Saturday, July 7, 2012

Meditation on the Fifth Joyful Mystery - Finding Christ in the Temple

Today, July 7, is the First Saturday of the Month. The First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was first mentioned by Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917. After showing the three children a vision of hell she said, "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace... I shall come to ask for... the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays..." The First Saturday devotion is as follows:
It consists in going to Confession, receiving Communion, reciting five decades of the Rosary and meditating for a quarter of an hour on the mysteries of the Rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. The Confession may be made during the eight days preceding or following the first Saturday of each month, provided that Holy Communion be received in the state of grace. Should one forget to form the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it may be formed at the next Confession, occasion to go to confession being taken at the first opportunity.
The Holy Family - Jesus, Mary and Joseph
As is my practice, I am sharing my meditation on a mystery of the Rosary here.  Today I have chosen the Fifth Joyful Mystery - The Finding of Jesus in the Temple after three days.  In the devotion of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, the third sorrow is called The Loss of Jesus in the Temple.  It is the same incident looked at from two different perspectives.  How can the same incident be both joyful and sorrowful?

Angel appearing to
Joseph in a dream
We need to go back to the birth of our Lord into the Holy Family.  Jesus was born under very difficult circumstances.  Mary became pregnant before she and Joseph were officially married, so there was the taint that she had become pregnant outside of marriage, an offense punishable by stoning.  Joseph even considered putting her away in order to protect her because he knew he was not the father of her child.  But an angel appeared to him in a dream to assure him that Mary had conceived without sin, the angel saying:  "Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.   And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins. "  (Mt. 1:20-21)  Joseph now realized that he had been given a very special responsibility and he took this calling with all seriousness.  He knew he must now protect Mary and her child with his life. 

When it came time for the birth of the Christ child, Mary and Joseph once more found themselves in a very difficult situation.  They were in Bethlehem because a census had been called, but now, with Mary about to give birth, they had no place to stay.  They were finally directed to a dirty smelly stable filled with animals and all the dirt and refuse that comes with animals.  There, the King of the Universe, the Creator, was born with nothing more than swaddling clothes with which to be wrapped in. This is hardly what Joseph and Mary had in mind for this precious child. 

Shortly after this, as the Jewish custom was, they presented Jesus in the temple, the custom being to give the first born to God and then redeem him back.  There they met Simeon, the holy old man who had been promised by God he would not die until he had seen the Saviour.  Simeon immediately recognized our Lord and said:  "Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace;  Because my eyes have seen thy salvation."  (Luke 2:29-30)  But that is not all he said.  He told the Blessed Mother:  "And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed."  (Luke 2:35).  Mary and Joseph could only wonder what these words meant.  What was that sword that would pierce the Blessed Mother's heart?

I'm sure the next major incident made Joseph and Mary wonder if this was the sword predicted by Simeon.  King Herod, the King of Judah, decided the Christ Child was a threat to him, and proceeded to search for him to kill him.  Once again, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to warn him of the impending danger to the child, and told Joseph to flee to Egypt for safety.  Neither Joseph nor Mary had any ties to Egypt, no family there, and it is highly doubtful either of them had ever been in Egypt before.  They were forced to leave everyone and everything that was familiar.  But they obeyed without complaint or murmur, and took their precious responsibility out of harm's way.  But how they must have suffered when they knew that other children were killed in an attempt to kill their own child. 

