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To Jesus through Mary, our star, our gate, our guide

My prayer reflection from the December issue of Give Us This Day:

Alma Redemptoris Mater – Sweet Mother of the Redeemer

Loving Mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.

The vastness of God’s love can be hard to grasp on human terms. Yes, we know God’s love is boundless and eternal, but how can we possibly enter into that space and accept what is ours when it is so far beyond our comprehension? Where do we begin? To Jesus through Mary. We’ve heard those words again and again over the course of our spiritual lives. We’ve seen it marked in ink on letters and prayer cards, but have we made it our own? Do we look to our Blessed Mother as the point of entry into the endless and unconditional love that God pours out for us? Read more

‘May it be done to me according to your word’

AnnunciationAnd the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.  – Luke 1:35-38

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

(Annunciation window in Lady Chapel of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar.)

Mary, Mother of God: Keeping her close

My Scripture reflection from today’s pages of Give Us This Day:

When I was growing up, I’d sometimes get annoyed that I was named after the Blessed Mother. Every time a religion teacher would tell us to write about our patron saint, I’d wonder which of Mary’s many titles I should choose. Read more

What did Mary know, and when did she know it?

Earlier this week another Catholic blogger decided to do a line-by-line dissection of the popular Christmas song “Mary, Did you Know?” Nothing he said was new to me; I’ve heard it all before from other writers who have harped on the misguided theological aspects of this pop-culture take on Mary and Jesus.

All I can say is this: If we don’t understand that people are moved by songs that make them feel some sort of spiritual stirring (even if the songs are theologically incorrect or not theological at all), then it’s no wonder our pews are empty. People respond first to the tug of the spirit. Then we get to theology. Read more

Mary Undoer of Knots, I’ve got a job -or two- for you

My May Life Lines column, running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

Back when I was young, my mother would take me over to the chapel at St. Aedan’s Church in Pearl River every Monday night for novena. Although the Mary-centered prayer was part of my young spiritual consciousness, after my mother died and I moved away from home, I packed up my interest in novenas along with my old stuffed animals and Barbie dolls. It felt like something that belonged to my childhood, something I’d outgrown. Read more

Marge Fenelon on motherhood and “Imitating Mary”

Today I’m honored to be hosting Marge Fenelon and her blog tour for Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom (Ave Marie Press). We’ve got a great interview with Marge here, and as if that’s not exciting enough, there’s a book giveaway involved. Just leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Imitating Mary. I’ll choose a winner at random when the tour ends on May 1. Read more

Why I live in – and love – the northeast

When we decided to move back to New York from Texas 10 years ago, there were a couple of reasons. First, all of the grandparents live in New York and New Jersey, but not far behind was the fact that New York has the beauty of four distinct seasons. In Texas, the seasons are pretty much hot and hotter. But here, just when you think you’re tired of a season (especially a long, cold winter), along comes a new season to fill you with joy and hope and awe.

As much as I loved Austin (and I lived there twice), I loved autumn more. Every September I would miss the crisp northeast air that would blow in one morning and let you know that summer was over and it was time to pick apples and watch the leaves turn into a kind of visual poetry. And then along would come that first snowflake and I’d fall in love all over again.

Now it’s spring, and I find myself staring out my back window every morning, watching the barren limbs turn vibrant green. I actually get a little giddy every time a new bloom appears somewhere in our yard. I know this wave of cool color will eventually give way to the hot and humid tones of summer, sometimes tinged brown by drought. But that will bring with it the big bobbing white heads of the hydrangea, the bats swooping overhead at dusk, and the anticipation that a tart and crispy McIntosh apple is just around the corner.

Here’s some of what awes me in my own backyard this week:

The bleeding heart I rescued from a high-traffic area at the edge of my yard when it was just a single branch with one bloom. Now look at it. Pretty obvious why it’s called a bleeding heart when you see it up close, no?

Lilacs. One of my favorites. This is the first year we’ve had a lot of blooms, at least on one shrub. Maybe next year one of the other three will join in.

Vinca. A groundcover really, but such a pretty one. And it can survive in the shade, which is why it grows wild in my yard, which was at one time pretty much all deep shade. Not so much now that they’ve clear cut the three lots around us.

A potted begonia and a basket of pansies, which I had to include because Chiara took these photos. Not bad, eh?

And, of course, at the top of this post is a long view of my raised bed. This is what Our Lady of Guadalupe looks like when she’s not serving as a snow-measuring device, as was the case in THIS POST. I bet she was glad to see a change of seasons this year.

Help for the Rosary-challenged (like me)

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time with the Rosary. I am Rosary-challenged. But I recently reviewed four books that look at the Rosary from different perspectives, and I have to admit that I feel a little space opening up for this ancient prayer. I’m saying it more often and more effectively. I think.

So check out my story in Our Sunday Visitor, and then check out some or all of these great books. I’ll get you started here:

Four recent books offer different perspectives on ancient prayer for experts and novices alike

By Mary DeTurris Poust – OSV Newsweekly, 5/15/2011

When it comes to the Rosary, some people are like marathon champs.

They have no problem saying the words to familiar prayers and reflecting on the mysteries as they drive two hours on a busy highway with 18-wheelers buzzing by, as they take their morning power walk through the neighborhood, even as they wait in line at the grocery store or bank.

These long-distance prayers are able to enter into the beauty and mystery of the Rosary in ways that can confound many of us.

I have to admit that I’m Rosary-challenged. This traditional prayer that was so much a part of my childhood has always been a struggle for me. I’d try to pray at night and fall asleep. I’d kneel in our parish chapel, but before I knew it my mind was wandering and I’d lost count even with the beads there to prevent that.

Not that long ago, I bought a Rosary CD and tried to pray as I walked to church, but even then my thoughts could not find a place to rest. The Rosary seems to test the limits of my otherwise impressive multitasking skills.

So, when four different books on the Rosary arrived on my desk in recent months, I took it as a sign that it was time to give the Rosary another shot. Each of the books approaches this prayer from a different perspective, giving readers the opportunity to find a method that suits their spiritual style. Continue reading HERE.

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s latest snow report

Okay, things are not looking good for Our Lady of Guadalupe as she stands vigil over our backyard as the snow encroaches. (That’s her out there right at the bottom of the big tree.) We are using her as a barometer of the storm.

Here’s where she was around 10 a.m.:

Here’s where she is now:

Check back tomorrow to see how she fares…