom, leaving humanity behind. Instead Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sake. From the beginning, His purpose—to take on the sins of the world—is for our redemption. “For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.”(54 Romans 5:19)
The scorn, the scourging, the great pain and suffering, Christ endured it all and He responded with faith, hope, and merciful love. We are called to do the same. In the dark night of our soul, we will be tested and tried. How we handle life’s adversities is the choice we will all face. If we choose not to follow Christ’s example, we risk closing ourselves off from God and all the love He has to offer.
Granted, no one wants to suffer—Christ did not want to suffer—but suffering is part of life in this world. We need to remind ourselves that whatever we endure in our earthly lifetime is only temporary and how we choose to respond will determine where we will live for all eternity. May we choose the Way, the Truth, and the Life that leads to Christ’s Kingdom.
May faith, hope, and love guide each of us in our darkest moments and give us the grace and dignity of Christ to forgive those who persecute and hurt us. Amen.
Thorns in Life
“I find no guilt in him…Behold, the man!” (John 19:4-5)
In the Joyful mysteries, we are called to celebrate because a Savior has been born. In the Luminous mysteries, our Savior tells us to believe in the Gospel and repent so that our sins can be for- given. In the Sorrowful mysteries, we see that sins cut deep into Our Lord’s flesh.
With a crown of thorns digging into His scalp, Christ was mocked, struck repeatedly, and suffered for the sins of the world. Do we really appreciate what Jesus went through for our sake? Do we fully understand why He chose to go through such agonizing pain for us?
Be careful not to answer “yes” too quickly because if we really appreciate and understand what Jesus endured for us we would never sin. We would never give into temptation. The fact is we do sin. No matter how small the infraction, our sins cut deep. Sin is a rejection of all that Our Lord has to give to us—the grace to live a holy life, the mercy to forgive our sins, and the love that will last for all eternity.
In our world, we see what sin does to innocence just as we see what the scourging, the crowning of thorns, and the beating did to Jesus who was innocent, even in the eyes of Pontius Pilate who gave in to public pressure. To behold Jesus in His suffering is to realize He endured it all out of love for us and for the sake of our salvation. To alleviate His suffering we must listen to Him and do whatever He tells us, and that is to go and sin no more.
Give us the strength to avoid sin and the courage to live a life that alleviates the suffering of Our Lord. Amen.
How We Stumble
“Do not weep for me; weep instead
for yourselves and your children.” (Luke 23:28)
“We all have crosses to bear” is the saying we hear when times are tough, but such words are not always comforting depending on the size of the cross. Who knows why some crosses are greater than others? The very thought of bearing one causes many to turn away from God, and yet we are called to do more than carry our cross.
God calls us to embrace our cross on our spiritual journey just as Jesus embraced the cross and just as Mary embraced Her Son’s journey to His crucifixion. Will we emulate Jesus and Mary with courage and dignity when we face our cross?
They embraced their burdens because they knew the purpose. As Simeon said to Mary at the Presentation, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many…” (Luke 2:34) And it was Jesus who said: “Rise, and do not be afraid” (Matthew 17:7) to the Apostles who saw Him in His Glory at the Transfiguration. We should not be afraid to unite ourselves with Christ in joy and in sorrow because it is for this unity that Christ came into the world and in this unity we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
By embracing the cross, Jesus embraced all of us with all our troubles, our worries, our sins. He carried us all on His journey toward Heaven. He stumbled, He fell, and needed help carrying His cross. However, Christ did not give up and neither did Mary. They did not give up on humanity. Jesus, with Mary’s support, made all things new. In doing so, Christ looked beyond His own pain and suffering to give us mercy.
Each one of us will face the cross. Each one of us has burdens to bear—illness, loss of a loved one, tragic events, abuse, addictions, and uncontrollable circumstances. In unity with Christ, these burdens—no matter how large—will not defeat us. What’s more, with Christ we have the ability to look beyond our own trials and tribulations and use our suffering to help others in need; by sharing the grace of mercy, we discover consolation and dignity when all else is bleak.
