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Mary, Mother of the Church

What I want to do is fall to my knees at her feet, to take hold of, and touch to my face, the hem of her long blue skirt. But I can tell she doesn’t want me to do this. What she really wants is some help in the kitchen.

She motions to me to join her in what she is doing. As my mother did when I was young, she hands me my own ball of dough to roll out with my own rolling pin.

She’s busy. She doesn’t want to talk, but to have me do what she does. So I watch her and together we roll out several large, oblong pieces of flat dough. She hands me one of my mother’s biscuit cutters (where did she get that?) and together we make small rounds of all the dough, placing each circle on a long baking sheet.

When the first batches are in the oven, and we have mixed more dough, she puts the kettle on, and motions for me to sit down at the kitchen table.

I look around with interest at the house we are in. It is a plain, comfortable house, probably built in the early 60’s, a combination of wood, brick and worn linoleum, a small window over the kitchen sink, honey suckle vine growing across it. There is a stack of books on the round kitchen table, next to a flowerpot with ivy spilling out of it.

She sets down a cup of a spicy black tea in front of me, and sits down with me. She seems thoughtful as she sips her tea, looking out into the back yard at her garden.

I notice that the books on the table are copies of the various documents of Vatican II.

I tell her I’ve been reading Lumen Gentium and that it is my favorite Vatican II Document. She smiles.

I ask her about Chapter VIII, which was written about her in the life of the Church. She said that as we grow as God’s children, we will see her, in clearer and clearer light, as the Holy Spirit leads the Church. She says that in different ages, different emphases are needed for us to grow in our faith, and understanding, and therefore, love.

 

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I am thinking about this as the kitchen timer rings.

It’s time to take more bread out of the oven and put the next batch in. Fortunately it is a big oven, and this is our last batch.

She makes me a sandwich, pats my shoulder, and goes out to clip some roses from her garden. She then arranges these in the box she packs the now cooled little rounds of bread into.

She washes her face, straightens her kerchief, and motions for me at the door, to come put my sandals on as she is doing.

Soon we are walking down the front path with the boxes of the flat little circles we have baked and crossed on the top.

We head through the neighborhood and then turn onto a down town street. We find a small, simple Catholic Church. (Did that sign really say St. Everyone?) The Church office is closed for lunch, but the door is open, so we leave our boxes inside.

She wants to pray in the main church, so we head back out and around the corner. A side door is open. I whisk my veil onto my head, she pulls her mantle up over her kerchief, and we walk into the cool silence, genuflecting. When she stands up to look at me, I notice a slight glow from the tabernacle and then I glance at her, standing still in the middle of this little church. She is gazing at me, her hands out, the growing glow from the tabernacle illumining her, until she seems made of that light.

In her dark and lovely eyes, I am suddenly lost in a mighty ocean. I understand the immense capacity of her heart to praise and love God continually. In the thundering roar of waves and the groaning of the deep, I understand her longing for her children to know the joy of Jesus and the conversion of their hearts to Love.

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I close my eyes, and it seems she takes me through the whole world. Together we move like a gust of wind among people of all ages and races and nations; the suffering, the unfairly treated, the persecuted, the poor, the imprisoned, the used and abused the addicted, the mentally ill, the troubled, the sick, the ignored, the unloved, those who know not how to love, the violent, the hateful, the selfish and the weak, the afraid, the judgmental, the prideful and the powerful. Together we touch them all. Sometimes she takes my hand and touches people with my fingers. The cool, sweet wind of the Spirit blows around us and through us, blessing us, blessing those we walk among.

“Jesus is Love, Jesus is Life. Jesus is Peace. Jesus is Truth. Jesus is the Way,” she says. “My children, pray. Pray. Pray.” She presses small crosses into each hand. Her heart glows with that same light I saw flowing from the tabernacle at the little church, the light of Jesus, who is the Light of the Church, Light of the World.

This Divine Breeze, as well as this humble touch and presence of Mary, too, transforms and unites everyone in Christ, bringing all toward His Love, Redemption, Mercy. This is what she does all day. This is her dream for us.

 

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Now we walk along with the  people of God, a holy nation, the Christ light of the world, as they are praying, working, being sanctified and sanctifying the world in all they do.

Then with  flashes of lightening and with peels of thunder I see Mary standing on the moon, her crown of stars on her head, clothed with the sun. I hear her wailing in the pains of childbirth and I realize I am crying out with her.

