Mary of the morning glories…..

(In tribute to the loveliest Mother of all…a favorite post from the archives.)
Happy Mother’s Day, Sweet Mary!

The above statue of Our Lady has accompanied my husband and me throughout almost our entire life together.

He surprised me with it at our first real home in Greenville, NC, three years after we were wed. He placed it on a pedestal beneath a large maple tree in the backyard. Then he planted a vine of large blue morning glories at the base of the tree. It quickly took root and wound gracefully around the trunk, creating a blanket of blue each morning behind Mary’s statue.

I loved looking out of my kitchen window, sipping my first morning cup of tea and seeing morning glories and Mary. As the day wore on, the warmth of the sun would cause the flowers to fade and by afternoon, their beauty was gone. But each morning, they returned, glorious, with the dawn.

During those happy days, I never imagined how much Mary and the morning glories would soon come to mean to me. Only a year after she took her place beneath the maple tree, I was diagnosed with the cancer which destroyed all of our dreams of having babies…an unexpected tragic end to four years of trying to conceive.

I packed a small statue of Mary to take to the hospital with me, and placed her upon the window sill where I could glance at her comforting presence. But there were no morning glories for me, and I felt that there never would be again.

Eventually, I came home, and I would sit on the backyard swing, near Mary’s tree and pray my rosary..over and over. I prayed to live, and I prayed for some relief from the unbearable pain of losing children I had never even known. And Mary listened, and the morning glories brought beauty into an otherwise barren, thirsting, aching season of my life.

We moved back to our home state in the deep South a year later. My husband could not get morning glories to grow in our sunny yard which had no mature trees. So, he placed Mary’s statue in front of the rose garden he had planted. And she reigned there for twenty years.

She smiled, I know, on the day we brought home our adopted infant son. And as he played in the yard as a little boy, I imagined Mary watching over him. When he was old enough, we sometimes had May crownings with his friends who lived next door. And when he became a teenager, I would run sobbing to the rose garden and unburden my heart to Mary…just as I had years before with the cancer. Only this time I was too distraught to even say my rosary. But I knew she understood.

Now, it is just my husband and I again, and we have moved to yet another home. As you can see, Mary’s garden is now filled with lilies and roses and other assorted flowers which change with the seasons. Right across from her statue, there is a garden bench, a place where one can sit and pray or simply enjoy the sounds of the birds and squirrels playing. Often my husband will relax there with a beer, after cutting the lawn. Sometimes, I pray my Divine Office or a rosary in this shady spot. Glancing at Mary’s statue, I feel a certain peace. She is still with us, and we have survived the many crosses which have fallen upon us since Mary of the morning glories first took her place beneath the maple tree.

Her statue reveals the toll of decades spent in the sun, wind and rain. The surface is no longer a smooth gray color, and her features have been worn down from their original loveliness. She, like my husband and me, reflects the passage of time. Yet we would never dream of replacing our precious statue with a new one. She has watched over us all these years…through all the joys and sorrows life brings. And we want her with us until the last page of our lives has been written.

The blows of life have buffeted and scarred us as well. But they have taught us to depend on God alone and to put all of our faith in Him. Gone from this life forever are those carefree morning glory days of youth …now we dream of the glory of Heaven. There we hope to see, no longer a faded statue, but our Most Beloved Mother in all of her eternal beauty….

Thank you, Mary, for accompanying us with your living presence, throughout our lifetime together. I know you have held us when we were broken with sorrow and that you have rejoiced with us in the good times. What a comfort to know that you will always be with us until that day when at last we behold Your Divine Son Jesus in Glory.

Stay near, dearest Mother, until the morning glories bloom again….forever.  I love you!

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What St. Therese thought about Our Lady……

Assumption

St. Therese had little patience with legendary stories of Our Lady, or grandiose depictions of her life.  The Mary whom Therese knew and loved was the simple maiden of the gospels, who had to live her life with faith and trust in God and with simplicity and love, enduring hardships and trials as she followed the path God marked out for her, even to the foot of the Cross.

Below are some of my favorite observations of Therese about Our Holy Mother.

“It is all very well to speak of her love and prerogatives, but we must not stop there.  We must make her loved.  If a sermon on Our Lady forces us from beginning to end to gasp with amazement, we soon have enough of it, and it will lead neither to love or imitation.  The Blessed Virgin prefers imitation to admiration, as her life was so simple.”

“To ask something of the Blessed Virgin is not the same as to ask something of God.  She knows well what to do with all my little desires and it is for her to decide whether to ask for them or not.”