True, we will stumble and likely fall, but we will receive the help we need to carry on. With Our Lord’s grace and Mary by our side, we will not fail on our spiritual journey. By embracing Jesus, we too can help make all things new and help others on the path to Heaven.
May we have the courage to look beyond our own troubles to help those in greater need than ourselves and when our troubles overwhelm us, may we have the faith to trust the Lord’s loving mercy. Amen.
The Day’s Darkness
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) To save us from hell, Christ made the ultimate sacrifice—He laid down His life for us. Giving us His body, blood, soul, and divinity, as He did in the Luminous mysteries and in His passion and crucifixion on the cross, He gives us everything we need to make our journey to the Father’s House— Heaven.
There are many ways we can lay down our life—if not literally—to make our world a better place. From His cross, Christ gave us mercy when He said: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) He gave us hope when He said to the repentant criminal “today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) He gave us love when He gave us Mary to be our Mother, and He gave us faith when He said “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
We are asked to do the same—to respond to life’s adversities with faith, hope, and merciful love. We really do not know what we are fully capable of doing until we give ourselves up to God. In essence, we must die to ourselves. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it just remains a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24) In order to live as God wants us to live, we cannot cling to life as we know it.
Now is the time “to convert to the love of God and neighbor; a love that knows how to make its own the Lord’s attitude of gratuitousness and mercy” – and “… to invoke with special trust the protection and help of the Virgin Mary: may she, who was the first to believe in Christ, accompany us in our days of intense prayer and penance, so that we might come to celebrate, purified and renewed in spirit, the great Paschal mystery of her Son,” said Pope Francis. (Pope Francis, General Audience, St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, 5 March 2014)
We can achieve this conversion by not becoming self- centered, complacent, and accepting of the evils that permeate our society and want us to believe that God is irrelevant in our daily lives. We see darkness in the world – selfishness, greed, immorality, violence, fraud, and corruption. In this darkness, we are desensitized and led to believe that we cannot change our lives and world for the better because the odds are against us.
Christ brings us out of that darkness. “The sorrowful mysteries help the believer…to stand at the foot of the Cross beside Mary, to enter with her into the depths of God’s love for man and to experience all its life-giving power.” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae; On the Most Holy Rosary; Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, 2002) Jesus came into the world and sacrificed Himself to show us how to live and to make our world a better place when we put our faith, hope, love, and trust in God’s hands.
In unity with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, may each of us be given the strength to lay down our life as we know it to stand with dignity, perseverance, and fortitude in the face of fear, distrust, and evil; and may we meet every challenge with faith, hope, and love to make our lives and our world a better place. Amen.
Path to a Better Life
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)
The Resurrection of Christ is the fulfillment of promises made by God; it is a confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings [cf. CCC 651]; and Christ opens for us the pathway to a new life [cf. CCC 654].
Therefore, why do we oftentimes seek fulfillment in life through ways that compromise our dignity and lead to sin—sins of the flesh, of selfishness, greed, lust, envy, jealousy, etc.? Why do we seek fulfillment in ways that take us further from God, instead of closer to Him?
Instead of living just for ourselves, Christ shows us how to live for the Glory of God. The Joyful, Luminous, and Sorrowful mysteries teach us the meaning of selfless love and show us the graces we need to keep the promises we are called to make for the sake of God and humanity. Each time we attend Mass, we make a promise. Each time we receive Communion, we make a promise. Each time we go to confession, we make a promise. Do we keep those promises?
In the Glorious mysteries, we see our responsibilities and what our future holds when we decide to keep our promises— promises of faith, hope, and love. The choice is ours to make. To choose the path in life that is according to God’s plan or to choose the path that will lead us astray. If we choose the path to a new life, we will never be alone in living that life. Christ promised—confirmed by the Resurrection—to be with us always, giving us His body, blood, soul, and divinity.