Joseph and Mary fleeing into Egypt with the
young Christ Child

Mary in deep sorrow
Fast forward twelve years.  Joseph and Mary have since returned to Judah and have gone to Jerusalem for the Passover, as was their custom.  They had complete trust in the child Jesus as he had always perfectly obeyed them.  They were no doubt traveling with family and friends, so they didn't worry if they didn't see the child every moment, being assured that he was in safe hands.  But after one day, when they had left Jerusalem, they realized that they had lost him.  No one they questioned had seen the Christ Child or had any idea where he was.  They also knew there were those who wished to kill this precious Child, adding to their anxiety.  Any parent would be in complete panic if he lost his child, but with the experiences Mary and Joseph had, their panic was even worse.  Mary was beyond being consoled, fearing that this was the sword prophesied by Simeon.  They hurriedly retraced their steps back to Jerusalem, frantically searching for their precious Child, and no doubt were in deep prayer.  But there was no angel this time assuring them of the Child's safety  They were getting no answers from above or below concerning the whereabouts of the Child.  They felt they had been derelict in their God-given responsibility to protect the Child, this precious Gift sent to save mankind.  They most probably felt that the abandonment they were experiencing was their just punishment for not looking after the Christ Child.  The sorrow they felt is beyond our ability to comprehend. 

Mary questioning Jesus
Finally after three long days, they came to the temple in Jerusalem, and there they saw Jesus among the scribes and pharisees, talking with them and asking them questions, astounding these learned men with his wisdom and knowledge.  Joseph and Mary felt at once an awesome sense of relief and joy, but also puzzlement as to why this usually obedient Child would have let them go through such anxiety.  And Mary said:  "Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing."  (Lk 2:48)  Jesus answered her with almost a rebuke: "How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?"  (Lk. 2:49)  We are told in the next verse, Luke 2:50, that "they understood not the word that he spoke unto them." 

We too, like Joseph and Mary here, often do not understand why God acts in our lives as he does.   Why does he allow us to suffer, often with seemingly no explanation, and if and when He does give us an answer, we still don't understand.  But like Joseph and Mary, we need to realize that it is not given to us to understand everything that happens to us.  Our Lord is about his Father's business, which is the salvation of mankind.  Like Joseph and Mary, we must accept on faith and childlike trust the events in our lives and realize we are involved in something much bigger than ourselves. Joseph and Mary thought they had lost the child Jesus, but he had never left them.  When we feel lost and abandoned by God, as these two holy people did, let us realize that  Christ, in fact, will never abandon us, never leave us, all appearances to the contrary, and to find Him, we must merely look to where He is "about his Father's business." 

This mystery of the Rosary has another lesson for us as well, and that is, our Blessed Mother understands how we also can feel abandoned and that we have somehow lost Christ.  Although she was closer to Jesus than anyone in history has ever been, she still had much sorrow and pain in her life.  In fact, her sorrow started at the time she was told by Simeon that a sword would pierce her heart, and it became deeper and more profound as her Child grew, right up to her sharing Christ's Passion on the Cross.  We should always reach out to our Mother of Sorrows, knowing that she has a better understanding of our pain and feelings of loss than even we ourselves do.  And she wants to comfort us just as any mother wants to comfort her children.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

No Refuge, No Salvation in Politics

I have posted here that we cannot expect Romney to repeal the evil law known as Obamacare, recently upheld by the US Supreme Court as constitutional, should he be elected president.  Romney instituted the first healthcare law in the US when he was governor of Massachusetts, and it was the blueprint for Obamacare.  This is a law he obviously believes in, all of his rhetoric notwithstanding.

Well, the former Massachusetts governor confirmed as much in a news conference after the Supreme Court ruling. Check out this video.

We have no choice in this election, or any other election, for that matter. Our candidates have been picked for us, and chosen by the same group of people.  There is no salvation in politics or in any politician.  The only salvation is divine.  Pray to the Blessed Mother that she will petition her Son on our behalf.  Pray that America somehow wakes up and repents of the evil course she has taken, e.g., abortion, homosexuality and same sex marriage, secularism, rejection of traditional moral values. 

The answer we are looking for was given to us in a small city in Portugal in 1917 to three small shepherd children.  These are the words of our Lady of Fatima to the shepherd children:

"No, my daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Don't lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."
"You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war [WWI] is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI [WWII in 1939]. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

"To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world."
The Immaculate Heart of Mary -
the Refuge given to us by Her Son

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