Mary and Jesus, Intertwined

angels nativity

As we make our way through the year of grace, we encounter Lord Jesus and Our Lady at different stages of their pilgrim lives. And we see how totally intertwined their lives are.

At Christmas, we encounter Jesus newly born. And Our Lady, new mother. Good Friday we encounter Jesus dying on the cross. And Our Lady at the foot of the cross. Pentecost we encounter Our Lady praying with the Apostles for the Holy Spirit. And Our Lord pouring out the Holy Spirit.

Today Our Lady entered heaven, body and soul. Because Our Lord took her there, by the death-conquering power of His body and soul.

My point is: it doesn’t require rocket science for a Christian to grasp the inseparability of Jesus and Mary. God entered the world as a human being by taking flesh from the body of one person—His mother, Mary. Mary came into her own as a human being—became the person God had preserved her from original sin in order to become—by being Jesus Christ’s loving mother.

pentecost_with_mary

Jesus the eternal God would not have been our brother and Savior—were it not for Mary. Mary would not have become herself, without Her Son.

Now, God became man in the Virgin’s womb in order to do… what? To reveal the love of the Father. By consecrating the human race through His own self-sacrifice—the sacrifice that conquered death and gave us our true destiny. To live as children of God, forever.

Of course there’s no separating the Blessed Virgin from this mystery. She lived as a pure vessel of divine love. She joined herself completely to Christ’s perfect self-sacrifice. So she shares fully in the undying life that her Son lives in His risen body. She shares it so completely that the sting of death could not touch her.

Now, do we presume too much to think: Okay, Mary and Jesus, inseparable. I want to be, and can be, that inseparable from the Savior, too! Do we presume too much to aspire to that?

Hardly. That’s the whole idea. Mary is not something other than a Christian. She conceived a child by believing in the promises of God. She gave her own flesh and blood to Him, while she carried Him in her womb, because of her total dedication to His mission. She prayed with Him. She listened to His every word, in order to know the revelation of God. She believed all His teaching and obeyed all His precepts. She followed Him faithfully to the end.

Paolo_Veneziano_-_Coronation_of_the_Virgin

Mary’s inseparability from Christ is not beyond us. To the contrary: She has shown us how. How to intertwine our lives with His. How to intertwine our very identities with His. She is the saint that we can never go wrong imitating.

Her faith. Her humility before God. Her courage in obeying Him. Her patience with the unfolding of His Providence. Her perseverance. Her tenderness.

Our Lady’s Assumption into heaven teaches us what to hope for. Her life on earth was Jesus Christ. So of course she shares His heavenly life now. The inseparability extends beyond just this short pilgrimage of a few decades. Just so, the Christian, whose whole life on earth is Jesus, inherits the heavenly life of Jesus, when this pilgrimage ends.

Guess where else it occurs–the intertwining between Jesus’ life and ours? In church. At the altar. The Sacred Liturgy.

We most imitate Mary in sharing Jesus’ life when we participate in Holy Mass with sincere faith and love.

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The Faith of Abraham and Mary

In our second reading at Sunday Mass, we hear some of St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11. St. Paul praises the heroic faith of the ancestors of the Messiah. We hear this sentence: “Abraham prepared to sacrifice his only son Isaac, reasoning that God could raise the dead.” [Spanish]

Maybe you remember that we focused on this, on Palm Sunday: Abraham’s faith in God’s power to raise the dead. That day we heard in the gospel reading about the repentant thief who said to Christ, as the Lord hung on the cross: “Remember me when you come into Your kingdom.”

titian-christ-and-the-good-thief

Only the faith of Abraham could have moved the thief to ask such a favor. After all, what kingdom could he possibly mean? Here’s a poor rabbi, dying unjustly in agony, with no prospects of any kind. No kingdom to hope for. Except if you reason that God can raise the dead.

We hear some more of Hebrews 11 Sunday morning. By faith Abraham set forth from his home and dwelt in a tent in the fields. Because he had his heart set on the heavenly city, prepared by God. By faith Sarah conceived a child, even though she had lived barren, way past her child-bearing years. By faith Sarah become the mother of countless descendants. The mother of God’s chosen people, the people that gave the world the Messiah.

Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead. Then it actually happened; God exercised that power.

