The Transfiguration: Transfigured By Light of Love

The Mountain of God
By Phillip Baker

“When Christ appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (cf. 1 Jn 3:2).

Mountains, in Scripture, are places of encounter with God. Moses went up Sinai and saw the Glory of the Lord, and the Glory of the Lord passed by Elijah, hid in a cleft on Mount Horeb (cf. Ex 24:12-18, 1 Kgs 19:9-18). When Jesus goes up Mount Tabor, there is a theophany, or a self-revealing of God. The Luminous mysteries reflect on, to some extent, revelations of Who Jesus is – He is God’s Beloved Son, the Bridegroom Who provides new wine in abundance, the long-awaited King of Israel, and here, in the Transfiguration, He shows us that He is God Himself. On Tabor, Jesus reveals that He possesses the glory proper to God – this is what Luke means when he says the Apostles “saw His glory” (Lk 9:32).

Jesus is God, “the fountain of life” in Whose light “we see light” (Ps 38:10). That light changes and transfigures us, fixes and transforms us in God; that light is Jesus, “the true light, which enlightens everyone,” for “what came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race” (Jn 1:9, 3-4). Jesus reveals Himself as God, sharing in the fullness of glory proper to God alone. He exudes light and life, and in His light He shows us the pathways of His commandments and changes us to be like Him.

For Jesus is not just another Moses, nor is He just another prophet. Rather, He Who is transfigured in a cloud on the mountaintop is the same One Who gave Moses the Law from a cloud on Sinai. He Who is speaking to Elijah is the One Who passed Elijah by on Horeb. He is God and God with us, God become Man. Therefore, He is not a distant and unsympathetic God. The god who makes the world and abandons it to run on its own is a definitively non-Christian misconception, for this God of ours is one Who touches His frightened disciples and says “Rise, and do not be afraid” before leading them down into the plain (Mt 17:7). Jesus is God, and He is our Lover, Who stays with us, even as He leads us unto the Cross. Jesus prepares His apostles for “His exodus,” wherein He will free us from slavery to sin. By showing them His glory in this moment, He reassures them that His Passion will end with His glorification (Lk 9:31).

That message is the same for us. Our Lord, our Love, gives us a message of hope in this mystery: the journey up the mountain is hard, but, if we ascend the mount of Calvary with Him – if we “deny [ourselves] and take up [our] crosses daily” – we will see His glory (Lk 9:23). Not only that, but we will see that glory He revealed to His apostles on Tabor and share in it ourselves. For the Lamb is the light of the City of God, and His people “will look upon His face… night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light,” the light of the Son (Rev 22:4-5).

 

 

Transfigured in Trinitarian Love
By Gretchen Erlichman

“About eight days after he said this, he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” ~Luke 9:28-29

The Transfiguration, though veiled in mystery, sheds great light on our sharing in Christ’s glory. By Christ’s Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection – which all coalesce in the greatest act of love – we are invited to partake in the transformative grace of Baptism, by which we come to dwell within the love of the Trinity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church brings to our attention the way in which Christ’s own life reflects this mingling of mystery and love: “On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection. From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.’” (CCC 556 ) St. Thomas beautifully details how the Holy Trinity was made wonderfully manifest in this mystery: “The whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud.” (ST III, 45, 4, ad 2.) Christ “went up the mountain to pray,” taking Peter, James, and John, and His glory as the Second Person of the Trinity was sensibly made known to them; they were given a foretaste of the sweetness of this love of the Trinity. So too, in our faithful witness to the truth of this mystery, we can begin to taste the sweetness of the spiritual life by uniting our hearts to this Trinitarian love through prayer.

At the Transfiguration, Christ ascended the mountain, away from the chaos of the crowds and the exhaustion of preaching, and entered into the silence and solitude of prayer in manifest union with the whole of the Trinity. We are also invited into this union of Love and are given the opportunity to be transformed, if we but only retreat from our frenzied existence and rest in the simplicity of the Lord. In a homily on the mystery of the Transfiguration, St. Augustine reflects on how Peter must have reacted to the sweetness of this restful love in comparison to the bitter-sweet activity of his apostolate: “He had been wearied with the multitude, he had found now the mountain’s solitude; there he had Christ the Bread of the soul.” (St. Augustine, Homily on the Transfiguration) In prayer, when we seclude ourselves from the diversions of the  world and enter into the contemplation of spiritual goods, we begin to taste the love of God, which is true food for our souls; we become satiated by the love of the Trinity. Let us then pray for the grace and the strength to go “up the mountain to pray.” Let us follow in the footsteps of Christ so that, when, by His grace,  we reach the precipice, we may be transformed by the love of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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Support future Dominicans!

Prostration during solemn professions.

Greetings in Christ Jesus!

I hope you are well and staying healthy during this pandemic. Despite the upheaval in our daily routines, the flow of prayer and work in the cloister has continued for the salvation of souls. Know that you have remained in my prayers during this difficult time!

I am writing to ask for your support again. The current Labouré Class can use a final push in these last weeks of their campaign, which ends in only 2 weeks on June 30. Four of the candidates are aspiring to be future Dominicans in the Eastern Province! Below you will find videos and links that will introduce you to a few of these hopeful Dominican aspirants.