To be filled with God’s graces, just as Mary was filled, we will no longer live for ourselves but for Him who for our sake died and was raised [cf. CCC 655]. With God’s grace of the Holy Spirit, we can move forward on Christ’s path with Mary’s maternal guidance, bringing us and our world closer to Heaven.
May we never doubt Our Lord’s presence in our lives and may we always practice the presence of God in our daily living. Amen.
“At the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33)
“Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand” [cf. CCC 659]. In keeping with His promises at the Last Supper, Christ prepares a place for each of us in His Father’s Kingdom, giving us the hope of eternal life.
Let us recall in the Joyful mysteries when Mary and Joseph found young Jesus in the Temple. “Did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?” said Jesus. With the Ascension, Christ gives us access to His Father’s house and at the same time, Christ dwells on earth in His Church. Each with the express purpose of raising us up in holiness.
Christ was raised up on a cross for our sins and following His Resurrection, He was raised to Heaven for our salvation. “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:32) Left to our own resources, we are incapable of rising to Heaven for it is only through Christ can we reach the Father’s Kingdom and through Christ we are assured of the “permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” [CCC 667]
With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can rise in holiness in our ordinary living. As Pope Francis explains: “Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain.” (Gaudete et Exsultate; On the Call to Holiness, Pope Francis)
These practices, all of which we do in preparation for the second coming of Our Lord, will give us a better life than what we have. Then when the time comes, we too will take the place that Our Lord has prepared for each of us in Heaven.
Protect us from spiritual stagnation and give us the strength to pray and do good works each and every day. Amen.
A Spiritual View
“Receive the holy Spirit.”(John 20:22)
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you…Receive the holy Spirit,” (John 20:21-22) said Jesus to his Disciples. Like the first Disciples of Christ, we have a mission in life and like the first Disciples, Our Lord does not send us out alone.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed— God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (CCC 732) As the Father sent the Son into the world for our salvation, the Son pours out the Holy Spirit which comes from the Father—all for the sake of love. This glorious gift of love is ours for the keeping and for the sharing—that is our mission.
Christ calls on us to receive the Holy Spirit. With this gift of love, we also receive wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear – wonder – of the Lord [cf. CCC 1831] to guide us in our daily lives and work. How else can the first fruits of eternal glory (charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self- control, and chastity [cf. CCC 1832]) form in us? The grace of the Holy Spirit gives us dignity in our minds, hearts, and souls as loving children of God.
As we share in these gifts and fruits of God’s love, we make a promise—to live the way of the Lord—to become vessels for His use in the world. By doing so, we live less for ourselves and more for the glory of God—not out of an obligation, but as an act of selfless love. We realize our own littleness and limitations and discover the greatness of God—truly overwhelming, but certainly not meant to discourage our efforts.
Rather, we experience our own transformation into children of light—the children of God. With this transformation, we are able to see our purpose which is to love as God has loved us. We are able to understand what it means to be Christ-like and to see Christ in others. We are able to recognize the graces of God’s Spirit that give us the strength to follow Christ’s way of the cross—willingly.
Should we ever stumble, we have Mary, the Blessed Mother, to support us and to guide us because Mary lived in perfect unity with the Holy Trinity. Mary’s entire human existence was a mission of love. By the power of Mary’s motherly intercession, may our lives be transformed into a mission of sharing God’s love.
May the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit guide us in every aspect and at every twist and turn of our lives. Amen.
On Angel’s Wings
Free from all sin, “when the course of her earthly life was finished [Mary] was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory…” [CCC 966]. Our Blessed Mother’s assumption into Heaven signifies the desire God has for all of us—to join Him body and soul in Heaven for all eternity. To do so, we must preserve the dignity of our soul.
Christ gives us His mother to help us discover and preserve that dignity. Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity for every person in search of salvation. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.” (Lumen gentium)
Mary is the dispenser of God’s graces—the grace that led Mary to say yes at the Annunciation; the grace to take on the role of intercessor; and the grace to remain unwavering in her faith at the foot of her Son’s cross. Such grace can help us preserve the dignity of our soul as we journey through life’s challenges and travails.
