Blessed among women – by Susan Grunder

(Another guest post today, from Susan Grunder. We actually celebrated the Visitation yesterday, not today, but I did not get to post this on time. Late? This message is always. timely, and we are grateful for the way Susan has shared it with us.)

Mary_Ely_Cathedral

Mary, Ely Cathedral photo credit Susan Grunder

Today we celebrated the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  How I love to hear the Magnificat proclaimed!  As a grown woman, Mary’s song of liberation, empowerment and grace never fails to move me.  I don’t recall ever hearing it as a child.  The Magnificat is not part of the Rosary or the Angelus.   It is a part of the liturgy of the hours, which pretty much guaranteed me not hearing it as a child.   And that, I think, is ok.  I think I needed more maturity to be able to connect with the power of this prayer of thanksgiving and liberation.   I came to appreciate the Magnificat in graduate school, both as part of prayer and as part of study.  Today, I heard it proclaimed at the 9:00 Mass.

And it was beautiful.  And powerful.  And challenging.

Today I also attended the funeral of an amazing woman who was a mentor to me in many ways.  She was an empowered lay woman in the church, a long time DRE and Spiritual Director, who shared freely the graces she was given and who had an amazing gift for storytelling and listening.  Mary Lou was able to share the workings of God’s grace in her own life and help others identify grace in their own.  She held so firmly to the belief that her ministry in Faith Formation stemmed from her baptism that she kept a framed copy of her Baptismal Certificate on her office wall rather than a copy of her diploma for her MA in Religious Education.  I came to know her by being invited to participate a regular meeting of fellow faith formation professionals who were older and wiser than me.  Those Continue reading

Sweet, lovely docile and passive? (a rerun)

I quite purposefully use this image of Mary from Medjugorje. Some of you know that as unlikely as it seems, I went there. This was originally posted in 2011, and I am reposting today on this Feast of the Nativity of Mary in 2015.

Little lady dressed in blue. That is an image of Mary that attracted me as a young girl and who seemingly called out to Continue reading

Say yes

Silence. Listening. Emptying. Filling. Receiving. Giving.

Today I offer you a repost from a few years ago, with some questions… What seemingly impossible things are we called to say yes to today? What is in the space between God and our yes that makes for miracles? How will we each bring Christ into the world without reservation?

The Rosary

91M-xFSA0KL._SX466_October is designated as the month of the Rosary. Does this idea make you want to roll your eyes? With images of a kind of quaint piety tumbling through your imagination. Perhaps you are reminded of times when old grandmothers and other elderly women were seen in church, clutching their beads.

As for me, I am very sentimental about the Rosary, but not in a way that is pious or saccharine. It was 25 years ago, in late September/early October, that I, as a young woman, clutched a rosary in my hand and made my way back to Church. Anyway, that is a story that I told before, and I won’t retell it today.

As this month begins this year, it is impossible for me Continue reading

Rejoice, arise, and persevere – a Marian reflection

Boundless Love - Janet McKenzie©

Boundless Love – Janet McKenzie©

Today on September 8, many of us celebrate the Nativity of Mary – or more simply put, Mary’s birthday.

Now there are those who scoff at Mary, or who at least scoff at the devotion that many of us show to her as Mother of God. Once a long time ago, the woman who did my dry cleaning, and with whom I had exchanged many a God bless you, freaked out upon hearing that I was Catholic. She predicted hell and damnation for me because in her mind, I worshiped Mary, and not God – which is not true. Mary is many things, but she is not God.

While many Christians have a devotion to Mary, there are Catholics who also have their own Mary issues, even if they may be more quiet about them. As you can tell, I am not one of them!

I always hold up the thought that we should not always Continue reading

Unexpected and unlikely

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Fiddling with what I sometimes call “the Google machine,” (I heard Rachel Maddow say that about 5 years ago and have used it ever since) I was looking for references to Our Lady of Guadalupe that might expand the focus beyond what we typically find. With thoughts of Pope Francis and his cry to bring the joy of the Gospel to all, to go out from the Church, mla-virgen-de-guadalupe-estampada-en-la-tilma-de-juan-diegoy fingers flew. Knowing that the “Google machine” works this way, I was not surprised to find a post written by my friend Eric Stoltz in 2010; it was for his parish website. (Eric is a deacon at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Beverly HIlls.) What I came across was his website post for today’s feast from 2010, when he wrote:

The third gift of Tepeyac deals with issues of authority. In the story, the bishop is the obstacle and the conquered peasant carries the world-changing message. This is why, in my world, when her oppressed children cry out—whether janitors massing at City Hall, or farm workers protesting along a dusty road in California’s Central Valley, or gay and lesbian Catholics marching down Santa Monica Boulevard; anawim [those who are despised by society but loved by God] of every stripe—they always carry an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We know she walks with us. Impoverished, immigrant, indigenous or “intrinsically disordered,” we remember her words of assurance to Juan Diego: ¿No soy tu madre? “Am I not your mother?”

God persistently reaches out to us, often in the the most unlikely places and faces. Today it is the appearance of La Guadalupana, but that is simply one variation. How can we recognize God? How can we hear and believe the invitation? How do we understand authority?

Juan+Diego+-+Jose+de+IbarraThis all makes me think that perhaps it is not the institution that needs to be toppled, but rather our own expectations, and the expectations of said institution. Today we are given yet another reminder that when that happens, change comes with it.

Over and over we are given examples of God’s love, mercy, invitation, embrace, assurance, and hope. This is God’s authority! God seeks our response and God’s expectation is that we will do the same for others. That is our authority!

Today, may we walk with the images of God, breaking in unexpectedly and in unlikely people and places. Today, may we remember that our expectation and God’s expectation may be very different things.

Yes or No? Yes and No!

Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem, November 2004. Taken by me.

I was not going to post today but as I prayed earlier and as I got ready for work, the need to write about the Feast of the Assumption and/or yesterday’s Gospel about Jesus and the Canannite woman was persistent. It was even more pressing after finding these three thought provoking posts, one from Ginny Kubitz Moyer, one from Philomena Ewing (ok two from Phil, see this one also,) and one from Claire Bangasser.

Which brings me to a question I would simply like to pose for today… Yes or No? As usual, I go for the both/and approach and come up with Yes and No!

The Canaanite woman will not take no for an answer. She went to Jesus in good faith for healing for her daughter and was not going to go away quietly. Once again we meet a woman, not even a Jew, persistently going to Jesus for help. He is even pretty clear that she is not who he came to save!

She says – no, you must help me. Even the dogs get scraps!

Today we have another Marian feast to ponder, the Dormition of the Theotokos or what we Catholics call the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary has not said no – in fact, she has said “yes.” It is Mary’s yes that changed the world!

What is it for you  in life – the Yes or the No?

We must exercise both? How does this work in your life? I hope you comment here; I’d love to know what you think.