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

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My hands in Hers……..

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I have never shared this before, but Mary once granted me a very unexpected favor.  And although it happened about 15 years ago, it has only been during the past month that I have come to completely understand the message.

In my parish church, the statue of Our Lady of Grace stands in the back of what we affectionately call “Mary’s chapel.”  The chapel is to the left of the altar, and is one of the first seating areas to fill up before Mass.

On the day my son was baptized, I tenderly carried him, now graced by God’s Presence, to the feet of the One Gabriel once called Full of Grace.  Kneeling before the larger than life marble statue, I presented my infant son to Mary, asking her to take him as her own, to accept my consecration of him to herself.  My heart was bursting with joy, and I was so happy to give my son this gift of special protection by the Holy Mother of God.

My little boy’s early years were filled with visits to the Blessed Sacrament, learning to say the rosary, and stories of the Saints.  The only thing he wanted for his First Holy Communion was a “real bible” — which my sister, his godmother, joyfully gave him.  He would sit up in bed and read from it almost every night in those days, declaring the Sermon on the Mount to be his favorite chapter.

Yes, he was precocious; he was beautiful; he was talented, but he was also strong-willed and rebellious.

The beloved bible ended up in a drawer.  And one night when he didn’t come home from a highschool dance, a blue glass rosary cut into the palms of my hands.

He eventually came back to the house, but he never really came home again.

On the evening of his Confirmation, I was at the foot of Mary’s statue once more.  “Mother, I re-consecrate my son to you.  I don’t know what has gone wrong, but he needs your help.  Maybe I didn’t say the words right the first time.  Please hear me now, and accept him as your own.”

During the difficult years that followed, I would often attend the 6pm Mass.  It was very crowded,which enabled me to secure a standing spot, wedged between the candle stand and Mary’s statue.  Often I would place my hand on her foot or the hem of her garment.

I was grateful to be a short distance from those filling the pews.  Desperate, I  needed to be alone with God.

One night, a lady came and knelt before Mary shortly before Mass ended.  We were facing each other, and although she did not notice me, I was captivated by her eyes fixed on Mary’s face, and her lips moving silently in prayer.  She was obviously praying intensely about something.  I didn’t mean to intrude; it all happened so fast……

Then, as if watching a movie, I saw what I can only describe as a “copy” of Mary’s statue stepping out of the original statue.  This copy appeared more transparent than the original, but resembled it in every other way.  “Mary” came within reach of the prayerful woman and took her hands and held them in her own most pure hands.  The woman seemed not to notice anything.  Mary looked directly into the woman’s face, and appeared to be listening most attentively to her prayer, as though she were the only person in the world.

Within seconds, without my knowing how, the image was gone, and the woman got up from the kneeler.  I thought of stopping her and telling her what I had seen.  But I didn’t, and I have often regretted this.

As for me, I was struck by the obvious love and tenderness Our Lady showed to this woman pleading for her intercession.  I wondered how many times Mary had held my hands or embraced me — like the night I clung for dear life to my blue glass rosary.

Yet, throughout many painful years, I have often wondered why it seemed Mary had not rescued my son from so many poor choices.  I had given him to her when his soul was spotless and newly sealed with the Sacrament of Baptism.  Surely she could have surrounded him with angels, or kept him beneath her own mantle.  Had she not understood?

And I had trusted her completely.  So total was my trust when I presented my baby boy to her that all that happened in those later years was ever so much more painful, because it was so very unexpected.

My son is now a man, and he no longer wishes to rebel.  He is working hard to repair his life.  But sometimes, repercussions from the past still catch up with him.  This month has brought to light a few things I had not known before.

And this is the rest of the gift.  Mary has visited my heart in secret.  And she has reminded me of what I saw 15 years ago, and she has said,  “As you saw me take my daughter’s hands in prayer, do you not know that I also took your son into my own arms when you offered him to me?”

Why hadn’t I ever thought of it that way — my little son pressed to her Immaculate Heart, his tiny cheek kissed by those purest lips that kiss the Son of God?

She has made me understand that the crosses had to come.  But that I should not pray like one who has banished all dreams and asks but little for her son.  Rather, she has led me to pray that he will one day do great things for God.  And so I do pray this way now — so full of hope, and expectation, knowing that she has always been with him, and with me.

And I remember, when She didn’t understand, and when the way before Her was obscured and unknown, She found joy in Gabriel’s words, “….for nothing is impossible to God.”

And Mary shares these words with me and takes my hands……..

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, pray for us!

Many know that today is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, but it is also the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  

  Recall how intensely Eucharistic were the apparitions of Fatima, particularly those of the Angel, who brought the children the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and taught them to prostrate themselves before Him, and pray beautiful prayers of adoration.

O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly.  I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended.  By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

With Mary Let Us Adore Him
St. Peter Julian Eymard

     Mary devoted herself exclusively to the Eucharistic Glory of Jesus.  She knew that it was the desire of the Eternal Father to make the Eucharist known, loved and served by all men; that need of Jesus’ Heart was to communicate to all men His gifts of grace and glory.  She knew, too, that it was the mission of the Holy Spirit to extend and perfect in the hearts of men, the reign of Jesus Christ, and that the Church had been founded only to give Jesus to the world.
All Mary’s desire, then, was to make Him known in His Sacrament.  Her intense love for Jesus felt the need of expanding in this way, of consecrating itself — as a kind of relief, as it were — because of her own inability to glorify Him as much as she desired.
Ever since Calvary, all men were her children.  She loved them with a Mother’s tenderness and longed for their supreme good as for her own; therefore, she was consumed with the desire to make Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament known to all, to inflame all hearts with His love, to see them enchained to His loving service.
To obtain this favor, Mary passed her time at the foot of the Most Adorable Sacrament, in prayer and penance.  There she treated the world’s salvation.  In her boundless zeal, she embraced the needs of the faithful everywhere, for all time to come, who would inherit the Holy Eucharist and be Its adorers…
Her prayers converted countless souls, and as every conversion is the fruit of prayer, and since Mary’s prayer could meet no refusal, the Apostles had in this Mother of Mercy their most powerful helper.  “Blessed is he for whom Mary prays!”
Eucharistic adorers share Mary’s life and mission of prayer at the foot of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  It is the most beautiful of all missions, and it holds no perils.  It is the most holy, for in it all the virtues are practiced.  It is, moreover, the most necessary to the Church, which has even more need of prayerful souls than of powerful preachers; of men of penance rather than men of eloquence.  Today more than ever have we need of men who, by their self—immolation, disarm the anger of God inflamed by the ever increasing crimes of nations.  We must have souls who by their importunity reopen the treasures of grace which the indifference of the multitude has closed.  We must have true adorers; that is to say, men of fervor and of sacrifice.  When there are many such souls around their Divine Chief, God will be glorified, Jesus will be loved, and society will once more become Christian, conquered for Jesus Christ by the apostolate of Eucharistic prayer.