And then we are again standing in this little church, two women of small stature, each a little dusty with flour, in spite of our best efforts. But people are coming in to mass now. I try to recover myself, and breathe normally. I shake my head to clear it.

“If you went to Mass, where would you sit?” I ask her, looking around, wondering what to do.

“I do come to Mass. And I sit with everyone else. Today I will sit with you.”

We sit near the back, and she attends devoutly, listening carefully to the Word of God, saying the responses and making all the gestures with us. She receives Holy Communion with quiet devotion, and prays intensely afterwards. She sings all the hymns with us.

She holds my hand.

I had recognized the bread we had made as it was consecrated and changed by the priest in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) into His Body and Blood.

I am beginning to understand Chapter Eight of Lumen Gentium as it has unfolded in our day together. She squeezes my arm.

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We greet people as we walk out into the fresh air and sunshine. She kisses the hand of the priest and he lets her, humbly. Does he know who she is? I wonder.

She puts her arm around me as we walk home. I reflect on the fact that she is the greatest woman who ever was or who ever will be, yet she is also a simple servant of the Lord, walking beside me in worn sandals.

I fall to my knees at her feet. I take hold of the hem of her long blue skirt, touch it to my face, and kiss it.

 

This time she lets me, though. And she laughs.

 

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O God, Father of mercies, whose only Begotten Son, as he hung upon the Cross, chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother, to be our Mother also, grant, we pray, that with her loving help your Church may be more fruitful day by day and, exulting in the holiness of her children, may draw to her embrace all the families of the peoples. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, Amen. ~ Liturgy of the Hours for May 21 Morning Prayer

Happy first ever Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church. 🙂

Pentecost Novena Day 9

Let them give glory to the LORD, and utter his praise in the coastlands. 
The LORD goes forth like a hero, like a warrior he stirs up his ardor; He shouts out his battle cry, against his enemies he shows his might: 
I have looked away, and kept silence, I have said nothing, holding myself in; But now, I cry out as a woman in labor, gasping and panting. 
I will lay waste mountains and hills, all their herbage I will dry up; I will turn the rivers into marshes, and the marshes I will dry up. 
I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These things I do for them, and I will not forsake them.

~ Isaiah 42:12-16

Holy Spirit, we have come to the end of our novena. We waited and persevered in prayer and You have come.

Release Your power into our lives like a mighty wind that fills the house. Send down Your Fire of Wisdom and Love and send us forth on a new journey, guiding us by paths unknown. Increase in us faith, hope, and love, that as on that first Pentecost those have been afraid will become brave, those who have been weak may become strong, those who have lacked speech or understanding may be set free to utter the Divine Praises and to radiate Your glory and grace. Grant to us Your seven gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe in Your presence .

According to our holy faith, Your presence within us is so very real that this is how we will rise from the dead. Anything that is degenerated can be regenerated in Your light. Create us anew.

Fill our souls, minds and bodies with Your Spirit and Life, fill us with courage and hope, increase our faith. We believe, Lord. Help our unbelief. Inspire us to set out with determined determination* and in a spirit of love and renewal. Lift all saddened spirits to a new joy they has not yet known.
Give us hope for the future. Help us to recognize Your Voice wherever and whenever we hear it. Grant to all of us the knowledge of Your holy will for us and the power to carry it out. *

Mary, present with the disciples at Pentecost praying with them and for them, Our humble and compassionate Queen Mother, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, accompany us with your prayers. Intercede for us that we may ponder in our hearts the glory of God and with you magnify His love and presence in this world. Intercede for us with your Son.

Come, Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy well beloved spouse. ~Mary’s locutions to Fr. Gobi

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Oh God, You have done all things for us and given us such joy. You have provided for all our needs. You have made all things new. You have made us strong and courageous and full of faith and love. O God, we praise You, We adore You, we bless You.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever!

In the Name of Jesus we make this and every prayer, asking the Angels and the Saints to add their petitions to ours, offering them before the alter of God in Heaven.
May our prayers rise up to You O God, like burning incense in Your sight. May they be sweet to You and give You joy.

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Amen. Amen.

 

* 11th Step of AA

** “determined determination” ~ St. Teresa of Avila

 

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Pentecost Novena Day 8

Come Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Consoler, the Teacher, the Paraclete who walks with us. Come, Spirit of Love proceeding from the Father and the Son as Jesus promised us at his Ascension.

