Categories
Ink Slingers Saints Stacy

How to Bind Your Family to Heaven Without Using Duct Tape

 

You think I’m kidding?

Sometimes as a parent you look back with regret at a childhood gone by because you finally understand how deeply some poor choices you made affected your child, but it is too late to change it. You try to do better, only to realize that as the child enters young adulthood the more you try to hang on, the more you have to let go, and all your trembling in fear at what lays ahead in the Big Bad World doesn’t stop time. You know said child is at a point in life where the only way said child will learn some lessons – some really tough lessons – is to let said child experience the natural consequences of said child’s choices for said child’s self. What do you do?

Ground her until she’s 30? Sit on her? Duct tape her butt to the sofa until she listens?

You think I’m kidding? Wait until you’ve got a fearless young adult staring at you blankly as you lecture mightily, only to tap her foot until you’re finished and walk away with a shrug because you’re so freaky and boring, and can’t just just be a normal person and chit-chat about fun stuff. I’ve come to regard this exasperation as the “painting-the-porch-while-the-house-is-burning” syndrome. How do you have pretty small talk when she’s about to burn her life away? Ah, but I digress.

During a particularly difficult time in our family, the advice in the self-help book Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager wasn’t really working for us, and I wanted to pray more. I also wanted a way to teach our smaller children about the prayers of the Rosary. I was having difficulty completing the whole prayer each day (“said child” stuff), and to make it worse, trying to weave “Stop hitting your sister!” in between Hail Mary’s was causing my prayers to sound more like screeching. Then one day, like a little flower from Heaven, I found a prayer card in my bag after I made a purchase at a Catholic gift shop. It was the following devotion, and I showed it to my husband. Take a look, particularly the fifth grace.

 

Devotion to the Drops of Blood

Lost by our Lord Jesus Christ
on His Way to Calvary

St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, with St. Matilda and St. Bridget, wishing to know something of the Passion of Jesus Christ, offered fervent and special prayers, upon which Our Lord revealed to them:

To all the faithful who shall recite for 3 years, each day, 2 “Our Fathers”, 2 “Hail Marys” and 2 “Glory Bes”, in honor of the drops of Blood I lost, I will concede the following 5 graces:

1st – The plenary indulgence and remittance of your sins.
2nd – You will be free from the pains of Purgatory.
3rd – If you die before completing the said 3 years, for you it will be the same as if you had completed them.
4th – It will be upon your death the same as if you had shed all your blood for the Holy Faith.
5th – I will descend from Heaven to take your soul and that of your relatives, until the fourth generation.

Blessed by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII in Rome, April 5, 1890.

Please keep this prayer card with others that you say daily to remind you to recite these prayers.
Please record the date you started:

____/____/____
Mo   Day  Year

 

If you search around the internet for this devotion you will find some controversy about it. Traditional websites feature it, other websites question the veracity of the promises since it is a private revelation. Here I was, a convert mom trying, learning, and loving all the things Catholic, the unity, the One-Body, and I had no idea that there was discord among traditionalists and liberals. To a newcomer it looks about as smart as slapping your own face with your own hand. Anyway, I just knew that Catholics are supposed to be one family, and likewise my own family needed to be whole too. I asked my husband (a cradle-Catholic) about it and he answered with his typical manly wisdom.

“Just pray, honey.”

Together we began the devotion on July 7, 2009, and we told the children that we are praying for our family to always be together, and I explained about the devotion’s meaning and history. Now, I don’t fully understand what indulgences are; I can’t fully grasp what Purgatory will be; I won’t ever figure out how it’s possible for four generations of my family to be bound to Heaven like that, but I trust that this prayer will bear many fruits. God’s perfect, loving and merciful will be done.

Guess what? We have already been blessed because our family has developed a habit of prayer for the salvation of souls and we will continue it even after the three year mark, July 7, 2012. In fact, any time I feel anxious about my children, or any brother or sister in Christ, I take a few minutes to say an extra set of these six prayers. Sometimes I pray them throughout the day. I pray for Christian unity.

