Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Octave of the Nativity and Solemnity of the Mother of God

While searching my heart for thoughts to share with you today, I found myself digging in reflection gold mines for help.  We have so many different feast days honoring the Mother of God, what can be said on January 1st that might capture my heart and mind for you.  Lying in my bed very early this morning - a sign that I retired before Americans celebrated the first midnight of the new year here on our eastern shore - I continued to dig in my heart and mind.  It was still very early when I decided to go to what I consider the “Creighton 911 for Preachers”, the Jesuit University’s “help” line for those seeking insight into the readings and feast for each day.  It was there that I discovered gold, genuine spiritual gold  Let me share with you this gift.

The writer, a woman, wife and mother, one-time teacher and now administrator, presented magnificent thoughts for this day.  I am sure that her words will be spoken throughout the English-speaking world today by preachers who turned to the Creighton University’s On-line Ministries.  Because I did not seek the author’s permission to print her name, let me share some of “Mary’s” (the author’s baptismal name) thoughts that stirred my heart.  You may wish to read her reflection in full. If so, you should Goggle : Creighton University Daily Reflections and move to the January 1st reflection.

“Mary” begins by calling us to notice:  “… this is a great way to start our New Year!  We continue to celebrate the Incarnation, the Word Made Flesh, Jesus, and we honor Jesus’ mother, our Blessed Mother.”

Moving forward “Mary” says boldly: “We need this woman — throughout the year!”  Right on “Mary!”  She calls us to consider the very many honors and prayers that are brought to the Mother of God not just today but everyday  since that day when Mary said “Fiat”, let it be done.  Consider the many novenas, rosaries and the Church’s proclamations (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption) that affirm for us that she is Queen of Heaven.  With a real sense of conviction, “Mary” assures the reader that Mary does listen to us when we pray to her.  And this contemporary writer assures us that Mary, Mother of God, is “Advocate, Mediator, Guide, Role Model, Comforter, and always a real Woman (italics mine), Mother and even Sister and Friend to us throughout our lives” even at the final “hour of our death.”

Throughout the year we honor Mary with several feasts days.  Today, however, our honor is given to her as Mother of God.  And author “Mary” writes: “I notice today that her Motherhood is the heart and reason for all our attention to and claims on Mary throughout the centuries.”  Think on this for a few moments during the day.

“Today’s Mary” proclaims “We need this woman!”  Furthermore, she notes, it is our very human nature that demands “a womanly figure to honor and pray to.”  Isn’t this a reality that has been lost to a degree in our times and Church?  There is “a basic human need across time and culture for a motherly female figure.” 

And what is it that all children, like ourselves, need: “… Mother, Mediator, or Queen — and also for a real woman who is personal, intimate Mother, guide, model and friend.”

“Today’s Mary” calls to mind for us that scripture texts used in the liturgy for today’s feast where we read “Mary kept all these things, reflection on them in her heart.”  That is the model we might follow not just today but daily:  taking the time to use Sacred Scripture as a source of inspiration and guidance from the Holy Spirit and time to have a “coffee chat” with the Mother of our God.

So, as we begin a new year, as we seek to adjust to saying two thousand fourteen or to remembering to put the numbers 2014 on checks or at the top of letters, let us turn to Mary for ourselves and for other sinners as we pray Mary’s prayer “now and at the hour of our death.”  And so, let me conclude with “today’s Mary’s” final sentence in her reflection:  “We need this woman now, each day, and to the certain end of ‘now’”.

As you know it is not part of my usual writing to quote one person so extensively.  The reflection I discovered on my dig early this morning was so powerful for me that I felt the need to share many of “today’s Mary’s” thoughts with you.  This Creighton University woman certainly opened up my sleepy eyes and mind to an extraordinary perception of Mary, Mother of 

God!  And so, I say, “Thank you “today’s “Mary,” for your gift to all who read your heart and soul today.  You have brought this priest to realizing how much Mary is needed in his life!