Holy Spirit, the disciples did not really understand but they waited for You in prayer in Jerusalem for nine days. We have waited these days in prayer in their company. We do not understand. But we believe that You will come. We do not know what You will do but we know You will do something. You are compassion, You are Love, You are Mercy itself. You are present within us, present in the events of our lives, present with us until the end of time and forever. Receive our prayer and infuse us with Your Divine Grace. Conform our hearts to Your holy will, “which is love and mercy itself,” and we will be at peace. 
Grace us with a sense of Your life in us and the assurance of Your love. Help us to understand all that we need to understand for our welfare and to choose the right paths in our lives.

Bless and inspire us, grant to us a new hope and may our hope not be disappointed.

Holy Mother Mary, Bride of the Spirit, you waited with the disciples for the coming of the Promised Advocate. Your heart was broken at being parted from Your Son again and yet your heart could not want what God did not want.* Pray that our hearts may be fully tuned to the Song of God as yours always was even when you did not understand what was happening or why. May we too always say yes to God in the events of our lives. This is love. This is peace. Show us the way. 
In the Name of Jesus,
 Amen.

*“Her heart could not want what God did not want,” St. Faustina

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Pentecost Novena Day 7

Come, Holy Spirit, illumine the dark and painful corners of our minds with Your gentle, healing light. You have said in Your Holy Word that You count our tears and hold them close to Your Heart.

Awaken in us a deep sense of hope and trust in Your holy presence and in Your love for us. You have said, “Behold, I do a new thing!” Come, Holy Spirit, open our hearts that You may do a new thing. Lord of Mercy, touch the anguish of the minds of those who suffer and set them free in Your peace. Finger of God, lay your healing hand on them. Set all in Divine Order. Leave all that is dark and disordered in us, pure and clean and healthy. Cleanse each discouraged heart in the waters of Your joyous love.

Father of the Poor, bless our littleness and weakness with Your loving protection. As the Eagle coaxes its nestlings forth, come and carry us on Your wings and teach us to fly.

Holy Mother Mary, Bride of the Spirit and compassionate advocate of your children, pray for us, especially those among us who live in fear and in sorrow. You waited in darkness for the Resurrection of Your Son with faith. Intercede for us that we too may have a faith like yours. 
We ask all this
 in the Name of Jesus Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
 Amen.

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Pentecost Novena Day 6

I delight in you

So taken with you

I sink my love’s Fire

Deep within you
!

Be steeped in the Fire of the Dove.

Your womb exults, O worthy daughter

Bless the sea 
Make it holy water

Infused by the Dawn,

Bring forth the Sun

Exult like the grass the Dew is nestled on.

So full of ecstacy is your body

It resounds with Heavens’ symphony.

That is how it is with you, Mary,

Mother of all Joy.

~originally a song by Shawn (me) and my husband, Marc Blaze Pauc

with (italicised) words of St. Hildegard

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Come Holy Spirit, infuse us, body and soul with the consuming Fire of Your Divine Love bringing about all healing and the transformation of every faculty to Your Divine Order and intention. Anoint us with Your Holy Peace and help us to listen to Your voice in our hearts guiding us.

Lord of all Love and Wisdom and creative power, we never know how we are to pray but Your power is never limited by our perceptions. For this we are grateful.
Holy Spirit, Your inexpressible groanings intercede for us to the Father and are our true prayer. We know that You understand our hearts and our situations in life, and we open our hearts more and more to You.
Spirit of Hope, pour out Your gracious hope into our hearts and strengthen us.

Mary, Mother of all Joy and Bride of the Spirit, intercede for us that we may receive with joy all the graces the Holy Spirit wishes to give us with pure and open hearts.

May we be steeped in the Fire of the Dove.

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Pentecost Novena Day 5

Come, Holy Spirit, and strengthen within us the virtue of the Love of God that we might be freed of the bondage of self.* Let us not be discouraged at our faults and our weakness. Instead let us rejoice that we are jars of clay which You have chosen to fill with the treasure of Your presence…. that everyone will know that “this great power” supporting us is from You and not from us. Remind us that Your power is greatest when we are weak for You are kind and draw nearest to those in most need of You.

Cause, O Fountain of Life, the living water of Your indwelling to well up within us that streams of grace might flow from our broken and imperfect hearts. 
May the holy Water of the Spirit from the riven side of Christ flow through our bodies, souls, minds and emotions to cleanse, sanctify, and fully heal us.

