Monday, April 26, 2004

Our Lady of Good Counsel

On April 25, 1467, the feast of St. Mark, the people of Genazzano, Italy witnessed a miracle. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they heard exquisite music – the sound of angelic voices singing. Then, as they gazed upward at the clear blue sky, they saw a mysterious cloud appear and descend upon an unfinished wall of their church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, a beautiful image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was revealed which had not been there before. The church bells rang of their accord and many people from the countryside rushed into the city to investigate the reason for the ringing. Many miracles occurred shortly after the appearance of the image, which were attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Consequently, Pope Paul II ordered an investigation of the image.

The same image had been seen in a church dedicated to the Annunciation in Scutari, Albania. The image in this church also arrived there in a miraculous manner. It is believed that the image had been transported from Albania miraculously in order to avoid sacrilege from Moslem invasion.

A commission of inquiry determined that a portrait from the church was missing. A vacant space the same size as the portrait was displayed for all to see. Many miracles continue to be attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Saint Pius V, for example, credited victory in the Battle of Lepanto to her intercession.

Several Popes have approved the miraculous image of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Innocent XI had the portrait crowned with gold in 1682. On July 2, 1753, Pope Benedict XIV approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was the first to wear it.

In 1884, POPE LEO XIII approved a special Mass and Office of the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

For over 500 years, the image has continued to attract numerous pilgrims.
Although much of the church was destroyed during World War II, the image has remained intact.

Our Lady of Good Counsel continues to be a source of consolation and encouragement to many today. Here is a short prayer to ask for her intercession in your life and in the lives of all her children:

O Mary of Good Counsel, inflame the hearts of all who are devoted to you, so that all of them have shelter in you, O great Mother of God. O most worthy Lady, let everyone choose you as teacher and wise counselor of their souls, since you are, as Saint Augustine says, the counsel of the Apostles and counsel of all peoples. Amen.


Friday, April 23, 2004

Prayer to Our Lady, Mother of Mercy

Blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay you with praise and thanks for having rescued a fallen world by your generous consent! Receive our gratitude, and by your prayers obtain the pardon of our sins. Take our prayers into the sanctuary of heaven and enable them to make our peace with God.

Holy Mary, help the miserable, strengthen the discouraged, comfort the sorrowful, pray for your people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God. May all who venerate you feel now your help and protection. Be ready to help us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it your continual concern to pray for the people of God, for you were blessed by God and were made worthy to bear the Redeemer of the world, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

-- Saint Augustine of Hippo

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The First Step in Changing Society

How do we change the society we live in to be more in tune with the laws of God? What is the secret of motivating people to become more virtuous? These are questions that I continually ask myself. In these times of constant unrest in the world where the prevailing attitude is "an eye for an eye" and "a tooth for a tooth", where innocent human beings are slaughtered in the womb daily, and our disabled and elderly are treated as burdens on society, I ask myself what can I as one person do to promote change?

The answer I consistently receive in my conversations with God are to come before Him daily and to surrender my life to Him and to His Holy Mother. This begins with offering up all my thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings to Jesus and Mary. A prayer as simple as, "All for You, Mary" will suffice. A morning offering and more formal consecration prayers to Jesus and to Mary are part of my usual routine in addition to saying the Liturgy of the Hours. In addition, I go to Mass and Holy Communion as often as possible.

However, something seems to be missing when I don't permit myself to have that quiet time before Our Lord. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen referred to it as the "Holy Hour" -- that special time with the Lord in His presence. That time should be preferably be spent before the Blessed Sacrament, but when this is not possible, just being alone with Him quietly, using the Bible -- His Sacred Word -- to assist in focusing on His presence can be helpful in developing a more intimate union with Him.

Focusing on the One we love will gradually transform us into His likeness. As we gaze intently upon Him, we become a reflection of Him. We become His light-bearers in this world of darkness, spreading the peace, the love, and the joy that we receive from Him to those we encounter in our daily lives.

“Contemplative – Actives” are what the Holy Father has called each one us to be. Without this time before the Lord, there is little that we can accomplish. With it, God gives us powerful graces to energize us and lead us into holy actions guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Here are some quotes I have been pondering lately in my quiet time with the Lord:

" Changing the human heart and changing human society are not separate tasks, but are as interconnected as the two beams of the cross."

-- Henry Nouwen


"The holy hour in our modern rat race is necessary for authentic prayer.... We are not called to great penances, and many would interfere with our duty, but the [holy] hour is our daily sacrifice in union with Christ."

-- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen


" I know I wouldn't be able to work one week if it were not for the continual force coming from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In our society, we begin our day with Mass and Holy Communion and we end it with one full hour of Adoration. All of us know that unless we believe and can see Jesus in the appearance of bread on the altar, we will not be able to see Him in the distressing disguise of the poor. Therefore, these two loves are but one in Jesus."

-- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta


© 2004 Jean M. Heimann

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOTHER ANGELICA!

Mother Angelica, you have been an angel to me. You have brought Jesus into my heart and soul when I have been homebound and too ill to go out. You have taught me how to love and laugh in the midst of pain. You have helped me to learn how to offer up my pain, my sufferings, and trials to the Lord. Thank you for strengthening my faith and for teaching me how to handle my suffering and trials by your wonderful example. Every time I hear your name or see your smiling face, a deep joy fills my heart. I am praying for an abundance of graces for you today, Mother. Happy Birthday, Mother!

"Unless we are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous."

-- Mother Angelica