Mary Page News

January 7, 2000

Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the myriad ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

Gospel Sonnet #1
Cardinal George Says of Mary...
A Saint's Experience of Mary: Elizabeth Ann Seton
Jubilees in Abundance

Calendar of the Holy Year 2000
Art Restored: Caravaggio's "Our Lady of Pilgrims"
Mary and Priests
TIME and the Virgin Mary
Newest In Marianist News
Newest Edition: Marian Library Newsletter
Gauging Marian Devotion

Calendar of Marian Events
Prayer Corner Requests

Items Re-visited

Litany to Jesus in the Womb of Mary
Exhibits: Crèches International

Virgin of the Great Sign
Archive: News 1995-96
Archive: News 1997
Archive: News 1998

This week's themes:
Mary and the Church
William  Joseph Chaminade
Vignette-16 / Cameo-16

Gospel Sonnet #1

A forthcoming series of sonnets in honor of the second millennium of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ has been written by Professor Ann Astell, Univeristy of Purdue. The following is a sample of the the sonnets:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory–glory as of the only-begotten of the Father–full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Your Body, Jesus–Father-fitted form,
So handsome humanly, so warm and strong,
So perfect in proportion, fine and firm,
That no man's pen and no seraphic song,
No sculptor searching into stone has found
Your likeness. Nor could Peter's eyes endure
Your sun-bright beauty on the mountain's height
When light like snow set God aglow in your
Transfigured flesh. And Mary marveled too.
She looked at You and knew divinity
Had dressed in flesh, had framed Himself in her,
The humble handmaid who had let it be.

She must have blushed and trembled at God's grace:
To find her features in Your flawless face!

© Ann Astell, Purdue University

Cardinal George Says of Mary...

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Cardinal of Chicago, contributed an article in the periodical, Magnificat (Christmas 1999) entitled, "The Incarnation and the Jubilee Year." In his reflection, he writes:

In addition to offering a yearly opportunity to give something of ourselves to thse with whom God has graced our lives, Christmas gives us a chance to deepen our understanding of what the Incarnation reveals to us about ourselves and why this revelation was so necessary in the first place. Understanding the "why" part – the need for the Redemption – is fairly easy. As the Pope writes, through "Jesus Christ God not only speaks to man but also seeks him out... because man has turned away, hiding himself as Adam did among the trees of the Garden of Eden" (TMA 7). With the sole exception of the Virgin Mary, the "new Eve" who "let it be done" to her according to God's will and delievered Jesus into the world for our salvation, all of us "turn away" from God because of our desire to will into existence a world conceived in our own imagination. But this self-conceived world inevitably becomes self- centered. As the second millennium closes, the results of our selfishness are all too apparent...

Through the person of Jesus Christ, the Father definitively revealed what it means to be a person, and at the same time revealed the depth of his unfailing love that heals our wounded nature.

The Cardinal continues his reflection by showing how necessary personal conversion to Jesus Christ is. He then concludes:

With our own conversion, we receive the mission to evangelize our culture and its institutions. ... As we enter a third millennium of time made full by the fact that "God sent forth his Son, born of a woman," we pray for the grace to embrace and proclaim the saving truth about the nature of love and personhood revealed in Christ Jesus, born in Bethlehem, crucified on Calvary, risen in the garden, and Lord, now and for ever.

A Saint's Experience of Mary: Elizabeth Ann Seton

Consideration of the saints' experiences of Mary is receiving more attention in publications. Recently, the liturgical monthly, Magnificat, publishing the following from a letter written by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton:

"The other day in a moment of excessive distress I fell on my knees without thinking when the Blessed Sacrament passed by, and cried in an agony to God to bless me if he was there, that my whole soul desired only him – a little prayer book of Mrs. F's was on the table and I opened a little prayer of Saint Bernard to the Blessed Virgin begging her to be our Mother, and I said it to her with such a certainty that God would surely refuse nothing to his Mother, and that she could not help loving and pitying the poor souls he died for, that I felt really I had a Mother which you know my foolish heart so often laments to have lost in early days – from the first remembrance of infancy I have looked in all the plays of childhood and wildness of youth to the clouds for my Mother, and at that moment it seemed as if I had found more than her, even in tenderness and pity of a Mother – so I cried myself to sleep on her heart." [Source: Selected Writings, Paulist Press, 1989.]

