Tag Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted

mary-at-the-cross

Our holy mother, Mary, comforted our Lord at the foot of the cross.

In the Litany of Loreto we call Our Lady “Comforter of the afflicted”. With unspeakable love she comforted Jesus on the Cross at Calvary and she accompanies us in our afflictions. In this meditation we consider how:

  • Because of her freedom from sin Mary was able to love like no other
  • As prophesied by Simeon, Mary was destined to suffer much because she loved much
  • Mary suffered in her heart when Jesus was lost in the temple, at the wedding feast of Cana and especially at Calvary
  • Mary suffered intensely at Calvary, to the point where St Bernard calls her truly a martyr
  • The Sequence of the Mass of Our Lady of Sorrrows records this suffering in a moving way
  • As our mother, Mary loves us and comforts us in our afflictions

 

Christ our Light

Resurrection of Christ

Christ’s resurrection on the first Easter Sunday

At a time of much spiritual darkness and evil in the world, the light of the risen Christ at Easter brings light and hope to all. In this meditation we consider:

  • Christ’s resurrection and appearance to Mary Magdalene
  • The risen Christ has overcome the world
  • We have received the light at Baptism but can lose it through sin
  • We should return to the light through confession and help others to do so
  • We should keep our light burning and make it grow ever more brightly
  • We should share our light with many others

Meditation “Preparing for Christmas”

Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our saviour.

Every nativity scene you look at always has Mary, our holy mother with her son and St Joseph, her spouse.

Now that we are in Advent, we want to prepare well for Christmas. A good way to do this is by the hand of Our Lady. After all, she too prepared for the birth of Christ. In this meditation we consider nine lessons Our Lady gives us about how to prepare for this great feast:

 

 

 

  • Avoiding sin and going to confession
  • Docility to the will of God
  • Charity with others
  • Spreading joy
  • Presence of God
  • Not complaining about hardship
  • Penance
  • Contemplation and meditation
  • Bringing Christ to others

Meditation: Giving thanks for everything

We are accustomed to ask God for many favours but how often do we remember to thank him for the gifts he has given us? Are we perhaps like the nine lepers who were healed but did not return to thank Jesus? In this meditation we consider:

  • How much Jesus appreciates that the Samaritan leper returned to give thanks
  • Jesus himself gives thanks to the Father
  • St Paul exhorts the early Christians to give thanks always
  • Everything we have is a gift from God
  • We should give thanks for such general gifts as creation, the Incarnation, Redemption, the Church, the Sacraments
  • We should thank God for our life, our family, our health, our talents, our food, clothing and shelter, the good things we have done
  • We should thank God for the unknown blessings and even the crosses God shares with us

Meditation – Love for the Rosary

In 1883, Pope Leo XIII declared October the month of the Rosary. The Holy Rosary is a traditional prayer, going back at least a thousand years. It is a prayer we should say often and well. In this meditation we consider:

  • How the Rosary came to be
  • The recommendation of the Rosary by popes and saints
  • Why the Rosary is such a powerful prayer
  • Why the Rosary is such a rich prayer
  • The importance of the family Rosary
  • How we can say it better

Meditation “As I have loved you”

Christ gave us a new commandment to love one another as he has loved us. It is not always easy to do this but it is very important to try, so that we spread the love of Christ in the world. In this meditation we consider various ways we can do this:

  • Spirit of service
  • Sacrifice
  • Compassion
  • Affection
  • Love for our “enemies”
  • Forgiveness

The feast of Mary, Help of Christians

On 24 May 2015 the Church celebrated the 200th anniversary of the feast of Mary, Help of Christians. The liturgical celebration was transferred to the following day, as the 24th was the feast of Pentecost. The following question and answer explains something of the background of the feast and the power of Our Lady’s intercession. It is question 129 in my book Question Time 1.

I am happy when we celebrate each year the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians on May 24. But I have always wondered why we make so much of this feast, which does not celebrate a great event in the life as Mary as do, for example, the feasts of the Divine Maternity of Mary, the Annunciation, the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception. Could you please explain why this feast is so important?

You ask a very good question, and the answer goes back a long way. I shall endeavour to answer it succinctly.

The title “Help of Christians” is an old one that forms part of the Litany of Loreto, which is often said after the Rosary. The Litany has its origin in Marian litanies in the early Middle Ages. In 1558 it was published as “The Litany of Loreto” by St Peter Canisius, and it was approved by Pope Sixtus V in 1587.

In 1571, Pope St Pius V asked the Church to pray the Rosary to Our Lady, under the title Help of Christians, for success in the battle that the Christian navy, under the command of Don Juan of Austria, was waging in the Mediterranean against the Turkish navy. It should be remembered that Constantinople had fallen to the Turks in 1453 and, with control of the Mediterranean, the Turks were threatening Rome itself. Although heavily outnumbered, the Christian navy defeated the Turks in a hard-fought battle in the Gulf of Lepanto, off Greece, on 7 October 1571. The following year the Pope instituted a feast in honour of Our Lady on October 7, first called “Our Lady of Victories” and later “Our Lady of the Rosary”.

In 1683, when Vienna was besieged by the Ottoman Turks, Pope Innocent XI asked the Church to pray the Rosary to Our Lady, again under the title of Help of Christians. The battle against overwhelming odds began on September 8, when the Church celebrates Our Lady’s birthday, and it ended successfully four days later, on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Thereafter, the military might of the Turks was no longer a threat to Christendom.

In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of France and began to persecute the Church. Pope Pius VII excommunicated him, but in 1809 Napoleon entered the Vatican, arrested the Pope and carried him off in chains to Fontainebleau where he was held prisoner for five years. The Pope managed to communicate to the Church his request for everyone to pray to Our Lady, Help of Christians for his release, promising Our Lady that he would institute a feast in her honour if the prayers were answered. Once again, with the help of the Rosary, the Pope’s wishes were granted. On 24 May 1814, Napoleon abdicated and on that very day the Pope returned to Rome. As his first official act he proclaimed the feast of Mary, Help of Christians, to be celebrated on May 24.

In 1844 the first Provincial Synod of the bishops of Australia, held in Sydney, proclaimed Mary, Help of Christians, the principal patroness of Australia. For that reason the feast has great prominence in this country, and is celebrated as a Solemnity, the highest category of feast. Australia’s mother church, St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, is dedicated to Mary the Immaculate, Help of Christians.

So there is much history behind the feast and every reason to thank Our Lady, Help of Christians, for her loving and powerful care for the Church, both the universal Church and the Church in Australia.