Ave Maria, Gratia plena!

This blog is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is my hope that all Christians who visit this site - Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or evangelical - will be encouraged, filled with joy but also challenged by the fact that they have not just a Father, but a Mother in Heaven.

For all who are seeking the deepest possible intimacy with God, with our Lord Jesus Christ, may we look nowhere else, in the end, than the one human being who has, since the Incarnation of Christ, experienced the most superlative closeness - physically and spiritually - to God-in-human-flesh. She is the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of Jesus Christ herself: the Daughter of God the Father, the Spouse of God the Holy Spirit, and the Mother of God the Son.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

After nearly a year of inactivity, something to share

Mary is the Mother of Divine Mercy - the vessel through whom infinite Mercy took human flesh and was offered to the whole world.

Mother of Divine Mercy, pray for all the world that all souls may know how much you are to be loved: if people of all faiths would only come to know something of God's mercy through your universal intercession, how much more beautiful our world would be!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another little-known fact that shows Mary's wisdom and foreknowledge

It is well-known that Our Lady of Fatima first mentioned that she would ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart in 1917, even before the Bolsheviks seized power that year in the weeks following the Miracle of the Sun of October 13.

This is, after all, the "second secret of Fatima" which Our Lady gave to the little visionaries Lucia Santos and Jacinta Marto in her third apparition to them on July 13, 1917:

You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light*, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.

What is far less known is that just as the apparitions of 1917 were very appropriately timed, so too was Our Lady's eventual request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. It happened on June 13, 1929, when Our Lady appeared to Lucia, now Sister Lucia of the Dorothean nuns, when she had just relocated to the Spanish city of Tuy: http://www.fatima.org/essentials/facts/tuy.asp

In fact, as any historian of Russian history would tell you, the year 1929, not 1917, marked the true start of the Communist revolution for the vast majority of the population of the then-young Soviet Union. For it was in that year that, having fully consolidated his power in the major cities of Moscow and Leningrad, Joseph Stalin began his brutal campaign of agricultural collectivization of the Soviet countryside. Within 10 years, the landscape of the whole swathe of the world's largest nation was transformed, typically with the cruelest repression, to make the USSR the evil empire that would terrorize the world for the next half-century.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Protect me, Mother Mary

Surely you know how desperately I need your assistance. And surely you are capable - for the legions of angels that were created specifically to attend to your purity from the moment of your Immaculate Conception can also aid your poor, sinful little children, can they not?

Help me! I am so constantly and quickly engulfed by the filth of this earth and my own sinful nature - help me!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

May the Immaculate Heart triumph!

Constant refuge of poor sinners, sweet consolation of broken and contrite hearts, tenderest mercy for the spiritually helpless. . . Mother Mary, your Immaculate Heart shall indeed triumph in the end, as you declared back in 1917!

Where there is strife, where there is opposition to the will of God, may your Immaculate Heart's intercession pierce through the darkness, to reveal the abyss of mercy into which all who seek the truth are invited to plunge.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

St. Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us!

One of my all-time favorites of Catholic Marian art: the virgin and martyr, St. Catherine of Alexandria (c. 282-305 AD) kneels before Madonna with Child to kiss the hand of Baby Jesus.

Not much is known for certain about St. Catherine, the namesake and forerunner of many holy and blessed women from Church history - St. Catherine of Siena, St. Catherine of Genoa, St. Catherine Laboure, to name just a few of the most popularly venerated. What's known for sure is that at the height of the Middle Ages, St. Catherine was the object of a particularly strong devotion, as one of the 14 "Holy Helpers" whose intercession was constantly invoked by the Church and her children. Like so many other hagiographies of the time period, that of St. Catherine is almost certainly the product of myth and legend overlaying the actual historical figure.

Nonetheless, it is now widely accepted that along with her fellow virgin-martyr, St. Margaret of Antioch, and St. Michael the Archangel, she appeared to St. Joan of Arc in the 1420s as one of that young girl's personal guides, to strengthen and prepare her for the humanly impossible task of turning the tides of the Hundred Years' War in France's favor.

Interestingly, veneration of St. Catherine was banned altogether in 1969, owing to lack of historical foundation, but was reinstated in 2002. It is now most commonly believed that while St. Catherine did in fact exist and was both virgin and martyr, the romantic details and elements of her life and heroic death were later additions which, though not exactly good history, served the important purpose of bolstering the faith of the masses who heard her story recounted. Like some of the other early martyrs, St. Catherine can be thought of as a Judith for the Catholic Church: an idealized figure for contemplation by the faithful, more so than an actual historic individual.

The "Catherine Wheel" remains a legendary device associated with her, and the St. Catherine Monastery which was named in her honor, in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, contains the oldest complete volume of the New Testament found anywhere in the world, dating back to the 6th century.
St. Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Immaculate Heart of Mary, be my constant refuge

Sweet Mother of God, you know the depths of the disorder and panic that can seize my heart all of a sudden, without warning, with the full consent and knowledge of my sinful nature, which so stubbornly clings to its own will and turns every small imperfection into a multitude of sins, one piled upon another, until I can see no way out of my mess. . .

Have mercy on me, O Most Precious Immaculate Heart of Mary, and be my immediate and sure help when I fall to my disordered thoughts, so that no sooner do I turn to you do I realize that I am already aligned with you - the sword that pierces you is the sword of my sin that pierces the living Word which your intercession has so painstakingly begun to plant within me.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for me! For the sake of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with whom you are intimately united with, and for the sake of Christ's sorrowful passion, have pity on me!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mother Mary, surely you can provide

My own eyes have begun to see the injustice against your suffering Son, the Savior and Lord of the human race. . .

He is poor, He is broken, He is hungry and desperately needy - and the world has all but abandoned Him.

Mother Mary, as surely as you live and reign in splendor with your Divine Son, open the doors through Holy Mother Church such that the desperate family I have been called to help will find relief and comfort, physical and spiritual, via your maternal intercession and the provision it leads the Catholic Church to miraculously create.