Just as you supported me in my vocation, would you consider supporting these men with a monetary gift? 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support! Know of mine for you as we continue to offer the praise of the Church to God in the liturgy and in our study.

In St. Dominic,
Br. Vincent


Support future Dominicans!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Proclamation of the Kingdom; Proclaiming the Life of the Gospel

The Gospel of Peace
By Gretchen Erlichman

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace…” ~Romans 10:15

At first blush, the Proclamation of the Kingdom may seem to be a somewhat expansive mystery upon which to meditate. This assumption would be correct, as this particular mystery covers the entirety of Christ’s public ministry, but, even more so, the entirety of Christ’s humanity. The mystery of the Incarnation, itself, proclaims the Kingdom of God and beckons us to share in the light of the living Word. The very first words that Our Lord utters in the Gospel of Mark proclaim this very fact: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) Although there is no exact historical timeline that aligns all four Gospels, this moment of proclamation in Mark’s Gospel was made at the very beginning of Christ’s public ministry in Galilee. Even before He performed many public miracles, by which word of Him spread far and wide, Christ proclaimed that the “kingdom of God is at hand,” that He, who is God, has come as ruler over all.  Proclaiming this at such a moment during His ministry draws our attention to the consideration that His sovereignty in the Kingdom is not wholly defined by His wondrous miracles or His vibrant words, but that these things blossom from the act of love that is His humanity; that He is the ‘Word made flesh Who dwelt among us’ (cf. John 1:14)  and it was in condescending to our  humanity that Christ fully proclaims the Kingdom of God; it is in this act of love that He invites us to change ourselves and embrace His gospel of peace.

Sermon on the Mount, Credit: depositphotosIn the letter to the Romans, St. Paul proclaims the wondrous mission of living out Christ’s teachings and spreading the joyful news of His love: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:15) St. Paul is referring to the very same gospel that Christ preached to His disciples. During His earthly life, Our Lord, as the second person of the Trinity, acted in the fullness of God, with the Holy Spirit and the Father, to proclaim this peace: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) These words of Christ encapsulate the gospel of peace that was preached by His every thought, act, and spoken word. In mediating on the whole of Christ’s life, we come to see that He proclaimed His kingdom by simply living His Divine life here on earth. He lived to the fullest the greatest commandments that He preached: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31) This is the fullness of the Christian life! It is in following Christ’s example that we are called to change ourselves and conform ourselves evermore to Christ in order to live out this gospel of peace. Particularly in the struggles that plague our world today, we are called to follow Christ’ example and go out as ‘sheep in the midst of wolves’ to proclaim the gospel of peace with our lives. (cf. Matt. 10:16) Therefore, let us go forth and share the good news of the Gospel; let us go forth and share the good news of Christ!


Metanoeite
By Phillip Baker

“A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit” (Ps 51:12)

After His Baptism, St. Mark recounts that Jesus “came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: … ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel’” (Mk 1:14-15). The word which we translate as “repent” in Greek is “metanoeite,” or “metanoia” – according to Merriam Webster, this means “a transformative change of heart” (Merriam-Webster.com). So when Our Lord calls us to repent, He does not call us to mend just our ways, but our whole way of being. He does not call us to mere ritual observance of the rules of the Old Covenant, but to a complete change of heart. He calls us to beat our breasts and, like a tax collector, say, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk 18:13). Our hearts of stone must break and must be turned back to our Father – as the Lord says through the prophet Malachi “return to Me, that I may return to you” (Mal 3:7).

For “the kingdom of God is at hand” but it “is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit” (Mk 1:15, Rom 14:17). What St. Paul means is that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of keeping ritual laws, but of having new hearts – of love of God and faith in the Son, which leads us to keep His commandments, for “whoever loves me will keep my word” (Jn 14:23). It is obedience that the Father wants, after the image of His son, who “though He was in the form of God did not regard equality with God something to be grasped” (Phil 2:6). This is a change from the decay of sin in our hearts which leads us to pride and disobedience, that we might wish to become “like gods” (Gn 3:5). Only in this way – by a complete change of heart and willing obedience to the Father’s Will – can we live as children of light.

We are often overwhelmed by the darkness of the world, but we cannot overcome it on our own. “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough to overcome the darkness. This is not because prayer is insufficient, but because our “thoughts,” no matter how well-intentioned, have no potency in themselves. Where do our thoughts take us but back into our own sinfulness? Our problem is not that we pray too often, but that we do not pray enough, for it is God alone Who, by His grace, can “create a clean heart for [us]” (Ps 51:12). “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18:14). “So strengthen your drooping hands and weak knees;” “repent and believe in the Gospel” (Heb 12:12, Mk 1:15). Only in this way – through humbly coming to God through His Church and His sacraments – can the Kingdom of God be inaugurated in our hearts and we finally live as children of the light.