Further, three years is a significant portion of a small child’s life, and hopefully this firmly formed family habit will carry into our children’s adulthood. Conceivably it could carry on into the next four generations, and even beyond. Christians are people of faith, hope, and prayer. We don’t need to have all the answers; we need to pray, trust, love, and keep on working hard every day even if life seems difficult. There is an intense peace in that. In the interim “said child” has also matured into a pretty cool young adult who is just amazed at how much wiser Mom has gotten in only three years – and I don’t even consider using duct tape to get her to listen now.

Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. Matthew 18:18

Categories
Advent Liturgical Year Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays: The Arks of the Covenants

4th Sunday of Advent

Lectionary 1

First Reading ~ 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Responsorial Psalm ~ Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
Second Reading ~ Romans 16:25-27
Gospel Reading ~ Luke 1:26-38

Open Readings in another window.

Reflection:

Theologians through out Church history have held fast to the tradition of the Virgin Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, and today’s passages overlay nicely to show us the divinely designed parallels, such exciting Scriptures!

The Ark of the Covenant is found in the Old Testament Scriptures.  It contained manna, (bread God rained down from Heaven to feed the Isrealites in the desert for 40 years), the Word of God on stone tablets, and the rod of Aaron (proof of the true priesthood).  Upon Moses’s completion of the Ark “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Ex 40) .  When King David was to accept the Ark in his custody he learned that the previous person to touch it died.  Thoughtfully, King David asked, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?”  Later, as we learn in today’s reading, while the Ark is still under his protection, King David learns that the Savior is to come through his bloodline, and the prophet says, “The Lord is with you.

The Virgin Mary, as the Ark of the New Covenant, has a similar story!  As we learn in today’s passage in the Gospel of Luke, the angel greeted the Virgin with “The Lord is with you” before she is told that she will miraculously bear a son.  Where the cloud overshadowed the Ark of the Old Covenant, Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit with the dawn of the New Covenant.  It was then her womb contained Jesus who later described himself as “the bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:41).  John also described Jesus as “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14), and we can find in the book of Hebrews Jesus described as the  “great high priest who has passed through the heavens” (Heb 4:14).  The Virgin Mary became the Ark of the New Covenant when she held Jesus in her womb.  Later, when Mary visited her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, she is greeted by words echoing King David’s, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43)

Just a couple of weeks ago we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  It is in the theology of Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant that we find amazing support for this doctrine.  God commanded the construction of the Ark in meticulous detail.  It was created with the finest materials, only the purest gold was to be used.  Perhaps a plain gold box could have sufficed, but instead God directed the construction of a masterpiece complete with meaningful artistic work; it was extraordinarily beautiful.   The Ark of the Old Covenant held symbols of the God’s divinity and power.  Meanwhile, the Virgin Mary held God Himself in the second person of the Trinity in her womb.  God knitted His son in her flesh.  The dwelling place of the Word made Incarnate, God’s only Son,  could only be held in an Ark of similar, if not even exceeding standards to that of the Old Covenant.  Furthermore, thinking back to the man who died when touching the Ark of the Old Covenant, and also to God’s warning to Moses, “But you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live” (Ex 33)  it seems that sinful man perishes when in too close a proximity to God.  Meanwhile, we know that in Heaven we reside intimately with God, yet since nothing impure can reach heaven (Rev 21), we will have been washed of our sins and made perfect in order to be able to reside with Him.   This makes one wonder, could Mary,  as a sinful human, have even survived God Incarnate dwelling her womb?

As I have argued before (Mary’s Sinlessness and our Salvation), God’s plan for our salvation was and is perfect through and through.  I feel like today’s responsorial psalm “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord“, because He so loved me as to give His only begotten Son, that I might have eternal life with Him.  I am thoroughly grateful that the Lord found my salvation important enough as to have created for Himself, and for us, his perfect Mother, Immaculate Mary!

For further reading on Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, check out this fantastic article.


St. Ambrose (339-397)
“The prophet David danced before the Ark.  Now what else should we say the Ark was but holy Mary?  The Ark bore within it the tables of the Testament, but Mary bore the Heir of the same Testament itself.  The former contained in it the Law, the latter the Gospel.  The one had the voice of God, the other His Word.  The Ark, indeed, was radiant within and without with the glitter of gold, but holy Mary shone within and without with the splendor of virginity.  The one was adorned with earthly gold, the other with heavenly” Source