A blessed Lent to all! May the good God aid you in every way as you take up battle against spiritual evil.
I wish to take this holy time to make known something I feel deep in my heart – everything to JESUS, through Mary, with Peter!
This is a refrain, an invocation, that was given by St. Josemaria Escriva. It is one I have always used but since I have come to Rome I have understood it better than ever. These are hard times in the life of the Church. Many waves crash against the barque of Peter and the Faith wains in many parts of the world. When we hear the words of Jesus from the Gospel, “But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) it is easy to tempted to dark thoughts and worries as trends hostile to the Faith spring up every where.
Of course, we are filled ever with hope, always with the joy of the Gospel that “fills the hearts of all those who encounter Jesus.” (Evangelii Gaudium 1)
How did the world come to encounter Jesus? Through Mary. Not because of Mary – it was because God so love the world. The Blessed Trinity is the reason, the cause and the end of all of this joy. But the Blessed Trinity came to us through Mary. When the world saw the face of Jesus Christ it saw the Face of God.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He was seen with eyes and touched with hands and heard with ears and so forth. Thus does He leave the Sacraments and thus did He leave His image. He also left her image.
St. Josemaria has another saying, “Love for our Mother will be the breath that kindles into a living flame the embers of virtue hidden in the ashes of your indifference.” (The Way 492)
The image of Jesus at Manopello is a miracle. The image of the Virgin Mary at Monte Mario is not. Jesus is God. Mary is not. But Jesus and Mary are inseparably linked – His humanity comes from her humanity. Her desire is His desire, “Do whatever He tells you.” Devotion to her will lead you only to love Him more and more and more.
The image of our Lady, which I have posted above, is the mother of all icons, of all images of Mary throughout history (except Guadalupe, which I will write about another time.) This image was lost to the world for many years. And that was ok – the world didn’t need it in order to live and love Faith.
In these days the image, through amazing workings of Providence, is known again. As Pope Benedict XVI went to see the Face of Jesus at Manopello, he also went to see the face of Mary on Monte Mario (to Jesus, though Mary, with Peter.) I have no doubt that these images will be at the center of the New Evangelization. To contemplate them is to contemplate the divine – Jesus is Divine and Mary does nothing but point to the Divine.
Today I was able to live the unity of Jesus and Mary in a particular way.
I celebrated the Mass of Ash Wednesday at the altar of the chapel in the Most of the Holy Rosary, which houses the icon L’Advvocata of Mary. To raise the Sacred Host and Chalice is the greatest of act of glory that can be given to God.
To look into the eyes of the Virgin Mary does nothing but nourish and magnify that glory in one’s heart. Look at her and she will have you look at Him. Do you have trouble with your resolutions? She will help. Is the fire of your faith cold, she will breathe on it – wherever she is the HOLY SPIRIT is right there too (Annunciation & Pentecost anyone?)!
I am going to work to make these images (Jesus’ image at Manopello and Mary’s on Monte Mario) better known and better love because God used them once in history to renew Faith on the earth and He is going to do it again!
ALL FOR JESUS, ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE! All through Mary – look to her and soon you will be looking with her and glorifying God with all you have and are.
A blessed Lent to all.
I will be back in Madison in one week – a sad but joyful reality – I kindly ask for your prayers for safe travel and resolution to my health situation.
Thank you Fr. Eric for your beautiful post. The Blessed Mother’s Monte Mario visage is so incredible! I am finding her more deeply with our Lenten Retreat Study on “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” by Fr. Michael Gaitley,MIC. at St. Ignatius. The Consecration to Mary came first. It has so changed my life. So what you are saying, shouting out really, is becoming more and more alive for me and others now! There is such Hope. I miss hearing your sermons at St. Pauls. I will pray for your health cross now!! God bless you. Lili Jacobs
Thanks for writing Father. I hope you are doing well and feeling better!