Mary and the Jubilee – Calendar of the Holy Year 2000

The Vatican news services produced a document in 1998 that explained the significance of all the jubilees of the Holy Year 2000. In the document, Mary is also taken into account. The following was noted:

A Calendar Attentive to Popular Piety

11. A liturgical calendar, because of its nature, does not contain references to pious exercises. The "Calendar of the Holy Year of 2000", however, does just that. This is necessary because many of the exercises of the "Jubilee Year" processions, penitential celebrations, Eucharistic adoration, the Way of the Cross have a popular basis.

Thus the Calendar indicates that on the Fridays of Lent and other days when the mystery of the Passion of Christ is recalled, the Way of the Cross should be celebrated; on other feasts and memorials of the Mother of the Lord, recitation of the Rosary is recommended. ...

A Calendar Attentive to the Figure and Mission of the Mother of Jesus

12. Mary of Nazareth has played an essential role in the event commemorated in the Grand Jubilee of the Year 2000 the Incarnation of the Word and the birth of Christ: in the Incarnation, she received, in her own name and representing her people and humanity, the Son of God; in giving him birth, she brought him into the light and presented him to the world; she placed herself at the disposal of the salvific work of Christ. The letter Tertio millennio adveniente speaks of her repeatedly and observes that "the affirmation of the central place of Christ cannot therefore be separated from the recognition of the role played by his Mother Holy Mother" (n. 43).

To highlight, in an adequate fashion, the role of the Mother of the Saviour there is no simpler or better way than to celebrate, with particular devotion, according to the rhythm of the liturgical year, those feasts of the Blessed Virgin which are more closely linked with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word-Birth of Christ during this Jubilee Year.

In this way, it is to be hoped that the Great Jubilee of Christ, spontaneously, by reason of the indissoluble union of the divine Word and the Virgin in the mystery of the Natalis Domini[Birthday of Our Lord], will become also the Jubilee of his Mother.

To see the full document and the calendar of the Jubilees:

To see the Marian events only, see our Mary Page summary at:

The Marian Items on the Calendar for the Great Jubilee 2000, in the City of Rome

Art Restored: Caravaggio's "Our Lady of Pilgrims"

Zenit News from Rome on Decembr 25, 1999, reports:
[Our Lady of

Our Lady of Pilgrims
"The Pope has chosen the image that he will use to illustrate his letter to the citizens of Rome, inviting them to open their doors the Jubilee pilgrims. "Our Lady of Pilgrims", one of Caravaggio's masterworks, was painted between 1603 and 1605 for the Roman church of Saint Augustine. After 10 months of restoration, it was presented Tuesday [December 21] by Italian Minister of Culture Giovanna Melandri and Roman Mayor Francesco Rutelli. "The painting, which measures more than 6.5 feet by 3 feet, has recovered its original depth – the richness of contrasts, and the vibrancy of color so characteristic of Caravaggio. The biggest surprise in removing the grime was the discovery of one of the feet of the Virgin in an unnatural and somewhat forced position. In the painting, Our Lady appears two poor kneeling pilgrims, a man and a woman. After the restoration, the contrast between the dirty and disheveled hair of the elderly pilgrim and the beautiful hair of the Madonna is particularly eye-catching.

"The restoration of this work, so symbolic of the Jubilee, was carried out under the direction of the Department of Cultural and Historical Goods, and was made possible by the patronage of the National Bank of Labor. The restoration was directed by Anna Maria Pedrocchi, who worked with two other restorers: Valeria Marlini and Daniela Storti." ZE99122308

Mary and Priests

Marianist, John M. Samaha, SM, of Cupertino, California, has contributed an article to Homiletic & Pastoral Review entitled, "Mary's Sacerdotal Role." Samaha begins with the premise: "Every priest is a mediator between God and man, but our principal and proper mediator is Christ. Catholic theology indicates that Mary participates in a secondary manner in the mediation of Christ." He establishes the biblical basis for this tradition and then presents the historical development of the concept of Mary as Virgo sacerdos, Mary as the Virgin Priest, that is, a model for the priest in her prayer and in her faith. For example, Samaha writes,

In 1906 Pope Pius X granted an indulgence for a prayer containing the invocation, "Mary, Virgin Priest, pray for us." Pius X explained this designation by stating with St. Antoninus that, although Mary had never received the sacrament of Holy Orders, she nevertheless possesses as much dignity and grace as are found in the priesthood.