That’s why we frequent the local church building. That’s why we honor the Lord’s day on Sunday, the day of the Christ’s resurrection. That’s why the Holy Mass gives grace, gives life—because the sacrifice of the altar gives us the flesh and blood of Jesus, risen from the dead by the infinite power of God.

It’s also why we don’t just honor Abraham’s wife Sarah as our mother in faith. Sarah conceived by faith, to be sure, as St. Paul put it in Hebrews 11. But another lady conceived by an altogether more sublime faith. A virgin. And she gave birth to the child that Sarah’s son Isaac prefigured.

tanner-annunciation

Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, reasoning that God could raise the dead. But then the angel stayed Abraham’s hand. In the fullness of time, God accepted the sacrifice of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Son. She stood by His cross and offered herself to the Father along with Him. The Blessed Mother offered herself with pure faith in God’s plan. Reasoning that God can raise the dead.

Thursday we will keep the Solemnity of the final fulfillment of Our Lady’s faith. When Jesus, risen from the dead, raised His mother up to heaven. Raised her up to the eternal city, whose architect and maker is God.

The Solemnity of August 15 lifts our minds up to the final goal and spurs us on in hope and confidence. But it’s also a rough anniversary this year. Yes, fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock. But that’s not what I mean. As Providence would have it, exactly one year ago, on Assumption Day, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury released its crushingly damning report on abuse in the Church.

If we read widely, we can find two basic accounts of what has happened since then. According to one version of the history of the past year: the grand-jury report unfairly published old news as if it were new. The bishops had actually fixed the problem seventeen years ago. And the pope and bishops have shown even more decisive leadership during the last year.

El Greco Virgin MaryAnother account sees something different: An institution in the grips of a problem it appears unable to solve, because the entire leadership is compromised. This second point-of-view has multiple versions, casting blame on homosexuality, or abuse of power, or on a communist plot to infiltrate the Church.

Let’s thank the good Lord that, in the midst of all this, He has kept us close to Himself. He has continued to pour out the grace of faith, faith in His only-begotten Son. He has kept us in His Church–not by blinding our eyes to the problems, but by rooting us so firmly in our faith in Christ that we can face the problems honestly.

When the Lord drew our Lady up to heaven, He freed her completely from all the pain and confusion of this fallen world. He united her with the truth about God’s love. And the truth about herself. That she was made for eternal love. He made us for eternal love, too.

We exist because of God’s all-conquering love. He formed us out of nothing, so that we could give Him glory, by becoming ourselves in full. By trusting God enough to step forward without fear, into the future He has prepared for us.

On Good Friday, the thief said, “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” As he said that, Mary stood there, quietly offering her broken heart to the heavenly Father. She trusted in God’s Providence even at the moment when her only son died. Both the repentant thief on his cross next to Christ’s, and our Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross–they both thought along similar lines: They reasoned that God can raise the dead.

Having that kind of faith opens up a road before us. A road that leads to a city with celestial foundations. A city free of abuses, of cover-ups, of lies, of confusion. A city free of shootings and violence. The city of peace and truth. Faith in Christ lead us to the city whose architect and maker is God.

Visitation-Day Homily

pieta

Let’s think of two moments in Our Lady’s life, the two moments when she received the Christ.

The first immediately preceded the Visitation. The Blessed Mother left to visit her cousin Elizabeth right after the Archangel Gabriel announced God’s plan to become man in Mary’s womb. And she conceived her child, by the Holy Spirit.

The second time Our Lady received Christ: right after Lord Jesus’ death, when Mary received His Body in her arms.

The poor—those who, humble and meek, rely solely on God’s mysterious plans, who await the justice, not of men but of the Messiah—they are, in the end, the great achievement of the Holy Spirit’s hidden mission. (From the Catechism, para. 716)

God scatters the proud, casts down the mighty, and lifts up the lowly. He fills the hungry with good things. He remembers His promise of mercy to Israel.

MagnificatBlessed Mother received Christ with utter humility. She received Him on His terms, not hers. She trusted Him with her entire being, even at the moment of His death.

Mary represents all the faithful of ancient Israel. Through all the trials and tribulations of the Old Covenant, they stayed faithful to God. They longed for the Promised Land.

Mary represents all the faithful of the Church. God has fulfilled in her everything that we believe and for which we hope.

And she represents all of creation. In her Magnificat, Our Lady lifts everything up to the Creator, praising His merciful faithfulness.