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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The Wedding at Cana; Feasting with Christ

An Abundance of Blessings
By Phillip Baker

“The mountains shall drip with the juice of the grapes, and all the hills shall run with it.” (Am 9:13)

The Synoptic Gospels’ account of the Baptism of Our Lord reveal Who Christ is as the beloved Son of the Father; however, John does not have an account of Our Lord’s Baptism. Instead, St. John recounts the Wedding Feast at Cana, where Jesus turns 120 to 180 gallons of water into wine. The overabundance of this miracle recalls the prophecy of Amos, who says to a falling House of Israel: “the days are coming (when)… the mountains shall drip with the juice of the grapes, and all the hills shall run with it. I will restore my people, Israel…” (Am 9:13-14). This prophecy comes after God promises through Amos that although He will scatter Israel into exile for their sins, He will call them back and re-establish them under a King from the house of David.

The Wedding at Cana, Stained-Glass Window – St. Mary’s Church (Dayton, Ohio)

Jesus is that King, “the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star” Who leads God’s scattered people back into one fold (Rev 22:16). He is the Good Shepherd Who gathers God’s scattered brood under His wings so that “there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). Throughout the Gospels, Jesus expounds again and again what He reveals first at Cana: He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies, and He has come to establish a New Covenant.

The Covenant that Our Lord establishes is a marriage covenant between man and God – Jesus shows this in revealing Himself at a wedding. For by sending His Spirit upon the Church, He incorporates His disciples into His Body, His Bride, so that the Church is “a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:6). In the abundance of wine our Lord transfigures, He shows the abundance of the blessings He will shower upon His people. And the greatest blessing He will lavish upon us will be the blood He will shed in abundance upon the Cross. For no covenant is established without blood, and His is the blood of the new and everlasting covenant (cf. Heb9:18). The wine at Cana foreshadows His blood that will appear as wine upon the altars of the new covenant, in Masses throughout the world even until the end of the ages. What shall appear fully in time is foreshadowed in Cana.

The jars that carried the water were jars for ceremonial washing. In the Old Covenant, a number of things could make a person unclean, which meant they were unfit for participation in communal worship. By changing the water into wine, which is a symbol of His Blood, Jesus shows that the ceremonial washing of the Old Covenant is done away with. “For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings;” what good are our sacrifices and offerings if we worship with unclean hearts (Hos 6:6)? Yet washing with mere water cannot purify our hearts for God. What shall purify our hearts but the blood of Christ, given in abundance, the abundance of “blood and water flowing” from His side (Jn 19:34)?

 

 

Water to Wine & Wine to Blood; A Prefiguration of Salvation
By Gretchen Erlichman

“Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.”  ~John 2:11

The event of the Wedding at Cana wonderfully prefigures Christ’s offering of Himself for our salvation and His invitation to the faithful to share in His Divine Life. Not only was this event Christ’s first miracle of His public ministry, but this miraculous occurrence plays into the whole of understanding His glory and the way He has made an eternal offering of Himself for the salvation of mankind. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.” (CCC 1335) It is through this miracle that Christ realizes the invitation to His eternal mercy and love. It is in this invitation that He speaks to our hearts saying: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:56)

The miracle of the Wedding Feast at Cana is incorporated into the whole of Christ’s salvific act of love in that it speaks of His glory and omnipotence over all of creation. At Cana, Christ, in a singular moment, turned water into wine, which was usually something that happens over a longer period of time. In the usual course, the grapes are grown, pruned, and collected, all the time being nurtured by the care of the gardener and nature, and are eventually crushed and fermented to make wine. However, at the wedding feast, Christ displayed His command over all things in that, in an instant, the water became fine wine. St. John Chrysostom says: “But now to show that it is He who transmutes water in the vine plants, and who converts the rain by its passage through the root into wine, He effected that in a moment at the wedding which in the plant is long in doing.” (Homily 22 on the Gospel of John) Just as the water was turned to wine in a singular miraculous moment at Cana, so too did Christ merit our redemption in a singular act of love. At the wedding feast, Christ turned water into wine to publicly invite us into the mystery of His life; at the Last Supper, Christ turned wine into His Blood to invite us into the abundance of His mercy; on the Cross, blood and water poured out of His pierced side to invite us to share in His Divine Life.

Furthermore, the wine that was served at the wedding feast at Cana was the finest wine the wedding master had ever tasted; it was the wine of nature perfected by the intervention of the Savior. St. John Chrysostom says that “for such are the miraculous works of Christ, they are far more perfect and better than the operations of nature…it was wine then, and the best of wine, that had been made, not the servants only, but the bridegroom and the ruler of the feast would testify…” (Homily 22 on the Gospel of John) So too, it is through Christ that we are raised to perfection, despite the weakness of our human nature and the effects of our concupiscence. Christ offers Himself in such a way that we are perfected by His love and mercy. Thus, in reflecting on the Wedding at Cana, let us consider how the miracle of the wine at the wedding feast prefigures Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and the transubstantiation of bread and wine into His body and blood at the Last Supper, by which we are perfected and given a share in His Divine Life.