Samaha goes on to list the objections to the title, but also its deeper meaning under the following aspects:

The complete article is found in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, December 1999, pp. 10- 17.

TIME and the Virgin Mary

In the mailbag section of the January1, 2000 edition of TIME, the following note appeared in answer to the question: "Please, could you tell me which female has appeared on the cover more times than any other?"

The interesting answer included: "...Princess Diana tops the list of women on TIME'S cover, having turned up within the red border a grand total of nine times. Runner-up is a tie, with eight covers apiece for both the VIRGIN MARY and HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (we aren't counting the tiny insert pics of Hillary on two Zippergate covers). But the race is not over. As Campaign 2000 bears down upon us, we would have to say it's a reasonably good bet that the anticipated Democratic candidate for New York's U.S. Senate seat will go at least one up on the Virgin Mother and, if Hillary wins, may take the top spot away from Di. If that makes you queasy, rest easy. It's nothing a religion cover or two won't cure."

Newest in Marianist News

The following briefs were noted in the University of Dayton's weekly< i>Campus Digest:

Newest Edition: Marian Library Newsletter

The Winter edition of the Marian Library Newsletter reached the homes of subscribers and friends at Christmas. It contained the following articles, some of which you will find located in the various sections of Mary Page:

  • A Thought for Christmas by Fr. Thomas A. Thompson, SM, professor at the International Marian Research Institute and editor of the newsletter. See Seasonal Meditations
  • Fifty Years of the Mariological Society of America, 1949-1999 MSA
  • Gauging Marian Devotion
    See article below for this valuable current gauge!
  • Books...And Articles. See Book Reviews (Still under construction)
  • Contributing to the Marian Library's Future. See Outreach & Development

    Gauging Marian Devotion

    The following is a direct quotation from the Winter 1999-2000

  • Marian Library Newsletter:

    One way to assess the waxing and waning of Marian interests over the last thirty years is the number and quality of publications. Popular works on the Virgin Mary have steadily increased since the mid 1980s. Academic periodicals are also publishing articles devoted to some topics related to Marian devotion.

    In 1999, theological journals, which rarely had articles dealing with Marian devotion, devoted entire issues to the topic. Two French theological periodicals, apparently encouraged by the ecumenical document on Mary from the Groupe des Dombes (see The Marian Library Newsletter, #37 ), have devoted entire issues to Mary. Christus presented an issue (no. 183), "Mary, the One Who Believed." Croire Aujourd'hui devoted an issue (no. 61) to the question of faith and Mary. Theology Today, a predominantly Protestant journal, from Princeton Theological Seminary, devoted its October, 1999, issue (six articles and poems) to Mary, together with an editorial entitled "The Church's First Theologian."

    Below are excerpts from the editor's preface in Christus and Theology Today.

    The Return of the Virgin Mary

    After a long absence, Mary has come back. The reduced profile of Mary in recent years may have been necessary to allow an examination of some of the past controversies: ecumenical misunderstandings, exaggerated claims, the place of women in society and the church, questions about sexuality. But now, the ecumenical agreement, which began at Vatican II, has enabled us to join others, together proclaiming Mary blessed.

    The rediscovery of the place of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the Church enlightens the Great Jubilee 2000. Our faith tells us that she is the door to the new millennium. Through her we have received salvation. She is also the door of hope, as we leave behind a century of violent wars and delusions. Within the Church, it is the Mary's example which allows us to break through impossible impasses.

    In the face of doubt and resistance, the fiat of Mary allows us to be hopeful people and to respond to God's Word addressed to us in life's daily events. "Do all that He tells you." In a world where efficiency is valued more than contemplative reflection, where the rational is valued more than the relational, where immediate results are more important than patient waiting, Mary's example recalls that true fruitfulness is the product of God's grace. "The Marian dimension of the Church precedes the Petrine one," John Paul II reminds us. In other words, the Church is more charismatic than hierarchical. Mary reveals to us that the identity of the Church, the heart of the alliance, is feminine.

