Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows
O.L. Vrouwekerk, Bruges
The Virgin Mary, who believed in the word of the Lord, did not lose her faith in God when she saw her Son rejected, abused and crucified. Rather she remained beside Jesus, suffering and praying, until the end. And she saw the radiant dawn of His Resurrection. Let us learn from her to witness to ourfaith with a life of humble service, ready to personally pay the price ofstaying faithful to the Gospel of love and truth, certain that nothing that
we do will be lost.
— Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus - September 13, 2009
History of the Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows
The seven founders of the Servite Order, in 1239, five years after they established themselves on Monte Senario, took up the sorrows of Mary, standing under the Cross, as the principal devotion of their order. The feast originate by a provincial synod of Cologne (1413) to expiate the crimes of the iconoclast Hussites; it was to be kept on the Friday after the third Sunday after Easter under the title: "Commemoratio angustix et doloris B. Marix V". Its object was exclusively the sorrow of Mary during the Crucifixion and Death of Christ. Before the sixteenth century this feast was limited to the dioceses of North Germany, Scandinavia, and Scotland. Being termed "Compassio" or "Transfixio", Commendatio, Lamentatio B.M.V.", it was kept at a great variety of dates, mostly during Eastertide or shortly after Pentecost, or on some fixed day of a month. Dreves and Blume (Analecta hymnica) have published a large number of rhythmical offices, sequences and hymns for the feast of the Compassion, which show that from the end of the fifteenth century in several dioceses the scope of this feast was widened to commemorate either five dolours (sorrows), from the imprisonment to the burial of Christ, or seven dolours, extending over the entire life of Mary.
Towards the end of the end of the sixteenth century the feast spread over part of the south of Europe; in 1506 it was granted to the nuns of the Annunciation under the title "Spasmi B.M.V.", Monday after Passion Sunday; in 1600 to the Servite nuns of Valencia, "B.M.V. sub pede Crucis", Friday before Palm Sunday. After 1600 it became popular in France and was termed "Dominx N. de Pietate", Friday before Palm Sunday. To this latter date the feast was assigned for the whole German Empire (1674). By a Decree of April 22, 1727, Benedict XIII extended it to the entire Latin Church, under the title "Septem dolorum B.M.V.", although the Office and Mass retain the original character of the feast, the Compassion of Mary at the foot of the Cross. At both Mass and Office the "Stabat Mater" of Giacopone da Todi (1306) is sung (see words in Latin and English below).
A second feast was granted to the Servites, June 9 and September 15, 1668. Its object of the seven dolours of Mary (according to the responsories of Matins).
* at the prophecy of Simeon;
* at the flight into Egypt;
* having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem;
* meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary;
* standing at the foot of the Cross;
* Jesus being taken from the Cross;
* at the burial of Christ.
This feast was extended to Spain (1735); to Tuscany (1807). After his return from his exile in France Pius VII extended the feast to the Latin Church (September 18, 1814). A feast, "B.M.V. de pietate", with a beautiful medieval office, is kept in honor of the sorrowful mother at Goa in India and Braga in Portugal, on the third Sunday of October; in the ecclesiastical province of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, last Sunday of May, etc. A special form of devotion is practiced in Spanish-speaking countries under the term of "N.S. de la Soledad", to commemorate the solitude of Mary on Holy Saturday. Its origin goes back to Queen Juana, lamenting the early death of her husband Philip I, King of Spain (1506).
According to Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition, between three and fifteen years after Christ's Ascension, in either Jerusalem or Ephesus, Mary died while surrounded by the apostles. Later when the apostles opened her tomb, they found it empty and concluded that she had been bodily assumed into Heaven.
This doctrine was present in apocryphal works since the end of the fourth century, and was formally taught by St. Gregory of Tours in the sixth century. The bodily Assumption of Mary seems to have been accepted in both Western and Eastern Churches from the sixth century onwards, and went virtually uncontested until the Reformation.
In 1950, speaking ex cathedra (infallibly) in his encyclical Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Dogma of the Assumption, in which he stated that "at the end of her earthly course, Mary was assumed into heavenly glory, body and soul."
The visionaries…Ivan, Marija, Ivanka, Jakov, Vicka and Mirjana… claim that Gospa -- the Croatian word for 'Our Lady' -- has been giving them each ten secrets concerning the future of the world. These secrets are said to include miracles and worldwide events that will be sent by God to convert humanity. The daily apparitions stopped for Mirjana, Ivanka and Jakov after they received all ten secrets. However, Ivan, Marija and Vicka still see the Virgin Mary every day.
The Bishop of Mostar is not supportive of the Medjugorje apparitions, but the Vatican continues to show a great deal of interest. In fact, many bishops, priests and other clergy claim that Pope John Paul the Second strongly believed in Medugorje. He had met personally with at least three of the visionaries. After Pope John Paul II's death, the Medjugorje visionary Ivan saw him during an apparition with Our Lady. The Pope appeared young and joyful.
According to Catholic history, Mary is playing a significant role in the salvation of mankind. This was highlighted in a recent Church breakthrough when, in October, 2002, Pope John Paul the Second introduced a fourth set of mysteries for the rosary, called the Luminous Mysteries. He asked that the Rosary be prayed particularly for the causes of world peace and the strengthening of family life, coincidentally also the two most urgent pleas from Mary in Medjugorje.
According to the Medjugorje visionary Ivan Dragicevic, "Basically what Our Lady has been telling us in these twenty years is everything that is written in the Bible, in the Gospel. She's trying to put it in a simple way so it is easy for us to understand."
Although miracles have been recorded at most Marian apparition sites of the past, it can be said that miracles are daily occurrences in Medjugorje. Recently, a bronze statue representing the Risen Christ in Medjugorje began seeping a watery substance. This occurrence, already attributed to miraculous healings, is believed by some to represent water as a means of purification. Other "Little Miracles" include the common miracle of the sun, where people can look directly at the sun without any discomfort and often see it "dance" around the sky.
