Happy new year!
On this the solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, the readings today focus so much on prayer and relationship with God that they are practically “oozing” with it, to use a not so technical term. They each show us something particular about prayer, each a different aspect or angle.
From the book of Numbers we hear the great blessing prayer; perhaps you have heard it before:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” -Numbers 6.24-26
Given by the Lord to his people, through Moses, he was reminding them with this prayer of his favour for them; that He would take care of them and that they need not worry. But isn’t it true that when we forget whose we are, and how he wants to bless us, that we lose that sense of peace. It is a good reminder to us!
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians(4.4-7) we hear another reminder, that we are adopted as God’s sons and daughters through Christ his Son with whom and through whom we have redemption. St.Paul uses an endearing term with which our Spirit cries to our heavenly Father as his children, “Abba! Father!” We translate this as something like, “Daddy!” I can particularly connect with this term of endearment as it is one that my children use for me. They come running to me, at times, with their arms open, looking up, “Daddy!” Without the words I can hear them saying, “I need you! I need your comfort, I need your strong arms around me, I need your love. I need you.” It is very powerful for me to translate this to the heavenly Father as I run, like my children do to me, to my Father God, my “Abba”, my Daddy! How about for you, would this change how you approach prayer?
Now of that weren’t enough we still have the Gospel passage(Luke 2.16-21), taking place just after Jesus is born. God coming to us in, I daresay, an even more intimate way than “Abba”, coming among us, to be one with us. The shepherds, upon hearing of his birth from the angels, made haste(as we hear in Scripture) to see him. They wasted no time! It makes me reflect on how hasty I am to start my day in his presence. Waking up the wee bit earlier and taking that time can make all the difference. That, like the shepherds, we might be prepared and return(to the rest of our day) “glorifying and praising God” for all that we have heard and seen as it has been spoken and revealed to us. So we can see how making haste to be in his presence gives us the power to praise him throughout our day, no matter what may come our way. It is also a reminder that we should go out as the shepherds did, not keeping the Good News to themselves but sharing it with all that they met so that others might also share in the amazement.
And then amidst all of this we have Mary, of whom the Scripture says, “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” She is the mother of God, the God-bearer, who has brought him forth into our very midst by her submission to God’s will; “May it be done to me according to your word.” For her to have said that shows us the depth of her relationship with God. To internalize God’s very word and to treasure and ponder it’s meaning, this is one of Mary’s great gifts to us, and I believe it is so beautifully and powerfully conferred to us by her most holy rosary! The rosary where we can, like Mary did, ponder and treasure the events and the mysteries of Christ’s life. The rosary is a school of prayer unto itself. It can teach us meditation, by using our imagination and the power of our mind to grapple with the mysteries and try to allow them to make a deeper impression on us, as we use the vocal prayers(Our Fathers, Hail Marys,etc) to space out these meditations. We can even allow it to go deeper into contemplation, which is a mysterious openness of and movement of the will towards a particular good, the way that you would experience a particular beauty and don’t have the words to express it.
I would encourage you to take some more time with these scriptures this week, and ask the Lord where he wants to lead you in prayer, in relationship with him. Pray the rosary and Mary will lead you in praying more powerfully and profoundly and she will help you to ponder the richness, the depth, the beauty, and the mystery of God’s love for you.
I would like to close with a quote from St.Louis de Montfort,
“We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”
“The belief of the shepherds who heard the voices of the angels, and of the people who heard the shepherds’ testimony, set into motion a sharing of faith that has endured for more than two millennia and has spread to all corners of the world.” – Cardinal Sean O’Malley
“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.” – St.Maximilian Kolbe