God loves with tender kindness. Whenever we think of our Lady, that is what we see and know—God’s tender love. She held Him in her lap on Christmas. And she help Him in her lap on Good Friday. And she held Him in her arms on Easter Sunday morning, too.

Our Blessed Mother represents all of us poor souls who live by the simple faith that God is good.

Our Lady’s Holiness, and Our Lord’s

El Greco Virgin Mary

The Blessed Virgin longed for salvation. She longed for the completion, the fulfillment of God’s loving plan. Her total consecration to God from the moment of her own conception in her mother’s womb did not make her less eager for the redemption of the sin-soaked world; it made her all the more eager for it.

The idea that Jesus and Mary could ever “compete” for our admiration or devotion; the idea that they could have a “holiness contest?” No.

The perfectly holy Blessed Mother longed to conceive the Christ more than any human being ever long for anything. Because she longed like no one else ever has for the salvation of the world.

Once she had conceived Jesus, Mary longed to give birth to Him, to gaze upon Him–more than any mother has ever longed to give birth. Not because Mary experienced extraordinary physical strain during pregnancy, but because her matchless purity as a human being made her long more than anyone else to see God.

Holiness as a human being doesn’t make you long for the holiness of God less. It makes you long for God more.

So maybe we could put it like this: Human holiness during this pilgrim life = emptiness. The spiritual life involves emptying ourselves, as much as we can, of all the folderol that distracts us from the one, true thing—God. We strain throughout our lives to have the emptiness that our Lady had from Day One.

On the other hand, divine holiness is fullness. Divine holiness fulfills the fundamental emptiness of us lowly creatures made of dust and ashes.

Mary is a mother. Not just any mother–she was empty enough to conceive a son by believing in God’s love for His creation.

Jesus is a son.  Not just any son. The Creator.

Beautify the Basilica Instead of Building the Wall

guadalupe face

Four hundred eighty-seven years ago today, the mother of God appeared on our continent, to assure us of her love for us.

That was before the United States of America existed, or the United States of Mexico. At that time, the Rio Grande did not mark a “national borderline.” Nor did any kind of border run through the Sonora desert. And baja California and alta California were both parts of one place. [Click for Part I and Part II of my extended commentary on this.]

Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico City. She left her image on his cloak, which still hangs in the basilica there.

Twenty years ago, Pope St. John Paul II visited the same spot. He had gathered the bishops of the entire American continent. The pope made December 12 a feastday in all these lands. He recognized Guadalupe as the spiritual center of the western hemisphere.

By the grace of God, I have laid eyes on the tilma twice, in ’95 and ’97. Maybe you, dear reader, have seen it, also. Hopefully someday all of us Catholics of America will make a holy pilgrimage, to see the indescribably lovely image and receive the unique graces of our Lady’s presence here with us on our continent.

When the pope visited Guadalupe, he made no comment regarding the architecture of the current basilica. They built it in the mid-1970’s, to accommodate up to 10,000 people. Anyone ever seen it? Or a picture of it? It looks like a wrecked spaceship, in the shape of a melted Hershey’s kiss.

Basilica Guadalupe

I don’t think we want a wall between us and the place where Our Lady visited us. A wall would only get in the way of a pilgrimage there.

Maybe, instead of spending $1 zillion on a pointless, counter-productive border wall, we could spend the money building a new, nicer Guadalupe basilica instead?

Immaculate-Conception Day Homily

Remember that all able-bodied Catholics must attend Mass either this evening or tomorrow. Our cluster Masses here: 7pm this eve at St. Joseph; 10am tomorrow at St. Francis. The 4:30pm Mass at St. Francis also fulfills the holy day obligation.

PS. If we get a lot of snow during the night Saturday, remember also:

No one ever has an obligation to travel to Mass in unsafe conditions. Including me. I will drive to Martinsville after Rocky Mount Mass Sunday morning, provided it’s safe for me to do so.

I will keep you posted here.

annunciation-merode

They shall keep my name holy. They shall reverence the holy one of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel. (Isaiah 29:23)

Our religion. The faith of Abraham. In spite of all the estrangement from goodness which goes along with human life on earth; in spite of all the malice and confusion, God’s Israelites keep holy the name of the Creator. We stand in awe of Him—hopefully somewhat like how Adam and Eve themselves stood in awe of their heavenly Father, in the garden. Before the devil tempted them, and they fell.