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

HELP RESCUE VOCATIONS

The Baptism of the Lord; The Father’s Beloved

Changed By Christ; Baptized With Water, Marked With Love
By Gretchen Erlichman

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.” ~Matthew 3:13

Through baptism we are incorporated into the love of Christ and the life of the Church. In being washed by the waters of Baptism, we are forever changed and are sealed with an indelible spiritual mark, or character, that enables us to participate in a full sharing in the life of the Church. It was in Christ’s own baptism by John the Baptist in the river Jordan that this sacrament of initiation was instituted to enable us to share in the Divine Life of the Trinity and to conform ourselves evermore to Christ. St. Gregory of Nyssa, one of the early Church Fathers, puts this beautifully: “…we in receiving Baptism, in imitation of our Lord and Teacher and Guide, are not indeed buried in the earth…but coming to the element akin to earth, to water, we conceal ourselves in that as the Saviour did in the earth: and by doing this thrice we represent for ourselves that grace of the Resurrection which was wrought in three days: and this we do, not receiving the sacrament in silence, but while there are spoken over us the Names of the Three Sacred Persons on Whom we believed, in Whom we also hope, from Whom comes to us both the fact of our present and the fact of our future existence.” (A Sermon for the Day of the Lights) Indeed, by our Baptism, we are initiated into an eternal sharing in the Divine Life of the Trinity and participate fully in the life of grace.

(Pixabay)

Matthew’s Gospel records the account of Christ’s baptism, which we imitate by our own reception of the sacrament: “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matt. 3:16-17) The Three Persons of the Trinity were present at the Baptism at the Jordan, just as we, at our baptisms are sealed “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At our baptism we are invited into the life of the Trinity, through the sacrament instituted by Christ at the Jordan, which the Father found pleasing, and by which the Holy Spirit seals our souls with an indelible sacramental character. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, in being washed with the waters of Baptism, “the Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord (“Dominicus character”).” (CCC 1274) In receiving this character, we are forever changed in conformity to Christ and we are ‘reborn’ into this new sharing in the life of the Trinity. The Catechism states that this sacrament “signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ.” (CCC 1239) Thus, let us strive to live out our baptismal vows by allowing our lives to be a testament to the way that we have been changed by Christ and marked by Love in our sharing in the Divine Life of the Trinity through Baptism.

 

 

Cleansed With Water, Salted With Fire
By Phillip Baker

“But the one who is coming after me is mightier than I….He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mt 3:11).

There is nothing Jesus tells us to do that He has not done first Himself. He says “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must…take up his cross daily,” so He first carries His cross all the way to Calvary (Lk 9:23). The first step on this way of the Cross is baptism, for He says “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5). Therefore, He is baptized first Himself. No one should be afraid to follow Christ, for Christ, “the Way,” has first walked that way Himself.

And, as Jesus accepts Baptism as the first step on His journey, so He shows us that if we would follow Him, we must first be baptized. When our Lord was baptized, He “[sanctified] the waters of the Jordan,” as St. Jerome says, so that the waters, purified, are no longer a “removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 3:21). Because the Lord first baptized the water, now the water of baptism saves us – not because water washes away sin, but because the Holy Spirit, the same which swept over the waters at Creation, descends upon us in our baptism and recreates us (cf. Gn 1:2). Being born of the Spirit in baptism, we come out of the regenerating waters and hear the Father say to us “this is my beloved son,” for the Son has made us such by sending the Spirit upon us in Baptism (cf. Mt 3:17).

As the Spirit dwells in us, it is truly said “Beloved, we are God’s children now” (1 Jn 3:2). But Jesus’ “winnowing fan is in His hand,” and, as we are baptized with the fire of God’s love, the Holy Spirit, we are being purified – as He says “everyone will be salted with fire” (Mt 3:12, Mk 9:49). Fire both refines and purifies, and so our baptism is both a gift and a challenge. Having been so purified by our baptism in the Holy Spirit, shall we live lovingly, as children of the light, and deserve to hear the Father say “well done, my good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:23)? Or shall we scorn the gift of our baptism and, living as children of the dark, be thrown “into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” (Mt 25:30)? This is the gift and challenge of our Baptism which our Lord calls us to. We have been salted with fire; may the fire of the Holy Spirit, then, preserve us in our Baptism unto eternal life.

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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The Coronation of Mary; Queen of Wisdom, Mother of Love

Obediently Crowned
By Phillip Baker

“Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Lk 11:28).

God graced Mary with a number of unique and extraordinary graces. However, neither the Immaculate Conception, nor the Assumption, nor any other particular grace God bestowed upon her crowns and honors Mary so much as her humble obedience to the will of God. Mary’s unique participation in the glory of her Son is given to her through the merits of Christ, so Mary’s glory is, as with all God’s saints, a sharing in Christ’s glory. Mary’s “fiat” mirrors the obedience of her Son, Who “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted Him…” (Phil 2:8-9) In His life and by His death, Christ showed the way for all His disciples to be raised to glory through obedience to the Father’s Will – as He said “I have given them the glory You gave Me” (Jn 17:22).

“The Coronation of the Virgin” -Fra Angelico, c. 1434-35

Mary was obedient to God’s will throughout her life, and in this way she preeminently shares in her Son’s glory. As our Lord says, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it,” and none kept it better than Mary who said “be it done unto me according to thy word” (Lk 11:28; 1:38). By her constant and ready obedience to the will of God, Mary, already preserved free from the stain of original sin, also never committed or consented to even the smallest sin throughout her entire life (cf. CCC 411).

