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January 23rd, 2012

Birth of Mother Mary

Birth of Mother Mary

Bible speaks little of the Mother of God but tradition gives valuable information. We know very little about Miriam of Nazareth as an actual historic person. In this she is in solidarity with the multitudes of people through the centuries especially poor women and men, whose lives are considered not worth recording. We must also be respectful of her historic difference from us in time and place.

Mary lived in Mediterranean rural village, Nazareth, whose population consisted largely of peasants working in the land and craftsmen who served their basic needs. Married to the local carpenter, she took care of the household. We do not find anything in the Gospels about the Birth of Virgin Mary. This is because the main focus has been completely centered on the person of Jesus Christ. The mystery of Christ and His two natures human and divine and His salvific mission, hence Mary was in oblivion.

Much of this knowledge of the circumstances in which we lived has resulted from the contemporary quest for the historical Jesus. But it serves us as well for the Miriam of Nazareth as a Jewish village women of faith. Mary walked by faith, not by sight. She has a relationship with God that was profound. In those days, people’s hope for the coming of the Messiah included in the hope that He would liberate the suffering poor from oppressive rule.

Unlike the birth of john the Baptist (Lk. 1:57-63) we find nothing in the Gospels concerning the birth of Mary. All the same we find in the proto Gospel of James that Ann and Joachim were her parents who were barren but in their old age gave birth to Mary. The feast “Birth of Mary” started in Jerusalem during the 5th century where according to tradition the house of Mary had been. The feast comes at a time when the fields are ready for harvest. So it is a time of rejoicing as they offer the first fruit to God. This is very significant in the light of the Word of the God “When the fullness of time came, God sent His son born of a women” (Gal. 4:4-6).

The description although in the manner of an apocryphal document obviously presents an important historical event about the Birth of the Mother of the Lord. The birth of Mary is ordained in particular toward her mission as Mother of the Saviour. Tradition, grounded on very old testimonies, informs us that Saints Joachim and Ann in their old age came from Galilee to settle in Jerusalem, and there Mary the Mother of God was Born. A Church was built during the 4th century, possibly by Saint Helena, on the sight of the house of saints Joachim and Ann in Jerusalem.

The origin of this Feast sought in Palestine. It goes back to the consecration of a Church in Jerusalem, which tradition identifies as that of the present basilica of St. Ann. At Rome, the Feast began to be celebrated towards the end of the 7th century, brought there by Eastern monks, Gradually and varied ways it spread to the other parts of the west in the centuries that followed. From the 13th century on the feast drew notable importance and celebrated with solemnity on different dates from place to place.

For some centuries now, the Birth of Mary has been assigned to September 8 both in the East and West. However, when the feast of the Immaculate Conception (which has a later origin than that of the birth) was extended to the whole Church the Birth of Mary slowly and steadily assigned everywhere to September 8 – nine months after the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

Read the following 2 articles that tells more about the birth of Mother Mary:

Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary – September 08

Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary

If many “will rejoice” at the Birth of the precursor (Lk. 1:14) a much greater joy is stirred up by the BIRTH of the MOTHER of the savior. Hence, this is a Feast that serves as a prelude to the “joy to all people” brought about by the Birth of the son of God at Christmas and expressed by the singing of hymns and carols. Added to this joy on this MARIAN FEAST is that of light because with MARY’S BIRTH the darkness is dispersed and there raises in the world a dawn that announces the sun of justice, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Mary – Queen – as the daughter of the Father, Mother of the son, and bride of the Holy Spirit, Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven and earth by the Triune God. As we celebrate the Birthday of our Heavenly Mother, let’s pray that she may continue interceding for us.

– – – written by Bro. Mathew Perunilam

November 6th, 2011

Mary’s Faith : A Model For The Church

Mary’s Faith : Model For The Church

God can work miracles only as strong and as big as our faith is!

Faith is a personal adherence of human being to God. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). By faith, one completely submits one’s intellect and will to God. With one’s whole being, one gives one’s assent to God. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God “the obedience of faith.” (Cf. Rom.1:5; 16:26). The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith.

