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The Seven Sorrows of Mary, our Mother

If we are temples of the Holy Ghost; if we are made members of the Body of

Seven Sorrows of Mary
Seven Sorrows of Mary, Our Lady of Quito found at Nunc Coepi, Catholic Icons by Mary Henley

Christ at our Baptism; if the Body of Christ is our Holy Mother the Church; how much more so then is Mary both our personal model as believers, and the model of the Church?

Mary our mother had the fullness of God become incarnate of her flesh, and dwell within her for nine months. She swaddled, and suckled, and raised, and dwelt with the Most High for the first thirty years of His Life. Sadly, she was uniquely joined to His Sacrifice by the piercing of her own heart, foretold by the prophecy of Simeon. Lastly, she was given to us as our Mother by Our Lord Himself, on the Cross, for as John was the beloved, so too are we the beloved of the Lord. Mary is truly our Mother, and Mother of the Church: Militant, Suffering and Triumphant.

Because of this total giving of herself, Mary is our model of faith. With perfection, by the grace of God, she is the complete, total, unreserved giving of herself, for the sake of our God. The entire purpose of her being is to bring forth the Messiah into the world, and that purpose has never changed. She is the Magnificat; she only serves to magnify the Lord, and draw souls closer to her Son. As Christ is the Light of the World, Mary is a lens, which only amplifies our focus and devotion to the Divine Light of Christ.

I have heard of many believers, even Catholics, who shun affection and devotion to our Mother. Still more I have heard believers rebuff Mary’s devotional titles of Mediatrix of All Graces and Co-redemptrix. I believe this rebuff comes from ignorance, because calling on our Mother by those titles only amplifies Our Lord, and glorifies His already infinite glory. In giving her fiat to Gabriel, and sacrificing her life as a life of sorrow united to the Cross of Christ, Mary acted as that vessel through which God became man. That is why she is Mediatrix of all graces, not because she Mediator, for Christ alone is Mediator, but because she is the means God chose, in the fullness of time, to make Himself present in time, and in the world. She continues this role today in our devotion to her, which is used solely to amplify her Son, and draw souls ever closer to Him by His Grace. Is Mary the Redemptrix? Heaven’s no. She is Co-redemptrix because: she cooperated completely, totally, and without reserve, with the Will of God and the Redemption of man in Christ her Son; she was united to His Sacrifice her entire life by the prophecy of Simeon, so truly was her life a life of sorrows, even in the overwhelming joy of living with God made man, here on earth; and Mary our mother continues her purpose of existence in drawing souls ever closer to her Son, so that they may enjoy the fullness of His Redemption in Heaven. Truly Mary is Co-redemptrix because she alone, in a unique way, by the superabundant grace of God, cooperated in His Redemptive Life, and Act upon the Cross.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Seven Dolors (Sorrows) of Mary. If you can, go to Mass, but no matter where you are, think of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and offer a Hail Mary for each sorrow, in thanks to her sacrifice of self, for the sake of her Son, and Savior.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary, our Mother:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon.
Reflect on the sorrow of Our Blessed Lady, when She presented Her Divine Child in the temple and heard from the aged Simeon that a sword of grief should pierce Her soul.

2. The Flight into Egypt.
Reflect on Her sorrow when, to escape the cruelty of King Herod, She was forced to fly into Egypt with St. Joseph and Her beloved Child, and pray for those who kill the children today by abortion.

3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
Reflect on Her grief when, in returning from Jerusalem, She found that She had lost Her dear Jesus, Whom She sought sorrowing for three days.

4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
Reflect on Her meeting Her Divine Son, all bruised and bleeding, carrying His Cross to Calvary, and seeing Him fall under its heavy weight.

5. The Crucifixion.
Reflect on Her standing by, when Her Divine Son was lifted up on the Cross and the blood flowed in streams from His Sacred Wounds. 

6. Jesus’ Body is struck by a lance and taken down from the Cross.
Reflect on Her sorrow, when Her Divine Son was taken down from the Cross, and placed in Her arms.