When one takes into account the endless stream of good fruits emanating from Medjugorje, it seems evident that the Blessed Mother is truly appearing here. With such a multitude of pilgrims reporting conversions and healings, it's often hard for believers to understand why the local Bishop is not supportive of the apparitions.
The third secret of the ten that were given to the Medjugorje visionaries promises the appearance of a permanent sign on Apparition Hill, where the visitations began. According to Mary, the sign will be a gift from God to show the world that He exists. It will be possible to see, photograph and film this sign, but not touch it. Our Lady, however, is careful to point out that we should not be waiting for the sign. "You faithful already have signs, and you yourselves must become signs to unbelievers…You must not wait for the sign before you are converted. Convert yourselves soon, for this is a time of grace for you. This time is for deepening your faith and conversion. When the sign comes it will be too late for many."
Through messages relayed by the visionaries, Our Lady continually reminds us that her apparitions in Medjugorje represent a period of special grace and a time for conversion. As an example, people who visit this blessed village find their souls renewed and refreshed.
According to the visionary Jakov Colo, "The messages that Our Lady is giving here in Medjugorje are for the whole world, for all humanity."
The fact that Our Lady is appearing every day now in Medjugorje further confirms her plan. The Balkan region is the geographical crossroads between Christianity and Islam. Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims are forced to live here as neighbors. After the fall of communism in Yugoslavia, the ensuing struggle for power led to a horrible ethnic war, despite Mary's constant calls to peace. This atrocity should serve as a warning of what could happen on a global level if people still do not listen.
Today, the fruits of Medjugorje are obvious. Multitudes of people still come to this village, almost always leaving with renewed faith in God. They go on to spread the messages of Our Lady to all who will listen. Often, they echo the urgent words that she has spoken in Medjugorje:
"The only thing that I would want to tell you is to be converted. Make that known to all my children as quickly as possible. No pain, no suffering is too great for me in order to save the world; but I plead with you, be converted. You cannot imagine what the Eternal Father will send to earth. That is why you must be converted! Renounce everything. Do penance. Express my thanks to all my children who have prayed and fasted. I carry all this to my Divine Son in order to obtain an alleviation of His justice against the sins of mankind. I thank the people who have prayed and fasted. Persevere and help me to convert the world."
The Catholic Church approved the apparitions, and today Fatima is one of the most visited Marian shrines in the world.
The three young visionaries of Fatima were tending to their sheep when, in 1916, the so-called "Angel of Peace" appeared to them. Soon after, the children began experiencing apparitions of the Virgin Mary, whom they called The Lady of the Rosary.
The apparitions of Mary began in May, 1917, a year after the angel of peace had appeared to give the children communion.
Lucia would later describe the Virgin as "a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water, lit by burning sunlight."
The apparitions were taking place during the time of World War One. As in Medjugorje, Mary gave several secrets to the Fatima visionaries. Thus, history has proven the authenticity of Fatima.
Mary told the three visionaries: "This 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 will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."
As a fulfillment to this prophecy, the nighttime skies over much of Europe were seen to glow inexplicably in 1937. Shortly after, World War II broke out, followed by the spread of communism from Russia to various countries throughout the world. Only after John Paul the Second consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984 did communism die out in Eastern Europe, including in Yugoslavia where the Medjugorje apparitions were already taking place.
The most profound miracle at Fatima was the Miracle of the Sun. Mary had told the children that she would perform a miracle in hopes that the skeptics would believe in the apparitions. So, on October Thirteenth, 1917, over seventy thousand people showed up despite a terrible downpour. The three children began to experience their apparition. As the rain fell harder and the field turned to mud, the onlookers huddled beneath a sea of umbrellas. Then, toward the end of the apparition, Our Lady performed her promised miracle.
The thick storm clouds suddenly parted and there, hovering like a dull gray disk that could be looked at directly, was the sun.
An atheistic reporter commented on the event: "One could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. One might have thought an eclipse was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: "A miracle! A miracle!" Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - yes, the sun 'danced'!"
Many of the onlookers were terrified that the sun would crash down upon them. Then, as the sun returned to normal, each person in the crowd realized that they were completely dry despite being soaked from the rain just minutes before.
Although scheduled to be revealed in the nineteen-sixties, the Vatican waited until the year 2000 to disclose the third part of the Fatima secret. Following is Lucia's account of the Third Secret.
"We saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand… it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand. Pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: 'Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: 'something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White. We had the impression that it was the Holy Father. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious were going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks… Before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and, half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers… and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people... Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God."
The common interpretation of the Third Secret of Fatima was that it depicted Communism's persecution of the Church. Indeed, not long after the apparitions at Fatima, communism spread throughout the world and millions of faithful were martyred.
Some believe, however, that this secret instead portrays an alleged time in the near future when Catholicism will be nearly destroyed. There are numerous Catholic prophecies that foresee a time when the Church is persecuted to the point of near-extinction and the Pope will be exiled from Rome. Many of these are similar in nature to the Third Secret of Fatima. The Catholic seer Maria Steiner made a similar prophecy in the eighteen-hundreds: "I see the Lord as He will be scourging the world and chastising it in a fearful manner so that few men and women will remain. The monks will have to leave their monasteries, and the nuns will be driven from the convents, especially in Italy. The holy Church will be persecuted, and Rome will be without a shepherd. But the Lord showed me how beautiful the world will be after this awful punishment."
The true miracle of Fatima continues to this day. Our Lady's message has been promulgated throughout the world and millions visit the shrine every year. Many pilgrims come to Fatima in search of signs and healings. Others make the journey to do penance.
Like in Lourdes, the torchlight procession at Fatima is a solemn experience. During the procession, the statue of the Blessed Mother is removed from its case and carried through the massive courtyard. This statue contains the bullet from the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul the Second, which coincidentally occurred on the anniversary of the first Fatima apparition. The Pope credits the Blessed Mother with saving his life. He had just leaned down to kiss a miniature statue of Our Lady of Fatima that a little girl was wearing around her neck, when the shots were fired, narrowly missing his head.