Mary’s Faith

At the event of the Visitation, Elizabeth praised Mary for Her faith: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk. 1:45). Mary lived, acted, and moved always in the ambit of faith. From the Annunciation to the Cross, Mary always assented with the same obedience of faith to all revelation, to all the designs of God. Every moment of her life was an invitation to act on her faith. God can work miracles only as strong and as big as our faith is and as a fruit of her obedience, she in turn, deepened her faith. That is why we can truly say that Mary had a pilgrimage of faith from the Annunciation to Her Assumption, and that this pilgrimage climaxed on Calvary.

At the moment of the Annunciation, Mary was presented with two different and amazing revelations: first, that she was full of grace, and second, that she was being chosen to receive the greatest invitation a creature had ever received – to become the virgin mother of the Messiah, the Son of God. This conception was to be accomplished by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, a miracle! It is something impossible for men, but not for God. It was precisely this human impossibility and this divine possibility that called Mary to open totally to the gift of faith – and she believed in her God, a God that could do that kind of miracle, a God that chose His lowliest servant for such a dignified and exalted vocation and mission.

St. Augustine said that “Mary first conceived in her heart by faith and then in her womb.” Mary’s response, “may it be done to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38), is a sign of her full assent to the will of God, to the revelation received, to her role in this redemptive mission. Only a heart full of faith like Mary’s can give that kind of assent to such a vocation and to all the unexpected events that would form that reality – a series of events that were far beyond human intelligence or human calculations.

Many times the external appearances of situations could have seemed enough to prove false her faith. It was precisely at these moments when Mary “kept all things in her heart” (Lk. 2:51), allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten, to strengthen and to deepen her faith. This reverent act of Mary of keeping all things in her heart, especially those she did not fully understand, was an honest search for the hidden sense of the events that she knew by faith must exist, since the Lord could have never abandoned or misled her.

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, ‘Lumen Gentium,’ presents Mary on a journey, on an itinerary of faith that was manifested in all the different stages she lived during her earthly life. In this document we read: “Embracing God’s salvific will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son, under Him and with Him, by the grace of almighty God, serving the mystery of Redemption … freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience” (No.56).

Mary’s faith did not only sustain her life, but it gave abundant fruit for our redemption since, as ‘Lumen Gentium’ describes, by her faith, Mary freely and fully cooperated in the work of human salvation. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she, being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith. (No. 56).

Mary at the Foot of the Cross

Standing by the foot of the Cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’ssister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother: ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to his disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn. 19:25).

St. John, in this passage, wants to exalt Mary’s faith by presenting two elements in reference to this event: First, Mary’s presence at the foot of the Cross. It is precisely at this place where the faith of the disciples and, logically, Mary’s faith, is put to the hardest test. Her presence manifests her fidelity, her constant abandonment to the designs of the Lord’s will, and a faith that is undiminished, unchanged and unaltered even in the darkest hours.

Second, in the words of Jesus, “Behold your son,” Mary is invited to expand the horizon of her faith and the understanding of her role, since her motherhood is now moving beyond her dying son; it has been extended to the reality of a spiritual maternity for all the children of God. This last will of Jesus on the Cross became, for Mary, a new annunciation of a conception and birth: The Church.

Dimensions of Mary’s Fidelity

One of the titles attributed to the Virgin Mary is that of Faithful Virgin. Mary’s faithfulness has different dimensions. The first dimension is called search. Mary was faithful first of all when she began, lovingly, to seek the deep sense of God’s plan in her and for the world. She asked the Angel of the Annunciation: “How shall this be?” There will not be faithfulness if it is not rooted in this ardent, patient, and generous search; if there is not in man’s heart a question to which only God gives an answer, or rather, to which only God is the answer.

The second dimension of faithfulness is called reception, acceptance. The ‘How shall this be?’ is changed, on Mary’s lips, to a ‘fiat’. Let it be done; I am ready; I accept. This is the crucial moment of faithfulness, the moment in which man perceives that he will never completely understand the “how”; that there are in God’s plan more areas of mystery than of clarity; that, however he may try, he will never succeed in understanding it completely. It is then that one accepts the mystery, gives it a place in one’s heart with the availability of one who opens up to be inhabited by something—by Someone!—greater than his own heart.

