Category Archives: Cloud of Witnesses

Hail Holy Queen… a prayer of hope.

August 22, the Queenship of Mary.

The prayer of the Hail Holy Queen is one of the most beautiful prayers ever composed. It was composed by Blessed Herman Contractus of the 11th century. Considering the author, it is that much more powerful. He had a cleft palate and cerebral palsy. Blessed Herman suffered. He was raised by monks and eventually became one himself, being wheeled out on a cart. I can feel what he must have felt whenever I pray that prayer and other Marian prayers that he composed. Blessed Herman poured out so much in the Salve Regina. It is a prayer of hope*, a loving pleading.

The Queen is so close to us. She makes our life sweet. She brings us LIFE. Our sufferings become more bearable when we know that our Mother is mercifully looking down upon us, her children. She is a symbol of hope and at the same time our hope itself. She intercedes for us with her Son on our behalf. God Most Merciful and Compassionate, has bestowed upon us the great gift of the immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

When Jesus ascended into heaven he took his place at the right hand of the father. he is with us and within us, most especially in the holy Eucharist. The Lord Jesus also took his mother up into heaven, body and soul, so that she can also be with us as our mother. He, the King of the Universe, crowned her as the Queen of the Same. Our Lady reminds us that God will raise us all from the dead at the last day and will give us all a crown of victory.

She is also my friend.

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope! To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and, after this our exile, show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus!

* I like the definition: “confident expectation of fulfillment”

(10th Anniversary of pilgrimage to Lourdes)

St. Maximilian Kolbe!

“What is ever going to become of you?”

That’s a question that little Raymond Kolbe’s mother somewhat exasperatedly asked her son who was always getting into trouble. Genuinely affected, Raymond went before a statue of Our Lady to beseech her with tears for the answer to this question. Kolbe had a vision of the Blessed Virgin smiling at him. She held out two crowns—one white and the other red—and asked him which one he would choose. with all the exuberance of a child he said “I want them both!” Ever since this encounter, Raymond was totally devoted to Our Lady relying on her assistance to curb pride and to correct faults. He believed in God’s promise that ‘the Woman’ would be the one to crush the head of the serpent and usher in the reign of her Son. Raymond Kolbe went on to become Maximilian Kolbe, Franciscan priest and martyr.

Saint Maximilian loved Mary Immaculate and lived to make her more loved. To love her is to do for her whatever she wants. What does the Immaculata want? She has already told us: “Do what ever HE tells you!” In order to do this most perfectly, Fr. Maximilian practiced and promoted total consecration to Mary–giving oneself totally to Mary to the point of becoming her property and possession. “All for the Immaculate!” was the rallying cry of this apostolic soldier, this instrument in the hands of the spotless Mother of God.

[To be continued…]

St. Lawrence the deacon and martyr

Hey so it is the feast of St. Lawrence today. I remember the story of his martyrdom from those little books on the lives of the Saints. St. Lawrence, a Roman deacon, was martyred during the persecutions of the pagan Roman Emperor Valerian during the third century. after they put to death the pope, Pope Sixtus, the Emperor’s prefect confronted Lawrence and demanded that he had over the Churches treasures. On the appointed day, Lawrence gathered together the poor and the lepers and the disabled and presented them—“here are the treasures of the Church!” As the worldly man cannot understand this concept, St. Lawrence was strapped down to a gridiron over a furnace. The great thing about St. Lawrence besides his love for God and neighbor was his sense of humor even unto death. While the torturers stoked the flames, St. Lawrence quipped “Turn me over, I’m done on this side”.

St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, pray for us!

St. James: from Galilee to Galicia

It’s the Feast of St. James the Apostle–James the son of Zebedee (Yaakov Bar Zebdi), brother of John and one the closest 3 Apostles to Jesus. Because of their impetuousness and zeal Jesus nicknamed the two brothers—Boanerges, “sons of thunder” (They wanted to call down fire from heaven to annihilate a Samaritan town that refused to welcome Jesus!).

On another occasion, their mom asked Jesus if her two sons could sit at His left and right in His kingdom. This question comes right after Jesus just announced his imminent death! Jesus patiently tells James and John, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” St. Matthew records:

They said to him, “We are able.”
He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant
and whoever would be first among you must be your slave;
even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

James the fisherman from Galilee left everything and followed Jesus—even to death as a martyr. He drank of the cup of Christ’s Passion. He went the way of a servant and is now great for it. After being empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostle James preached in Judea and then to the end of the world—Galicia, the northwestern most part of Spain dubbed by the Romans ‘finis terrae’ (end of the world).

St. James was martyred in Jerusalem by King Herod in 44 A.D. It is believed that his body was miraculously was transported back to the place he evangelized. The tomb containing his relics is in Spain–at Santiago de Compostela (St. James of the field of stars), which is a famous Shrine and pilgrimage site. The traditional pilgrimage routes to the Shrine are called the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago). He is Patron saint of Spain.

The next world youth Day in 2011 will be in Spain.

St. James pray for us that we might be faithful followers of Jesus Christ and persevere in bearing good fruit. Greatness lies in being a servant. Amen.