Therese, taking issue with those who claim that the glory of Mary will eclipse that of all the Saints, as the sun eclipses the moon exclaimed:

How strange that would be, a mother extinguishing the glory of her children!  I believe quite the opposite, that she increases many times the glory of the elect.  We all know that the Blessed Virgin is Queen of Heaven and earth, but she is more Mother than Queen.”

Therese was simply delighted by Mary’s very existence.

“Who could have invented her, if God had not created her just as she is?”

“We are much happier than she is, for she has no Blessed Virgin to love!  How much more is that a joy for us, and how much less it is one for her.”

“I like to hide my suffering from God; but I hide nothing from the Blessed Virgin.  I tell her everything.”

And…the last words she ever wrote on earth, on the back of a picture of Our Lady of Victories:

“Oh, Mary, if I were the Queen of Heaven and you were Therese, I would like to be Therese in order to see you Queen of Heaven.”

Quotations by Therese taken from Heart of Love Eugene McCaffrey, OCD Veritas publications, 1998
(re-post from the archives, September 2011)

Immaculate Mary….

The Immaculate Heart.  The Immaculate Conception.  The Immaculata….

Could there be a more perfect word to describe Our Blessed Lady?  All pure and pristine and spotless.  “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast…”

Sweet, sweet Mary, Heart so Pure, never desiring anything but the Will of God.

Yes, spotless and stainless and sinless.

How sad I am when Mary’s magnificence is misunderstood. How unthinkable it is to me that God would permit His Only Begotten Son, the Eternal Word, to become flesh in the womb of a sinful woman….to take up His Sacred Humanity from and within sinful flesh. Mary’s flesh became His flesh. She is His link to the human race. His true Mother. Of course she had to be Immaculate, free from any stain of sin.

What is misunderstood is that God did not glorify Mary for herself alone, but rather because He chose her to be the Mother of His Son. All the privileges bestowed upon her redound to her unique relationship with Jesus.

There is so much to say about Mary. But for today, I want to rejoice that she is Immaculate in Heart, Soul and Body. And doesn’t Jesus deserve such a peerless Mother?

Gabriel knew, when he addressed her, “Hail Full of Grace…”  It is her name. A fitting name for the one who would become the Mother of God.

Mary, at The Beautiful Gate, posted a link to a riveting story about a woman who died and had her very sinful life judged by Our Lord. One of the most comforting details in the story was of Our Lady, who prostrated herself at the feet of Her Divine Son and interceded for this woman. Mary will be with us always. She is, afterall….a Mother.

Holy Mary Mother of God
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour
of our death, Amen.

Just until glory comes….

A few days ago, I asked Our Blessed Lady to be the mistress of my home, and that I might be her servant girl.  I am in dire need of her loving presence, guidance and wisdom in my vocation as wife, mother and homemaker…and every other aspect of my life as well.

So, I’ve been listening, eager to hear her advice.  Yesterday, I was busy about those boring, mundane chores which most of us have to do on a regular basis.

I get tired of dusting and vacuuming and cleaning out the refrigerator.  Whilst wielding my Swiffer duster, I daydream of doing other things…at least writing a blog post, or maybe even an e-book.  I wish I lived in a bigger city where there were more exciting things to do.  Nothing ever happens here.  I wish I could make a 30 day retreat, or even travel to all the places of pilgrimage in the world or be involved in Catholic radio.  I still have dozens of books left to read, and if I could work on being an Olympic figure skater… I wish…..hmmm.

Yesterday, I washed the kitchen curtains, and as I struggled to slip the rod past the seam, it got hung up, and I tried to be patient as I maneuvered the fabric.

Then I thought of Jesus, working with Joseph in the carpenter shop in Nazareth.  Jesus, laboring by the sweat of His brow, struggling to shape furniture out of wood… He Who twirls the planets and makes the stars twinkle, and fashions each snowflake into a tiny work of art.

Was He bored?  No…because He did everything out of Love (being Love Himself), and in obedience to His Father’s Will.  Who more than the King of Heaven had a right to put down the tools, and with but a mere thought transform the trees of Palestine into acres of woodcraft?  But, He never did.  He never walked away from the hard work.  Just like He didn’t walk away from the Cross.

Love constrained Jesus.  Love of us confined Him to tedious work in a small town for most of His life, and then to traveling with and teaching a rag-tag group of men who deserted Him when He was preparing to lay down His life for them..and for us.

And I am bored?  The rod slipped through to the other end of the curtain.  “Thank you, Mary.”  And thank you for reminding me what Therese knew so well….that the smallest act done out of love can save a soul and bring God so much joy.

Was it Mary who seemed to reply?