Truly, to preserve our dignity, our souls require daily tending so that the Holy Spirit can take root within us, giving us what we need to blossom into holy children of God. Mary blossomed.
Being born without original sin, one would think Mary had already reached the pinnacle of holiness. Yet, through the mysteries of the Rosary, we see that she was raised higher and higher in holiness during her earthly lifetime to ultimately being assumed body and soul into Heaven where she is Queen of the Most Holy.
Mary continues to spread her strength and beauty today through all who pray to her for guidance and help. Yes, prayer—it sustains us like the rains that nourish the grounds where flowers bloom, trees bear fruit, and wheat grows tall. With the proper care of our souls, we can beautify this world with faith, hope, and charity. With God in our hearts, we can do what the devil cannot—we can turn a wasteland into a garden. With God in our souls, we can be raised higher and higher in holiness on earth and ultimately into the Kingdom of Heaven.
With the help of our Blessed Mother’s intercession, may we embrace our God-given responsibility to share our faith, our hope, and our love with friend, foe, and stranger. Amen.
Mother Most Pure
“May the Almighty Lord bless you forever!” (Judith 15:10)
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Revelation 12:1) Our Lady of the Rosary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, and mother to us all, Mary shares in her Son’s work of our redemption. Intercessor, comforter, helper as well as our life, our sweetness, and our hope, Mary takes on these roles to help us reach our salvation, which includes urging us to pray the Rosary.
The Rosary is derived from the Latin word “Rosarium” which means “a rose garden.” When we explore the mysteries of the Rosary, we see a dichotomy, or perhaps a union of opposites, that is clearly evident in a garden of roses as well as in life itself. The rose blossoms give us the beauty of life and hope, while their thorns inject pain and suffering. Through the Rosary, we see the pain and suffering endured by Jesus and Mary for us while still possessing the hope of the Resurrection and the promise of eternal life in paradise.
Truly, Mary reaches out to us in this garden—in life—to draw us close to her Son so that we may share in the divine hope and promise of salvation. As St. Louis de Montfort said Mary takes the faithful by hand, steadies when we are liable to stumble, and helps us to rise when we have fallen (derived from the quotation in paragraph 209 of St. Louis de Monfort’s True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin).
All pure and good—Mary, the Mother of Hope, spent her earthly lifetime sharing the Lord’s love with those in search of salvation and our Blessed Mother continues that sharing so that we can flourish in the life God wants us to have—free from sin. Therefore, the Queen of the Rosary calls on us to pray, especially the Rosary, to amend our lives and ask pardon for our sins. Like a rose’s thorns, sin injects pain and suffering into our lives and in Our Lord. Just as Mary shared in the suffering of her Son’s passion and crucifixion, Our Lady continues to share in His pain caused by our offenses.
Despite the thorns, we are drawn to a rose’s bloom. Despite our sins, Mary draws us close for a deeper understanding and greater glory of the Holy Trinity (derived from paragraph 50e of St. Louis de Monfort’s True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin) . With that, we gain the knowledge and the dignity of the Lord’s love in order to share in the beauty that living in unity with the Holy Trinity can offer as well as to eliminate sin—those self-inflicted thorns.
Therefore, let us reflect on the mysteries of the Rosary and follow the examples of Jesus and Mary, so that the fullness of truth, charity, kindness, compassion, respect, generosity, gentleness, patience, peace, joy, modesty, humility, self-sacrifice, and faithfulness can be poured into our souls and poured out through our daily lives. By bringing forth such beauty into our world, we can be flowering examples of God’s love and mercy, and share in the Lord’s work of redemption to keep the hope and promise of salvation—and eternal joy—alive.
Heavenly Mother, you gave us your Son for our salvation. May our faith in Him never diminish. Thank you, dear Lady for all that you have done. Amen.