Posts Tagged With: Mary of Nazareth

Joseph of Nazareth – Friend, Witness, Patron – Be With Us, Tend Our Journeys Too

Happy Feast of St. Joseph, one of my patrons! In Mary’s vulnerability, he encircled her. His sheltering created a boundary where Mary’s availability to God and the life within her could flourish. Mary is theotokos, God-bearer; but it is Joseph who surrounded his beloved with strength and tenderness, bearing the one who bore the one larger than the universe itself.*

Joseph, your faithfulness to God held you firmholy-family
as you guided and protected Mary
and the child within her womb,
as you assisted at a stable birth,
as you greeted star followers and sheep tenders.

You held an infant son to your chest
and, with his mother, taught him –
as he toddled and explored
the human confines of home and hearth –
to speak and to pray.

You shaped wood, family, and Jesus –holy-family-statue
with love and attention.

You bore the one who bore God,
sheltering and encompassing her
from the beginning,
treasuring her as she treasured in her heart –
and you in yours –
what crazy wondrous things
your God (and ours)
was amazingly moving forward
through your growing son.

SAMSUNGTeach us your trust
your daily fidelity,
your openness to witness wonder
in the everyday.
And be companion-friend to us, to all.

Provide your circling tending presence,
place your hand upon our shoulders,
as we make our vulnerable way along too,
seeking to be available to God
and give Christ birth today,
at Spirit’s prompting.

Put in a word for us
to the boy and man you shaped,
and teach us your love for him
and your willingness to have him be all he is,
whether or not you or we understand.

We greet you and thank you on our way!
And we thank God for you!
St. Joseph, pray for us.


*This description of Mary owed to another friend, Clare of Assisi, in one of her letters to Agnes of Prague.

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Categories: Poetry, Saints | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Lady of the Refugees and of “High Revolt”: Pope Francis, Compassion, Justice and the Christmastide Mary

Reflections on the Mystery in the Manger, the Word made Flesh, must bring us round to other Flesh that needs our particular care and attention.  In the way that Jesus enters our world and human chronicle we see a sensitivity for the poor, the wandering, the vulnerable.  Pope Francis has been aptly reminding the world of this in his words during this Christmas tide.  I was very struck yesterday, with the words below that he added to his prepared text of his New Year’s Message on the spot.

“What on earth is happening in the hearts of men?
What on earth is happening in the heart of humanity?
It’s time to stop!”

Continuing the daily contributions from word-artists through the Epiphany, January 5th (as promised!), I offer two today in light of Pope Francis’ passionate questions and (indeed) command to our day.  TIME OUT!

The first poem is another of Sister Maura Eichner’s – this one on Mary’s connection to refugees.  In our day, this is more than apt.  If it prompts you to prayer and compassionate advocacy, you might find it a good to check out the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) website on migration and refugee services for further info and action possibilities.  National Migration Week begins this Sunday (fittingly) with Epiphany and runs January 5th-11th.  http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/

migration week 2014

Our Lady of the Refugees

Mother who knew
what hardship shakes
a woman bundling clothes
and putting by her wheaten cakes;
Mother who urged the donkey
(making happy riot
on the struggling stones)
urged the beast to be more quiet;
Mother who heard the Child
whimper beneath the thin blue shawl,
our aching prayer cries out to you,
Mother, pray for them all.

A thousand Bethlehems
mask dark tonight,
the lamps of friendly homes
have lost their light;
pathetic heaps of poor and homely things
are laid aside;
a small bird sang where a latched door swings.
Mother whose sad Egyptian flight
preceded all of these,
guide them in faith beneath familiar stars,
Our Lady of the Refugees.

Sister Maura Eichner, SSND

This second piece is poetry-hymnody.  The writer, Frederick (Fred) Kaan, was a United Reformed Church minister, a pacifist, a worker for peace and justice and, in his day, quite active with the World Council of Missions, along with his prolific hymn writing.  He reflects on the Magnificat, and bids us enter Mary’s work for justice.

Magnificat (Hymn)

Sing we a song of high revolt;
Make great the Lord, God’s name exalt:
Sing we the words of Mary’s song
Of God at war with human wrong.

Sing we of God who deeply cares
And still with us our burden shares;
God, who with strength the proud disowns,
Brings down the mighty from their thrones.

By God the poor are lifted up;
God satisfies with bread and cup
The hungry folk of many lands:
The rich are left with empty hands.

God calls us to revolt and fight,
To seek for what is just and right.
To sing and live Magnificat
To ease all people’s sorry lot.

Fred Kaan

Categories: Christmas, Justice-Service, Mary of Nazareth, Pope Francis | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Child’s First Cry Came Like a Bell: L’Engle’s Further Words on Mary

Happy New Year, readers and friends!  May 2014 bring you much joy.