For we who are “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears,” Mary is both hope and exemplar. Would we keep from sin and hold on to the hope of Heaven? Then let us follow Mary’s example and pray that we might receive from God the grace to be as obedient to His will as she was. For the life of Mary testifies to the truth that “sacrifice and offering you do not want … so I said, ‘see; I come… I delight to do your will, my God'” (Ps 40:7-9).

Indeed, God wants nothing from us but ready obedience to His will. God made us to be happy, not necessarily in this life, but in eternity with Him. Our sure way home, then, is to do His will. Mary’s obedience is her crowning glory and her lowliness is her crown, for “the humble of spirit acquire honor,” and “the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Prov 29:23; Lk 14:11). Who of all God’s saints has been exalted more than Mary, who we venerate because God has made her so venerable as Queen of Heaven and Earth? Indeed, “He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness,” so Mary, who always heard the word of God and kept it, proclaims forever: “…behold, from now on will all ages call blessed” (Lk 1:48).

 

Mother Mediatrix; Excellent Exemplar
By Gretchen Erlichman

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel. ~Genesis 3:15

The Blessed Mother, since the moment of her fiat, surrendered the entirety of herself to the will of God and, in doing so, consented to her role as Queen of Heaven and earth. In submitting her will to that of the Creator, she became the Queen of Creation and the Mother of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “By pronouncing her ‘fiat’ at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body.” (CCC 973)

It is this total surrender to the will of God that raised the Blessed Virgin Mary to reign as Queen of Heaven and earth, and it was her “yes” at the Annunciation that has allowed her to play an integral role in conquering sin and death for our salvation. In agreeing to be the Mother of God, she became an instrument of salvation by bearing Christ in her womb; from the moment of her immaculate conception, God chose Mary to be His mother. St. Irenaeus, in his work Adversus Haereses, states that “He is one and the same, who formed us at the beginning, and sent His Son at the end, the Lord did perform His command, being made of a woman, by both destroying our adversary, and perfecting man after the image and likeness of God.”  (AH 5.21.2) Being born of a woman, namely the Blessed Mother, Christ became man and gained for us our salvation. In giving birth to our Savior, Mary crushes the head of the serpent; Mary joins her Son in conquering sin and death and becomes both our Mother and our Queen.

Indeed, Mary is our Maternal Queen, who guides us ever closer to her Son through her intercession and example. Pope Paul VI’s 1964 constitution Lumen Gentium exalts Mary as “‘the mother of the members of Christ . . . having cooperated by charity that faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head.’ Wherefore she is hailed as a pre-eminent and singular member of the Church, and as its type and excellent exemplar in faith and charity.” (LG 53 It is by the graces merited through her intercession and by closely following her example that we, ourselves, can rise above sin and death, striving to live a life of virtue that leads to eternal life. It is through the Blessed Mother’s example that we can be ‘perfected in the image and likeness of God.’ Mary, Queen of Wisdom and Mother of Love, pray for us!

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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The Assumption of Mary; An Immaculate Journey

Immaculate Intercessor
By Gretchen Erlichman

“When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you.'” (John 2:3-5)

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) With Mary’s “yes” to be the Mother of God, she gave her consent to be the Mother of the Church and the Queen of both Heaven and earth. At her Assumption, the Blessed Mother was assumed, body and soul, up unto the Heavenly Kingdom of Her Son and assumed her reign as the Immaculate Queen over His beloved Church. It is through this mysterious miracle of her Assumption that the Blessed Virgin Mary sits on her throne beside her Divine Son and showers her motherly love upon us as one of our greatest intercessors to Our Lord.

“The Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin” Fra Angelico, 1433-34

In Pope Pius XII’s 1950 apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, Mary’s Assumption was clarified and defined as a dogma of the Church. In this declaration, Pope Pius XII articulated the special role that the Blessed Mother holds as the Immaculate Intercessor to her Divine Son: “We…to whom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated the entire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and time again experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds.”

How wonderful it is that Our Blessed Mother, assuming her queenship over Heaven and earth, bestows her maternal love and care upon us by bringing our every need to her Son! At the wedding at Cana, the Blessed Mother interceded for the the newlyweds, so as to save them from embarrassment: “When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.’His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you.'” (John 2:3-5) In this moment, Christ did not refuse the request of His mother. At Cana, Christ heeded His mother’s request to save a wedding. How much more precious are our requests to her that involve the salvation of our souls! How joyful she is to bring before her Son our requests for growth in the grace and virtue that will help us to grow in love of God and neighbor.

St. Basil the Great encourages us to entrust ourselves to the love and care of the Blessed Mother: “O sinner, be not discouraged, but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities. Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will that she should help in every kind of necessity.” Indeed, let us confidently bring our prayers and needs to Mary, Our Mother, who will lovingly bring them before her Son on our behalf. Mary, Immaculate Intercessor and Mother of the Church, pray for us!