The Continuation of Fatima
As predicted by Mary to the children, Francisco died just eighteen months after the apparitions ended. He and his sister Jacinta became saints in the year 2000. The youngest of the visionaries, Jacinta, passed away after much suffering. Not only did she predict her own death, she also embraced her torment as a sacrifice for sinners.
The oldest of the seers, Lucia was told by Mary that she would live to see the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart. After a long life in Portugal as a Carmelite nun, Sr. Lucia passed away in 2005. She had reportedly echoed John Paul the Second in saying that Medjugorje is the continuation of Fatima. Lucia's passing in regards to Our Lady's promise means that Mary's Immaculate Heart has already triumphed over the evil she warned about, which many would argue was Communism or the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Mary's triumph may well refer to the Medjugorje apparitions.
Many theologians see the present-day Medjugorje apparitions as a continuation of Fatima. According to the Medjugorje visionary Ivan, "Our Lady told one of the other visionaries that what she began in Fatima, she is going to complete in Medjugorje."
PS : Please refer to our VIDEOS page under the PRAISE & WORSHIP page for the whole movie on the FATIMA APPARITION & MESSAGE
Between February 11th and July 16th, 1858, a beautiful young woman appeared eighteen times to a 14 year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous.
The occurrence took place in a grotto called Massabielle, not far from Lourdes. Bernadette herself is the only person to have seen and heard the Virgin, although she was never alone at the grotto: favorable or skeptical observers stood near her and as time went by they became very numerous indeed. The authorities, the clergy and the public became immediately interested in the events.
Bernadette was the eldest child of a family that had the misfortune of sinking gradually into poverty and that was devastated by several infant deaths. Bernadette was asthmatic and she attended neither school nor proper catechism classes. She was unable to make her first Holy Communion. But her family was very close and deeply religious. Bernadette knew her prayers by heart.
The first apparitions took place in silence. The Lady invited Bernadette to make the sign of the cross and recite her rosary. On February 18th, the Lady asked if Bernadette would be kind enough to come to the grotto for fifteen days.
At the end of February, the Lady asked for the conversion of sinners and told Bernadette to pray for sinners. "Drink from the fountain and wash your face in the water."
On March 2nd, the Lady gave Bernadette a mission: "Tell the priests to have the people come here in procession and to build a chapel." It was only on the 16th apparition, on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, that the Lady told Bernadette her name: "I am the Immaculate Conception."
The last two apparitions were also in silence. Mary entrusted Bernadette with three secrets that she never told anyone.
During the eight years which followed the apparitions, Bernadette was a boarder without becoming a nun with the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction of Nevers in Lourdes.
Miraculous cures abounded, but Bernadette said that: "...only faith and prayer obtain miracles."
In 1866 she entered the noviciate in Nevers. She remained in Nevers for nearly thirteen years, working as a nurse. She died at the age of 33, on the Wednesday after Easter 1879. She was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933.
Miraculous cures began at the time of the apparitions. The majority were related to the spring water. Bernadette always refused to call this water miraculous or that the cures be attributed to herself personally. For her, only faith and prayer obtain miracles. Since 1858, 66 cures have been declared miraculous, after complex procedures which do not have their equivalent anywhere in the Catholic world.
The apparitions were recognized authentic by the bishop of Tarbes, Bishop Laurence in 1862. Since the apparitions of Lourdes took place four years after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, all the popes have expressed a private individual attachment to Lourdes.
In the list of Marian shrines, Lourdes is always at the top. Pope Leo XII wrote an encyclical for the dedication of the Basilica Our Lady of the Rosary in 1901. Jean XXIII consecrated the Basilica Saint Pius X a few months before becoming pope. John Paul II came to preside over the celebrations of August 15, 1993 and he returned again as a pilgrim for the Feast of the Assumption on August 15, 2004.
PS : Please refer to our VIDEOS page under the PRAISE & WORSHIP page for the whole movie on the LOURDES APPARITION titled
" SONG OF BERNADETTE"
This is the testimony that I must and want to give to the whole world, for the greater Glory of God and for the salvation of all of those who want to open their hearts to the Lord. It is also given so that many souls consecrated to God will rekindle the fire of their love for Christ, some of whom are the owners of the hands that have the power to bring Him to our world so that He can become our nourishment. It is also given for others so that they break lose of the “routine practice” of receiving Him and relive the amazement of their daily encounter with Love. And it is given so that my lay brothers and sisters from the entire world live the greatest Miracle with their hearts: the celebration of the Eucharist.
It was the vigil of the Annunciation and the members of our group had gone to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Some of the ladies of the prayer group had not been able to do it, and so they left their reconciliation for the next day before the Mass.
When I arrived at church the next day, a little bit late, the Archbishop and priests were already coming out of the sacristy. The Virgin Mary said with her soft and feminine voice that sweetens o
The first thing I noticed was a choir of very beautiful voices that was singing as if it was far away. For moments the music came closer and, then, it went further away like the sound of the wind.
The Archbishop started Mass and, when he reached the Penitential Rite, the Blessed Virgin said: “From the bottom of your heart ask the Lord to forgive your faults that have offended Him. In this way you will be able to participate worthily in this privilege of assisting at the Holy Mass.”
I thought for a fraction of a second: “Surely I am in a state of grace of God; I went to confession last night.”
She answered: “Do you think that since last night you have not offended the Lord? Let me remind you of a few things. When you left to come here, the girl who helps you approached to ask you for something and, as you were late and in a hurry, you did not answer her in a very nice way. There was a lack of charity o
"You arrive at the last minute when the procession of the celebrants is already coming out to celebrate the Mass… and you are going to participate without previous preparation..."
I replied, “All right, my Mother, say no more to me. You do not have to remind me of more things because I am going to die of grief and shame.”
