• Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for February

"The Origin of the Way of the Cross:
During the whole of the scene which we have just described, the Mother of Jesus, with Magdalen and John, had stood in a recess in the forum: they were overwhelmed with the most bitter sorrow, which was but increased by all they heard and saw. When Jesus was taken before Herod, John led the Blessed Virgin and Magdalen over the parts which had been sanctified by his footsteps. They again looked at the house of Caiphas, that of Annas, Ophel, Gethsemani, and the Garden of Olives; they stopped and contemplated each spot where he had fallen, or where he had suffered particularly; and they wept silently at the thought of all he had undergone. The Blessed Virgin knelt down frequently and kissed the ground where her Son had fallen, while Magdalen wrung her hands in bitter grief, and John, although he could not restrain his own tears, endeavoured to console his companions, supported and led them on. Thus was the holy devotion of the ‘Way of the Cross’ first practised; thus were the Mysteries of the Passion of Jesus first honoured, even before that Passion was accomplished, and the Blessed Virgin, that model of spotless purity, was the first to show forth the deep veneration felt by the Church for our dear Lord. How sweet and consoling to follow this Immaculate Mother, passing to and fro, and bedewing the sacred spots with her tears. But, ah! Who can describe the sharp, sharp sword of grief which then transfixed her tender soul? She who had once borne the Saviour of the world in her chaste womb, and suckled him for so long,—she who had truly conceived him who was the Word of God, in God from all eternity, and truly God,—she beneath whose heart, full of grace, he had deigned to dwell nine months, who had felt him living within her before he appeared among men to impart the blessing of salvation and teach them his heavenly doctrines; she suffered with Jesus, sharing with him not only the sufferings of his bitter Passion, but likewise that ardent desire of redeeming fallen man by an ignominious death, which consumed him. In this touching manner did the most pure and holy Virgin lay the foundation of the devotion called the Way of the Cross; thus at each station, marked by the sufferings of her Son, did she lay up in her heart the inexhaustible merits of his Passion, and gather them up as precious stones or sweet-scented flowers to be presented as a choice offering to the Eternal Father in behalf of all true believers. The grief of Magdalen was so intense as to make her almost like an insane person. The holy and boundless love she felt for our Lord prompted her to cast herself at his feet, and there pour forth the feelings of her heart (as she once poured the precious ointment on his head as he sat at table); but when on the point of following this impulse, a dark gulf appeared to intervene between herself and him. The repentance she felt for her faults was immense, and not less intense was her gratitude for their pardon; but when she longed to offer acts of love and thanksgiving as precious incense at the feet of Jesus, she beheld him betrayed, suffering, and about to die for the expiation of her offences which he had taken upon himself, and this sight filled her with horror, and almost rent her soul asunder with feelings of love, repentance, and gratitude. The sight of the ingratitude of those for whom he was about to die increased the bitterness of these feelings tenfold, and every step, word, or movement demonstrated the agony of her soul. The heart of John was filled with love, and he suffered intensely, but he uttered not a word. He supported the Mother of his beloved Master in this her first pilgrimage through the stations of the Way of the Cross, and assisted her in giving the example of that devotion which has since been practised with so much fervour by the members of the Christian Church." (St. Anthony of Padua).

Our Lady of Fatima to the Visionaries

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"Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice, 'O my Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

In 1917 the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children at Cova da Iria, Fatima. Their names were Lucia (10 years old), Francisco (9 years old), and Jacinta (7 years old). Preceding Our Lady's apparitions, the Angel of Peace had appeared to them three times throughout 1916, teaching them several Eucharistic prayers and encouraging them to offer sacrifices for sinners. The Virgin Mary appeared to the children six times between the months of May and October. She asked them to pray the Rosary and to offer sacrifices for poor sinners. She also asked that a chapel be built in her honor. In spite of their young age, the children happily offered sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Saint Faustina Kowalksa

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"O Mother, Virgin, this will no one comprehend, that the infinite God is becoming a man; It’s only love’s and His inscrutable mercy’s purpose. Through You, Mother - it’s given us to live with Him forever."

Saint Faustina Kowalska, whose baptismal name was Helen, was born in a town called Głogowiec, Poland, on August 25, 1905. From a young age, she was very sensitive to divine things; she often prayed and spoke with God. At the age of seven, she felt the call to the religious life for the first time. This call was later repeated when she was fifteen years old, but her parents did not give their consent for her entrance. She insisted again when she had turned eighteen, and, since her parents still refused to accept her vocation, she abandoned herself to life's vanities, trying to drown out the voice that was calling her, giving herself to creatures. Nonetheless, divine grace conquered in the end. One day, while she was at a dance, all of a sudden, Jesus appeared before her. He was covered with wounds and said to her, "How long will you keep putting me off?" She fled from the dance and went to the Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus Kostka. She fell prostrate and begged the Lord to make her know what she was supposed to do. The Lord answered that she had to go to Warsaw immediately, for she was to enter a convent there. And so it happened. She responded promptly, a characteristic that would mark the rest of her life. The Lord called her to be an Apostle of his Mercy, granting her private revelations in which He spoke to her of his Heart, full of love and mercy. He asked her to write and speak to the world of his infinite Mercy and to spread the devotion to his Divine Mercy. The revelations are collected in the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul. During her lifetime, she sought strength from the Mother of God to be able to respond and to be faithful to the Lord. On several occasions, she tells of how the Mother of God appeared to her, encouraging her in the mission that Jesus had entrusted to her. Saint Faustina died on October 5, 1938 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 18, 1993. She was later canonized by him on April 30, 2002.

