Saturday, April 6, 2013

Meditation on the Second Luminous Mystery: The Miracle at the Wedding of Cana

Today, Saturday, April 6, 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 Mystery I have chosen this month on which to share a meditation is the Second Luminous Mystery - the miracle at the wedding of Cana.  I'm going to do some plagiarizing with this one.  I am right now reading one of the deepest and most enlightening books on the life of Christ that I have personally come across.  It is called, amazingly enough, "Life of Christ" by Venerable Fulton Sheen.  I was very young and even stupider than I am now when Bishop Sheen was alive, and I never had any appreciation for him at all, but I have since come to a great appreciation for this most wonderful, holy priest.

Since coming back to the Church, I have been listening to Bishop Sheen's TV program, "Life is Worth Living", and to sermons and retreats that he gave, many of which can be found on YouTube, and I've started reading many of the things he wrote.  I am completely blown away by his sanctity and depth of thought.  Since he lived here in NYC, I have met people who personally knew him, and they have told me he was most definitely the real deal.  He spent an hour every day, despite his unbelievably busy schedule, in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  At one point someone let him stay in a very large, luxurious apartment in the city.  He confined himself to two small rooms. He always had time for anyone and everyone.  He was responsible for the conversion and re-conversion of untold numbers of people.  He is someone every Catholic should still get to know through his writings and TV program.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, of course, were not given to us by Blessed John Paul II until long after Bishop Sheen's death, but I have no doubt that the good Bishop would have encouraged their use. The cover of his book, "Life of Christ", as you can see above, pictures the first Luminous Mystery - the baptism of our Lord.

In this same book, Bishop Sheen devotes a chapter to what is now the second Luminous Mystery - the miracle of the Wedding at Cana in which Christ changed water into wine. He entitled this chapter, "The Beginning of 'The Hour'". As Bishop Sheen explained, whenever the term "The Hour" is mentioned in the Gospels, it is referring to Christ's death. As Bishop Sheen further explains, the miracle at the Wedding of Cana was the start of Jesus' public ministry.

At this point in Jesus' life, He had been baptized by John the Baptist and He had chosen 5 of his 12 apostles: John, Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael, but He had not yet formally begun His public ministry. Jesus and his mother, Mary, had been invited to a wedding feast in Cana, and Jesus brought his five new apostles with Him to the feast. In those days, wedding feasts would last for eight days. At one point the wine gave out. Bishop Sheen submits that one of the probable reasons for the wine running out was that Our Lord had brought in so many uninvited guests.

As Bishop Sheen explains in his book, Mary was the instrument of Christ's "first miracle, or sign, that He was what He claimed to be, the Son of God." Bishop Sheen tells us in his book that "In the temple [when Christ was presented as a baby to God] and in the Jordan [when He was baptized], Our Lord received His Father's blessing and sanction to begin His work of Redemption. At Cana, He received the assent of His human parent."

Mary, the mother of Jesus, noticed the dwindling supply of wine before anyone else. Without a second thought, she turned to the One Person she knew could help: Her Son. She said to Him, "They have no wine left." (John 2:3). Bishop Sheen wrote:
"It was not a personal request; she was already a mediatrix for all who were seeking the fullness of joy. She has never been just a spectator, but a full participant willingly involving herself in the needs of others. The mother used the special power which she had as a mother over her Son, a power generated by mutual love."
Christ answered his mother's request with what almost seems like a rebuke and on the surface, even disrespectful and uncaring (John 2:4)
Woman, what is that to Me and to thee?
My Hour is not yet come.