"Why must you all arrive at the last moment? You should have arrived earlier to be able to pray and ask the Lord to send His Holy Spirit that He may grant you a spirit of peace and cleanse you of the spirit of the world, your worries, your problems and your distractions so as to enable you to live this so sacred a moment. However, you arrive almost when the celebration is about to commence and you participate as if it is an ordinary event, without any spiritual preparation. Why? This is the greatest of Miracles. You are going to live the moment when the Most High God gives His greatest gift and you do not know how to appreciate it."
This was enough. I felt so bad that I had more than enough to ask for forgiveness from God. It was not o
It was a Feast day and the Gloria was to be recited. Our Lady said: “Glorify and bless with all your love the Holy Trinity, in your acknowledgement of being o
How different was that Gloria! Suddenly I saw myself in a far off place full of light, before the Majestic Presence of the Throne of God. With so much love I went o
And I asked: “Lord, deliver me from all evil spirits. My heart belongs to You. My Lord, send me Your peace so that I can gain the finest benefits from the Eucharist and that my life may produce the best fruits. Holy Spirit of God, transform me, act within me, guide me. Oh God, give me the gifts that I need to serve you better!”
The moment of the Liturgy of the Word arrived and the Virgin Mary made me repeat: “Lord, today I want to listen to Your Word and produce abundant fruit. May Your Holy Spirit clean the interior of my heart so that Your Word grows and develops in it, purifying my heart so that it may be well disposed.”
Our Lady said: “I want you to be attentive to the readings and to the entire homily of the priest. Remember that the Bible says that the Word of God does not return without bearing fruit. If you are attentive, something from all that you heard will remain in you. You should try to recall all day long those Words that left an impression o
“And now, tell the Lord that you are here to listen, that you want Him to speak to your heart today."
Once again I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to hear His Word. And I asked Him for forgiveness for having had such a hard heart for so many years and for having taught my children that they had to go to Mass o
I had attended so many Eucharistic Celebrations mostly out of obligation and, because of this, I believed I was saved. But I did not live it and, much less, did not pay attention to the readings or to the priest’s homily!
How much pain I felt for so many years of needless loss because of my ignorance! How superficial is our attendance at the Mass when we go o
A moment later the Offertory arrived and the Holy Virgin said: “Pray like this: (and I repeated after her) Lord, I offer all that I am, all that I have, all that I can. I put everything into Your Hands. Build it up, Lord, with the little thing that I am. By the merits of Your Son, transform me, God Almighty. I petition You for my family, for my benefactors, for each member of our Apostolate, for all the people who fight against us, for those who commend themselves to my poor prayers. Teach me to lay down my heart as if o
Thus, this is how Jesus asks us to pray, that we put our hearts as if o
Suddenly some characters whom I had not seen before began to stand up. It was as if from the side of each person present in the Cathedral, another person emerged and soon the Cathedral became full of young, beautiful people. They were dressed in very white robes and they started to move into the central aisle and, then, went towards the Altar.
Our Mother said: “Observe. They are the Guardian Angels of each o
At that moment, I was completely astonished, because these beings had such beautiful faces, so radiant as o
Some of them were carrying something like a golden bowl with something that shone a great deal with a golden-white light. The Virgin Mary said: “They are the Guardian Angels of the people who are offering this Holy Mass for many intentions, those who are conscious of what this celebration means. They have something to offer the Lord..”
“Offer yourselves at this moment… offer your sorrows, your pains, your hopes, your sadness, your joys, your petitions. Remember that the Mass has infinite value. Therefore, be generous in offering and in asking.”
Behind the first Angels came others who had nothing in their hands; they were coming empty handed. The Virgin Mary said: “Those are the angels of the people who are here but never offer anything. They have no interest in living each liturgical moment of the Mass and they have no gifts to carry before the Altar of the Lord.”
At the end of the procession came other angels who were rather sad, with their hands joined in prayer but with their eyes downcast. “These are the Guardian Angels of the people who are here but do not want to be, that is to say of the people who have been forced to come here, who have come out of obligation but without any desire to participate in the Holy Mass. The angels go forth sadly because they have nothing to carry to the Altar, except for their own prayers.”
“Do not sadden your Guardian Angel. Ask for much, ask for the conversion of sinners, for peace in the world, for your families, your neighbors, for those who ask for your prayers. Ask, ask for much, but not o
“Remember that the offering which most pleases the Lord is when you offer yourselves as a holocaust so that Jesus upon His descent may transform you by His own merits. What do you have to offer the Father by yourselves? Nothingness and sin. But the offering of o
That sight, that procession was so beautiful that it would be difficult to compare it to another. All those celestial creatures bowing before the Altar, some leaving their offerings o
The final moment of the Preface arrived and when the assembly said, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, suddenly everything that was behind the celebrants disappeared. Behind the left side of the Archbishop, thousands of Angels appeared in a diagonal line, small angels, big angels, angels with immense wings, angels with small wings, angels without wings. As the previous o
Everyone knelt with their hands united in prayer and bowed their heads in reverence. Beautiful music was heard as if there were many choirs with different voices, all singing in unison together with the people: Holy, Holy, Holy…
The moment of the Consecration, the moment of the most marvelous of Miracles had arrived. Behind the right side of the Archbishop appeared a multitude of people also in a diagonal line. They were dressed in the same tunic but in pastel colors of: rose, green, light blue, lilac, yellow, in short, in different and very soft colors. Their faces were also brilliant, full of joy. They all seemed to be the same age. You could note (I can’t say why) that they were people of different ages but their faces looked the same, without wrinkles, happy. They all knelt down as well at the singing of “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord…”
Our Lady said: “These are all the Saints and the Blessed of Heaven and among them are the souls of your relatives who already enjoy the Presence of God.” Then I saw Her, exactly to the right of the Archbishop, a step behind the celebrant. She was suspended a little off the floor, kneeling o
“It surprises you to see Me standing a little behind Monsignor [the Archbishop], does it not? This is how it should be... With all the love that My Son gives Me, He has not given Me the dignity that He has given the priests of being able to perform the daily Miracle with My hands as they do with their priestly hands. Because of this, I feel a deep respect for priests and for the miracle that God carries out through them, which compels Me to kneel here behind them.”
