The Rosary Light and Life - Current Announcements - Nov-Dec 2013
Advent: Mary's Season
We call May and October "Mary's" months, and for good reason, but the Church's true, liturgical season devoted to Mary is the time of Advent. During these days the readings at Mass call us to listen to the history of God's people, and to see Mary as the fulfillment of every good impulse that drew Israel to God, and kept a nation faithful to God's covenant in spite of betrayal, war and exile.
Our faith tells us that Jesus was like us in all things but sin. Which means that he was unlike us in one very important way. Our faith also tells us that Mary, the mother of God, was like us in all things - not in sin, of course, but by sharing humankind's common need to be delivered from it, she by a special act of God's grace before her birth, we by God's grace at Baptism.
The Immaculate Conception is an event of immense importance in Mary's life, of course, but it is an event that gives us immense hope, as well. For what God has done for Mary, he does for us all - for her before her birth, for us, after. And for the same reason. So that we, like Mary, might give flesh and blood to God's word and present Christ to the world.
Our bodies are no less material by Jesus' taking on our mortality from the Virgin Mary, but the Incarnation that begins remotely, with Mary's Immaculate Conception, gives our bodies a new vocation. We are no less mortal, but grace enables us to say ‘yes,' and that same grace charges us to present the human face of God's Word to the world, and to touch the world with Christ's loving hands.
Ronald Knox composed a book, A Retreat for Lay People, which begins and ends with a reflection on the Virgin Mary; in each he asks us to consider her calm, her quiet, her serenity. In our fast-moving world, quiet and calm people can be taken for depressed, lazy or lethargic, but Knox points out there is another side to this, and that is "… the knack of putting first thing first." After the Annunciation, he remarks, Mary pays her visit to Elizabeth "in haste," but not "in a hurry." Our dictionary defines "haste" as speed, but adds that it is speed combined with a certain purpose or dispatch, which echoes Knox's observation, "Calm people don't need to be in a hurry, because they hasten at the right moment, about the right things."
There is another voice we ought to consider during these days of Advent, and that is John the Baptist's. Both Mary and John spent their lives in service of God's Word, and the details in the legends that surround the birth of Mary echo those told in the Scripture of John the Baptist, if only because both stories say an aged couple, after years of prayer, finally welcomed the birth of a child.
The charming legends tell us that when she was three years old, Mary's parents took her to Jerusalem, to arrange for her education, and to dedicate her to the Lord. When they arrived at the Temple, the stories go, Mary broke away from them, ran up the stairs, and to the delight of all danced before the Lord and those who were assembled to welcome them.
The Prophet Isaiah says, "How beautiful are the feet of the one who brings good news." Notice, it is the preacher's feet that are beautiful, not the sandals. Mary shows us what counts. In her youth her feet teach us to offer God a joyful sacrifice of our lives. After the Annunciation, those same feet, we are told, go "with haste" to share the Good News of the Incarnation with her kinswoman Elizabeth.
Like John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary is our model in humility. When the angel tells her she is to be the mother of God's son she says, "Of course. I am, after all, the Lord's servant." But later, in the Magnificat, when she speaks of her lowliness as God's servant, she tells us that to be God's slave - to give up our will to embrace God's will - means sharing in God's triumphs and his glory.
The gospel is a story told about us. Each of the individuals we encounter in the gospel accounts is a reflection of us, and shows us what we ought to be doing - or what we ought to be avoiding. Mary is the model for the Church, so she is our model in all things. She is the only person present to witness all the important events in the life of Jesus - and the beginning of the Church at Pentecost - so to find her in the Scripture is to find ourselves, sharing her quiet but powerful witness to God's Word, the primary exemplar of our Christian life.
Knox translated the Bible, so he is a careful observer of the language individuals speak. He makes a wonderful comparison between Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth's excitement, he says, "…makes a sort of agitated antiphon to usher in the marble-like phrases of the Magnificat." Marble-like those phrases are, indeed. If we look at the words of Mary's Magnificat, we see that the hymn begins in the first person - "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…" But two sentences into the hymn, the language becomes general, and the hymn becomes a tribute to God's justice, loving kindness, and mercy for all his people.
Knox ends his reflection - and his book - by putting words of advice in Mary's mouth. She gives us two "don'ts." Don't protest or blame others if we can't have what we want and have to put up with the "next best." And don't carry on if it seems like our prayers aren't being answered. "And in everything you do the less you appear the better."
NEWS ON FR. DUFFNER
As he approaches his ninety-ninth birthday, our beloved Fr. Duffner is showing the inevitable signs of wear. Which is not to say he has lost interest in the Rosary Confraternity ministry he directed for so many years. Far from it! Although he is slowing down, he continues to come to the Rosary Center each afternoon to cheer our staff and lend such practical assistance.
Did you ever wonder who enters all the names into the Rosary Confraternity register? Fr. Duffner spends literally hours at this labor of love, entering approximately 250 names into the book each week with perfect handwriting!
So that he can enjoy better care, Fr. Duffner has moved across the street from the Rosary Center, into a skillednursing facility. He is, thus, able to look down on his beloved Rosary Center and the Holy Rosary Parish over which he presided with love, as pastor, for so many years. Because he is so close by, he can join the Rosary Center staff and the Dominican community whenever he "feels up" to making the trip across the street - and we are able to visit him with great regularity.
Fr. Duffner remains the heart and soul of the Dominicans' Rosary ministry. Please keep him in your prayers as we join Mary on her pilgrimage through Advent.
CHRISTMAS GIFT SUGGESTIONS
Celebrating Mary - This book contains one hundred prayers and readings to foster and deepen our devotion to God's mother. The volume includes reflections by Julian of Norwich, St. Bernard, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Alphonsus, St. Francis de Sales, and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The Look and Find Book of Bible Stories - This book, designed for children, invites young readers to learn their Old and New Testament by identifying objects, animals and individuals on each page.
Pope Francis Speaks to Our Hearts - This pocket-sized volume contains excerpts from the homilies and addresses His Holiness has given since becoming Pope.
The Gift of St. John Paul II - This book, by American Cardinal Donald Wuerl, explores the wealth of the Pontiff's teaching, and invites the reader to explore ways to apply them in everyday life.
Praying with St. John Paul II - This book contains devotions dear to the saint, with biographical details and other reflections that make the prayers easily accessible to the reader.
Pope John Paul II, Words to Live By - This is perpetual calendar, which will enable faithful Catholics to meditate each day upon the wisdom of the former Pope, and the Church's new saint.
Please consult our extensive catalog to order these, other books, CDs, DVDs and many other items at www.rosary-center.org/catalog.htm
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTIONNov. 30 - Dec. 8 | Dec. 9 - 17
to be offered for your intentions.
The Rosary Center
PO Box 3617
Portland, OR 97208 USA