 

Safe Assumptions
By Phillip Baker

“Behold from now on will all ages call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

There is no direct Biblical attestation of the Assumption of Mary. We are told of the uniqueness of Enoch, who “walked with God” and was taken into Heaven, and we know of Elijah, who was taken up in a chariot of fire; therefore, there are preceding examples (Gn 5:24; cf. 2 Kgs 2:9-12). Yet, the same details are not given of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother. Because of the absence of biblical details, however, we should not conclude that the Assumption of Mary did not occur.

God reveals the Gospel of salvation both through Scripture, “the speech of God as it is put down in writing by the breath of the Holy Spirit,” and the Tradition of the Church, the living transmission of what Christ taught the Apostles, handed on faithfully through their successors, the bishops (cf. CCC 71, 81-2). Scripture and Tradition never contradict, but Tradition illuminates Scripture, and vice-versa. For our Lord did not give us the Bible during His time on earth, but established the Church, constituted by the Holy Spirit to “go [and] make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that [He has] commanded us” (Mt 28:19-20). Out of this Body of the Church was compiled the body of Scripture. So, although the Assumption of Mary is not recorded in Scripture, still it has ever been remembered in the Church’s Tradition.

For “the wages of sin is death,” and it was after the sin of Adam and Eve that man earned the punishment of mortality (Rom 6:23). Therefore Mary, who was preserved by God’s grace from sin, would not have suffered death. She who heard the angelic greeting, “hail, full of grace,” never sinned and did not know sin and would not have earned sins’s wages in tasting death (Lk 1:28; cf. CCC 966).

Mary is the mother of this Church which has always known that our Mother has been assumed, body and soul, into Heaven with her Son. From Heaven, she intercedes for her children, that she might teach us to love her Son. Let us listen, then, to our Mother’s teachings: Standing by the Cross, she teaches us to do the same, that we might bear all trials with Christ; adoring our Lord in Nazareth, she teaches us how to adore our Eucharistic God; contemplating all the mysteries of the Incarnation in her heart, Mary, Seat of Wisdom, teaches us how to contemplate her Son, Who is the Son of God (cf. Lk 2:19). Claiming no glory for herself, everything in Mary’s life “[proclaimed] the greatness of God,” and she always and only leads us to her son – in this way she “shows herself a mother” and the exemplar of the Church (Lk 1:46). Coming to Christ through Mary, we might learn from Mary to “forget our own people and our father’s house” until we come at last to dwell in our Father’s house (Ps 45:11).

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

HELP RESCUE VOCATIONS

The Descent of the Holy Spirit; Recreated in Love

Who Keeps His Promises
By Phillip Baker

“God remembers forever His covenant… which He made with Abraham and swore to Isaac.”(Psalm 108:8-9)

Fifty days after the Passover, the Israelite people brought the “first-fruits,” or the first reapings, of their harvest to the priest as an offering to God on the day of Pentecost. They also offered, among other things, two unblemished lambs as a “communion sacrifice,” “a sweet smelling oblation to the Lord” (Lv 23:18). Everything in the Old Testament paves the way for the New; not without reason, then, God chose to send His Spirit upon the nascent Church and reveal Her to the world on Pentecost. The Spirit fell upon the Apostles gathered in prayer with Mary and they went out and proclaimed the truth that Jesus is the long-awaited, promised Messiah to the Jews gathered in Jerusalem. Those who heard were, in turn, baptized, becoming the first fruits of the Church, those coming to life in Christ (cf. Acts 2).

Pentecost, from the Armadio deli Argenti (silver chest),” Fra Angelico, 1450-52

“Christ the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” joins His Church to Himself through His Spirit (1 Cor 15:20). The Holy Spirit unites the Church to Christ, making us into the Body of Christ to share in His Resurrection. We are united to Christ in the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit Who blew over the waters at Creation (cf. Gn 1:2), the same Spirit Who the Father blew into the nostrils of clay and made into Adam (cf. Gn 2:7), the same Spirit Who Ezekiel prophesied would blow into the flesh carcasses in the desert and from whom God would make a new people from a derelict Israel (cf. Ez 37:1-14). The Church, revealed on Pentecost, is that new Israel, constituted by the Holy Spirit as the Body of Christ and joined to the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit, Who is the living bond of love between the Father and the Son.

We are the children of the promises of the Old Testament. We are those to whom God promised, “I will put my spirit in you so that you may walk in my statutes… you will be my people and I will be your God” (Ez 36:27-8). “In all wisdom and insight, He has made known to us the mystery” of His plan “to sum up all things in Christ” (Eph 1:8, 10). The Spirit poured upon the Apostles at Pentecost in the breath of God and the Spirit of Wisdom that dwells still in us. God has given us the wisdom to understand that His promises to the Old Israel have not been abolished but fulfilled in us, the New Israel. Let us, then, trust in God more and love Him more because He is a God Who keeps His promises.