7. The Burial of Jesus.
Reflect on Her following His Sacred Body as it was borne by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to the sepulcher. 

After meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, recite three Hail Mary’s in honor of Our Blessed Lady’s tears.  Mary our Mother, Mary Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.

Seven Sorrows of Mary, found at Nunc Coepi, Catholic Icons by Mary Henley

Reflections where found at: PrayerBook Devotions 

Categories
Alessandra Confession Faith Formation Ink Slingers Offering your suffering Sacraments

Stop Painting a Pretty Picture of Ugly Sins

On May 8th, 1982, I received the Holy Sacrament of Holy Communion, just two weeks after my First Confession. For some odd reason, I don’t even remember the first time I went to Confession as a small eight year old. It really took about 20 years for a transformation to take place in me regarding this beautiful Sacrament.

Prior to that, when I thought of going to Confession, I cringed at the idea. Then I’d come up with all of the possible excuses why I didn’t really need to go. I mean I hadn’t killed anyone, right? So I, like many Catholics, avoided the Confessional.

Don’t get me wrong. If I was on a retreat, yeah I would go…if there was a Penance Service before Lent or Advent, sure not a problem. But other than that, I really didn’t understand or see a reason for going more than the “required” amount. I was a minimalist Catholic!

One day my eyes were opened and I saw Confession in a new light. My then-fiance told me that he, a convert, went to Confession on a weekly basis.

“WHAT?! What’s wrong with you? You don’t need to go weekly!” I said to him quickly. I was thinking, “This poor guy is confused and thinks that he needs to go weekly. Oh my!”

“What can you possibly do to sin that much? I mean is there something I don’t know about you?” I asked, as I thought the worst of him, sinning in the process.

But he simply answered, “No, quite the opposite. Going to Confession weekly keeps me on a straight path. Think of it as preventive medicine,” he wisely replied. I stayed silent as I thought, “Maybe this convert is on to something here, hmmm…”

It really left me thinking.

Going to Confession, as a small child, was special in its own simple kind of way.

Twenty years after my First Confession, I had the most amazing experience. My fiance asked if I wanted to go with him to Confession. I said, “Sure,” not wanting him to change his mind about our engagement because I was a heathen or something. So I went, and oh boy, was I not prepared for the next thing that happened.

We decided I would go in first because Peter said he wanted more time to prepare for his Confession. Prepare? What on earth? Don’t you know what you did since last Saturday? Ok,  Alessandra, you’re sinning again, so just shut up! 

I slowly opened the door and looked up at the little sign on the door that read: “Father Dowgiert.” I then looked back at my darling fiance and smiled, then gulped. I didn’t know this priest and hadn’t been to Confession with him before.

I walked in and saw that there was only a kneeling option, so I knelt behind a screen. I had done it before to test it out, but kneeling had never been “forced” on me. I started, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned it has been X months since my last confession. Since then, I have offended God by blah, blah, and blah (insert pretty word for the sin at each blah).”

I stop.

Silence.

::crickets::

A deep voice on the other side, in broken English says, “You have not told me your sins!”

WHAT? I just did! Okay, maybe he didn’t understand me, as he sounds like a foreigner.

So I started again. “I have offended God by blah, blah, and blah.”

I stop.

Silence.

::crickets::

::and more crickets::

“Father?” I asked. A deep voice on the other side, in broken English says again, “Dear child, you have still not told me your sins!”

NOW I was starting to sweat! I mean, come on, I’ve done this so many times! At least 20 times the two appropriate times, so I’ve been to Confession at least 40 times in the past 20 years. I’m a pro by now, right?

I took a deep breath and thought about his words, “You have not told me your sins!” SINS. What are sins? Those seconds felt like hours. Sins are things that dirty the soul, that make a temporary mark on our souls and sometimes permanent marks in our minds. “You have not told me your sins!” Sins are ugly words, not pretty ones I had been using.

