Sunday, June 8, 2014
Our Lady of Conquering Love
At Calvary, where Jesus conquered sin, the flesh, the devil, death and all of hell, Mary was given to us to be our Mother. In His last moments Jesus shared His love for Mary with us that we might love her too and entrust ourselves to her care just as He did. It is a love upon which He bestows boundless blessing.
Mary is not a passive woman, nor a pushy, aggressive one either. This is the valiant woman par excellence, who is as active a mother in the world today as she was when she mothered all those Jesus gave to her care during His hidden life, His public ministry, and in the early Church as it struggled through persecution to establish itself and evangelize the world.
One of the great stories of Our Lady's care for us, from our recent history, comes to us from the Philippines. The Philippines is a poor country, and the trials and sufferings of its people are immense. At the same time the people have a vibrant, living faith that freely expresses itself in their culture.
During the 1980s, after having suffered for 20 years under the corrupt, oppressive, authoritarian regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, the Archbishop of Manila and spiritual leader of Asia, Jaime Cardinal Sin, called for a Marian year. People attended Rosary rallies, processions and special Masses by the millions, imploring Our Blessed Mother's help.
At end of the year (1986), the people, including Priests and Religious, took to the streets, again by the millions, praying, carrying banners, and demanding that Marcos step down. Marcos responded by sending tanks into the streets and ordering his soldiers to fire upon the crowds. The soldiers looked into their gun sights to take aim but saw images of Our Lady everywhere. They could not, would not fire. In the end Marcos was airlifted out of the country and democracy was restored.
This was an unheard of thing, a completely bloodless, nonviolent revolution. Secular media called it the People Power Revolution. The Spanish of another era, here in our own country, would have called it the work of La Conquistadora, Our Lady of Conquering Love! And the Filippinos themselves know where the real victory came from.
Blessed Pope John Paul II took his cue from the events in the Philippines and called for a Marian year for the whole world from June 7 (Pentecost), 1987 to August 15 (the Assumption), 1988. Following the close of the world-wide Marian year, the Iron Curtain fell, and shortly thereafter the Soviet bloc disintegrated, all to the utter astonishment of the secular press.
Coincidence? Don't believe it! They say the most common word heard on the battlefield is "mother". But this is the Mother we need in the battles we fight today. We are all her children and she is ready to help any who approach her.
Praying the rosary, asking Mary's intercession, and honoring her in different ways has so much more efficacy and meaning when we know and understand her as she really is. Mary is more favored, has a richer personality, more gifts, deeper emotions, greater wisdom, profounder graces, more sensitive, loving virtue, and a more heavenly human beauty than anyone who ever was or ever will be born, aside from Jesus himself. No one sways the heart of God nor reaches it as quickly as she does. And no one aside from God Himself loves us as much as she does!
She is ours! This is who God has given us to be our Mother, the very one He singled out and prepared for Himself. This is the woman of unshakable faith in the midst of suffering and sorrows we will never even remotely comprehend or appreciate. This is a woman of invincible charity, hope and courage, who comes up from the desert like an army in battle array and crushes the head of the ancient enemy with her heel. Her humility, simplicity and modesty are more feared by the powers of darkness than the greatest preaching on earth! This is the soul so full of grace and light, and adorned with such great fruits that it alone ravishes the heart of God and causes Him to send floods of grace upon the whole world, beginning with the greatest gift of all, the sending of Jesus to be our Savior.
With grateful hearts, we ask Mary Our Mother, Our Lady of Conquering Love, to obtain for each of us the Light, charity and strength that routs the enemy, overcomes the immense dangers of our present existence, and helps us in peace to continue the work of building the Kingdom of God.
Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT
Saturday, June 7, 2014
The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Urgency of Divine Love
In 1673, Jesus began appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a humble nun of the Visitation Order, in Paray Le Monial, France. He revealed to her the tender wonders of His love for her, desiring through her to share these same wonders with the whole world.
In the course of His revelations to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus complained of our ingratitude. But His complaint was weighted with the sorrow of a lover who knows not what else He can do to gain the attention of his beloved, a beloved who is totally distracted and uncomprehending. In the great apparition which occurred sometime during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, 1675, He said, in what must have been an imploring spirit, "Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love.”
We should ask ourselves: What is it we behold, what is it we see, when we look at the Heart of Christ? What is Jesus trying so hard to show us?
It is interesting that Jesus says: "Behold the heart," and not: "Behold My heart." Jesus, in His Incarnation, comes to reveal the Father to us. Scripture says Jesus "is the image of the invisible God." (Col 1:15) He tells the Apostles: "If you see Me, you see the Father." (Jn 14:9)
So is He not really saying: "Behold the Heart...which is the Heart of the Father. If you only knew the depths of His love!” ?
One of the most compelling revelations of the Heart of God in Scripture is found in the father of the prodigal son. The younger son, returning home after losing everything, though genuinely repentant, is in survival mode. He approaches the father completely broken by his own sinful choices. He has utterly spurned his father's love and squandered every gift that has been given to him.
Yet the love in the heart of the father who has been anxiously watching and praying for his son's return sees only that his son is back. And though the son has no real expectations, other than to be treated as a slave, the father's response instead is an explosion of love! He orders the best robe, a ring for his finger, sandals for his feet, and the commencement of a feast! His heart has no other response. Not anger, not judgment, not punishment. Only rejoicing, tearful embraces, and celebration! Perhaps we are sometimes held back from approaching or returning to our Father, because we have the same poor expectations as the prodigal son did. Our defective appreciation of God's love only harms us!
The sufferings of our lives, especially those that come from our sinful choices, wound our hearts and often plunge us into our own little hells on earth. But the Wound in the Heart of Christ, which we caused, is different. It is a gateway into the Father's love. Entering that Wound takes us on our first steps into Heaven.
Witness the promises of Jesus to those who recognize His love, the Father's love, and seek to live in the Heart that is the source of that love. These promises were given to St. Margaret Mary as part of the revelations of Divine Love and are made to those who are devoted to Jesus' Sacred Heart:
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
Does that not already sound like Heaven begun on earth? Isn't that what we're seeking?
But there's even more. Poor as we really are, and we are all poor in the presence of God, just as stripped as the prodigal son, we have the possibility of being able to bring joy and consolation to the Heart of Jesus, to the Heart of the Father, by returning to Him, by remembering Him in the ways He asks above. This helps repair, in some mysterious and superabundant way, the hurt Jesus feels, the hurt the Father feels, over the indifference and ingratitude of the vast majority of men. When we behold the Heart that has loved us so, these are small requests. But fulfilling them can transform our lives. And at the end of our lives, these practices will safely lead us through the Wound of Divine Love into the glory of Eternity.
Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT
May 3, 2014