Mary’s “Fiat” for the sake of her children

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico

“My Mother honors every consecration made to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, and even if one should forget that one uttered such a prayer, My Mother does not forget it. She remains faithful to her own children, even when they are distracted by the world and turn away from her brightness shining like a star over the stormy seas of life.”— In Sinu Jesu, When Heart Speaks to Heart

Anyone who has recited a “Hail Mary” as a child, or placed flowers (they may have been dandelions, no matter to her) before a plaster statue of the Blessed Mother, or treasured a little holy card with her image, or childhood rosary–that person, most likely at tumultuous time of darkness in their life, will turn to seek the face of their Mother Mary in prayer. Though the rosary may have been tossed in a drawer for decades, and for years we never gave her much of a thought, our Mother did not forget us or cease to pray for us.

Detail from Annunciation by Fra Angelico

The joyful scene of the Annunciation, with the Angel Gabriel’s awaiting Mary’s consent to become the Mother of the Redeemer, has hidden within it the shadow of the cross, and that cross is us. God willed that Mary not only become the Mother of Jesus, but our Mother as well.  At the Incarnation of the Word, Jesus was united to all of humanity, the Church His mystical body and Jesus, Mary’s Son, our head.  When John, the beloved disciple stood at the foot of the Cross with Mary, Jesus willed to give Mary to us as our Mother, “Women, behold your son,” then to John, “behold your Mother.” And Mary, who never for a moment turned from the Face of God, seeking only His Divine Will, had a choice.  With total self-emptying and humility, at both the Annunciation and at Christ’s Passion, and with the greatest love that is humanly possible, knowing this total self-giving would mean great suffering and sacrifice, Mary said “Fiat,” “Let it be done unto me according to Thy word.”  So when Mary looks at our faces, she sees the Face of her son, Jesus.  There is no division in her Immaculate Heart.  She will never forget us.  Let us never forget her and pray for those who do not know Our Mother’s great love.

The Deposition of Christ by Fra Angelico
“Where the Word of God became flesh” The Grotto in Nazareth–the heart of Christianity. Photo by Paul Badde
The stairway leading to the Grotto, from above. Photo by Paul Badde

St. Joseph: An excess of love!

St. Joseph Altar in Louisiana

Where I live, in Louisiana, Catholics have a beautiful tradition of making St. Joseph’s altars to honor the great foster-father of Jesus on his feast day.  The hard work and preparations involved are only exceeded by the love that impels persons to try to express, in some way, that great love–and for many that way is with food.  The variety and colors delight the eyes, the flavors delight the taste.  The symbolism of the forms is rich and deep.  It is almost too much to take in.

St. Joseph

St. Joseph had much to “take in” as well–to take Mary, a virgin, as his spouse. That she would be the Mother of the Redeemer and that he, Joseph, would become the foster-father of Jesus, his own Savior. It is excessive! Over whelming! How must St. Joseph have felt to look into the Face of little Jesus and be reminded of the excess of the love of the Father? That same loving Father invites us to the feast He has prepared for us through His Son Jesus–if only we begin by turning to gaze at His Face.


Lenten Reflection on the Face of Christ in “Silence”

“In Shusaku Endo’s Silence, Rodrigues’s devotion to the Face of Christ becomes the key to understanding his particular path to Calvary….”

Japanese “fumie” of Jesus Christ

While the release of Martin Scorsese’s film “Silence” stirred up much discussion and controversy about this story of Jesuit missionaries under persecution in Japan, very few have noted the deep significance of the Face of Christ in Shusaku Endo’s original novel.  This article–The Face of Christ: Shusaka Endo’s Silence, by Lauren Enk Mann at Imaginative Conservative explains the pivotal role the Face of Christ plays in the spiritual journey of the central character. The novel “Silence” may also be a good Lenten reflection on suffering, the Passion and humility that we are each meant to share with Christ, as well as a path to self-knowledge, by reflecting upon our own weaknesses in the light of His Face.  

“Behind his closed eyelids he would pass through every scene in the life of Christ. From childhood the face of Christ had been for him the fulfillment of his every dream and ideal.… Even in its moments of terrible torture this face had never lost its beauty. Those soft, clear eyes which pierced to the very core of a man’s being were now fixed upon him. The face that could do no wrong, utter no word of insult….” (full article here)