St. Mary Magdalene and the Gardener

SAINT MARY MAGDALENE - PRAY FOR US THIS DAY OF YOUR FEAST!Every year on July 22 the Church honors St. Mary Magdalene. There is so much i’d like to say about her… i’ll have to post another one of these.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus cast seven (as in 7 deadly sins) demons out of her and that she was at the Foot of the Cross. She is known as the Apostle to the Apostles–because it’s recorded that the Risen Lord appeared to her first and sent her to deliver the Easter message to the Apostles!

It is often believed that Mary Magdalene is the repentant prostitute who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, wiped them with her hair and anointed them with oil. Some identify her as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who also anointed the feet of Jesus. I think that she was all of the above.

She sinned much, was forgiven much and loved much in return. When i think of St. Mary Magdalene i’m always automatically reminded of Divine Mercy—“Jesus Christ came for sinners”. I think of her in that scene from The Passion of the Christ right after the horrific scourging. Mary Magdalene is down on the pavement alongside Our Lady soaking up the Savior’s spilled Blood onto white towels. And just as she does this she has a flashback to another moment when she was on the ground:

Jesus had just forgiven her from the serious sin of adultery and saved her from being stoned (Mel Gibson portrayed Mary Magdalene as the woman caught in the act of adultery). The awestruck woman’s hand stretches out towards His feet while the Lord extends his hand to lift her up from the ground. You can almost hear him say “Rise!”

That blood that was shed for her… so that she could be forgiven. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells the following parable:

“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’
And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

Jesus is the gardener who waters the parched earth with His own Blood along with the Water that flowed from his side. St. Mary Magdalene received the gift of Divine Mercy and became one of His most ardent and faithful disciples, bearing fruit that would last. She loved much. At the Foot of the Cross, St. Mary Magdalene beheld the depths of God’s love—especially for sinners. That’s why she stayed at the empty tomb weeping. It always strikes me that when Jesus appeared to her on Easter morning she mistook him for the gardener!

St. Mary Magdalene, you spent the rest of your life bearing witness to these things– to the love that freed you from captivity… pray for us!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Garden of God, Star of the Sea

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Flower of Carmel
Vine blossom-laden,
splendour of heaven,
Child-bearing yet maiden,
None equals thee.
Mother so tender,
whom no man didst know,
On Carmel’s children
thy favours bestow,
Star of the sea.

Two of my favorite titles of our Lady are: the Garden of God and star of the sea. They come together under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

A little background info:

Mt. Carmel is a fertile mountain range in northern Israel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Carm-el means valley or garden of God in Hebrew. It is the area where the prophet of God, Elijah, had a showdown with the 450 prophets of baal (1 Kings 18). Mount Carmel is also where Elijah anticipated the Lord bringing an end to the three year long drought. From the mountain’s height a rain cloud was seen coming from the sea.

The order of Carmelites began on Mount Carmel when a group of crusaders or pilgrims came to live there as hermits in imitation of the prophet Elijah (sometime after the year 1190). The order moved and spread out into places such as England, where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, the sixth General of the Carmelites. She gave him the brown scapular as a sign of her mantle of protection over all who would wear it devoutly.

The physical Mount Carmel is a symbol of the Blessed Virgin. She is the fertile garden of God where he took up residence for nine months. She is where the word of God took root and bore much fruit… the Word became flesh in her. Our Blessed Lady is also typified by the rain cloud. It is she who gave birth to the source of Living Waters to quench our parched earth. God has seen fit to grant us the rain of grace through his cloud.

Insofar as it hovered above the sea, the cloud reminds us that Our Lady is the Star of the Sea, Stella Maris… she is always guiding us to her son and directing us on the path of salvation. The Blessed Virgin leads us safely to shore. Again I reminded how I desperately need her… I would be already lost if it wasn’t for my Star of the Sea.

The wearing of the Brown Scapular is a practice that I want to return to… Mother Mary has given me a piece of her cloth to wear as I engage in battle, to remind me of how much she loves me and wants me to go to heaven. I should wear it proudly as her knight. The scapular is a sacramental brings actual graces down upon the wearer.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel leads us ever closer to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit til we reach safely to shore. And having arrived there after bearing much fruit on earth, may we praise God with her forever.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!

St. Benedict

The world seems to be fallng apart… the civilized world is becoming barbaric and is on the verge of collapsing from “the weight of it’s own iniquity”. God raised up St. Benedict at such a crucial time (He raised up Pope Benedict XVI in our time… ) who sought to renew the world beginning with himself (reminds me of a certain Michael Jackson song) and then with his order of monks. Here is some information about him with a link to the rule that he wrote for his monks. The Rule of St. Benedict is good spiritual reading.

St. Thomas the Apostle!

Today is/was the Feast of St. Thomas. It is special for me because my middle name is Thomas and I am of Indian descent— St. Thomas is believed to gone to India to spread the kingdom of God. It’s only fitting that the former doubter of Christ’s Resurrection would be chosen to go somewhere like India. I can only imagine what he could have said to the Indian people that he encountered:

” I come to tell you about the only God and to tell you to believe in His Son Jesus Christ one in being with Him, He became a man and died on a Cross to set the world free from slavery to death. You see, I have beheld him with my own eyes and touched him with my own hands. I saw him risen from the dead—he was dead but now he lives forever—I touched his pierced hands with my own fingers. Believe. When i heard of it I doubted. I believe now because I have seen but the Lord said to me–‘Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’ And so I say the same to you today”

St. Thomas, pray for us!

I believe. May the Lord help my unbelief.