“Our Lady of Tenderness” Icon, written by my own mother, Cecilia Tan, 2012.
For Mother’s Day today, we pause to remember the maternity of Marie Madeleine, but also of the many sisters who followed in maternal likeness. We continue to pray for the Society, and for the FCJ Sisters; that each may continue to strive toward and serve in the likeness of maternal selflessness, warmth and compassion. We remember our own mothers and mother-figures too.
We ask the intercession of Our Lady, the model exemplar of motherhood to inspire and encourage us in our mission as companions of Christ. We do so, in the recitation of the FCJ Society prayer,
Our Lady’s Blessing
Holy Mary, Immaculate Virgin, Queen, Superior General of our Society, our Mother, Mother of the Novices, Postulants, and Companions in Mission, and Mother of all those to whom we are sent, pray for us.
My good Mother, beg of your divine Son to give us his blessing, and please give us yours also: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Image: A crying woman in a refugee camp, from Ethicaltraveler.org
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, on which we recall the suffering and sorrow of Mary. She is venerated as a companion to those who suffer, and as an intercessor in times of our need.
Suffering and sorrow is part of being human. Yet no matter how dark things can seem, you are never alone in your pain. We always have Christ, our most Faithful Companion, and through him his Mother, Mary, and ours too.
Originally published 1 April 2013. Reposted 20 April 2014 for your reflection.
Photo: Geralyn Anderson, “Easter Moon Through the Trees” on Easter Sunday Morning (2013)
The Rev David Lewicki has the following reflection to read on the reality of Easter. He makes the point that the women who went to the tomb did so in the dark.
Biblical scholar Raymond Brown is quoted:
In this [John’s] Gospel, where light and darkness play such a role, darkness lasts until someone believes in the risen Jesus.
Yet it is also true that faith travels in darkness. Many people will not experience the lightness of Easter or the hope it proclaims. Illness, disease and malady are in our faces. Death and destruction continues. But still we are challenged as people of the gospel, “to walk by faith and not by sight,” as the song goes. There is darkness around. It is still dark. But nonetheless, our beloved friend in Jesus still needs us, wants us and calls us out of ourselves to bring light and truth in the world.
And so I share some symbols of Christ’s light from a dawn service I attended over Easter.
May the courage of Mary be ours, may she show us the ways of joy and peace. And may our goings-out be in the warmth and gentle glow of Christ’s light. Peace.
3rd Sunday of Advent: The Coming of the Lord is at Hand
Written by Geralyn Tan for Keeping Company. 2013.
We’ve been on the journey for some time now. We began our Advent journey by walking in the light of the Lord. We looked at what that means in restoring right relationship in the example from Isaiah, yet the readings from the Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday – remind us that although our journey is well underway (and we cannot turn back), there is much more to come in the promises of joy and light! This is the dynamic of light and shade, of in-between time, where we live in hope for what is to come.
Time has been an underlying theme. The coming of the Lord is at hand, but we are not passive players. The waiting that we doinvolves that we wait patiently, as in the exhortation of the Second Reading:
Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
We are given some indication of how to wait patiently and productively by reflecting on the ways in which God deals with his people. In both the psalm and the gospel passages, we hear that God is merciful, just and compassionate. The God of the Old Testament and the coming Christ we read about in the Matthew’s gospel is one and the same, whose presence in our lives is not impartial. In other words, the action of God is very much at work in our lives.
And so too are we are called to care for one another.
We ought to remember that Mary and Joseph, for all their holiness, were also like us in their waiting. It’s not as though the baby was fully formed inside of Mary and she waited till she got to Bethlehem to give birth. Jesus, fully human as we are, but divine, would have gone through the same process of development all humans go through. And this period of gestation has particular elements of selfless giving and relating, one to another.
Before Jesus is born, a hidden world of interactions takes place inside his mother’s body. Whatever she eats, he takes in. Whatever she hears, he will also hear. And whatever she experiences, he is able to respond, in a kick or stretch here and there. Imagine the role of Mary as nourisher, protector and carer of the unborn child.
Note again, what the scripture says about God looking after us. His people are uplifted, the hungry are fed and justice is secured for the oppressed. And so too are we called to do for others in their favour, to look after them.
Mary and Joseph are also messengers of God. Inside her body, Mary carries the Word Incarnate.
How are we messengers for God? And in what ways do we carry this good news, this message in our lives?
Since St Ignatius had such a strong commitment to and love of Jesus, it should come as no surprise that he also had a deep and abiding devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. A favorite prayerful request of his to Mary was: “Place me with your Son.” | Praying with the Jesuits (Paulist Press, 2011)
Time and time again, we seek the intercession of Mary. While venerated, she is not worshipped, but rather points us to her Son and our Lord in whom all things are fulfilled. In John’s gospel at the wedding in Cana where Jesus performs his first sign, it is Mary who issues the imperative, saying, “Do whatever he tells you.”
There is a lot to say about Mary and about the feast of the Assumption, but perhaps for now, let us look at this note, again from Fr Healey:
The feast of the Assumption (August 15) is still one of the traditional days on which Jesuits pronounce their vows…
Since it is only the beginning of the day this morning, pause for a moment and ask yourself prayerfully:
What are the vows I have made? How do I live them?
Where I fall short, I ask for the grace to stand up again.
Where I excel, I ask for the grace of gratitude and humility, always praising God.
Let the day unfold gently, remembering the vows we have made to the Lord. God knows all that is in our hearts, let Mary take them to Him.