Among those who have kept the name of God holy, one stands above all the rest. She had absolutely pure religion. She stood in awe before the great loving kindness of God, and submitted herself to that love, without holding back even the tiniest iota of herself.

missale-romanum-white-bgAfter Holy Communion at Mass honoring our Lady’s immaculate conception in St. Ann’s womb, we pray:

May the sacrament we have received heal in us the wounds of that fault, from which, in a singular way, you preserved Blessed Mary.

The wounds of that fault from which the Lord preserved His mother, so that she could show us what the Church of God truly is.

Mary had humble charity. She hastened to help Elizabeth, as soon as she learned about her older cousin’s unusual late-in-life pregnancy. And, of course, Mary showed her perfect compassion even more radiantly at the foot of the cross. No human being has ever loved as Mary loved her son, unto death.

We also know that: Mary’s love proceeded according to penetrating prudence. At the wedding of her kinspeople, she concerned herself with a practical problem. Let’s not run out of wine here, for God’s sake.

But, even more magnificently prudent. She asked the stunning archangel announcing God’s grand plan:

‘How do you figure that, o angel? I only know one way of getting pregnant.’

Faultlessly loving and prudent. But the entire edifice of the Blessed Mother’s purity rested on something else: Faith. Awe before the majesty of Israel’s God.

‘The Holy Spirit will give you a son!’ To which she replied, ‘Amen. I believe in God the Father Almighty, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’

The Holy Mass is our sacrament of faith in the triune God, Who made heaven and earth, and Who won our salvation on the cross. The Mass can and will heal our fault—the faultiness of our charity, of our prudence, of our faith.

The grace of the Holy Mass is the same grace that preserved the Blessed Mother from original sin. Gathered at the altar, we will overcome the estrangement of The Fall. We will keep the name of God holy.

Names, Mary

Seems a shame to name a hurricane after such a lovely place, where they have Michelangelo’s David, Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, the Medici Palace, the Duomo…

king davidToday the Blessed Mother received the ancient name of the woman who sang the canticle of Hebrew freedom, after they crossed the Red Sea dry shod.

A lot of our loved ones have the same name. We rejoice today especially for the gift that all our beloved Marys are for us.

Let’s also remember: Every Christian name is sacred. When someone receives a name at the baptismal font, it’s forever—a name for eternity, a name written in God’s book.

Mary lived Jesus’ beatitudes. She had no earthly authority or wealth. She suffered and wept for justice, for the truth, for love of God incarnate. She hoped in nothing other than God.

Now she reigns in eternal splendor. She reads the eternal book with all our Christian names written in it. Can we not imagine that she runs her lovely finger along the lines of that book, passing her fingertip across each of our names, her heart filled with tender love and encouragement for the one she has in mind at that moment? Let’s imagine her, and let it dispel all our fears about anything.

Praying for You and Thinking You’re Incompetent

boticelli Madonna Magnificat

God made us to give Him glory. By His grace, we try to do that in everything—every waking moment, and every sleeping moment, too. Like Mary our Queen put it: My soul magnifies the Lord.

Of course our main way to glorify God is: Holy Mass. Our souls magnify the Lord most when we offer ourselves to God at the altar—the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, united in true worship. We offer ourselves along with the Host and Chalice to the Father, in our humble churches all over the world.

I, for one, find myself limping along with this right now. I think many, if not most, of us American Catholics find ourselves limping along with this.

Catholics cannot expect every pope, bishop, priest, or deacon to speak and act like a living saint all the time.  We all have our foibles; we all need to exercise patience with each other.

But can’t we reasonably expect more humility, honesty, and coherent prudent action from our shepherds? More constructive communication? We can’t expect great sanctity. But can’t we expect basic pastoral competence? Steadiness in the basic duties?

What is “The Scandal of Summer 2018?” Isn’t it the evident fact that we don’t have competent governance of our Church? The evident fact that sure hands do not hold the wheel? And that they haven’t held the wheel for some time now?

The wheel of the Church is in the hands of an impaired driver, one who only knows how to react—and reacts sluggishly and sometimes steers right into danger. The driver does not seem to know where we are going. It’s like our Church is just following a computer-voiced GPS, rather than having a real father at the wheel, who knows the roads and where we’re headed. And knows things like: where we might stop for a rest, a meal, a lovely view.

steering wheelI don’t mean just the pope. Of course I wouldn’t wish the burden of being a bishop on anyone, much less the burden of being the bishop of Rome. I wouldn’t wish the burden of being a priest on anyone, or the burden of being a father.

