Monthly Meditation – May 2021 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity 

Regional Spiritual Assistant 

St. Francis of Assisi Friary 

1901 Prior Road 

Wilmington, Delaware 19809 

tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      website: skdsfo     email: pppgusa@gmail.com

May 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

May the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son

Fill our hearts with the joy of the Risen Christ.

May Mary, His Mother, redeemed ahead of time,

Lead us closer to Jesus, the only

Way, Truth, and Life.

Throughout Salvation History there is one person, after that of the Messiah, whose presence was prophesied and awaited as a sign of fulfillment of God’s Promise to all creation – the Woman.  Second only to Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, this Woman is the greatest human being who every walked the earth. Her presence was prophesied and taught in the sacred texts and oral tradition of the People of Israel. Her historical presence is recorded in the Gospels and writings of the early Christian community. Mary is that Woman veiled in mystery for so many, but clothed in glory for all who call Jesus Lord and Savior. It is Mary, the Mother of the Savior, who facilitates the journey with God in Jesus and to God in Jesus through the Spirit.

The figure of Mary, the Virgin of Nazareth, Mother of Jesus the Christ, is almost as controversial a figure for many people as is that of her Son, Jesus.  The controversies concern her intimate connection with the person of Jesus, her Son, our Lord and Redeemer, in the whole mystery of Jesus’ saving Life-Passion-Death-Resurrection-Glorification.  She experiences, in an eminently greater way than all other human beings, the effects of living the Gospel. If living the Gospel is living with Jesus and all that He taught, who more than She lived the Gospel!?  Her very lifeblood flowed in the human veins of Jesus; even her physical features to a certain degree were no doubt those of Jesus.  To see Jesus was to see Mary, His Mother; to see Mary was to see Jesus, Her Son.  Throughout all of Scripture, Mary’s presence speaks eloquently and reminds us that all things can more easily be directed To Jesus through Mary! … and From Jesus through Mary!

Mary is the Hoped-for-Woman offered by the Father to all creation when humanity opted to defy God’s Will in the Garden of Eden: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel (Genesis 3: 15).

Mary is the Humble Cloud of Refreshing Rain that satisfied the thirst of a wayward nation parched by its unfaithfulness and relieved through the Prophet Elijah’s intercession before God on their behalf, Whose heavenly sign brought the life-giving rain: Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel … and the youth returned (to Elijah) and reported, There is a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea … and a heavy rain fell (1 Kings 18: 42-45).

Mary is the Virgin Mother, who overturned humanity’s defiance in Eden by her availability to God’s will, and allowed, in the name of all humanity, for the Creator to become one of His creatures, and thus begin the fulfillment of the Plan of Salvation for all Creation: Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you … Do not be afraid, Mary …  You will conceive and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus … The Holy Spirit will overshadow you … (and Mary said) May it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1: 26-38).

Mary is the Ever-Vigilant and Self-Sacrificing Mother whose last words recorded in the Gospels at the marriage Feast of Cana, are typical of a loving mother’s concern for the happiness of her children.  She sees, before others seem to notice, that the wine has run out. To save the newly-wed couple from embarrassment She informs Jesus: They have no more wine (John 2: 3). This simple phrase offered for the sake of a young man and woman beginning their new life together set off a sequence of events leading to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus for us on the Cross and her acceptance as no longer the Mother of Jesus the carpenter, but Jesus the Rabbi, Master, Lord and Savior, and Sacrificial Lamb of God.  This role meant that she could no longer have Jesus for Herself alone but she would have to offer Him for the sake of everyone. Her vigilant awareness of the needs of humanity – manifested at Cana – and her self-sacrificing encouragement hastening the start of the ministry of Jesus – Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come. (John 2: 4) – are all for the sake of a mother’s love for her children.

Mary is the First Disciple whose words, again at Cana, offer us the secret to achieving eternal life:  Do whatever He tells you (John 2: 5). These words were a prelude to the words of the Eternal Father on Tabor, Who would emphasize at the moment of the Transfiguration, the fact that Jesus was not only the Son of Man (truly human) but the also the Son of God (truly divine – truly God): This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.  Listen to Him. (Matthew 17: 1-8).  Mary truly lived the Word of God as a faithful Daughter of Zion, as Mother of the Christ, as Temple of the indwelling of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Her life was always and in all ways tuned into God’s Word, and Her heart was always and in all ways available to God’s Will, without exception, without gloss. (Remember that our own Seraphic Father wanted us to live the Gospel and Rule without gloss)

Mary is the Co-Redemptrix whose courage and strength were manifest at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. There Mary consoled her Son Who in turn entrusted Her to us as our Mother, thus making us His sisters and brothers, redeemed children of the Father: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son.  Then he said to the disciple, Behold, your mother.  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home (John 19: 26-27). As our Mother, She gave us an example of strength, courage, and fearlessness in expressing openly all that we believe and are as Her children, the Mystical Body of Christ entrusted to Her as She to us, on the Day of our Redemption – the Day of Atonement (at-one-ment) with God. (It is undeniably true that we have only One Redeemer, Jesus the Christ. But, spiritually, “biologically”, in her heart, a mother shares in the events of her child’s life. In this sense the title is not “theological” – that I leave to the wisdom of the Church and the Holy Spirit’s timing – but a filial and loving acknowledgement of the closeness of our Mother Mary to Christ Her Son and the Christian, Her Son’s image continued in time in each one of us.)

