Book Review: Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis

For many Catholics Mary is a source of comfort, intercession and motherly affection. This is certainly true for Pope Francis. Throughout his papacy Pope Francis has made specific mention of Mary as “the first pilgrim” and “the perfect disciple” as well as many other titles and devotions. Mary’s unconditional “yes” is for all followers of Jesus the perfect example of what it means to truly participate in the will of the Father in our everyday lives. Alicia von Stamwitz has beautifully compiled the writings, homilies and even tweets by the Holy Father about the Mother of God in this precious book, Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis.

mother maryThis is the perfect nightstand book. While arranged thematically, each excerpt is only a page or two at the most. Pope Francis’ insights into the role our spiritual mother plays are poignant, full of depth and love. While it is a book that highlights Mary, it is always important to recognize exactly what Mary’s role is – to bring us to Christ.

Mary’s gaze is not directed towards us along…”Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Mary points to Jesus, she asks us to bear witness to Jesus, she constantly guides us to her Son, Jesus, because in him alone do we find salvation. he alone can change the water of our loneliness, difficulties and sin into the wine of encounter, joy and forgiveness. Video message for prayer vigil at the Shrine of Divine Love, from the Vatican. Saturday, October 12, 2013.

Pope Francis’ call for the Year of Mercy can be seen in many of his reflections on Mary, the Mother of Mercy:

In the end we will all be judged by the same measure with which we have judged: the mercy we have shown to others will also be shown to us. Let us ask Our Lady, our Mother, to help us to grow in patience, in hope and in mercy with all brothers and sisters. Angelus, St. Peter’s Square. Sunday, July 20, 2014.

This book also allows us glimpses into Pope Francis, the man and priest. He recalls images and titles of Mary that are meaningful to him, such as Our Lady Undoer of Knots and how under the mantel of Mary we learn “true discipleship” (145).

Mother Mary is inviting, warm and inspiring. And in true Pope Francis fashion, it a book that gently guides you into deeper relationship with Jesus through His merciful Mother, Mary.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

December 24, 2016 – Silence

Words cannot describe how excited my children are for tomorrow. Their eyes are glowing and they are twitching and bouncing all over the house. While we aren’t experiencing many “Silent Nights”, their joyful energy is filling the house with special emphasis on our nativity scene.

Advent Prayer Reflections - Christmas Eve. dailygraces.net
Traveling Mary and Joseph – Fontanini Nativity set. CC Kate Taliaferro 2016.

Last year for Christmas Ben gave me a “traveling” Mary and Joseph. Mary is pregnant and sitting on the donkey while Joseph walks beside her. I love the realism. Mary looks exhausted and is barefoot. Joseph also looks weary but still shows the way. They have been traveling to the manger scene since we set up the nativity. We put up the the more traditionally posed Mary and Joseph along with Baby Jesus and the kids know that today Mary and Joseph will finally arrive at the stable. At first, they kept asking “Where are the real Mary and Joseph? The ones who sit by Jesus?” It was interesting to see how even at 5 and 4 years old they already have impressed in their minds the image of the Holy Family peacefully sitting in the stable.

This got me thinking about our past 4 weeks of Advent prayer experiences. We exposed ourselves to a variety of prayer forms, reflections and methods. Prayer is so many things! It is preparation and petition. It is reflection and listening. Prayer has the power to transform and stabilize. Ideally, prayer is our relationship with our God.

Look at Mary and Joseph on their journey. Because of their relationship with God they were open to His divine presence working in their lives. When the angel came to both of them (Mary at the Annunciation and Joseph in his dream) they were given the opportunity to say “yes” to God’s Will for their lives. They continued to say yes each day that followed, all the way to this day, the day before the Day.

We, too, have been preparing our hearts and minds this Advent to welcome the Christ child. We have shouted with John the Baptist, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” and we have quietly offered our own yes to God’s Will. For today, I’d encourage you to spend your 3 minutes in silent union with the Holy Family. Spend your time in silence, finding the tension between peaceful trust and anxious anticipation that Mary and Joseph must have felt on this morning.

It is the last day of travel and unbeknownst to them, the last day of Mary’s pregnancy. They probably shared their breakfast together and I would bet they prayed together. Ahead of the them the road was probably becoming crowded and noisy. They may have been worried about where they would stay that night. Would today be the day their precious baby, God’s son, would be born?

In the midst of all the excitement, noise and celebration today brings, allow yourself a few minutes to be united with Mary and Joseph as they awaited the coming of their Savior, their son.

*** Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook pageDaily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

December 10, 2016 – Let us see Your face

I love the Psalm refrain for today: Lord make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. This beautifully sums up most of what we have been talking about this week, namely looking at Mary to teach us how to unite our will with God’s Will.

Lord make us turn to you: The psalmist is asking God to help us reorient our lives, our wills, to God’s design and purpose for us. We are asking God to clear the path and show us the way to submitting our broken wills to His perfect Will. What better guide than Mary?

Let us see your face: We are asking God to reveal His Will to us. How does God reveal His Will? Sometimes we see it through people around us, sometimes through certain experiences or moments of clarity.  But to see God’s face, to come that close to God, there is something we absolutely have to do. We have to read the Bible, which we believe is the inspired Word of God. We have God’s Words, His promises, His desires for humanity and how we are to live with one another all written down for us in a living text that is as relevant today as the day Jesus read from it in the synagogue. If we truly wish to see the face of God and to know His Will we must read His Words.

We shall be saved: Here we bring in again the blessing of Elizabeth: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Key in on the phrase “spoken to you.” You might think, well God doesn’t speak to us today like He did back then. Friends, God does. Remember, the Scriptures are not dead words on a page but are God’s inspired and creative Words. If we open ourselves to God in Scripture we will find Him in our hearts. We will come to know God’s Will and grow in our union with Him.

St. Augustine explains how during the time of the prophets God made promises to His people. St. John the Baptist was the last prophet. The coming of Christ signaled the beginning of the fulfillment of the promises God had made. We are still in this time of fulfillment, but during Advent we take time to reflect on the original promises God made as we prepare for Jesus to come. For today, spend some time reflecting on the following passages from St. Augustine regarding God’s promises and their fulfillment.

He [God] promised us eternal salvation and an unending life of blessedness with the angels, and an imperishable inheritance, the joy of seeing his face, a dwelling-place with him in heaven, and the fear of death removed from us through the resurrection. This is, if you like, his ultimate promise. We look forward to it, and when we reach it, we will want nothing more. But as to how this final end is to be reached, he has also told us in promises and prophecies…

Even so, it was not enough for God to send his Son to point out the way – he made his Son the way itself, so that we can go on our journey guided by him as he walks along his own way (http://www.catholic.org/advent/story.php?id=30978).

***Are you finding the experience of focusing on what you are waiting for providing opportunities for growth? Is your time spent in prayer over these situations bearing fruit in your life as you unite your will more closely to God’s? Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com