 

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit; A Dwelling in Love
By Gretchen Erlichman

“Let us love him and cling to him with the charity that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:5

Through the Holy Spirit, our sharing in the Divine life of the Trinity is actuated and the fruits of grace are made manifest in our souls. As a result of the indwelling the Holy Spirit within us, the love of the Trinity abides in us, while we are invited to dwell within that love. Our souls become His dwelling place; our souls become a place for His love to abide. St. Paul tells us: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy spirit within you, which you have from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19)

How amazing it is that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, has chosen to dwell within us, to allow our souls to be a temple of His love! This invitation to dwell within the love of the Trinity is extended to us through the gift if sanctifying grace. St. Thomas tells us that “sanctifying grace disposes the soul to possess the divine person; and this is signified when it is said that the Holy Ghost is given according to the gift of grace. Nevertheless the gift itself of grace is from the Holy Ghost; which is meant by the words, ‘the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost’ (Rom. 5:5).” (ST I-I Q.43, A.3)

Indeed, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within our souls is an intimate invitation to the love of the Trinity. In De Trinitate, Augustine points out that love, itself, is triune in nature: “love means someone loving and something loved and love.” (Trin. 8.10.14) This passage speaks to the mutuality between the love of the Trinity that is extended to us through the Holy Spirit and the love for God that exists in our souls through sanctifying grace. Of course, the love that we, in our humanity, have for God can never reach the heights to which we are extended His great love. Yet, this is a further testament of God’s ineffable affection and mercy for His children; a call to dwell in the greatest Love!

Yes, we are called to love! St. Paul draws our attention to the supremacy of this virtue of love: “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13) Let us ponder in our hearts this love, so that we may become ever capacious for the gift of grace and the love of the Trinity. Let us ask the question begged of us by St. Augustine: “Begin to love; you will be perfected. Have you begun to love? God has begun to dwell in you; love Him who has begun to dwell in you that by indwelling more perfectly He may make you perfected. ‘In this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.’. . . Ask your heart; if it is filled with love, you have the Spirit of God.” (Tract. 5.243) Do you love and dwell in Love?

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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10 Ways to honor Mary this May during quarantine

Check out these ways you can grow in your devotion to the Virgin Mary while staying at home.
Annabelle Moseley | May 01, 2020

Each of the 12 months of the year has a Catholic devotional theme. It’s a great way to bring special traditions, symbols, colors and even foods to enrich our faith life at home.  It’s a special blessing during this time that so many of us are self-quarantined. Here are 10 ways you can make your home bloom with love to Mary, to make your domestic church come alive with faith and love to comfort you and increase your prayer life.

Moisés Becerra | Cathopic CC0

1. DECORATE YOUR TABLE
Now’s the time to bring out that blue tablecloth or runner, in honor of Mary. Or give the kids each a piece of blue construction paper and have them decorate it to honor Our Lady. Then they can use it as a placemat. In a prominent place near by, display a statue or picture of Mary. Add a bouquet if possible. At grace before meals, add a special prayer to Mary.

2. MAKE A MARY GARDEN
Get a statue of Mary for your garden, then honor her by planting some special blooms. There are so many beautiful flowers and herbs associated with Our Lady, such as roses, lilies of the valley (also known as Our Lady’s Tears), rosemary; marigolds (Mary’s Gold). Seven well-placed rocks could represent the “crown of the seven joys of Mary.” Ten stepping stones could signify a decade of Hail Marys and could assist you in praying your Rosary outdoors. Can’t get to the store to buy flowers? Sit outside if you are able, and pray the Rosary or Magnificat as you marvel at the signs of spring, like a reminder of the Annunciation all around you. Don’t have a garden or access to outdoors these days? Take an online tour of Mary’s Garden at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

 

3. HAVE A MAY CROWNING
Children of all ages delight in a May crowning. If you have a garden, the littlest ones in the family will enjoy picking flowers to place before the statue or helping to make a flower crown. If you don’t have access to fresh flowers during quarantine, try making a crown out of paper flowers, made from colored tissue paper, flowers drawn and colored on paper, then glued in a circlet, or a gold pipe cleaner. Gather around the crowned statue, sing songs for Mary or say Marian prayers. No crown? Just gather near a statue of Mary and make a “crown” out of singing 12 songs to her, or reading 12 prayers to Mary. Each of the 12 you recite will symbolize one of the 12 stars in her crown as mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

4. OFFER SPECIAL MARIAN PRAYERS
Say a family Rosary or even a decade together. Try a new Marian prayer you haven’t prayed in a while, such as the Litany of Loreto, the Memorare, or the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows.

5. COOK FOR THE QUEEN
Make a special Marian-themed dinner. Here’s some easy ideas: Since rosemary is the herb associated with Mary, you might try a dinner of rosemary chicken, and for dessert make a rosary or a decade of beads using cookies or cupcakes. Decorate with confectionary roses on the top or blue icing. Or a Bundt cake, naturally made in the molded shape of a crown, would help recall Mary’s queenship. Decorate it colorfully.

6. PLAY MUSIC FOR MARY
Whether it’s Marian Gregorian chant, Bach’s Magnificat or Pavarotti’s Ave Maria, fill your home with the beautiful sounds of homage to our Heavenly Mother. If you can play an instrument, you might try your hand at playing anything from “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother,” to “Gentle Woman.”

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The Ascension; To the Highest Good

Seated at the Right Hand of the Father; In Tabernacles Throughout the World
By Gretchen Erlichman

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” ~Matt. 28:20.