The third dimension of faithfulness is constancy. It is easy to be consistent for a day or two. It is difficult and important to be consistent for one’s whole life. It is easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm; it is difficult to be so in the hour of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole of life can be called faithfulness. Mary’s faith was constant, not only present in the times of “apparent glory” when Her Son was performing miracles and had many disciples that believed in Him; it was just as strong when there was no “apparent glory,” when there were no supernatural manifestations or happenings to attract attention, and even when there were not that many disciples to believe – except one, the one that was with her at the foot of the Cross.

The same faith that Mary had at the birth of her Son was the one she had at the Cross. It required much faith to have in her arms that defenseless baby, and to put him in the manger and believe that He was the God-man. It also required much faith to see her Son totally disfigured and defenseless on the Cross, waiting for him to be placed in her arms, to then be put in the sepulcher. Her faith allowed her to continue to believe that, regardless of what appeared to be, He was the God-man.

Mary’s faith was a perfect one. Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus, her son, died on the cross, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God’s word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith. In Cana Jesus proclaimed that it was not his “hour,” and Mary’s faith and intercession, manifested in the form of a petition, achieved the first miracle, the miracle of the wine. At the Cross, when it was in fact Jesus’ Hour, Mary’s faith and intercession, now manifested in silence, also witnessed the outpouring of the new wine, the blood of Her Son being shed for our salvation, to quench our thirst for God and His divine life.

Mary’s faith is a model for the Church: just like Mary, the Church has her own itinerary and her own journey to travel. It is Mary’s faith that will teach the Church to be faithful, undivided, perseverant and trustful in times of glory and in times of suffering.

In these times, marked by a spirit of unbelief, secularization and materialism, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the same faith of Mary’s Heart, so as to be able to stand with her at the foot of the Cross infidelity to her Son and His teachings.

– – – written by Fr. Vincent Korandiarkunnel OSB

September 17th, 2011

Mary, The Mystical Rose

Mary The Mystical Rose

Mary is the mother of the Church and she will remain so until her son returns in glory.

Mary is the mystical Rose. She lets Castilian Roses to bloom in winter. She is the Rose of Sharon. She is the enclosed garden and the sealed fountain. She is the mother of God. Why is Mary so unique? There is no other human being other than Mary who is so much united with the mysteries of Jesus in such a profound way.

Mary said “Yes” to the plan for human redemption. She carried God in her womb for nine months. Her Son is true man and true God. We all have 46 chromosomes and half comes from our father and half from our mother. Jesus is true man because of Mary. Jesus is true God because he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary, the virgin, gave birth to Jesus. She therefore brought God to earth. We have Jesus because of Mary. God called her the blessed woman full of graces. She endured the humiliation at Bethlehem, the flight to Egypt, and the poverty at Nazareth to bring up her son. She fed him, bathed him and clothed him. Jesus submitted to Mary, the human, for thirty years. He obeyed her in every thing.

Mary initiated the public ministry of Christ. It was not his time. He kept aside his heavenly plan in total obedience to his mother, and started his ministry earlier than scheduled at Cana. It was not his time but he broke the heavenly protocol at the request of Mary and turned water into wine. God often breaks protocols at the request of Mary. Mary is still his mother.

Mary suffered with Christ. When they flogged him, spat upon him and abused him, the mother took those shames in silence. She was at the foot of the cross. Peter fled. Thomas fled. Andrew fled. Mary stayed at the foot of the cross. She saw the death of her son. She accepted the whole humanity as her children at the foot of the cross. The Church was born again through Mary at the foot of the cross when Jesus said, “Behold your son, and behold your mother”. We are the children of Mary and Mary is our mother.

Mary saw the risen Christ and the ascending Christ. Mary received the Holy Spirit at the upper room on the day of Pentecost. She was an early evangelist with her adopted son John, the evangelist.

There is no human being in the whole history who is equivalent to Mary. She conceived God in her womb. She brought God to the world. She brought up God’s son by her toils. She inaugurated the public ministry of Christ. She suffered with Christ in his passion. She stood at the foot of the cross and saw the redemption of man kind unfolding in the sorrows of crucifixion.

She birthed the church at the foot of the cross when she accepted John as her son. She saw the promise of resurrection. She saw the arrival of her eternal spouse, the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. She approved the works of Peter.

Read the article Why Pray To Virgin Mary and enter your comments.

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