After all, there’s only one way to make it through life in one piece. To be a monk. In this sense: To give over all my burdens and responsibilities to God every morning and every night. To try to glorify Him according to His holy will today; tomorrow will offer another, unknown battle.

That’s the only life that can get a soul to heaven, that kind of monk’s life—whether you’re married, a priest, single, whatever.

Also, humility means that we acknowledge: It’s not really our place to judge the competence of our superiors. The Church cannot function without obedient hierarchical co-operation, any more than any family can function without obedient hierarchical co-operation.

But, in August 2018, we have a right to suspend that ecclesiastical convention of unquestioning humility. We have not just a right to suspend it, but a kind of duty. A duty to honesty. And a duty to our hope for a better future.

So we say: We will continue to live the life of the Church. We will pray at the altar according to the Roman Missal. We pray for you every day, dear pope and bishops. But we think you are incompetent.

937,603 + Kolbe, JPII, and Our Lady

937,603 visits here so far. Ten years. Happy anniversary, dear Reader!


El Greco Virgin Mary

The Christ came to us, God made man. He was conceived and grew in the womb of His immaculate mother. He spent most His life on earth in her household. When He went to the cross for us, she accompanied Him. Then she saw Him again on Easter Sunday morning. After He ascended into heaven, He poured out His Holy Spirit upon His Apostles–when they gathered to pray with His Mother.

The flesh-and-blood intimacy between the Christ and His mother–we cannot even begin to fathom its depths. When she came to the end of her earthly life, the intimacy between them reached its fulfillment: Our Lady entered heaven, body and soul, flesh and blood.

Seventy-seven years ago, a Polish priest came to the end of his life on the Vigil of Assumption Day. He offered himself for execution in a Nazi concentration camp, to take the place of another prisoner who had a wife and family.

Father Maximilian Kolbe had dedicated his life to spreading devotion to the Blessed Mother. He built a small publishing empire to combat the forces of atheism and irreligion.

Father Kolbe had a German father. When the Nazis took over Poland, the priest had an opportunity to sign up for the “German-blood” list. It would have protected him from arrest. But, like many other half-German Poles, Father Kolbe would not do anything to co-operate with the Nazis.

He loved our Lady. He knew that our Lady’s heart beats in heaven. With love for the whole human race. And he knew that the blood flowing through her heart, and though our Lady’s entire glorified body…not German, not Polish. Not English, French, Italian, or Scandinavian, either.

holocaust-nazi--badge-star-of-davidJewish.

The Nazis killed flesh-and-blood human beings on a massive scale. Because they had fallen in love with the pagan dream of racial purity. But God has no interest in such a fantasy. He’s interested in particular individual human beings. Each of which He makes utterly and unrepeatably unique.

On the day when the Nazis killed Father Kolbe in a concentration camp, Pope St. John Paul II was also in Poland. He was working at hard labor, because the Nazis had closed the university. He was 21 years old.

Anyway, as we know, the 21-year-old fellow Pole grew up to be the pope. The pope who would canonize Father Kolbe and declare him a martyr for the faith. John Paul II understood from the inside that Nazism counted as a persecution of the Christian religion. Father Kolbe had said what the Church believes–when his brother Franciscans asked him about helping to save Jews: “We are all brothers!”

During the 1930’s and World War II, the Church had a kind of meltdown. The rise of Nazism posed a huge challenge, and not every Catholic met that challenge. Many bishops, even whole national conferences of bishops, lost sight of this crucial aspect of the Christian mystery: God loves every individual human being enough to die on the cross for him or her. Plenty of Catholics, including plenty of bishops, forgot that God loves the Jews as much as He loves anybody. And they forgot that the Son of God, and the Mother of God, are both…Jewish.

Christ would have died just so His mother could go to heaven. Even if she were the only one, He would gladly have done it. We think: well, of course, He would have died to save His mother. But the same goes for everyone else. Christ would have died for any single individual human being–any single one–to go to heaven.

The many Christian martyrs during the time of Nazism kept that fact in perfect focus in their minds. Their witness inspired Pope St. John Paul II to formulate his doctrine about the Gospel of Life. We, the Church, stand for the dignity of every human being. Or rather, we stand with every human being–especially the weak, the victims of injustice, the suffering.