It is sometimes a struggle to do these routine tasks, because you were created for greater things….much greater things.  You were born to spend eternity immersed in that Furnace of Love which is the Most Holy Trinity.  You were created to adore the thrice holy God, your whole being trembling with joy.  Your heart and your soul long for this, and you are restless because you cannot yet fulfill your eternal purpose.  You possess the very image of God …you were born for glory.

I love this thought.  I believe it’s true.  We were…all of us, created to be sons and daughters of the Most HIgh God.   Earth is our exile; Heaven is our true home.

I was awakened from my reverie by our cat coughing up two hairballs just as I was preparing to start dinner.  Out came the paper towels and the steam mop….but this time, with a smile.

Yes Mary, I’ll try to serve without complaining…at least most of the time.  You bore the Son of God and yet spent your life doing the most simple but demanding household chores.

But it helps to dream of glory, doesn’t it?  The glory of one day seeing God Face to face….the One Whom St. Augustine called,  “O Beauty ever ancient, ever new…”

Sweet Mary, help us to prepare for that day as Jesus and you did, by doing the Father’s Will in every ordinary moment of our lives…..but please remind us now and then, that it’s just until the glory comes.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee..”   St. Augustine

 

The loveliest Mother of all…..

TO OUR LADY

By Mary Dixon Thayer

Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently on you knee?
Did you sing to Him the way,
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did He cry?

Do you really think He cares
 If I tell Him things-
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels’ wings

Make a noise? And can He hear’
Me if I speak low?
 Does He understand me now?
Tell me–for you know?

Lovely Lady dressed in blue,
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy,
And you know the way.

This beloved poem was a great favorite of the Servant of God, Fulton J. Sheen, who popularized it during the 1950’s.

Hail Full of Grace…..Therese praises Mary

St. Therese had little patience with legendary stories of Our Lady, or grandiose depictions of her life.  The Mary whom Therese knew and loved was the simple maiden of the gospels, who had to live her life with faith and trust in God and with simplicity and love, enduring hardships and trials as she followed the path God marked out for her, even to the foot of the Cross.

Below are some of my favorite observations of Therese about Our Holy Mother.

“It is all very well to speak of her love and prerogatives, but we must not stop there.  We must make her loved.  If a sermon on Our Lady forces us from beginning to end to gasp with amazement, we soon have enough of it, and it will lead neither to love or imitation.  The Blessed Virgin prefers imitation to admiration, as her life was so simple.”

“To ask something of the Blessed Virgin is not the same as to ask something of God.  She knows well what to do with all my little desires and it is for her to decide whether to ask for them or not.”

Therese, taking issue with those who claim that the glory of Mary will eclipse that of all the Saints, as the sun eclipses the moon exclaimed:

How strange that would be, a mother extinguishing the
glory of her children!  I believe quite the opposite, that she increases many times the glory of the elect.  We all know that the Blessed Virgin is Queen of Heaven and earth, but she is more Mother than Queen.”

Therese was simply delighted by Mary’s very existence.

“Who could have invented her, if God had not created her just as she is?”

“We are much happier than she is, for she has no Blessed Virgin to love!  How much more is that a joy for us, and how much less it is one for her.”

“I like to hide my suffering from God; but I hide nothing from the Blessed Virgin.  I tell her everything.”

And…the last words she ever wrote on earth, on the back of a picture of Our Lady of Victories:

“Oh, Mary, if I were the Queen of Heaven and you were Therese, I would like to be Therese in order to see you Queen of Heaven.”

Quotations by Therese taken from
Heart of Love
Eugene McCaffrey, OCD
Veritas publications, 1998

Today the Virgin Mary was taken up to heaven….

Hail, holy Queen of Heavens.
Hail, holy Queen of the Angels.
Hail, Root of Jesse.
Hail, Gate of Heaven.
By you the LIght has entered the world.
Rejoice, glorious Virgin,
Beautiful among all women.
Hail, radiant Splendor,
Intercede with Christ for us.

Solemnity of the Assumption
Liturgy of the Hours
Hymn, Evening Prayer I

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

“In the words of Scripture, you appear in beauty. Your virginal body is entirely holy, entirely chaste, entirely the house of God, so that for this reason also it is henceforth a stranger to decay:  a body changed, because a human body, to a pre-eminent life of incorruptibility, but still a living  body, excelling in splendor, a body inviolate and sharing in the perfection of life.”

Office of Readings for the Feast
 Quotation from St. Germanus of Constantinople

……………The Divine Office for this Solemnity of Our Blessed Lady is so beautiful, that anyone who has time to read the entire Liturgy of the Hours for the Feast of the Assumption will not be disappointed.

Happy Feast Day everyone!