Tag Archives: Virgin Mary

an orphan priest

23 May

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When I make pilgrimage to the Holy Land in June, I will take this photo with me, and will try to remember to pull it out and look at it at any pilgrimage site at which Mary is remembered or at any personal time that I think of Mary.

With this photo I will carry one of me and my mother, Isabelle, standing together at the ambo at St. Andrew, on what occasion I do not remember.

In a recent talk to seminarians, Pope Francis urged them to seek the help of the Virgin Mary if they feel spiritually troubled.

“First of all go to the Mantle of Mary and wait until there is a bit of calm. Some of you will tell me…in this time of so many modern goods – psychiatry, psychology – in this time of turbulence, I think it would be better to see a psychiatrist to get help. But – do not dismiss this – but first go to your Mother, because a priest who forgets the Virgin Mary, especially in times of turbulence, is missing something. He is an orphan priest, the one who forgets his Mother.”

At the time of my mother’s death in 2006, it dawned on me that I was an orphan. I have never forgotten that – and I have never forgotten her. I still miss her at times, times when I least expect it.

A Mexican nun told me at the time of my mother’s death that I now have two mothers in heaven. She really meant it. Honestly, I still do not feel it.

I will take the photos with me, the one above and this one:

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How can this be?

8 Apr

Beit Jala jen holy land 964 (237)

Our sister parish of the Annunciation, located in Beit Jala (Bethlehem), West Bank, Palestine, celebrates her feast day today: the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Here in Milford at St. Andrew we will pray in our evening Mass that, through the intercession and care of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and woman of Palestine, God will make good on His every promise to His people in Beit Jala and full their every hope in Him.

On Easter Sunday morning one of our teenagers asked me, “Father, which is the more important day for Christians: Christmas or Easter?” How would you have answered her? She picked Christmas.

On this day, I ask myself, “Which is the more important feast: Christmas or the Annunciation?” I pick the Annunciation. Here is my reasoning. When did God become one of us and one with us? Not when He was born. When He was conceived! The English translation of the Nicene Creed used to be: he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. Now we say: he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. The word incarnate replaces born. To be born describes the moment of birth. To be incarnate describes the moment of conception. The Word became incarnate – became flesh – in Mary’s womb. All of us – you and I and Jesus – were born. But God took on human flesh; God became human; God was incarnate. And the “incarnation” took place at the moment of conception in the womb of Mary, at the moment when Mary accepted God’s will and desire to become human. On Christmas we celebrate His birth among us. On Annunciation we celebrate His incarnation.

For me, the Annunciation feels like Christmas. It takes me back to Beit jala, and seeing that painting over the altar in their Catholic parish church, dedicated to the Annunciation. It takes me back to meeting Deacon Sleiman (Solomon) Hassan in that very church. It will be his ordination to the priesthood in June that will take me back to my next visit to Beit Jala.

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with tears and prayers

2 Mar

Women of Nazareth, Women of Hope: Basma, Hala and Mary

9 Dec

On yesterday’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception we heard Luke’s proclamation: “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth …”

Hearing Gabriel’s greeting to Mary of Nazareth, I cannot help but send a greeting to two other women of Nazareth: Basma and Hala. These two extraordinary Christian women are counsellors in Catholic schools in Nazareth. Hala and Basma visited Cincinnati with other teachers from Latin Patriarchate schools from the West Bank and from Jordan, as part of a project called HOPE: Holy Land Outreach to Palestinian Educators. They are pictured below receiving gifts at the Farewell Dinner, in a photo taken by Mark Bowen.

Mary of Nazareth, responding to God’s desire and invitation to enter our world as one like us, brought Hope into the world, translate, brought Jesus, who is our hope, our only hope, into the world.

Basma and Hala, women of Nazareth, responding to God’s desire and invitation to bring reconciliation and justice into our world, bring hope to their students and build opportunities and dignity into their lives.

Beneath the Basilica of the Annunciation, in their beloved hometown of Nazareth, Basma and Hala visit often the grotto of the Annunciation, the very place of the conversation between God’s angel and God’s mother.In this place, as Mary did, so Hala and Basma respond with, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Greetings, Basma and Hala. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. May the angel never depart from you.

On Mary Immaculate: Arduous Duties and Sublime Virtues

8 Dec

 La Purisima Inmaculada Concepcion by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1678, now in Museo del Prado, Spain 

“We take this occasion, brethren, to communicate to you the determination, unanimously adopted by us, to place ourselves and all entrusted to our charge throughout the United States, under the special patronage of the holy Mother of God, whose Immaculate Conception is venerated by the piety of the faithful throughout the Catholic Church.

By the aid of her prayers, we entertain the confident hope that we will be strengthened to perform the arduous duties of our ministry, and that you will be enabled to practice the sublime virtues, of which her life presents the most perfect example.”

— Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of the United States Sixth Provincial Council Baltimore 5 May 1846 —

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.