The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork (Psalm 19:1). All of God’s works are wonderful. They magnify the name of the Lord. They sing His praises.
Yet, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that God could create nothing more glorious or greater than the Blessed Virgin Mary, His most pure, most chaste, most admirable Mother.
We can see how true this is by observing the reverence and obedience Jesus had for His Blessed Mother. That a creature should command her Creator, and that the Creator should obey His creature, is marvelous. One need only reflect on the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus’ first miracle, to find proof of this (cf. John 2:1-12).
Mary is so admirable that she possessed in her most chaste womb Him Whom the heavens and the earth could not contain.
God has received more honor and glory from Mary than from any other creature in heaven or on earth. She has honored Him in her greatness, born of her humility, in her devotion, and in the way that she used every gift that she received from God.
All the renowned women of the Old Testament - Sarah, Deborah, Susanna, Judith, Esther and others - were but figures of Mary. Of Judith it was said, She was greatly renowned among all (Judith 8:8). In addressing her, Holofernes said, Thou shalt be great…and thy name shall be renowned through all the earth (Judith 11:21). The people of Bethulia cried out to her as she passed, Thou are the glory of Jerusalem; thou art the joy of Israel; thou are the honor of our people (Judith 15:10). These titles are eminently applicable to Mary and are bestowed upon her by the Doctors and Fathers of the Church.
We owe all to God. In no way is He indebted to us. It is different with Mary. Though she has received all from Him, He became, so to speak, indebted to her when Jesus received His humanity from her flesh and blood. In His conception and in His birth the God-man became indebted to her even more so than other children to their mother, for from her alone did He take the substance with which He would frame for Himself a human body.
Among all the children of men, from the dawn of creation until the last of them shall be born into the world, there has not been nor can there be one as admirable as Mary. Her sanctity, holiness, virtues, graces and perfections of body and soul are so great that she is more celebrated than all the saints and angels, and thereby gives more glory and honor to God than all of them put together. She alone is the Mother Most Admirable of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world.
Mother Most Admirable, pray for us!
David J. Conrad
Last week St. John reminded us that we should believe inChristJesusandshouldloveoneanother as Jesus has commanded us. We heard how we are the branches of the Father’s vine, and that we are nourished by God in Word, Eucharist and Community. This week, we hear St. John put it very simply: “God is love.” As we journey through the Easter Season we hear so many readings regarding our obligation as Christians to love one another. (It strikes me as so appropriate that at this time and in this season, we also celebrate our Mothers.)
In the Word during these last two weekends we have experienced images of love linked to intimacy: the Good Shepherd, and the vine and branches. We hear how to lay down one’s life for a friend is the example Jesus gave us. To live for another is love: Mom-like, and Christian. Love and sacrifice—love is sacrifice. Most of us have experienced the blessing of the sacrifices our Moms have made for us—because they love us. (Happy Mother’s Day!)
If we love, we also must experience many “deaths” in our relationships. There are little and big deaths. They range from giving the last piece of cake to your spouse (and denying yourself) to not sleeping while caring for a sick child, to sharing your home with an elderly parent who needs special care. We experience “deaths” in the putting of others first, the denying of ourselves, our own preferences. This is not much “fun” and is never easy...
So why do we do this? (And we do! Just look around you and listen to the stories of your fellow parishioners!) We do this because we know that what Jesus did for us is what we are all called to do for others. We do this because we love even when it isn’t easy. Sometimes we do this because the benefits of the sacrifices of love are eternal. But, surprise! There is joy in living in love this way: “I have told you this (says Jesus) so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” Love helps and inspires us to develop deeper self-knowledge. For this reason our relationships with others can help us face and understand ourselves more quickly and profoundly, more than any other aspect of worldly life. Looking at love this way, love becomes a path of awakening for us— rousing us from the sleep of the old, unconscious patterns into the newness and the immediacy of l i v i n g fully in the present, and in accordance with who we really are. This is the source of a deeper, and more enriching kind of happiness. This happiness goes far beyond pleasure and comfort and is the only real basis for healthy and satisfying relationships. We are awakened to new life by love!
