Novena in Honor of Dulce Nombre de Maria
Dulce Nombre Cathedral-Basilica, Guam, USA
5th Day: September 2, 2008

Based on 1 Cor 2:10b-16 / Lk 4:31-37

I would like to start by reading another poem, one that sounds a little irreverent in the context of a Mass in the Cathedral Church of Guam. Here it goes:

Our Lady of Vacation

Sweet Lady of Vacation Days
O hearken to my plea -
Where ever I roam in leisure's ways
Protect and shelter me !
May virtue's robe which now is mine
Unspotted ever remain;
Make of my heart a cloistered shrine,
And keep it free from stain.
May all my hours be filled with joy
As yours in ancient days
When visiting Elizabeth.
Your heart hymned songs of praise.

May each vacation be for me
As your own Visitation -
And each new one more holy be
Dear Lady of Vacation.
O Lady, good and true and kind
When pleasure's haunts I tread,
May I be deaf and dumb and blind
To sin and tempters dread -
To when at length life's day is done,
I too may hope to spend
My days with you and your Son -
A vacation without end.

J.A. Williams, in Croarkin, Walter E. (1940). Our Lady in Poetry: An Anthology. Chicago: John Maher Printing Company.

This short and simple versification struck me for one simple reason … It speaks about a reality as mundane as a vacation. But what is interesting is the author’s ability to fuse together the profane (a vacation) and the profound (Our Lady’s maternal guidance and care). You don’t need rocket science to understand that this is what we call integration – the capacity to fuse together two seemingly contradictory realities and turn polar opposites into something that makes for a meaningful whole.

In deeper theological jargon, we can refer to this as the integration of grace and nature, the human and the divine, the sacred and the secular, the temporal and the supernatural, the real and the sacramental, if you will, the existential and the spiritual.

One sign of spiritual maturity, among many others, is the capacity to integrate and fuse together what appears to be irreconcilable realities. It means the capacity to be at home with ambiguity, or the ability to have what we can call a sacramental view of reality. St. Ignatius popularized this long ago – the capacity to “find God in all things.”

Today, the fifth day of our novena, we continue our journey of spiritual discovery of the greatness of the woman clothed with the sun, Mary. And like the short poem that we read just now, we don’t have to go to the highest firmament of the heavens to do that. We can start from ordinary daily human experience, like that of J.A. Wiliams, who finds enough reason to be affectively connected with Mary in the experience of a mundane and simple vacation.

That same human experience is where St. Paul finds inspiration. In a continuation of the passage we have been reading these past days, St. Paul deepens on his account of the power that he received from the Spirit. This impetus from above is behind his conviction that there is something greater and nobler than just plain, ordinary, and earthly wisdom, no matter how lofty. Said earthly wisdom is no match to the exceedingly deep wisdom that is given from above. This is the wisdom that now he takes pride in. This is the same wisdom that he declares with remarkable conviction and confidence, the wisdom that now leads him to go beyond the level of the natural and aim for the higher things that are above.

The natural man, he says, finds difficulty understanding matters spiritual, for his wisdom, being earthly, is in no position to fathom the higher realities that transcend the here and now. But for the spiritual man, endowed with wisdom from above, things are different. The spiritual man or woman sees differently. The spiritual person sees more, not less. He or she can see the workings of God even in the daily realities of life, even in things that may be called “worldly.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning puts this idea of the spiritual person seeing much more in this particular stanza of one of her poems:

Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.
But only he who sees takes off his shoes and worships.
All the rest sit around and pluck blackberries.

Barrett Browning speaks of sensitivity. She refers to a capacity to see much more than meets the eye. This is what I call a sacramental stance. This is what we refer to as the capacity to see beyond and see deeper into things. It is the capacity to see more when one loves more, when one is affectively engaged with one’s daily experience. I am at this point reminded of that beautiful prayer that begins with what the poet sees everyday – her kitchen, filled with ordinary things like pots and pans:

Lord of all pots and pans and things, since I've not time to be
a saint, by doing lovely things or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawn's light or storming Heaven's gates,
make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love, and light it with Thy peace,
forgive me all my worrying and make my grumbling cease.
Thou, who dids't love to give men food, in room or by the sea,
accept this service that I do, I do it unto Thee.

The great tragedy of our times is the fact that we are too caught up by technologism. Technology by far influences a great deal of our waking hours. We wake up to the sound of electronic alarms. We get up as we are bombarded by noise in the guise of news. Before we can even lift our minds and hearts to God, they are co-opted almost instantly by the pull of the ubiquitous mass media of communication. We can’t part with our 3G cell phones, PDAs, and personal computers. We see and hear a lot of things, but we really see less and less of what really matters. We are called to a supernatural life, but all we worry about are things that don’t go beyond the level of the natural. We are spiritually blind in many senses.

Ironically, in the Gospel of today, it took a sick man to tell who Jesus was – the Holy One of God!

Our Blessed Mother Mary was a woman who treasured everything in her heart. But Mary, as far as we know, did not hie off to a monastery to do that. No … she was immersed in the daily cares of daily life, being a mother to the child Jesus, being a wife to Joseph her husband, following him even as they escaped to Egypt, living the daily life such as the anawim of Yahweh knew how. We know she did. And we also know that she treasured things in her heart, even as she was busy doing daily errands of charity, and affairs in places such as the kitchen filled with pots and pans and things. When she ran in haste to the hill country of Judea, it was not for a vacation, nor for a retreat up the mountains. She went there with work to do. She wended her way up there with charity in mind, to help her cousin Elizabeth who was due to give birth to John the Baptist. She definitely knew what it was to be in communion with God even in the midst of, in and through the daily cares of daily life.

This is the reason why there is so much prayer and devotion associated with a woman who knows what it means to be immersed in a world of pots and pans and things. This is the reason why the best prayers addressed to her are the most simple and most straightforward. Let us end this reflection with one of them:

Remember O Most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.


Righteousness Justification

Righteousness Justification
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But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
What the law had not done in the manner of the law to save Jesus has filled it all so brave HE has won for me the thing there is now no more that eye can do but to trust the GOD. One Law that eye have broken matters not the rest of them not kept the thing is done a sinless creature wept the SON of GOD. Upon the ROCK in the garden of Gethsemane he prayed for the sinfull likes of me and thee he died and kept the law. He and HE alone and HE is GOD. We can say Jesus we can go home.