From heaven our Lady sees everything and identifies with those who need love. May she help us always do the same.

Praying Heroes

Garofalo Ascension of Christ

Lord Jesus prepared to ascend to the Father. He gave a final benediction to His disciples, with two components.

First: I am sending you. He says that to us, also.

The Kingdom of God has one center, one “capital city,” so to speak: the human Heart of Christ. His Heart beats with love for every human being, because every human being exists by virtue of God’s divine love.

So the Lord says to us: I send you on a mission. To extend My Kingdom by extending My love. Live in My love, so that, living in love, you can love. You can love your neighbor in mercy and in truth. With that love, the divine love, you will conquer the kingdom of evil.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, wrote us a letter in March, to help us understand how we must base our lives completely on the mission that Jesus has given us. The same mission that the Lord gave to the original Apostles, as He prepared to ascend to heaven—He has given that same mission to us.

The key to our spiritual lives, the key to Christian holiness, the key to a vigorous and meaningful life in this world is: Our apostolate. Christ has consecrated us His apostles; we have a mission. And that mission involves loving our neighbors with the love of the Heart of Christ. It involves pursuing souls, to help them come home to holy Mother Church.

We have no doubt: what we receive at Mass offers the sustenance that every human soul desperately needs. So we extend the offer to our neighbors, ‘Come, share this feast with us!’ We risk contempt, rejection, all kinds of suffering. Christ went to the cross for us, out of love, and He sends us out into the world as ambassadors of His crucified love.

peter-crucifixionWhen we grasp all this, we grasp the true meaning of our lives. We grasp the true meaning of every human interaction we have–with anyone, anywhere, anytime. When we realize that we exist for the sake of our apostolate, we grasp the vital principle of reality. Because the world turns on Divine Love.

Which heroes do we admire as the most truly manly? How about St. Peter? He repented of his betrayal, and he admitted it. Jesus forgave him, and gave the first pope his mission. Then St. Peter went out and found a way to befriend recalcitrant Jews. He found a way to befriend Greeks, Roman soldiers, everyone—so that they could know Christ. St. Peter shepherded the whole flock, spread across the Mediterranean. Then he unflinchingly offered his own life, hanging upside down on a cross, on Vatican Hill in Rome.

Or how about St. Paul? What more manly hero could anyone ever imagine? Like St. Peter, a humble repentant sinner. And a tireless traveler and adventurer. St. Paul’s adventures make Indiana Jones look like Papa Smurf by comparison. St. Paul, like St. Peter, communicated with every kind of person, in all kinds of languages, so that everyone could know Christ. And St. Paul, too, offered his mortal body as a sacrifice to God on the outskirts of the city of Rome, where they beheaded the human author of half of the New Testament.

Jesus summons us today to this kind of humble, adventurous heroism. But there was a second component to Christ’s parting benediction. He didn’t just say, Go, evangelize. He said: Pray first. Pray that the Holy Spirit will come. Pray that heaven may clothe you with the power of divine love. Because you can’t do it without My Holy Spirit.

None of the heroic exploits of selfless love, undertaken by the original apostles, or by any of the martyrs and saints who have followed in their footsteps—none of these manly deeds could ever have happened, if it hadn’t been for the original Novena.

pentecost_with_maryThe original Novena involved the future heroes of Christ’s Church keeping quiet and still for nine days, trembling with fear and uncertainty about the future. Meanwhile, one person stood at the center and showed them what to do.

The Greatest Hero showed the other heroes what to do. They would all freely admit: they followed the lead of the one who quietly, unobtrusively, unpretentiously, steadily, gently prayed.

The Blessed Virgin. The Mother of the Apostolate.

Who won the Holy Spirit for us? Who moved God to pour out His fearless divine love into our unworthy hearts?

Jesus, of course. Also His Mother. For those nine days between Ascension and Pentecost, she prayed. Could the Apostles have prayed like they should have, without her? Are you kidding? They would have gone crazy with confusion and fear; they would have bickered endlessly—if the Blessed Mother had not been there to steady them and focus them on the task at hand. Prayer.

Hopefully everyone takes my point. We find meaning in life by grasping that God has consecrated us to do heroic deeds of selfless love to build His kingdom. And the greatest heroes of them all? Our mothers, who quietly taught us how to pray.