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Spirit of God fill each of us with new courage, new resolve, and new willingness to grow and to interpret the events of our lives in the holy light of Your Wisdom and purpose. 
May we always believe in Your compassion for us and share it with one another and with everyone You bring into our lives.
Mary, bearer of Christ and Bride of the Spirit, visit us and assist us in our need. May we be filled with the prophetic joy of the Holy Spirit as Elizabeth was at the sound of your greeting. Show us the Treasure you bring. Come to us, Mother of God, and accompany us with your prayers. Let us journey in the sweet companionship of your spirit. 
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

* a line (slightly modified) from the “Third Step Prayer” of A.A.

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Pentecost Novena Day 4

Come, Holy Spirit, Giver of Life, to heal and renew us. You who set the number of the stars and call each one by its’ name also inhabit the temples of our bodies.

Help us to be Your extended hands of Love, service, healing, and grace in this world. We pray that You will activate Your creative power in our bodies, Your holy temples… that we might be renewed and continue to serve You.

O Lord of Love who unifies and connects us all, grant the sick and the sorrowing, a strong sense of the loving support that surrounds them. Help them to see Your hand in the love of their family and friends. Help them to see their value and their place among us.

Voice of the Prophets, Author of Holy Scripture, and Spirit of Truth, help all of us to trust Your speaking in our hearts. Help us to listen and respond to the Silent Wind of Your inspirations and to trust them with the perfect trust of Mary, Your Bride. Grant us her pure and beautiful heart- completely open, responsive and given to You.

In the Most Holy Name of Jesus,

Amen.

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Pentecost Novena Day 3

“Come, Holy Spirit, Fire of Love,
 Come Father of the poor, heal my wounds by your love.
Lord, You have chosen me already in my childhood
 and I know that I am the work of Your Love.
– Come, Holy Spirit…
I’m not anything more than pure weakness,
You know well my God, that my hands are empty
– Come, Holy Spirit…
You know well, my only friend, that the One that captivated my heart,
 the One I love is You, my Jesus
– Come, Holy Spirit…
And only You can give joy to my soul,
which desires to love You for Eternity
– Come, Holy Spirit…
Mary, Queen of Heaven, my dear Shepherdess,
you knew how to protect me with your motherly hand
– Come, Holy Spirit…
When I was playing carefree over the chasm,
You showed me the mount of Carmel
– Come, Holy Spirit…”
~ St. Therese

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Holy Spirit, the Comforter, come and enter into the deep recesses of our hearts. Heal us as we come to know You in the quiet of our souls. Teach us to seek you in “the cave of the heart”. Renew us in hope. Strengthen us in faith. Bring each of us Your healing grace in the depths of our hearts that we may know the deepest peace.
In the midst of darkness and anguish, that is nothing to you to transform, in the midst of very difficult situations, bring an explosion of Your grace that makes all that is ugly and fearful beautiful and free.
We know and believe you are already doing this and we sense Your genius in the unfolding of our lives. You are Love itself.
Come, Holy Spirit, and take us to new heights of Love. For perfect Love casts out all fear. May we live continually in a loving awareness of Your presence within us and around us and in everyone and all our experiences of each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Pentecost Novena Day 2

Day 2

Descend, O Holy Spirit, like rain on the meadow. Like a dew fall on the crops, nourish our hearts that we may contemplate Your Holy Word and become vessels of Your Grace. Like a gentle wind awaken our souls to Your tenderness and enliven us to run lightly in the path You set before us.

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photo by Maire Manning- Pauc

Pour over us the brightness of Your Light. Enable us to know peace and the deep inner healing only You can give. Transfigure us in the dawn of Your compassion and in the unfathomable depths of Your transforming Love let us be renewed.

Guide every decision we make. Inspire the way to our healing. Grant your full power and blessing to us and all that we do in the Name of Jesus. Calm any fears that may arise, Lord, and help us to trust in the Words of Jesus that You, our Advocate, will always be with us. May our hearts and minds be open to Your holy inspirations and to the movements of Your empowering, creative grace.

Mary, Bride of the Spirit, intercede for us. May your prayers draw the Spirit to rest on your children, revealing Christ in our midst as you did at the wedding at Cana… that we may do whatever He tells us.

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We ask all this in the Holy Name of Jesus, Beloved of our souls. Amen.

*Italicized phrases are from prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours

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