What else does Jesus tell us today? “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love...” As Christ told Lady Julian of Norwich (1342–1416) when he showed her a small thing the size of a hazelnut nestled in her hand, “It is all that is created.” Julian understood that “Everything that is, has its being through the love of God.” (We just celebrated “Earth Day” and love for all Creation.) God is the foundation for all the kinds of love there are in the world. Love is who we are. When we don’t live according to love we are outside of our created being—and basically not real or true to ourselves. When we love, we are acting according to our deepest being, our deepest truth, and we are the person we were all created to be.
We are commanded to love one another, (a command; not a suggestion!), and love always means some sacrifi c e with little (and some not so little) sacrifices—and we understand the benefit of sacrifice as a deepening of our spiritual selves and the opportunity for holiness, and wholeness. L o v e i s always about deeds and truth. Love is action. “This I command you: love one another.”
Happy Mother’s Day
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Some love songs of awakening and sacrifice...
Most of you know that I recently produced two virtual choir videos for Holy Week: The Psalm of Hope for Palm Sunday and The Psalm of Hope for Easter Sunday (containing different verses and visuals). I had never worked with this kind of computer tech before; ignorance is bliss… I was lucky that my son, Elliott, led me through the particulars of the complicated audio and video editing program—bless him for his patience! I learned a lot though, and even if I never do this again it will have been worth the hard work and many long hours invested in this project.
I came away from this experience with a better knowledge of the workings of computers—the functions and controls, etc. I have used a music writing program for many years, but first had to learn how to create the “click track” that our musicians had to follow in order to record the music. I learned a lot about what can be done with recordings (audio and video) in order to transform them into visual and vocal cohesion and artistic fusion. (Don’t believe anything you hear or see on television, etc…lol. Yea! Live music!) I also gained some insight into future musical teaching for my groups based on the courageous recordings I received from our Music Ministry members. (It can be very intimidating hearing your own recorded voice; seeing and hearing yourself—and also having to deal with the tech of how to individually record the audio and visual is in itself, very challenging!) It was a large learning curve for us all.
In spite of the many challenges and difficulties in this production, it was a joy to work on this virtual project for many reasons: this was a project for the music ministry to sing “together” again (in this long covid pause); it was a chance to share some of the skills and talents of our St. Aidan musical parishioners and ministry members; it was an opportunity to give a gift of music much missed by all of us. Worth it for all the difficulty encountered!
One of things I learned in the midst of this project was how to use the “shortcut” functions on the computer keyboard. You know: “control c” means to copy; “control v” means to paste—much easier than the whole dropdown menu—to have to hunt and search for the command every time and do that twice. Then there is a very critical one: “control s” to save and not lose our work. But I think the command that impressed me the most was “control z.” “Control z” undoes any error that we make (or realized we made). It was wonderful! What a way out of unthinking decisions and errors of—whatever. I decided I needed a “control z” for my life for many of my past and questionable decisions…
So why am I writing about computer functions, and in particular, “control z?” Because thanks to the Church, we do in some ways have a “control z” for our lives. That’s what Reconciliation and Absolution are about—to try and understand our sins and then wiping away the stain, able to move forward in our lives. I don’t mean that the mistake didn’t happen—we go on working after a “control z”—doing better having learned from, improved upon and corrected the mistake, and we are unburdened, not weighed down, in order to continue on. Thank you “control z!” Thank you, Reconciliation and Absolution!
I had an amusing conversation with a friend of mine about this—and we agreed how a life “control z” would be convenient for wiping away many moments of mistaken judgement. You know; opening that second bottle of wine, “control z!” No hangover headache. Or making unthinking comments in the course of conversation, “control z!” No hurt feelings. Or not paying attention, denting your car backing up, “control z!” No repairs. Wrong note(s), “control z!” Musical perfection… You get the idea.
I do believe that mistakes of any kind and level are important for us humans, though; they are the best way we learn; and our learning from them are lessons that remain with us and are retained. A life “control z” is necessary for us all—and we have Reconciliation and Absolution in order to learn and move forward freed from our sins and errors. I give thanks for our Church’s Sacrament of “control z” in the midst of our lives—it is a blessing. I am glad to know we have a “control z” for any computer work—and for the one that applies to our every day lives, priorities and choices. Freeing forgiveness!
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Here is a song about forgiveness—something we all need…
David J. Conrad, M.A. Theology. Our Director of Faith Formation.