Saturday, August 22, 2020

OUR LADY IN AUGUST by MARY ANN DOWD

Prayer: Benevolent Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,  your pilgrim people gathered here this night ask for courage, the courage to live out in our daily lives the faith we profess with our lips.  Amen

Last October I was asked to give a talk on Our Blessed Mother, In May we were blessed with two wonderful rollos on Our Lady by Fr. Ed and Ronnie Martella, both of which quoted the sacred scriptures and the many ways in which Mary is our model, our teacher, our spiritual guide and most of all and forever, our mother.

It would seem that Cursillistas like to talk and to listen to talks about Mary.  Saturday Morning Sabatina is dedicated to Our Lady on every Cursillo weekend.  Non-Catholics just seem to wonder what all the fuss over Mary is about?  Let’s meditate on that question for a moment.

This particular meditation is not an easy one. It involves the Supernatural reality of God and the spiritual realm beyond our reach but not beyond our knowledge.  These are themes which our culture seems so preoccupied with; that of zombies, vampires and  other creatures who have no basis  in reality.  But please be assured, this meditation involves very real supernatural creatures and takes place before the dawn of time.  I would ask you to take a deep breath, slowly let it out and close your eyes and please keep them closed throughout and do not open them until I ask you to.   

Let’s take this journey now, all of us together, above the clouds, to the place where God dwells.  Envision fire and smoke; you hear the clashing of steel blades as swords are drawn and advanced and you hold your hands over your ears to try and block the roar of a great battle raging in the heavens.  The scene is difficult to fathom.

You blink several times to try to clear your eyes of the smoke and discern the scene that lies before you.  At the center of this scene a tiny baby is lying in a manger on a bed of straw and creatures of unimaginable beauty are kneeling and worshiping this human child.  There is a brilliance radiating from this infant that is impossible to explain or resist. 

Picture yourself being drawn closer to this make-shift crib.  You slowly make your way nearer to the child.  You have seen many newborn babies in your lifetime 10 tiny little fingers and 10 tiny toes.  Surely this child must be like one of them, yet, you know in your heart that he is not the same.  This child is special.  This child will one day deliver you from death. 

Before you can reach the infant, the procession halts; your eyes are transfixed on one of the most singularly beautiful and imposing of all the heavenly hosts. This creature does not kneel in adoration but instead rises to his full stature and refuses to bow in adoration.  He is also persuading others to refuse as well.  He draws his sword against his fellow creatures  and asserts his superiority in a loud voice: I will not bow.   I will not serve!  With this declaration,

The roar of battle suddenly cesses, the smoke clears, the die is cast….

Another Voice now fills the void, a Voice at once both irresistible and fierce.  This Voice seems to penetrate to the depths of your very soul.  It actually appears to come from within you and outside of you at the same time.  With one declaration this utterance banishes the rebels in a flash and as they fall from heaven you hear these words spoken loudly, clearly and unmistakably:

 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and hers, she will strike at your head while you strike at her heel.”

....and so the battle lines are drawn henceforth for all human ages.

How telling this simple sentence:  Such perfection and economy in God’s words; even in that one single word “strike”

Pay close attention to who it was who struck the first lethal blow to end this fiery battle, “she will strike at your head;  “She”,  this young child barely a  woman raised the Sword of the Spirit and quietly, almost inaudibly, yet containing all the power of heaven, overturned the darkness of pride with these few words: “behold the handmaid of the Lord”;   (the servant of God)  Mary “bowed”, Mary would “serve”.    It was Mary’s humility which dealt a lethal blow against the enemy’s prideful words (I will not serve). 

God’s humble handmaid was not finished yet but continued in battle.

Once again she raises the sword and advances on the power of darkness: ”be it done unto me according to your word; with complete faith and trust in God she slashed the power of evil and the light of heaven shone once more upon the earth. 

You bow your head as finally,  the death knell for God’s enemy and ours is sounded with these final precious Words:  “and The Word was made Flesh and dwelled among us”

And so it was and so it is that the battle for Eternal happiness was won by a young virgin in an obscure village, surely a victim in her time of sexism and oppression, to whom God entrusted HIS only begotten Son.  The seed of Mary who would finally strike at the head of the evil one and deliver us from death to life everlasting.  He came in relative anonymity.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be;  He reveals Himself to those who seek Him, to those who dare to believe and trust and humble themselves just like Mary did.

You can open your eyes

Doesn’t  it make sense that she to whom God entrusted His Son as “mother”,  would be given to us as our mother as well?  She is the one who cooperated with God in winning back our heritage as God’s children. 

And so it is that Our Blessed Mother, down through history, has shown herself as “mother” to us; interceding for us, holding back the Arm of God’s just punishment for all the generations who have abandoned HIM time and again.

At Lourdes, Fatima, Knock, Medjugorje , and countless apparitions down through history, Mary, Our Mother stoops from her lofty home in heaven each and every time she hears the prayers of her children; for never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help or sought her intercession was left unaided.

Health of the sick, refuge of sinners, Star of the Sea, Mystical Rose, Mother of Mercy,  Mary, undoer of  knots, and my personal favorite: Our Lady of Perpetual help.  She has surely been of perpetual help to us her children since the moment Jesus gave her to us from the Cross.

On and on her fame, her love and our devotion to her grows.  Down through the ages she remains ever faithful, always leading us to her Divine Son.   Does  It  strike us as strange that each apparition bears the same message from heaven: turn your hearts back to God, Do not offend my son any longer for He is already greatly offended.  Time and time again like a loving mother taking pity on her errant children.

As we gather now in a time of pandemic do these words mean anything to our world?  Surely they must; coming from the lips of the Queen of Heaven, who as a young girl suited up with the armor of the Lord and rode into battle wielding a blazing sword which struck down the enemy of our souls and secured for us eternal happiness,  if we will but follow her example and choose her SON!  

If we will but adore and serve.  As Aaron Neville pointed out, everybody serves somebody.  Let us dear Cursillistas echo the words of Sacred Scripture: “Now is the appointed time”; Let us choose this day Who we will serve.  Let us say with the prophet:  “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

The title of this rollo is Our Lady in August because this month on the 15th we celebrated the high feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven.  She hopes to greet each of us there one day,  her children safely home at last.

Yes, over the last several months and indeed the last many years as Cursillistas we have heard many rollos on Our Blessed Mother and yet there is still much more to be said about Mary and so now we open the floor for the echo of this rollo-- your echo.  The echo of each one of us who stand as a witness to  the story of our mother, Mary, and what she has meant to us-- to you in your lifetime.  Let’s begin right now to sing of Mary, pure and sinless…..Our life, our sweetness and our hope.

DeColores!