It must be obvious by now that I value Madeleine L’Engle, as friend and wordsmith.

In my young adulthood, I knew she gave writers’ workshops in the summer at Wheaton College in Illinois.  I wanted “someday” to go.  I did not make the “someday”, sadly.  Still, I’ve felt – from childhood on – tutored by her characters, her art, her own journey in life and writing in many ways.  She was a purveyor of intuited truth to the child who munched happily on A Wrinkle in Time, and every subsequent novel.  (I’m thinking of rereading them all in 2014… anyone with me?   And then on to all her other books!)  A high school student gifted me with Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, which wound its way into both my masters and doctoral theses, and a theology of ministry too!  Though we never met in the flesh, I feel I’ve met L’Engle in other ways (perhaps in a kything communion, oh Wrinkle lovers?).  There are many dear writers like that for me – C.S. Lewis comes immediately to mind, with Tolkien and MacDonald, poets, and saints and mystics.  I hope that’s true for you as well.

So, on this day that celebrates Mary as God-Bearer, Mother, Theotokos, solemnly – it seemed fitting to offer you this three pronged reflection on Mary from L’Engle.  The last I shared with you was Young Mary, glimpsing her just past the Annunciation.  Here Madeleine again explores the inner experience of Mary, within the context of the Incarnation-Christmas Mystery.  Appropriately, the third poem below has much to do with Joseph, who sees too little ink, methinks.

I invite you to add a comment after your reading, simply sharing a line/a phrase/a word that speaks to you from all the ones below.  We have a right to hear the Spirit speaking in the context of community, so share a whispering or breeze or gust that blows past you, in a repeated word or three or four from her text, would you?

May Mary and Joseph accompany and guide you to the places you need to be this year to better encounter the Word in flesh.

 

Three Songs Of Mary

1. O Simplicitas

An angel came to me
and I was unprepared
to be what God was using.
Mother I was to be.
A moment I despaired,
thought briefly of refusing.
The angel knew I heard.
according to God’s Word
I bowed to this strange choosing.

A palace should have been
the birthplace of a king
(I had no way of knowing).
We went to Bethlehem;
it was so strange a thing.
The wind was cold, and blowing,
my cloak was old, and thin.
They turned us from the inn;
the town was overflowing.

God’s Word, a child so small
who still must learn to speak
lay in humiliation.
Joseph stood, strong and tall.
The beasts were warm and meek
and moved in hesitation.
The Child born in a stall?
I understood it: all.
Kings came in adoration.

Perhaps it was absurd;
a stable set apart,
the sleeping cattle lowing;
and the incarnate Word
resting against my heart.
My joy was overflowing.
The shepherds came, adored
the folly of the Lord,
wiser than all men’s knowing.

 

2. O Oriens

O come, O come Emmanuel
within this fragile vessel here to dwell.
O Child conceived by heaven’s power
give me thy strength: it is the hour.SAMSUNG

O come, thou Wisdom form on high;
like any babe at life you cry;
for me, like any mother, birth
Was hard, O light of earth.

O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
whose birth came hastily at night,
born in a stable, in blood and pain
is this the king who comes to reign?

O come, thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
the stars will be thy diadem.
How can the infinite finite be?
Why choose, child, to be born of me?

O come, thou key of David, come,
open the door to my heart-home.
I cannot love thee as a king –
so fragile and so small a thing.

O come, thou Dayspring from on high:
I saw the signs that marked the sky.
I heard the beat of angels’ wings
I saw the shepherds and the kings.

O come, Desire of nations, be
simply a human child to me.
Let me not weep that you are born.
The night is gone. Now gleams the morn.

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel,
God’s Son, God’s Self, with us to dwell.

3. O Sapientia

It was from Joseph first I learned
of love. Like me he was dismayed.
How easily he could have turned
me from his house; but, unafraid,
he put me not away from him
(O God-sent angel, pray for him).
Thus through his love was Love obeyed.

The Child’s first cry came like a bell:
God’s Word aloud, God’s Word in deed.
The angel spoke: so it befell,
and Joseph with me in my need.
O Child whose father came from heaven,
to you another gift was given,
your earthly father chosen well.

With Joseph I was always warmed
and cherished. Even in the stable
I knew that I would not be harmed.
And, thou above the angels swarmed,
man’s love it was that made me able
to bear God’s love, wild, formidable,
to bear God’s will, through me performed.

Categories: Christmas, Mary of Nazareth, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This is the Irrational Season: Mary’s Story

Sitting before the Child in the Manger, and the infinite made tenderly accessible to us, let us glance up at the young mother whose body held more than the universe itself can hold. (Clare of Assisi gave us that lovely image in her letters to Agnes of Prague).  In the midst of spinning stars on a planet small, in a stable smaller still, a woman young in years, yet full of grace and wonderings, looks at her baby boy with love.  Jesus would reach and feed, grow and play, learn and pray, love and work, cry and laugh  – all within the secure boundaries of her loving gaze.  What is Mary’s story?  For story – we remember – holds truth.  