***
…wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony,
adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance,
emulations, strife, heresies, murders, drunkenness…
***

For a moment there I felt like this Polish priest
was going to keep me in “the box”
until I truly repented.

I could come up with so many “pretty words” for the real words listed above, but that was not what Father wanted. He wanted me to look at my sins head on and face them. To stop painting a pretty picture of ugly sins.

My whole body was shaking. I didn’t want to say these words, these ugly words. Why? Simply because they were made real to me if I used the disgusting word and using the pretty word embellished a sin for me.

I closed my eyes and said the words. I can’t even remember what they were now, but I remember using the UGLY words for the sins I had committed.

Then Father says, “Ah! Now you have told me yours sins!” and went on and counseled me on how to avoid these and what to do instead. Then he gave me my penance.

By now I was in tears. I felt these sins were exposed, naked, out in the open. There they were and here was Father on the other side of that wooden wall and screen helping me, advising me how to avoid doing this again. I was crying a river by now, my sleeves catching my tears!

He finally gave me absolution, concluding with three loud knocks on the wood panel my head was so close to:

*** KNOCK ***

*** KNOCK ***

*** KNOCK ***

Each knock made my body shake even more. Three? I thought “Father, Son, Holy Ghost!” I had never, ever, seen or heard a priest do that before or since. It was scary, terrifying almost, but at the same time…healing. The loudness made me think about and realize God’s amazing POWER.

I finally was able to get out the words, “Thank you, Father,” with a crackling voice. You know, the one hard to find when you have a knot in your throat from crying so much? I regained my composure and as I found the strength to get up, was surprised to feel light as a feather.

I felt lighter. The sins that had tarred my soul for so long had been shed. I felt like such great burdens had been lifted from me. And it had. Father Dowgiert and my future husband had helped me to know real Confession and the real truth of my sins.

I walked out and looked at Peter. How long had I been in there? I didn’t have a clue…maybe 10 minutes? (It was more like 20.) I had lost track of time and space while in that wooden box. Peter mouthed, “are you okay?” (Just imagine how pink and wet my face was) and I nodded my head and turned towards the tabernacle.

I wanted to crawl to Him. I felt so forgiven, so clean, so new! The slate had been wiped clean again! (Teachers, think shiny, clean, super white dry erase boards, the ones you don’t want anyone to write on again because they look new again. That’s how my soul felt.) Thank you, Jesus, for dying for me and rising again in three days. I wanted to shout, THANK YOU, LORD! But then again, I wanted silence. I wanted Peter to take forever to come out because I wanted to be alone with Jesus and just soak it all in,

Shortly after, Peter was done and came over to check on me. “You okay?” he whispered. I smiled (I was still crying, now tears of joy). “Yes,” I said, then put my finger on my lips asking for silence. Peter had spent the past four years of his life in a Polish parish, with three older Polish priests, so Confession hadn’t fazed him. He looked at me and said, “Hmm. Polish priest. That was great. Just like home, including the knocks.”

Now it was my turn to know what it really felt like to go to Confession. That day, it felt like the first real confession I had ever had. Years later, I remember it like it was yesterday. Minus the sins–I received such complete healing that day that I totally forgot them. I would have stayed there all night if I could. I wanted to enjoy that moment because for the first time I realized the richness of this beautiful Sacrament. For the first time, I knew the greatness of God’s love for me, His forgiveness, His Mercy!

Categories
Alessandra Current Events HHS mandate Ink Slingers Loss Testimonials

From Nicaragua to Now: One Family’s Sacrifices for Freedom

Less than 12 hours after the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on ObamaCare, my Facebook wall took a drastic turn. My wall is normally covered with images of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, saints, or my own little saints in the making, but I made the mistake that day of checking my newsfeed. I nearly hurled my lunch when I saw, “Yay, Obamacare passed, this is the happiest day of my life!” from one of my cousins. For once in my life, I felt like smashing the computer.