St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron

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"Do not worry about the squalls or the storms. Isn’t Mary with you? The Virgin is so good! There is no pain that she does not soften; there is no happiness that she does not sanctify"

St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron was born on April 9, 1911 in Burgos, Spain. He studied in the Jesuit school, where he received his First Holy Communion in 1919. He showed a very great openness to the things that had to do with God from a very early age. The first signs of the illness that would mark the rest of his life appeared in 1922. His father, who believed that his recovery was due to the Virgin Mary’s special intervention, took Rafael to Zaragoza in thanksgiving and consecrated him to Our Lady of Pilar. As years went by, he developed many different traits, such as friendship. He also grew in his Christian life. God placed the desire in his heart to consecrate himself in monastic life. He met the Trappist monks of San Isidro de Dueñas and felt very attracted to that life, because he saw that it corresponded to his intimate desires. He entered there on January 15, 1934. He had to leave the convent three times due to the diabetes that God mysteriously used to test him. Each time he returned, he came back with more desires to be generous and faithful. These desires were fulfilled on April 26, 1938, when he left this world at only 27 years of age. He was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1992 and canonized on October 11, 2009.

Venerable Maria Teresa Gonzalez Quevedo

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"My Mother, may those who look at me, see you."

Maria Teresa Gonzalez Quevedo was born in Madrid, Spain, on April 12, 1930. She was joyful, active and enthusiastic. She loved to play sports and had a great love for life. When she was 10 years old, she decided to become a saint, and from that moment on she began to grow in her spiritual life. She joined the Marian Congregation. Upon receiving a medal of Our Lady, she decided to write on the back of it the following phrase: “My Mother, may those who look at me, see you.” It was during the month of May when she spontaneously prayed from her heart: “My Mother, grant me the vocation to religious life!” God later showed her that He wanted her only for Him. One of her friends experienced the same thing, but decided to wait to respond when she was older, but Teresa, generous and decided, corrected her by saying: “How stingy and egotistical! How can you think that Jesus is going to accept you all worn out after you’ve offered the best of your life to the world! Jesus has better taste than that, and wants your youth with all its joys and dreams as an offering.” In February of 1948, she entered as a Carmelite of Charity. Upon seeing her self-offering, many of her friends discovered that giving oneself to God did not mean sadness or failure, but rather joy. A little more than a year later in May of 1949, she suffered a serious fever, indicating that something was not right, the cause of which was acute pleurisy. In her diary she wrote: “During Communion, I had such a desire to give myself completely to Jesus in order to show Him how much I loved Him, that I offered myself as a victim so that He could do with me what He wanted.” In January of 1950, she suffered a terrible headache. Her father, who was a doctor, diagnosed her with tuberculosis meningitis. On Holy Thursday of that same year, her state suddenly worsened and she exclaimed: “Jesus, I love you for all those who do not love you!” Before dying, she shouted: “My Mother, come and receive me… take me with you to Heaven!” A few minutes later, she left this earth. It was April 8, 1950. She was proclaimed venerable by Pope John Paul II on June 9, 1983.

St. John XXIII

s juan xxiii

"Oh Immaculate Mary, you are the morning star that dissipates the darkness of night; we come to you with great trust!"

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, was born on November 25, 1881 in Sotto il Monte inBergamo, Italy.
He was confirmed and received his First Holy Communion in 1889. Three years later, he entered the Seminary of Bergamo. In 1901, he went to the Pontifical Roman Seminary, thanks to scholarship that the Diocese of Bergamo offered him. He was ordained a priest on August 10, 1904, in the Church of Santa Maria in Montesanto, in Piazza del Popolo in Rome. The Bishop of Bergamo named him as his secretary. He continued this task until 1914. The war broke out in 1915 and he became a military chaplain for the hospitals. He also coordinated the moral and spiritual assistance to the soldiers. In 1919, he was named spiritual director of the Seminary of Bergamo. He was called to Rome by Pope Benedict XV, who named him the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. From then on, he was given many important tasks, such as his nomination as Apostolic Visitor in Bulgaria. He was ordained bishop in 1925, and served as such in many parts of the world. In 1953, he was created cardinal, and on January 25 of that same year was sent to Venice as Patriarch. After Pius XII's death, he was elected Pope on October 28, 1958. His pontificate lasted 5 years, during which he showed himself as a true shepherd, humble and attentive, decisive and brave. During his pontificate, he summoned the Second Vatican Council, which was concluded by Bl. Paul VI. He died on June 3, 1963. He was beatified by John Paul II on September 3, 2000, and canonized on April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis.

St. Francis of Assisi

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"Hail Mary, Mother of God, in you was and remains, the whole fullness of grace and everything that is good."

St. Francis was born in Assisi (Italy) in the year 1182. During his youth, he led a worldly life, and, attracted by the world of chivalry, decided to become a soldier. He was imprisoned for a year after a battle between Perugia and Assisi. During that time period, he suffered a grave illness, which led him to change his life. He had a personal encounter with Our Lord and, leaving everything behind, Francis decided to follow Him in poverty. He practiced charity with those affected by leprosy and began working to restore a collapsed church. He started this mission after a vision in which Our Lord, from the crucifix of the abandoned church, asked Francis to repair His house. Although his father disinherited him, Francis preferred to renounce to his luxurious clothing and life rather than stop following Christ. He felt the call to go out into the world. When he returned to Assisi, he began to preach and, through his preaching, the first 12 disciples began to imitate his way of life. They would later become the first Franciscan brothers of the order. He led a life full of love for Our Lord and for poverty. He also traveled to the Holy Land and had an ardent desire to become a martyr. It was he who began the tradition of using Nativity scenes. He is also known for having received the stigmata (the signs of Christ’s crucifixion) and for writing the “Canticle of the Creatures.” He was very devoted to Our Lady. In his feverous prayers, he often asked her to be his “advocate.” St. Francis died on October 3, 1226. He was canonized on July 16, 1228.

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