    Mary is a figure of the Church, but also an historical individual, who hastens to help her cousin Elizabeth; who worriedly searches with Joseph for a lost child in Jerusalem; who intercedes at Cana. In her "yes," renewed at the Cross, Mary is the representative of God's people, Israel. "Blessed are you who have believed:" the beatitude receives a human face. The Marian dimension is the personalizing factor, combining faith with good works. It makes us love the Church not as an abstraction -- abstractions have no needs of mothers -- but as a communion of persons.

    The return of an authentic Marian devotion, free of doctrinal deviations and sentimentality, can purify the Church of desiccated rationalism and frenzied activism, and allow it to enter more joyfully and confidently in the new era.

    Christus: Revue de Formation Spirituelle
    14, rue d'Assas; 75006 Paris;

    Theology Today
    The Church's First Theologian

    There are many reasons why it is appropriate for a theological journal with a primarily Protestant setting to devote an issue to theological reflection on Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is a central biblical figure and Protestant devotion to Scripture invites as much attention to her as a figure of faith as to any of the other biblical personalities. Her place in the historic creeds and the systematic discussion of major Protestant theologians underscores that need for major theological attention. The significance of Mary for ecumenical discussion, both as a historic source of divisions in the Christian family and, more recently, as a locus of new dialogue among Protestants and Catholics. . . makes her an appropriate topic for a journal devoted to ecumenism.

    One reason for paying attention to Mary is that an argument can be made for her place as the first theologian of the church. . . . And this title is justified for two reasons: one is found in Mary's silence, and the other in her loud voice. The silence that contains profound theological contemplation is alluded to twice in the Gospel of Luke, in each case with similar language (Luke 2,19; 2,51). Mary's story as the Lord's servant began with a mystery she could not comprehend and that she would face many and painful puzzles about her beloved son and God's purpose through him--some at a wedding, some at his execution. . . . We have no book of Scripture written by this woman. She was simply the mother of this child. But the first musings over his significance, the first christological reflection, began with this woman who brought him forth in pain and nursed him on her breast. While we do not know all she thought, we know that her theological reflection never ceased, for such is the way of mothers with their children. The treasuring of their words and the incidents of their childhood is not something that ever disappears. Nor does a mother ever stop trying to understand her child. The story of Mary makes us wonder about how much other theological work has gone on in the silence of a mother's heart. Mary's theological voice, however, is not altogether silent. Indeed, she has given the church its most sung hymn of praise and thanksgving, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Mary's testimony to the powerful work of God has been a touchstone of the liturgy of the church as prayer, praise, and music have come together to echo her song again and again down through the ages and in every land. If Mary's theological pondering about her child are kept in her heart, her witness is very articulate and worthy of our pondering as much as of our singing.

    The song of Mary that is sung in great cathedrals and churches around the world, by choirs in beautiful robes and by congregations of substantial means, is a song that reflects the piety and the faith of the poor. The Magnificat is a song of the poor and the downtrodden, and its character an expression of the faith of the poor is seen in two particular ways. At the start is the self-understanding of the one who sings this song: she is lowly, and she identifies herself with the lowly in Israel, over against the proud, the powerful, and the rich. Those who sing this song have to find a connection with that voice or sing it to their own damnation. . . . Taking a cue from the words of the messenger to Mary--"For nothing will be impossible with God"--Walter Brueggemann has called this type of song a "song of impossibility," for it deals with things that we assume are too difficult, really impossible in this world. And perhaps we assume that in order to take comfort in it. The Magnificat as a song of the poor sees things differently in the world God rules.

    God's world seems to be glimpsed primarily by women who in their own lowliness and need have testified to God's impossibilities (Hannah, Mary). They are certainly beyond my imagination, though I see a few clues that are given in the context of Mary's song. The primary one is Mary herself, unheralded, of no claim to fame, who regards herself as handmaid of the Lord and sees that in choosing her, God has exalted her to high estate. In and through this humble woman, God's great purpose shall come to pass. She is the demonstrating that nothing is impossible with God.

    The sharpest clue is in the way shown by the baby Mary bears, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God--power, high estate--a thing to be grasped. . . but humbled himself and become obedient unto death, the way of this child who though he was rich yet for our sakes become poor. I am sure that many years later as she watched the agonizing death of her child, Mary pondered through tears how God had exalted this lowly handmaid of the Lord and what that required of her.

