"The season of Advent, in the Church’s liturgy, is the time of Mary… To celebrate Advent means to become like Mary, to enter into and become part of Mary’s Yes.”
- Joseph Ratzinger
The Annunciation. Mary gives her fiat, her “yes” to becoming the Mother of
God. From that moment forward, history is changed forever; God assumes a
human nature and becomes flesh in the womb of a woman.
In the image above, we see another “Annunciation,” not to Mary but to St. Joseph.…What a poor St. Joseph!
I am currently at a retreat during the Feast Day of the Little Flower, St Therese De Lisieux, while simultaneously reading “ The Way of Trust and Love “ by Fr Jacques Phillipe. It is a book based on various retreat talks he gave that are now in a book format. Just like St Therese, the book though it appears to be simple, it is deeper than it seems and filled with wise and practical lessons, if you will.
“The world is thy ship and not thy home,” said St Therese. A reminder that our ultimate goal/hope is to someday make it to our true home, Heaven. In order to make it there though, we must be careful not to navigate in the wrong direction and be lost at sea. And the Little Flower understood very early on that it meant that we must do all that we can to become Saints. And in order to become Saints, we have to aim to draw closer to God.
A Mother's Ache
"The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" -John 1:5
Grief. Loss. Joy. Love. Motherhood. Usually, we do not put these words together, and yet, they are so intertwined in life. Until now, I always abstractly knew that love also means loss, especially in my faith life. I often heard that when Mary said yes at the Annunciation, she was saying yes to Calvary. And yet, I never truly realized what this meant.
As I have journeyed through an intentional season of healing, the Lord has blessed me with vivid imagery.
My heart, wounded and broken, is a sweet little garden. But as I turn to see the garden up close, it is overwhelmed with weeds. The thorns and branches strangle any life that tries to grow, and keeps out all new life that tries to enter.
As I walk through the garden, I see a man crouched among the thorns. Who is this man? It is Jesus, weeding in the garden of my heart.
The Risk of a Gift
The following reflection is the second to be featured from participants at the 2021 GIVEN Forum. At the Forum, participants prayed with the following image, and a some felt drawn to use their gifts to share their meditations through our blog. More about the GIVEN Forum can be found at the bottom of this page.
This year at the GIVEN Institute Forum, we had a prayer workshop held by Katie from Behold. For this workshop she gave us this image to meditate on depicting Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointing the feet of Jesus and drying them with her hair.
What struck me first was Jesus’ posture. Since this was the obvious focal point, I took some time looking around the rest of the image to see what else might stand out. The last thing I noticed was a woman in the shadows, yet unashamedly with her hair wrapped tightly around Jesus’ feet while everyone else looked on with shock, curiosity, or annoyance. But again, after noticing her, my eyes focused back on Jesus and what His posture was saying to Mary and to the others simultaneously.
To Be Poured Out
The following reflection is the first of many to be featured from participants at the 2021 GIVEN Forum. At the Forum, participants prayed with the following image, and a some felt drawn to use their gifts to share their meditations through our blog. More about the GIVEN Forum can be found at the bottom of this page.
Praying with James Tissot’s “The Ointment of the Magdalen” feels much like returning to a poem. I come with my original impressions, but there are also new details to be discovered and contemplated. I first saw this image during the GIVEN Forum 2021, and my prayer mostly focused on Mary, who is at Jesus’ feet. The first time she was there,* her sister entreated the Lord to basically “make her do something” (see Luke 10:40), and Jesus, who affirmed Mary in her being, found it more precious than her doing.
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” Isaiah 49
As I pray on these words of Scripture, memories flood my mind with moments of closeness with my family. I recall instants in my life where the Father has felt so close to me through the love of others. Such thoughts that come to mind are those times I felt safe, seen, known, and loved by my mother, father, siblings, and dear friends. In such moments I felt at home, even in some of the most challenging times.
For the past few months, I have been praying with and pondering the icon of Our Lady of Tenderness. This image has been coming in and out of my life for years now, but only recently has the Lord seemingly been entrusting it to me. As I sit with this icon, these words from the book of Isaiah rest on my heart.