My God, how much dignity, how much grace the Lord pours over the priestly souls and neither we, nor perhaps some of them, are conscious of this.
Before the Altar, there appeared some shadows of people in a gray color with their hands raised. The Holy Virgin said: “These are the blessed souls of Purgatory, who await your prayers to be refreshed. Do not stop praying for them. They pray for you but they cannot pray for themselves. It is you who have to pray for them, in order to help them depart so that they can be with God and enjoy Him eternally.
“Now you now see it; I am here all the time. People go o
To see that beautiful countenance of the Mother at that moment of the words “Holy, Holy, Holy…” as well as all the others with their radiant faces, with hands joined, awaiting that miracle which repeats itself continuously, was to be in Heaven itself. And to think there are people who can at that moment be distracted in conversation. It hurts me to tell you, many men, more than women, stand with their arms crossed, as if paying homage to the Lord as o
The Virgin Mary said: “Tell all people that never is a man more manly then when he bends his knees before God.”
The celebrant said the words of the Consecration. He was a person of normal height, but suddenly he began to grow, becoming filled with light, a supernatural light between white and gold that enveloped him and grew very strong around the face. And because of it I could not see his features. When he raised the Host, I saw his hands and o
By instinct I wanted to bow my head and Our Lady said: “Do not look down. Look up to view and contemplate Him. Exchange your gaze with His and repeat the prayer of Fatima: Lord, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love You. Forgiveness and Mercy… Now tell Him how much you love Him and pay your homage to the King of Kings.”
I told it to Him and it seemed as if I was the o
Immediately Monsignor said the words of the Consecration of the wine and, as the words were being said, lightning appeared from the heavens and in the background. The walls and ceiling of the church had disappeared. All was dark but for that brilliant light from the Altar.
Suddenly, suspended in the air I saw Jesus crucified. I saw Him from the head to the lower part of the chest. The cross beam of the Cross was sustained by some large, strong hands. From within this resplendent light, a small light, like a very brilliant, very small dove, came forth and flew swiftly all over the Church. It came to rest o
Above was Jesus crucified, His head fallen upon His right shoulder. I was able to contemplate His face, beaten arms and torn flesh. O
At that moment the Virgin Mary said: “This is the miracle of miracles. I have said to you before that the Lord is not constrained by time and space. At the moment of the Consecration, all the assembly is taken to the foot of Calvary, at the instant of the crucifixion of Jesus.”
Can anyone imagine that? Our eyes cannot see it, but we are all there at the very moment that they are crucifying Jesus. And He is asking for forgiveness to the Father, not o
From that day o
When we were going to pray the Our Father, the Lord spoke for the first time during the celebration and said: “Wait, I want you to pray with the deepest profundity which you can summon. At this moment, bring to mind that person or persons which have done you the greatest harm during your life, so that you embrace them close to your bosom and tell them with all your heart: “In the Name of Jesus I forgive you and wish you peace. In the Name of Jesus, I ask for your forgiveness and wish my peace. If the person is worthy of that peace, then the person will receive it and feel better for it. If that person is not capable of opening up to that peace, then peace will return to your heart. But I do not want you to receive nor offer peace when you are not capable of forgiving and feeling that peace in your heart first.
“Be careful of what you do,” continued the Lord, “you repeat in the Our Father: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. If you are capable of forgiving but not forgetting, as some people say, you are placing conditions upon the forgiveness of God. You are saying: You forgive me o
I do not know how to explain my pain, at the realization of how much we can hurt the Lord. And also how much we can injure ourselves by holding so many grudges, bad feelings and unflattering things that are born from our own prejudices and over-sensitivities. I forgave; I forgave from the heart and asked for forgiveness from all the people whom I had hurt at o
The celebrant said, “...give us peace and unity…” and, then, “the peace of the Lord be with all of you.”
Suddenly I saw that among some (not all) of the people who were embracing each other, a very intense light placed itself between them. I knew it was Jesus and I practically threw myself to embrace the person next to me. I could truly feel the embrace of the Lord in that light. It was Him who embraced me giving me His peace, because in that moment I had been able to forgive and remove from my heart all grief against other people. That is what Jesus wants, to share that moment of joy, hugging us and wishing us His Peace.
The moment of the celebrants’ Communion arrived. There I o
Dear brothers and sisters, that is the moment in which we should pray for them, because they are the Church as we, the laity, are also. Many times we, the laity, demand so much from the priests, but we are unable to pray for them, to understand that they are human and to comprehend and appreciate the solitude that many times can surround a priest.
We should understand that the priests are people like ourselves and that they need to be understood, to be cared for. They need affection and attention from us because they are giving their life to each o
The Lord wants the people of the flock that God has entrusted to him to pray and help in the sanctification of their Pastor. Someday, when we are o
The people began to leave their pews o
I should clarify that this person was o
The tone of voice of Jesus was that of a happy person.
I was astonished to see my friend return to her pew surrounded by light, embraced by the Lord. I thought of the marvel that we miss so many times by going to receive Jesus with our small or large offences when it should be a feast.
Many times we say that there are no priests to whom to go to confess at any given moment. But the problem is not about confessing at each moment but the problem resides in our ease of falling into evil again. O
When I went to receive communion, Jesus told me: “The Last Supper was the moment of the greatest intimacy with My own. During that hour of love, I established what could be thought of as the greatest act of lunacy in the eyes of men, that of making Myself a prisoner of Love. I established the Eucharist. I wanted to remain with you until the end of the centuries because My Love could not bear that you remained orphans, you whom I loved more than My life.”
I received that Host which had a different flavor. It was a mixture of blood and incense that inundated me entirely. I felt so much love that the tears ran down my cheeks without me being able to stop them.
When I returned to my seat, while kneeling down, the Lord said: “Listen...” A moment later I began to hear the prayers of the lady who was seated in front of me and who had just received communion.