Mary is the Virgin-Made-Church, whose silent-strong-prayerful-loving-motherly presence among the followers of her Son who had locked themselves in the Cenacle for fear of retaliation from those who had executed Jesus, prepares her children, the Infant Church, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’s power promised them by Jesus: When they went to the city they went to the upper room where they were staying … together with some women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus … When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled … there came a driving wind … then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit … and began to speak … as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim (cfr. Acts 1: 13-14; 2: 1-4).  Mary eminently received and profoundly lived the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son. She truly was the dwelling place of God. (cfr. John 1: 14; Corinthians 6: 19)

Mary is the Sign of Hope Fulfilled as She brings the Prophecies to full circle, as Mother of the Christ, Mother of the Christian, Mother of the Church, Whose life so clearly shares in the Passion and Glory of Her Son and Her children redeemed in His Blood: A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was with child…then another sign appeared, a huge dragon…about to devour Her Child…She gave birth to a Son…destined to rule the nations…Her child was caught up to God…The woman herself fled to a place…prepared by God (Revelation 12: 1-6).

Mary is the one Redeemed “Ahead of Time”. Mary is the image of humanity as it journeys to God. She, as we, is a child of creation. She, as we, experienced the difficulties, sorrows and joys of life.  She, as we, had to ponder the events of life to understand God’s Will for Her. And, She, as we, had the awesome gift of free will that could choose other than the Will of God. Unlike us, however, in virtue of Her Son’s redeeming death, she is Conceived Confirmed in Grace.

To immortalize Mary in our hearts and express our deep love for Her, we often allow our emotions to run away from reason. We may even create an image of Mary which is totally foreign to all She truly is.  As we consider Her particular privileges that we celebrate every year, we can see how, though far beyond anything we could ever hope to achieve in the spiritual realm, Mary is still attentive to our needs, accessible to our loving advances, and an advocate before the Almighty God in favor of His creation whom She accepted as her children in Christ at the Foot of the Cross on the Day of Redemption. Her Immaculate Conception signals the power of God’s redeeming love whenever, wherever and however He so desires. Her Divine Motherhood reminds us of the intimacy God has entered with humanity through one of His own creation. Her Assumption encourages us on life’s journey to travel confidently through life with our hearts steadfastly set on heaven while our feet are still firmly treading the roads of earth and all that entails – joys and sorrows, successes and failures, grace-filled moments and sinful moments.  Mary is so eminently greater than all of us, yet She is still infinitely less than God, Her Father, Her Son and Her Spouse. In that “in between state” She is the channel of God’s graces for all the Mystical Body of Her Son – She is the Mediatrix of Graces.  Life’s journey is made easier through Her presence, enlightened through Her encouraging example and words, and we are empowered through Her almighty intercession to achieve more easily the graces that flow from God and that lead us to His Everlasting and Loving Embrace.

As Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, let us follow his example. The prayers and example of St. Francis of Assisi speak of gratitude, strength, trust, indebtedness, protection, intercession, praise, victory, following, union, imitation, and LOVE for the greatest Daughter of the Church, the First Disciple, and Mother of us all – Mary. She was entrusted to us as Mother and we to Her as children. She is Mary, Mother of the Christ, Mother of the Christian, Mother of the Church. She is Mother, whose mere title speaks of life and love. Our Father’s love for the Eucharist reminds us of the greatest Gift left for us to celebrate and seek to become more deeply everyday. Mary is the first Tabernacle and the First Monstrance Whose example we seek as we receive Christ in the secret of our heart and then present Him to the world in our daily lives. The Spiritual Children of the Poverello of Assisi, united in the common bond of prayer as sisters and brothers professed in the Franciscan Family around the world, remember, honor and love as the Woman prophesied in Scripture, the Virgin-Mother of the Lord, the Queen of the Universe. Mary keeps us in her Immaculate Heart and intercedes for us as our advocate whose almighty intercession before the Divine Majesty pleads for Mercy and Pardon for her children. How could we ever not honor Her with the same simplicity, devotion, and love as the Seraphic One of Assisi?! Let us always keep Her, our Mother Mary, Queen and Mother of the Seraphic Family, in your hearts and on your lips!

May God bless you. Our Lady and good St. Joseph guide, guard, and protect you. Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of us, his spiritual children, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

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