Causes for Rejoicing

Between battling the weeds, caring for the cattle, and tending the gardens, summer tends to be a busy season for us; but because of our monastic horarium that provides sacred time for prayer, the balance of “ora et labora” keeps our priorities in check.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB, on how Mary shows us the way to love beyond our hurts

Photo of a rose in Mother Maria-Michael’s courtyard rose garden

The Office of Readings for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is so important.  We see how Juan Diego is called tenderly by Mary to accomplish a special mission for the Church “in words both gentle and courteous.”  That is really the speech of heaven—gentle and courteous.  We should try to remember that and take it on as well.  She calls Juan Diego to build a church so that people may “call upon and confide in me.”  That is the call of the Blessed Mother.  It’s as if she said, “Confide in me, and I will help you.  Do not be afraid to tell me the things deepest in your heart. I will bring you to God.”  That call hasn’t changed.  She is incredibly loving toward the deepest sinners, because those are the ones to whom God says, “I want you, and I’m not letting go.”  

Juan Diego approaches the bishop about building the church, but he is rejected.  The next time he needs to pass over the same hill where he met Our Lady, he tries to skirt around the place where he met her last.  What’s so beautiful is that the Blessed Mother takes no offence, she simply goes to the other side and meets him with a tender, “Juanito!”  It is so lovely how heaven lets us be people, doesn’t hold our humanity against us, but simply goes to meet us where we are.  She makes roses miraculously appear on the hilltop and asks him to cut them and bring them as a sign to the bishop to prove God’s will. She sends him forth, calling him her “ambassador, very worthy of trust.”  

I pray that she would say the same to each one of us: “You are my ambassador, very worthy of trust.”  If you hear those words, can you embrace them, and act accordingly?  When you ask a sign from heaven, not because you lack faith, but because you really want to do God’s will, receive it and shout for joy.  Embrace it as a total gift.  Our Lady truly cares.  When you confide in her and ask her help, believe me, she does not leave you alone.  And even if you should run round the hill to skirt her, she will just simply run sweetly to the other side and call you. Let us all follow the Blessed Mother’s example of meeting each other where we are, and not having unreasonable expectations for others that lead to us being impatient and frustrated.  Remember that “as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,” (Matthew 7:2).  So let us be generous in loving one another, even when we feel disappointed or hurt.  When you decide to forgive people, you do not have to feel warm and fuzzy toward them, no, your love has to be deeper than that.  You have to make up your mind that you want what is best for them, for their healing and salvation, and that you will one day be together in heaven as the people you were created to be.  Healing from wounds is a lifetime of work, and we should try to support, not hinder, each other from this process.  St. Benedict says in his Rule to pray for the troubled brother suffering from illness of the soul… and who of us is not this brother from time to time?  We all need each other’s’ prayer and good will.  It is my hope that the next time the occasion arises for you to shut down because someone offended you, you remember Our Lady of Guadalupe and decide to run to meet the person on the other side of the hill with a kind word and a smile.

Click here to read more about the miracle of Juan Diego’s tilma

Mary meets Juan Diego on the hill
Drawing by one of our Sisters

The Glorious Assumption of Mary

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

The meaning of Our Lady’s assumption is that of culmination and a new beginning.  With her assumption, the promises of the Lord were fulfilled for Mary and as always, beyond all expectation.  I would have loved to have seen Mary’s face at her arrival into heaven.  She saw her Son under the horror of the Cross; and I’m sure that never left her heart.  But now she gets to see the glory of her Son and she shares in that.  Remember that as she came to heaven, she was body and soul—she had an expression on her face.  And that expression has never left her.  The beauty of her Son seated on His throne…     

The word “assumption” comes from the Latin word “assumere”, meaning, “to take to oneself.”  Our Lord Jesus Christ took Mary home to himself where he is.  Now, on Mary’s part, it was the work of a lifetime of being watchful and ready to preserve the deifying light in her soul.  In the Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict, we hear, “Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God.”  Mary never took her eyes off of the light that comes from God, her Son.  Further on in the Rule it says, “Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you.”  Well we could say that Mary ran the marathon of life and outran sin!  She never stood around long enough for sin to “attach” itself to her.  There was no selfishness in Mary for sin to cling to.  And isn’t most sin about selfishness?  And while we also remember that Mary is the sorrowful Mother, her sorrow was never about herself.  Mary’s sorrows have only to do with anything that separates us from the love and life of Christ.  It would be good for us to imitate Mary in knowing true sorrow instead of selfish sorrow. 

There is a story, that perhaps you have heard, of a very holy woman who would serve God’s people during the day without ceasing to pray.  She would go to bed late at night but would get up early every morning to continue to serve.  And when she would get up in the morning, as soon as her feet hit the floor, hell shook and said, “Oh no, she’s up!”  I pray that could be said for every one of us.  But for that to happen, we have to live like Mary—attentive to the body of Christ, attentive to one another, attentive to everything that separates anybody from the love of Christ and his life.

Mary’s assumption did not mark the end of her service. On the contrary, her service could now assume its universal work.  We read in Lumen Gentium that “taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this saving role, but by her manifold acts of intercession continues to win for us gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on…”  And Mary cares for us.  Let us do nothing that would grieve the immaculate heart of Mary.  Let us live in her presence.

As we celebrate the Assumption let us make our house a place where Mary wants to dwell.  That takes work and it takes love.  Mary suffered, but she loved more than she suffered.  Like Mary, we too have to pay more attention to what we love than to what we suffer. 

“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:17-18