What she said without opening her mouth was more or less like this: “Lord, remember that we are at the end of the month and I do not have the money to pay the rent, the car payments or the children’s school. You have to do something to help me… Please, make my husband stop drinking so much. I cannot bear any more his being intoxicated so often and my youngest son is going to repeat the year again if you do not help him. He has exams this week... And do not forget our neighbor who must move. Let her do it right away. I cannot stand her anymore… etc., etc.”
Then the Archbishop said: “Let us pray,” and obviously all the congregation stood up for the final prayer. Jesus said in a sad tone: “Did you take note of her prayer? Not a single time did she tell Me that she loves Me. Not a single time did she thank Me for the gift that I have given her by bringing down My Divinity to her poor humanity, in order to elevate her to Me. Not a single time has she said: thank You, Lord. It has been a litany of requests… and so are almost all of those who come to receive Me.”
“I have died for love and I am risen. For love I await each o
Do you all realize that He is begging for our love and we do not give it to Him? Moreover, we avoid going to that encounter with the Love of Loves, with the o
When the celebrant was going to give the blessing, the Holy Virgin said: “Be attentive, take care… You do not do any sign instead of the Sign of the Cross. Remember that this blessing could be the last o
How much we miss in not understanding and not participating everyday at the Holy Mass! Why not make an effort to begin the day a half hour earlier and run to the Holy Mass and receive all the blessings that the Lord wants to pour over us?
I am aware that because of their obligations not everybody can attend daily Mass, but at least two or three times a week. So many avoid Mass o
Jesus asked me to remain with Him a few minutes more after Mass had finished. He said: “Do not leave in a hurry after Mass is over. Stay a moment in My company and enjoy it and let Me enjoy yours…”
As a child I had heard someone say that the Lord remained with us for five or ten minutes, after communion. I asked Him at this moment: “Lord, truly, how much time do You stay with us after communion?”
I suppose that the Lord must have laughed at my silliness because He answered: “All the time that you want to have Me with you. If you speak to Me all day long, offering Me some words during your chores, I will listen to you. I am always with you. It is you who leaves Me. You leave the Mass and the day of obligation ends. You kept the day of the Lord and it is now finished for you. You do not think that I would like to share your family life with you, at least that day.”
“In your homes you have a place for everything and a room for each activity: a room to sleep, another to cook, another to eat, etc. Which place have you made for Me? It should not be a place where you o
“Men plan their day, their week, their semester, their vacations, etc. They know what day they are going to rest, what day they will go to the movies or to a party, or visit grandmother or the grandchildren, the children, their friends and to their amusements. How many families say at least o
“I know everything. I read even the deepest secrets of your hearts and minds. But I enjoy your telling Me about your life, your letting Me participate as a family member, as your most intimate friend. Oh, how many graces does man loose by not giving Me a place in his life!”
When I remained with Him that day and o
“The Holy Mass is Myself prolonging My life and My sacrifice o
“You should exceed in virtue with the angels and archangels, because they do not have the joy of receiving Me as nourishment like you do. They drink a drop from the spring, but you that have the grace of receiving Me, you have the whole ocean to drink.”
The other thing that the Lord spoke about with pain concerned people who encounter Him out of habit, of those who have lost their awe of each encounter with Him. That routine turns some people so lukewarm that they have nothing new to tell Jesus when they receive Him. He also said that there were so many consecrated souls who lose their enthusiasm of falling in love with the Lord, and have made their vocation an occupation, a profession to which nothing more is given, except that which is demanded of o
Then the Lord spoke to me about the fruits that must come from each communion that we take. It does happen that there are people who receive the Lord daily but do not change their lives. They spend many hours in prayer and do many works, etc. but their life does not go o
We the laity have a very important role in our Church. We do not have the right to be silent because the Lord has sent us out, as all the baptized, to go forth and announce the Good News. We do not have the right to absorb all this knowledge and not share it with others and to allow our brothers to die of hunger when we have so much bread in our hands.
We cannot watch our Church crumble as we stay comfortable in our parishes and homes, receiving and receiving so much from the Lord: His Word, the homilies of the priests, the pilgrimages, the Mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the marvelous union with the nourishment of communion, the talks of preachers.
In other words, we are receiving so much and we do not have the courage to leave our comfort zone and go to a jail, to a correctional institution, to speak to the neediest. To go and tell them not to give up, that they were born Catholic and that their Church needs them there, suffering, because their suffering will serve to redeem others, because that sacrifice will gain for them eternal life.
We are not capable of going where the terminally ill are in the hospitals and by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, helping them with our prayers during that time of struggle between good and evil to free them from the snares and temptations of the devil. Every dying person has fear and just taking their hand and talking to them about the love of God and the marvel that awaits them in Heaven next to Jesus and Mary, next to their departed o
The hour in which we currently live does not allow us to be indifferent. We must be an extension of the hands of our priests and go where they cannot reach. But for this, we need courage. We must receive Jesus, live with Jesus, nourish ourselves with Jesus.
We are afraid to commit ourselves a little more and when the Lord says, “First seek the Kingdom of God and the rest will be added o
Brothers, sisters, thank you for allowing me to carry out the mission that was entrusted to me, that of having these pages reach you…
The next time you attend Holy Mass, live it. I know the Lord will fulfill for you His promise that “your Mass will never again be the same.” And when you receive Him, love Him!
Experience the sweetness of feeling yourself resting against the folds of His side, pierced for you in order to leave you His Church and His Mother, to open for you the doors to His Father’s House. Experience this so that you are able to feel for yourself His Merciful Love by means of this testimony and try to reciprocate with your childlike love.
Your sister in the Living Jesus,
Lay Missionary of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus
The Assumption of Mary is not found anywhere in Scripture. There are apocryphal accounts of the Assumption recorded, however they have not been considered as inspired text by the church fathers. The authenticity of this apocruphal Gospel is so dubious that the Church never thought of it as evidence for the Assumption, but the existence of it does show that early Church did believe in the Assumption.