Instead, I turned to prayer. “Lord, what is happening? Why would my family of refugees from a socialized nation be happy about this?” Then I saw an image of my father in his military uniform. And a wound that has never fully healed, the death of my father, was being opened again by my own relatives. Reality hit like a ton of bricks…a hundred images flashed before me from the fall of 1979, including the last time I kissed my Papi goodbye. Then I saw another status with a similar message and my eyes went blurry.

My father when he graduated from the military academy in Nicaragua.

My father’s family being happy about the SCOTUS decision was surreal for me and I didn’t understand it. I walked away from my computer and sat looking at my beautiful open backyard. Freedom. Living in the mountains gives me a sense of both protection and freedom, but it wasn’t helping me forget what I was feeling. Worse, the mountains even further reminded me of my Papi, who fought in the mountains of Nicaragua against the Sandinistas for many years. One of the highest ranked commanders in Somoza’s army, my father fought for my freedom while we missed him at home. Military families understand the sacrifice of seeing your loved one go off to war.

I am an unhyphenated American who was born in Nicaragua when it was free of socialism/Communism. My dad was assassinated and left to rot in an abandoned house under the Sandinistas. My mother, at the ripe age of 25, had to fly to another Central American country to identify his remains.

Life without my father was hell for my mother, my sisters, and myself. We left Nicaragua with a suitcase, all of us thinking it was a temporary departure, not a permanent one. We left behind our home and business, both of which my parents had worked so hard for. Eventually, the government managed to carry out its socialist principles to their logical conclusion: it took ownership of all our property and redistributed it. Our home was confiscated and up until a few years ago, was used as the consulate for an African country.

After burying my father, my mother returned to the United States and we lived in fear, hiding for almost two years. Would they come after us, too? We never knew.

These are the kinds of houses I saw around Managua about 20 years ago when I went back for a short visit. My heart sank at the thought that people lived in houses made of cardboard.

And guess what? Things haven’t changed; even after an “open election,” Ortega is back in power! So how is it that my Nicaraguan family members, along with our Cuban and Venezuelan friends, have forgotten why we live in the United States? Should they go live in their native land for a year to be cured of their ignorance?

Before entering the air-conditioned house again, I took a deep breath and prayed my favorite prayer, the Anima Cristi, written by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who was a soldier like my father. Repeating, “Passion of Christ, strengthen me!” under my breath, I sat back down at the computer and prayed, “Lord guide me!” as I typed a response.

“TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHO ARE HAPPY ABOUT OBAMACARE:

If it walks like a duck, acts like a duck, and smells like a duck – it’s a duck! For all my Cuban and Nicaraguan family and friends who still think that we aren’t headed towards socialism, yesterday {Thursday, June 28th} was the day that proved we ARE heading down that road (though actually, it happened the day you voted for Obama). You and I ran away from this kind of government, yet you still are happy with it? WAKE UP and smell the socialism! It’s here! Open the history books and read how it got into our birth countries! Educate yourselves, please, for the love of God, before November! My father–your uncle, in many cases–didn’t die fighting socialism and Communism in Nicaragua for us to accept this.

After that, I was sure I’d started World War III with my family. But three days later, not one of my family members or friends who support Obama had responded. Several decided it would just be easier to unfriend me.

Despite my disappointment with family and friends, the experience made me think long and hard about what the SCOTUS decision means for our country. The decision was to be expected, because judges can’t rewrite laws just to make them Constitutional. Normally, the justices would have struck down the law and instructed Congress to rewrite it. No one knows why Justice Roberts elected to uphold the law, but it’s generally accepted that it wasn’t because he buckled to liberal pressure or was stared down by President Obama. Political experts instead believe that Roberts realized the historical consequences of a ruling that would strike down the landmark healthcare law. With no precedent for the Court to fall back on, it was difficult to say the individual mandate crossed a Constitutional line.

Many commentators have concluded that Roberts’ decision gave Romney the winning ticket since he can now say the Democrats gave us an unconstitutional tax. Some say Congress will be forced to repeal the law due to the public’s complaints–and Roberts knew this. The bottom line is, this SCOTUS ruling upheld an unconstitutional tax and this case will serve as a precedent for allowing other laws that are unconstitutional. Now, Congress knows it can tax behavior and get away with it.