As mentioned above, anytime Jesus uses the words "My Hour", He is speaking of His Passion, death and glory. Bishop Sheen writes:
The "Hour," therefore, referred to His glorification through His Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. At Cana, Our Lord was referring to Calvary and saying that the time appointed for beginning the task of Redemption was not yet at hand. His mother was asking for a miracle; He was implying that a miracle worked as a sign of His Divinity would be the beginning of His Death. The moment He showed Himself before men as the Son of God, He would draw upon Himself their hatred, for evil can tolerate mediocrity, but not supreme goodness. The miracle she was asking for would be unmistakably related to His Redemption.
Bishop Sheen points out that there were two times in Christ's life when He seemed to balk at what was asked of him:
"In the Garden, He asked His Father it it be possible to take away His chalice of woe. . .The same apparent reluctance was also manifested in the face of the will of His mother. Cana was a rehearsal for Golgotha. He was not questioning the wisdom of beginning His Public Life and going to death at this particular point in time; it was rather a question of submitting His reluctant human nature to obedience to the Cross. There is a striking parallel between His Father's bidding Him to His public death and His mother's bidding Him to His public life."
Christ in the Garden of Olives, 1827 by Eugene Delacroix
As we know, Christ submitted to the will of His Mother at Cana and the Will of his Heavenly Father in the Garden. But as Bishop Sheen says, when Mary asked Jesus to perform His first public miracle:
"she was virtually pronouncing a sentence of death over Him. Few are the mothers who send their sons to battlefields; but here was one who was actually hastening the hour of her Son's mortal conflict with the forces of evil. If He agreed to her request, He would be beginning His hour of death and glorification. To the Cross He would go with double commission, one from His Father in heaven, the other from His mother on earth."
Bishop Sheen tells us that "now that He was launched on the work of Redemption, she would no longer be just His Mother, but also the mother of all His human brethren whom He would redeem."  As St. Louis Marie de Montfort said, "The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary."  This is why Christ now referred to Mary not as "Mother" but as "Woman."  From Bishop Sheen:
"The 'Woman" did have a seed, and it was her Seed that was standing now at the marriage feast, the Seed that would fall to the ground and die and then spring forth into new life. . .If He was to be the new Adam, the founder of a redeemed humanity, she would be the new Eve and the mother of that new humanity."
I find it interesting that Bishop Sheen refers to Mary as "the mother of all His human brethren whom He would redeem."  God is the Father of all humanity, but Mary is mother only to the "redeemed."  This would explain why only those in the Catholic Church - the only Church founded by Jesus Christ - recognize Mary as their mother.  The rest of the world does not recognize our Lady as their mother because she is not their mother.  She becomes our mother only when we stand with her at the foot of the Cross as the Apostle John did, and thus are redeemed by the Cross.  Bishop Sheen writes:  "On the Cross, He consoled His mother by giving her another son, John, and with him the whole of redeemed humanity" [my emphasis].

When our Blessed Mother asked Jesus to reveal who He was by performing this first miracle at the wedding at Cana, she was in effect giving Him to us as our Sacrifice, and also sealing her own fate in this Sacrifice.  Bishop Sheen explains:
"At Cana, the prophecy that Simeon made to her in the temple was confirmed: henceforth, whatever involved her Son would involve her, too; whatever happened to Him would happen to her. If He was destined to go to the Cross, so was she; and if He was now beginning His Public Life, then she would begin a new life too, no longer just as the mother of Jesus, but as the mother of all whom Jesus the Savior would redeem . . . Just as she was at His side as He began that Hour, so would she be at His side at its climactic finish. When she took Him away from the temple as a boy of twelve, it was because she sensed that His Hour had not yet come; He obeyed her then and returned to Nazareth with her. Now, He told her that His Hour had not yet come, but she bade Him begin it, and He obeyed. At Cana, she gave Him as a Savior to sinners; on the Cross He gave her as a refuge to sinners."
Mary willingly and with great love gave her Son to the world to be our Redemptive Sacrifice, and as Bishop Sheen explains, went to the Cross with Him.  Does this not explain why St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori said:
'Mary having co-operated in our redemption with so much glory to God and so much love for us, Our Lord ordained that no one shall obtain salvation except through her intercession.'
Bishop Sheen compares Mary's request to Satan's temptations in the wilderness:
Thus [Jesus] did at a marriage feast what He would not do in a desert; He worked in the full gaze of men what He had refused to do before Satan.  Satan asked Him to turn stones into bread in order that He might become an economic Messias; His mother asked Him to change water into wine that He might become a Savior.  Satan tempted Him from death; Mary 'tempted' Him to death and Resurrection.  Satan tried to lead Him from the Cross; Mary sent Him toward it.  Later on, He would take hold of the bread that Satan had said men needed, and the wine that His mother had said the wedding guests needed, and He would change them both into the memorial of His Passion and His death.  
As Venerable Fulton Sheen explained to us, the miracle of the Wedding at Cana is the beginning of Christ's "Hour": the time of his Passion, Resurrection and Glory. We see that his Blessed Mother was an integral part of this. Arnold of Bonneval, a Medieval author and a Benedictine monk who was a great friend and biographer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, said that on Calvary "there could certainly be seen two altars: one in the heart of Mary, the other in the body of Christ. Christ was immolating His flesh, Mary her spirit."

Our Lord and his Mother gave everything for us:  unhesitantly, willingly and with great love.  It is Christ's sacrifice that saves us from our sin, but it was Mary who presented Him at the altar of Calvary.    

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, a French Catholic priest who lived during the French revolution and founded the Society of Mary, also known as the Marianists, said:  "The honor of Mary is so intimately connected with the honor and glory of Jesus that to deny the one is at the same time a denial of the other."

“May the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always smile on your spirit, obtaining for it, from her Most Holy Son, every heavenly blessing.”

--Saint Padre Pio

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