As divine revelation consists of both, the written word of God (The Bible) and the unwritten word of God (Sacred Tradition), hence matters where the Bible is silent or ambiguous can usually be determined by what has been taught to us via Sacred Tradition via the Church Fathers.
The Bible is silent on Mary's death, but Sacred Tradition says that she was taken up by God into Heaven. The Church maintains, however that a biblical allusion of the Assumption does exist in Revelation 12:1 - " A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under ther feet, and on her head a crown of twleve stars".
The Church professes that when Mary's time on earth came to an end, Mary died and her body was placed in a tomb, howver her body did'nt decay on earth. Instead, her son, Jesus Christ, assumed her into heaven, body and soul.
To make matters a little more clear here - only God can rise from the dead on his own divine power and only God can ascend into heaven of his own divine power. Hence Jesus, himself being God, rose from the dead. However Lazarus, was raised by Jesus. Likewise, Jesus ascended into heaven, but he also assumed his mother into heaven.
Further, with referece to the Immaculate Conception, this preserved Mary from original sin so Mary would have been free from the consequences of sin as well - namely physical death and the separation of Body and soul. The Eastern churches prefer to use the term falling asleep rather than death before the assumption. However because she voluntarily joined with her son's suffering on the cross, Pope John Paul II, said that kogical conslusion is the she willingly followed through her own death as well.
The most fundamental reason that Jesus assumed his mother into haven was to give people on eath encouragement. Scared Tradition teached us that the Assumption was meant to give humas hope and consolation that what jesus did for his mother in reward for her being a faithful disciple throughout her life, beginning with the response form the Archangel Gabriel. He will also do this for humanity till the end of time. At his second coming, Jesus will raise the dead and take the righteous to heaven and the reprobate will go to hell.
Hence to conclude, Mary's assumption was like a preview of what is to come. She was the first human to be assumed into heaven and who better to be the first than the Mother of Christ herself.
O Mother Mary ! bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life.
Look down Oh Mother! on the vast numbers of babies to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and sick killed by indifferences or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your son may proclaim the gospel of life with Honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept the gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude thoughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build together with all people of goodwill, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of god, the creator and lover of Life ( Pope John Paul 2nd) Amen.
History Of Mother Mary
WHAT DOES HISTORY TELL US? We know that Mary was actually called Miriam, after the sister of Moses. Most likely she was born in Nazareth, a tiny Galilean town of about 1,600 people, during the reign of Herod the Great, a violent puppet-king propped up by Roman military might. Nazareth was of little consequence for most Jews: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46). It is never mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, nor in the Talmud, a rabbinic commentary.
Mary spoke Aramaic, with a Galilean accent (see Matt 26:73), but she also had contact with a multilingual world. She heard Latin as it slipped from the tongues of Roman soldiers, Greek as it was used in commerce and educated circles and Hebrew as the Torah was proclaimed in the synagogue.
She belonged to the peasant class, which eked out its living through agriculture and small commercial ventures like carpentry, the profession of both Joseph and Jesus. This group of peasants made up 90 percent of the population and bore the burden of supporting the state and the small privileged class.
Their life was grinding, with a triple-tax burden: to Rome, to King Herod the Great and to the Temple (to which, traditionally, they owed 10 percent of the harvest). Artisans, who made up about 5 percent of the population, had even less income than those who worked the land full-time. Consequently, in order to have a steady supply of food, they usually combined their craft with farming.
The picture of the Holy Family as a tiny group of three living in a tranquil, monastic-like carpenter’s shop is highly improbable. Like most people at that time, Joseph, Mary and Jesus probably lived in an extended family unit, where three or four houses of one or two rooms each were built around an open courtyard, in which relatives shared an oven, a cistern and a millstone for grinding grain, and where domestic animals also lived. Like women in many parts of the world today, Mary most likely spent about 10 hours a day on domestic chores like carrying water from a nearby well or stream, gathering wood for the fire, cooking meals and washing utensils and clothes.
Who were the members of this extended household? Mark’s Gospel speaks of Jesus, “the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3). Were these “brothers and sisters” children of Jesus’ aunt (see John 19:25) and therefore cousins? Were they Joseph’s children by a previous marriage? We do not know their precise relationship to Jesus and Mary, but it is probable that they all lived in close proximity, within the same compound.
In Palestine at that time, women ordinarily married at about age 13, in order to maximize childbearing and to guarantee their virginity, so it is likely that Mary’s espousal to Joseph (Matt 1:18) and the birth of Jesus occurred when she was very young. Luke indicates that Mary gave birth to Jesus during a census required by the Romans around 6 B.C. (our calendars are off by a few years!) in a cave or stall where animals were stabled.
A feeding trough served as his crib. This is easy enough to visualize, since today poor refugees use cardboard boxes and other homemade artifacts as makeshift beds for newborn infants. It would be a mistake to think of Mary as fragile, even at 13. As a peasant woman capable of walking the hill country of Judea while pregnant, of giving birth in a stable, of making a four- or five-day journey on foot to Jerusalem once a year or so, of sleeping in the open country like other pilgrims and of engaging in daily hard labor at home, she probably had a robust physique in youth and even in her later years.
We also err when we picture her as Fra Lippo Lippi (a 15th-century Italian master) did, as a gorgeously dressed, blue-eyed, blond-haired Madonna, a European beauty who often adorns Christmas cards. Whether she was beautiful or not, she would have had features like those of Jewish and Palestinian women today, almost certainly with dark hair and dark eyes.
It is doubtful that she knew how to read or write, since literacy was extremely rare among women of the time. Most people acquired information and culture by listening and speaking. People didn’t read books and magazines; they listened to public reading of the Scriptures, shared in storytelling, recited poems and sang together.
THE EARLIEST CHRISTIAN
MARY’S WAS JEWISH CULTURE. One might legitimately ask: Did she keep a kosher kitchen, that is, one which was ritually pure? Was there a mezuzah on the doorpost of her family’s modest home in Nazareth? That small reminder of the Passover, containing the Ten Commandments, was used then and remains on the main-entrance doorframes of many Jewish households today.