Nicaragua Poverty
The poor in Nicaragua are now poorer, after 33 years under Communism/socialism.

Judge Roberts (a Catholic) gave the federal government the power to tax us for anything, even if the tax it decides to impose doesn’t fit into any tax category the Constitution says Congress can levy. Yes, we have a chance to elect better leaders in November, but now every generation will have to fight against one tax or the next, whatever behavior (or even inactivity) that the government decides we need to be taxed on.

George Washington once said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquent, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” How ironic that we just celebrated our country’s independence from tyranny yesterday, when in fact today our government is more oppressive than England ever was, with more citizens depending on that government than ever before. With 236 years of freedom behind us, that freedom ought not to be negotiable.

In many areas of life, we submit to individuals not for their own good qualities, but out of respect for their office, for the authority they represent. But for that authority to be legitimate, the leader himself must submit to God and the objective Truth that He has given us. Only the leader who has, in humility, accepted obedience to a higher authority himself has the right to demand obedience of those he leads. President Obama, in pushing a socialist program onto our nation despite its overwhelming rejection by the people, has failed in this task.

A friend of mine, Brian, said it best:“Obama does not understand the model of American freedom or its Christian foundations. ObamaCare has foisted upon us the greatest human injustice imaginable: allegiance to an ideology, not founded in human freedom or love of liberty, but through radicalism by the force of the state.”

But there is some hope, according to Catholic League president Bill Donahue. “While the Supreme Court decision lacks clarity, the Catholic response will be anything but ambiguous: the battle lines between the bishops and the Obama administration are now clearer than ever,” Donahue said. “Fortunately, not only do practicing Catholics overwhelmingly support the bishops, but tens of millions of non-Catholics do, too. ObamaCare may have survived, but it is by no means a given that the HHS mandate will. It is one thing to levy a tax, quite another to level the First Amendment.”

So where do we go from here? We’ve seen the fruits of Obama’s labor and his unwillingness to submit to God. We know we need to get this man out of office in November. To do that, we need most of all to pray for this country, for God to put His hand once again on it and bring it back to Him as He did with our forefathers.

Are you registered and ready to vote?  Let your voice be heard, come November. I for one won’t allow the death of my father, who fought and died for my family to be free of government control, to be in vain. I will be voting to honor his death by upholding freedom over tyranny, so that my own children won’t suffer at the hands of their government as we did in Nicaragua.

Resources:

Quod Apostolici Muneris (On Socialism) vy Pope Leo XIII
7 Ways Socialism Harms America
 by Gustavo Solimeo (TFP Student Action)
Catholics and Socialism
 by Stephanie Blog (CatholicCulture)
12 Hard-Hitting Facts About Socialist Ideologies by Gustavo Solimeo (TFP Student Action)
Why the Catholic Church Cannot Accept Socialism by George M. Searle, CSP
Socialism Creeps in as America Sleeps
10 Reasons to Reject Socialism by TFP Student Action
What the Popes Say about Socialism by Gustavo Solimeo (TFP)


UPDATED:

Priest issues strong invocation against socialism
http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/07/17/from-radio-priest-issues-strong-invocation-against-socialism/

Categories
Abortion Alessandra Campaigns Current Events Ink Slingers Prayer Respect Life

40 Days of Prayer for the UNITY of ALL Women

I wonder if the organizers of 40 Days for Life expected it to become as successful as it has just five short years after it’s “birth,” in 2007.  Now, in early 2012, it has groups in 440 different cities that have participated in the United States and Canada, and has already yielded the following amazing results:

  • exactly 1,895 individual campaigns
  • more than 525,000 participants
  • more than 15,000 churches from various denominations
  • more than 5,928 babies have been  saved from abortion
  • exactly 69 people who worked for and now have left the abortion industry and joined the pro-life movement
  • exactly 23 abortion facilities have shut their doors following local campaigns
  • thousands of women and men have been spared from the psychological damage of an abortion including living a life of regret and “what ifs”
  • more than 2,100 stories have featured 40 Days from coast to coast using all forms of communication: print, digital, and broadcast
  • and the uncounted thumbs up from supporters around the campaigns whom may not walk the sidewalks but join in prayer

If I was on the other side of this successful campaign, I would be worried and scared!  As they say, the last line of defense when someone has lost an argument on the facts is to turn to insult or, in the case for an Planned Parenthood clinic in California, mockery.   Former Planned Parenthood clinic manager, now 40 Days for Life campaign manager, Sue Thayer in Iowa says that they call the pro-life campaign, “40 days of torture”.  As Martina first shared here in Catholic Sistas in her post entitled “40 Days of Abortion?” this particular clinic has “taken it up a (mockery) notch” and their most recent, and as Lifenews defined it, repugnant, campaign: 40 Days for Prayer for the abortion providers who help women who have been burdened by an unwanted pregnancy.  What is the message they are sending the world?  Simple.  When the results of those who are countering your line of argument are so strikingly successful, you turn to mockery.

Anyone involved in basic argument/dialogue knows that if you have all the facts to back you up, you should be able to win your argument.  This time, it seems to me, that the numbers speak for themselves.  If the momentum continues at this pace, 40 Days for Life, in another five years can, at the very least, double the numbers listed above and they can continue to corner the abortion industry by killing it with kindness and prayer (soft and steady wins the race).  When this happens (and folks it’s happening right NOW) I would like to see if  Planned Parenthood will be courteous and concede the win.  You should always be graceful in defeat as nothing is worse than a person who tries to argue simply for the sake of it and absolutely will not give in, no matter how definitely obvious their loss is.  So what is the message they are sending the world?  Simple.  When the results of those who are countering your line of argument are so strikingly successful, you turn to mockery.  The 40 Days for Life Campaign worries Planned Parenthood, apparently, and so they are now pathetically attempting to make the world think that they too “pray”.

To aid in the success we are making our part of pushing that momentum of the Campaign, Catholic Sistas has produced a counter brochure of sorts:  40 Days of Prayer for the UNITY of ALL Women, born and unborn (here is Page 1 and Page 2).  Join us by praying along with us and help spread the word…all it takes is a push of a button, a simple Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest share.  We challenge you to be part of history, part of the winning team – for Life!

Our Prayer Campaign begins on Tuesday, May 1st and ends on Saturday, June 9th.  Join us on Facebook.

      (Copyright: Catholic Sistas)

 

 

                  ( Copyright: Catholic Sistas)

 

 

UPDATE:  From the 40 Days for Life Website, Matching Gift Donation:

We also announced that a few generous donors put up a matching gift to help expand these efforts in this critical year of 2012.

Make any tax-deductible contribution to 40 Days for Life before midnight next Tuesday, May 1, and your gift — or the annualized amount of your monthly pledge — will be DOUBLED … up to 89,500!

REMEMBER: The matching challenge will ONLY double gifts or pledges made by midnight Tuesday, so don’t wait — please give now.

We’re off to a good start — thanks to those of you who’ve contributed $34,170 so far — but together we still have a long way to go to meet this match … and we certainly don’t want to leave any of this generosity sitting on the table!

If God is weighing on your heart to make a tax-deductible one-time gift — which will be instantly DOUBLED — go to:

http://40daysforlife.com/donate.cfm?selected=onetime

If you feel called to make a tax-deductible pledge of monthly support (the annualized amount of your monthly pledge will be DOUBLED,) go to:

http://40daysforlife.com/donate.cfm?selected=monthly

Many people have asked for our mailing address to send tax-deductible donations. They can be mailed to:

40 Days for Life
10908 Courthouse Road, #102229
Fredericksburg, VA 22408

PLEASE NOTE: For any mailed gifts to be doubled, they must be postmarked by Tuesday, May 1.