Young Mary of Nazareth’s Story is marked with angels, journeys, questions, magnificats, leaping babes, kin conversation, serving, sorrows, Spirit, stars and ponderings. From angel annunciation, her life has been like the pause before the GPS speaks after a radical turn, “RECALCULATING”.  She’s gone another way, by intuition and by Yes, a way without her knowing and understanding, a way ungraspable and unexplainable (except by angel dreams, it seems, or so faithful loving Joseph found).  

And in this newly twisting tale, her Story and very being – heart and soul and flesh – will give birth to THE Story, the Word expressed in flesh and told in our world and time.  There will be no recalculated voice to explain the ways the Story will unfold in time.  This Story, this Word, invites and calls for faithfulness only. There is no reasoning, GPS security or googlemaps with landmarks.  Only love.  And Love.  For “it is not a matter of reason, it is a matter of love”.*  

So today I offer Madeleine L’Engle to you once more, for I find her word-entries into Incarnation mystery such apt companions for reflection.  I hope you do too.  These two poems take us months back from the Manger Mystery, to the Annunciation change in path.  Find Luke 1, and these, as food on this Feast of the Holy Family.

 

SAMSUNG

After Annunciation

This is the irrational season,
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason,
there’d have been no room for the child.

Young Mary

I know not all of that which I contain.
I’m small; I’m young; I fear the pain.
All is surprise: I am to be a mother.
That Holy Thing within me and no other
is Heaven’s King whose lovely Love will reign.
My pain, his gaining my eternal gain
my fragile body holds Creation’s Light;
its smallness shelters God’s unbounded might.
The angel came and gave, did not explain.
I know not all of that which I contain.

* This quote of reason and of love is from the play “A Man for all Seasons” by Robert Bolt

 

Categories: Christmas, General, Mary of Nazareth, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spinning in the Darkness

Presence to yesterday’s commemoration – Good Friday – left me speechless, unable to really share much here.  There is a power in re-living these days with Jesus as full days with mornings, afternoons, evenings, nights.  On Holy Thursday night, after the vigil, the betrayal and denial and arrest play in our imaginations.  Then the “trial” – and a Jesus silent or speaking (depending on which Gospel you attend to) – who stands alone, asked about truth.  Morning light brings crowds calling for crucifixion, thorns and lashes, and condemnation.  Eventually there is an excruciating trip with a cross through streets and to a hill, and unspeakable loss and psychological pain along with the physical.  The passion leads us to places where it is hard to get footing, and perhaps to memories of other “passions” in our lives or in others and, I hope, a tender fierce honoring of the suffering of others.

I have been re-reading these days A Retreat with St. Bonaventure by Leonard Bowman, which I highly recommend.  In it there is prose-poetry (yes, a combination!) that is the prayer of the believer as s/he encounters moments in Jesus’ life.  See if these selections taken from reflections on the experience of Jesus’ death speak to you.  And find a sister-mother-disciple-presence with you in this place, and in your own passion-ing and darkness living.

Encountering Jesus in the Conflict of Death (excerpted from pp. 160-1, 164)

HELP!  The storm is tearing me loose…  there is no footing, and nothing to grab hold of!  I’m falling, spinning in the darkness…

Yes, you must go through this.  Now there is no help that you can know or feel.  In this darkness the strongest faith reveals that it is faith, not a fact you have in your hand.  The firmest hope reveals that it is a promise, not a thing possessed.  Now you know that letting go means losing everything that you can relay on for support and assurance.  Everything falls away. . . and now you spin helplessly in the feeling of falling. 

What is happening to me?

Your “I” is falling away.  Your heart must wait, be shattered, endure.

… Mary stands silent, oblivious to the confusion about her.  She looks only at the hanging body of her son.  She doesn’t know!  She cannot see ahead to what God will make of this!  She too is caught in the whirlwind, and everything she has lived for hangs dead before her…. Her path has led into darkness, and with Jesus’ death she must let go of… everything.  It is as if she has died with him.  She is crucified with Christ.  But, she does not yet know the rest.  For now, she endures.  Where is God?  He has spoken by angels or by thunder before.  Why is he silent to her now, of all times?

Voices and visions are for the beginning of the path.  God’s presence now is beyond what we know or feel, beyond what is possible to know or feel.  His word is silence now; his brightness is darkness.  Otherwise how shall we pass through the veil, beyond into God?  But for now, silence and darkness.

But what can we do for Mary?  Be silent.  Wait with her.

…Stay close to Mary in your spinning darkness.  You will call on her steadfastness as your refuge.

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