Her husband, Joseph, seems to have died before Jesus’ public ministry began. We know that Mary herself, however, lived through the time of that ministry (Mark 3:31, John 2:1-12). Her separation from Jesus as he went out to preach was undoubtedly painful for her. In a passage that has always embarrassed those academics who study Mary (Mariologists), Mark tells us that Jesus’ family thought him mad (Mark 3:21). But what mother, upon seeing her son challenge Roman authority rather dauntlessly (this often meant death), might not have said to him, “Are you crazy?”
John tells us that Mary was present at Jesus’ crucifixion (John 19:25-27), though the other evangelists are silent about this. At that time she was probably close to 50 years old, well beyond the age at which most women in that era died. She lived on at least into the early days of the Church.
Luke states that she was in the Upper Room in Jerusalem with the 11 remaining apostles who “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary… and his brothers” (Acts 1:14). The lovely paintings and icons of Pentecost that picture the Spirit descending on Mary and the 11 apostles hardly do justice to Luke’s text in Acts 1:15, which indicates that she was there with a community of 120 persons.
After Pentecost, Mary disappears from history. The rest of her life is shrouded in legend. As Elizabeth Johnson points out, an active imagination easily wonders: What memories, hopes and strategies did she share with the men and women of the new, Spirit-filled Jerusalem community? Did she live on peacefully in Jerusalem as an old woman, revered as the mother of the Messiah? Was she quiet or outspoken? Did others come to her for advice? Did she express her views about the inclusion of the gentiles? We do not know.
She may well have died as a member of the Jerusalem community, though a later tradition portrays her as moving to Ephesus in the company of the apostle John. There is a shrine there, in modern-day Turkey, honoring that tradition.
PILGRIMAGE OF FAITH
WHY FOCUS on the historical Mary? I would suggest there are three good reasons:
1. Her history brings her nearer to us. While there is an alluring quality to the gorgeous Madonnas depicted by medieval artists, Mary didn’t look like that. This first-century Jewish woman, living in a peasant village, was much more like billions of people today than like the women in those beautiful paintings.
Though her culture was quite different from that of our 21st-century post-industrial society, it was not unlike that of women in thousands of villages as they exist today in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Her daily life and labor were hard. With Joseph, she raised Jesus in oppressive circumstances, struggling to pay the taxes by which the rich became richer at the expense of the poor. As with the vast majority of people in world history—the poor— most of Mary’s difficult life went unrecorded.
2. She listens to God’s Word. In fact, her holiness lies in persistent, faithful listening to God’s word. In canonizing saints, the Church has customarily emphasized martyrdom, asceticism, renunciation of family and worldly possessions, or lifelong dedication to the poor. Today, though, the Church recognizes more and more that holiness consists mainly in persevering fidelity in the midst of everyday life, whatever it holds. This is what the “historical Mary” exemplifies.
As events unfold around her, often to her surprise, she has to figure out continually what God is asking of her. She looks for the word of God in people and events, listens to that word, ponders it and then acts on it. She doubtless repeats again and again what she said to Gabriel, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Day by day she lives a “pilgrimage of faith,” to use the words of Vatican II (see Lumen Gentium, #58). She finds energy in her trust in the God of Israel and in her solidarity with the growing community of Christians who experienced the promise of life in the death and resurrection of her son.
3. She sings freedom’s song. Today we recognize Mary’s Magnificat as a rousing freedom song of the poor. Mary, the lead singer, epitomizes the lowly of Israel, those marginalized by society, for whom there is “no room in the inn” (Luke 2:7). God is her only hope, and she sings the divine praises with exuberant confidence.
While it may be difficult to imagine this revolutionary hymn coming from the mouth of a Madonna painted by Caravaggio, it is easy to envision it issuing from the lips of the historical Mary. Galilee was the spawning ground for first-century revolts against a repressive occupying power and its taxes. The Christians of Jerusalem, who with Mary were the nucleus of the post-Resurrection church, suffered from real hunger and poverty (see Gal 2:10; 1 Cor 16:1-4; Rom 15:25-26).
With the members of this community, Mary believed that God can turn the world upside down; that the last are first and the first last; the humble are exalted, the exalted humbled; those who save their life lose it, those who lose their life save it; those who mourn will rejoice, those who laugh will cry; the mighty are cast down from their thrones, the lowly lifted up. She and they were convinced that in God’s Kingdom the poor are first, and the prostitutes, publicans and outcasts of society eat at the table of the Lord, as Jesus, her son, pointed out during his ministry (see Matt 21:32).
The historical Mary experienced poverty, oppression, violence and the execution of her son. Her faith is deeply rooted in that context. Before the omnipotent God, she recognizes her own “lowly estate.” She is not among the world’s powerful. She is simply God’s “maidservant.” But she believes that nothing is impossible for God. In the Magnificat (see Canticle at left) she sings confidently that God rescues life from death, joy from sorrow, light from darkness.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian-martyr executed by the Nazis in 1945, spoke these words during a sermon in 1933:
The song of Mary is the oldest Advent hymn. It is at once the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung. This is not the gentle, tender, dreamy Mary whom we sometimes see in paintings; this is that passionate, surrendered, proud, enthusiastic Mary who speaks out here. This song has none of the sweet, nostalgic, or even playful tones of some of our Christmas carols. It is instead a hard, strong, inexorable song about collapsing thrones and humbled lords of this world, about the power of God and the powerless of humankind.
The historical Mary stands in solidarity with the poor of Israel. In fact, she is their spokesperson, especially in Luke’s Gospel. She cries out with gratitude for God’s gifts, especially for the son in her womb: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” She believes that, in Jesus, the power of God can turn the world upside down, ushering in a new era, a kingdom of justice, love and peace: “He casts down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly.” This message is more and more relevant today as the Church holds Mary up as Mother of the Poor, and as the poor throughout the world join with Mary in singing her vibrant song. It is both praise of God’s power and prophecy of a world to come.