In His Ascension, Christ rose from the earth into Heaven and is “seated at the right hand of the Father.” (Creed) Yet, although Christ’s humanity left the earth to assume His dwelling in the Heavenly Domain, He still remains with us here on earth in His Presence in the Eucharist. Even after condescending to our humanity, dying for us, and inviting us to be heirs to the Heavenly Kingdom, He continues to pour out His love to us by remaining with us in the Blessed Sacrament. Christ is present with us, here and now, in tabernacles throughout the world. What an indescribably beautiful gift of Love!

The Ascension of Christ, The Last Judgment, Pentecost (Corsini Triptych) by Fra Angelico, 1447-48

It is in Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist by which He physically remains “with us always” (Matt. 28:30) on earth, until we enter into the radiance of His glory in the Beatific Vision. It is through the Eucharist that we intimately enter into this relationship with Him now and receive a glimpse of the joys to come in eternal life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist, the pledge of glory with Him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with His Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.” (CCC 1419)

It is through the Eucharist that we are united to Christ in Heaven because the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist is wholly and entirely the same Body and Blood of Christ that is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Christ is with us “always” through the Eucharist because of this beautiful and ineffable offering of Himself. In the Tertia Pars of the Summa, St. Thomas says: “This sacrament has threefold significance. One with regard to the past, inasmuch as it is commemorative of our Lord’s Passion, which was a true sacrifice…With regard to the present it has another meaning, namely that the Ecclesiastical unity, in which men are aggregated through this Sacrament; and in this respect it is called ‘Communion’…’because we communicate with Christ through it’…With regard to the future it has a third meaning, inasmuch as this sacrament foreshadows the Divine fruition, which shall come to pass in Heaven.” (ST III Q.73 Art.4)

Indeed, in His Ascension, Christ rose up from the earth to take His place on the Heavenly throne. Yet, He remains with us, whole and entire, in the Blessed Sacrament. He continues to fill our souls with His goodness and light and to satiate our hunger and thirst for His Presence. In the Eucharist, Christ is present with us, here and now, ever comforting our souls with His words of love: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

 

So Follows the Body
By Phillip Baker

“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many are one body, so also Christ.” ~1 Cor. 12:12.

“It is better for you that I go” (Jn. 16:7). This is a hard saying of Our Lord! We don’t like times of separation from friends and family. Even if we know we’ll see them again, the separation is difficult.  How, then, can we believe that it is better for us that Our Lord leaves us? He says this to His Apostles during the Last Supper, warning them of His impending Passion, Resurrection, and, specifically, His Ascension. He will be taken beyond their sight and the Apostles will no longer see Him in the way they have. But still, it’s better that He goes, for then He can send the Holy Spirit upon them. And, by His gift of the Holy Spirit, sent upon His Church only after His Ascension, we are incorporated into – made into the Body of – Jesus Christ Himself that is the Church.

St. Augustine teaches forcefully about the unity of the Body: as the body and the head are one, so, too the ever-living Body of Christ is one. Christ the Head is united to His Body the Church in an indivisible unity. This is true, even as Christ is in Heaven. Therefore, we even now share somewhat in the glory of Heaven by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in us. This relationship continues so long as we do not ex-corporate ourselves from the Body of Christ by grave sin. Therefore, St. Augustine says “just as He remained with us even after His Ascension, so we too are already in Heaven with Him, even though what is promised has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.”  Christ, body and soul, has ascended into Heaven; therefore, we, His Body, hope to follow where our Head has gone.

God gives us the gifts and graces necessary so that we might endure with Him and “attain to… mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ” (Eph 4:13). We are not yet perfect, so we do not yet enjoy a full share in Divine Life. However, if we endure with Him, we shall receive that inheritance in full. As members of His Body, grace upon grace is poured out upon us so that we might be perfected and follow to where our Head has ascended. The hope of being with Him in Heaven is guaranteed and that glory is now anticipated by the gift of His Holy Spirit in us. It is this Spirit Who makes us one with Jesus, the same Spirit sent when Christ “ascended on high… (and) gave gifts to men” (Eph 4:8). Therefore it is better for us that He goes, for He sends His greatest gift, His Spirit, on us as He goes. And, as He, our Head, left to prepare a place for us, so He will come back again and take us to Himself, so that where He is we also may be (cf. Jn. 14:3).

 

COME PRAY WITH US!

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Right now, more than ever, we called to come together as a Church to pray and to engage with the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. As a response to this invitation, we are launching a weekly prayer and discussion group called Quarantine Conversations, which will follow the theme of the reflections of the Quarantine Contemplation series. Each week, we will meet on Friday evenings at 6:30pm CST/7:30pm EST to pray a decade of the Rosary followed by a short reflection and time for discussion. Please join us for all or part of these meetings, so that we may join our hearts in praise of our glorious Creator!

Sign Up Here!

(After signing up, you will receive an email with more information about how to download Zoom and information about receiving weekly links to connect to the Quarantine Conversations.)

About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Phillip Baker 

Hi! My name is Phillip Baker and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently reside as I work to pay off student loan debt from my time at Syracuse University. This is my first 6-month class with the Labouré Society, and I anticipate entrance to religious life with the Friars this July.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact 

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