    Theology Today (October, 1999)
    PO Box 29; Princeton NJ 08542

    [Please note: Further articles will be featured in our next NEWS]

    Litany to Jesus in the Womb of Mary

    January in the United States is a time to recall the decision, Roe verses Wade, which legally permitted abortion. The following litany was written to reflect on Jesus in the Womb, and to pray for his mercy in reversing the abortion issue.

    Response to each invocation: Have mercy on us.

    Jesus, knit so wonderfully in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, uniquely human from the moment of conception in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, present at creation, created in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, word made flesh, taking on a human body in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, subject to human development in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, whose Precious Blood first flowed through tiny arteries and veins in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, hidden nine months in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, begotten by God, nourished by the substance and blood of His Most Holy Mother in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, leaping from eternity into time, in the womb of Mary
    Jesus, revealing with His Father and the Holy Spirit all wisdom and knowledge to His Most Holy Mother, in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, aware of His role as Redeemer in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, Sanctifier of His Precursor from the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, Eternal Word, Divine Child, embraced by the Father, in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, raising His Mother to the heights of sanctification, in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, everlasting delight of heaven, in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, manifesting His Incarnation to His Holy Mother, in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, adored and contemplated by His Mother in the sanctuary of her womb Jesus, before whom the angels prostrated themselves, in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, in whom the very angels beheld the humanity of the Infant God and the union of the two natures of the Word in the virginal womb of Mary,
    Jesus, whose Holy Limbs first budded in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, whose Godhead the world cannot contain, weighing only a few grams in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, Divine Immensity, once measuring only tenths of an inch in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, Sacrificial Lamb, Docile Infant in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, who was to suffer the agony and passion of death, accepting the human capacity for pain ad grief, in the womb of Mary,
    Jesus, Lamb of God in the womb of Mary, Spare us, O Lord.
    Jesus, Holy Innocent in the womb of Mary, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
    Jesus, Son of God and Messiah in the womb of Mary, Have mercy on us, O Lord.

    Let us pray:

    God, our creator, you formed us as women and men,
    equal partners in the stewardship of your world:
    joined forever as sisters and brothers,
    yet within each of us lives a rich diversity of different gifts,
    different hopes and different limitations.
    In Jesus, your word born fully in our flesh,
    you have seen and loved in us all that you have made us to be.
    Though graced, we are limited and often weak.
    But our weaknesses themselves are no obstacle to your passion for us.
    Teach us to see in ourselves what you have seen in each of us from birth.
    Teach us to know our gifts and limits.
    Keep us confidently on the path of self-knowledge,
    fullness of wisdom, and joy in being your children.
    We ask this through Christ and the Holy Spirit, with you,
    One God, forever and ever. Amen

    The above litany was composed by Edward F Gabriele and is the closing prayer from Prayers for Peace and Justice. Act Justly, Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly. Attempts made by Mary Page to locate the author and publication were unsuccessful. Assistance in this regard would be appreciated.

    Virgin of the Great Sign

    The Carmel of Terre Haute regularly sends its mailings to The Marian Library. This year they included a prayer card with an icon painted in their own convent. The greeting cards, 4 x 6 1/8", come with matching envelopes and have an explanation of the icon on the back. Holy Cards, 3 1/8x 4 5/8" are black on the back. If you are interested in ordering these cards after January 2000, please write:

    Carmelite Monastery
    59 Allendale
    Terre Haute, IN 47802

    Or Call: 812-299-1410
    Or Fax: 812-299-5820

Haute Icon]

    Theme: Mary and the Church

    The study below leads you to themes taught about Mary in magisterial documents since Vatican II. You will access quotations dealing with the theme, Mary and the Church, and to their source documents. Mary and the Church

    Prayer Corner Requests

    You are invited to help us pray for our prayer corner intentions.

    Prayer Corner

    The intentions of the Holy Father for 2000:

    • General Intentions: That believers in Christ, of every nation and culture, may increasingly live in communion and reciprocal respect for one another.
    • Mission Intentions: That the international Year for the Culture of Peace, drawing inspiration from the Christian mystery of Christmas, may be a source of authentic and lasting peace for all men and women.

    See News Archive

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