Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Feast of the Assumption

On Sunday we celebrated the feat of Mary's Assumption into Heaven. The pastor at my local parish gave an insightful homily about a painting by Annibale Caracci depicting the Assumption. I am including the painting and his homily as I thought it worth sharing.

I. Many paintings of the Assumption by the great Masters like Titian and Rubens show Mary floating upward carried by angels. Her eyes rolled up to heaven, her ties to earth...and us, almost completely severed. Peoplestanding below look up longingly, reaching to touch her robe-but it’s too late. Mary has already left them behind. In these kind of paintings Mary is our mother-but remote; she seems untouched by our pain and need, unaware of our dreams. The paintings are lovely but somehow emotionally unsatisfying; glorious but a little unnerving.

II. There is a less known painting of “the Assumption” by Annibale Caracci which hangs in the church of Santa Maria del populo in Rome-which fittingly means St. Mary of the people. In this painting Mary looks different. Like a brave woman who traveled a unknown wilderness in her life. She has a clear gaze and looks straight ahead into a horizon the viewer cannot see. She has the look of a woman who has studied the map and learned every twist and turn in the emotional and spiritual path of her inner life, yet knows she will arrive safely right on time. The Virgin’s arms are outstretched like wings in flight embracing other people in the picture, carrying them along. A young man enfolded in her robe, I assume St. John, gazes at her face in awe, but her own eyes remain fixed on her destination...and ours.

III. Caracci’s Assumption carries a strong message. This is a woman we can trust; her life is a model for our won. We may never suffer her challenge or loss, but we can meet our own with her strength and courage. God may not ask of us what He asked of Mary, but our “yes” can resonate just as courageously in the face of life’s trials. May is as real as the woman Caracci painted 400 years ago. Her robes are generous enough to enfold us. Her vision is clear enough to guide us; her heart big enough to embrace us.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Never in a Million Years.......

Have you ever had a moment where you just step back and say "WOW! How did I get here?"

I had this happen this week as a direct result of a great weekend in Omaha, Nebraska of all places! Omaha was the site of this year's national convention of the The International Calix Society. Approximately 40 members of the Calix Society gathered at Creighton University in Omaha for a weekend of fellowship and talks about alcoholism, addicition. spirituality and the Catholc faith. The talks and fellowship were top notch.

On Friday evening we made a trip out to Boystown, where Fr. Flanagan began a fantastic ministry for boys in need of a "little" driection. The main thought I came away with is that this was one man's dream and today there are 500 boys and girls living in "family" settings at Boystown and many of them will be successful in life as a direct result of Boystown.

On Saturday afternoon is when the Calix Society has its anual business meeting to review the goings on of the society. Every two years they hold elections for the board of directors, president and vice president. A few months ago I had been nominated for the office of president and since there were no other nominees I have been given the opportunity to serve as president of this great organization.

The WOW moment is this: Almost 19 years ago my life was a wreck. I had reached "the bottom" of my desperate situation that consisted of drinking, lying, resentment, fear, anger, you name it! There was no time for God in my life and I didn't believe that God would ever want anything to do with me again. It was through divine intervention that I managed to find sobriety and through the twelve steps I made my way back to my Catholic faith and through both that I found the Calix Society. It's only three years since some friends and I started the first Calix group in Philadelphia. Since January 2007 we have expanded to 3 groups and are slowly spreading the word about Calix. This past weekend's events served as confirmation that Calix is now alive and well in Philadelphia and we are on our way to helping many Catholic (and non-Catholic) alcoholics and addicts achieve the great spritiual experience that is required to permanently recover from a "seemingly hopeless state of mind and body".

Read more about Calix in Philadelphia at http://www.philly-calix.com/

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

A couple weeks ago on Facebook I received, of all things, an invitation to consider making a Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary. Much has been written about St. Louis deMontfort and this consecration so I will not expound on it here. Except to say that on the day I received the invitation I also found the little book with the readings and prayers that are used in preparation for making the consecration. As of today I am on Day 16 of the preparation.

I also told a friend about the consecration. Little did I know that they, too, had previously made the consecration to Mary through the Militia of the Immaculata! I did that consecration back in the mid-90's but am really being drawn to do the deMontfort consecration and God knows I can use all the help I can get.