Tuesday, May 26, 2015

On Mary, the Holy Ghost, and Memorial Day

A salute and prayer for our brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives so that we may enjoy our freedom. "Greater love than this no man hath, that he lay down his life for his friends." ~ John 15:13

We had a very special weekend. On Friday, we pulled the kids out of school to celebrate a Solemn High Mass at St. Mary, Help of Christians in Aiken. Their parish is growing so they have a beautiful new church. The old one is gorgeous as well, including the little mission church, which is now a perpetual Adoration chapel. You could sense that sacredness as you walked by it and we all enjoyed a visit with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. But Mass ... oh, how lovely. Everything, from the art to the music to the liturgy just lifts you out of your world and heavenward. I wept tears of joy. There were 5 or 6 priests and at least 20 altar boys from various parishes. What a joyful time to share these memories. Later there was a reception by candlelight in the courtyard. We returned home tired and happy. My attention was mostly focused on the crucifix, right above the tabernacle. I noticed the inside of the doors have angels. Love that detail.

Bronze Virgin & Child by Gustave Dore
at the church in Aiken
Monsignor gave the homily on Mary,  Help of Christians and how this feast came to be. Pope Pius V called Christian armies to ask for Mary's intercession in stopping Islamic invasion of Christian Europe. This is the Battle of Lepanto. The course of history might well have been different if the Ottoman Empire had succeeded. Mary is our help. It is really amazing that 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ managed to spread the Gospel to every corner of the earth. Except for John, they all died a martyr's death. They died for a Person. For Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by Me." ~ John 14:6 And you know this is true because for 2,000 years emperors and empires have been trying to destroy Catholicism but it is of God. We have Jesus' Word for it. "Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." ~ Matt 16:18 

The Romans crucified Jesus, but He gave us His mother from the Cross! He rose from the dead! He breathed upon the Apostles and gave them the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive or retain sins. Saul persecuted the Christians but became the greatest evangelizer as St. Paul. The Christian persecution continued for over 300 years. There have been schisms and heresies but the Church remains. Napoleon, Stalin and others all tried to destroy the Catholic Church. They are gone but the Church remains. Over and over we see that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. We are the largest family on earth -- 1.2 billion big -- with the greatest diversity too! We are white, black, yellow, rich, poor, disabled, strong, weak, all of us sinners, trying to be saints.

Somehow all these things are tied up for me this weekend. The Church has given dignity to children, to women, to the disabled, to the marginalized, and in Jesus men have discovered their strength. They use it to defend the weak. I shall never forget our Memorial Day in Belgium, where so many young men gave up their lives so that we may walk free today. God bless them.

The Easter season ends Pentecost. Let the fire of God burn in you. Here is a video for your enjoyment with the music of Palestrina. Alleluia!


Mirka Breen said...

Your family's church is beautiful, Vijaya.
On Monday morning one of the neighbors on our online neighborhood group reminded us of the sacrifice we commemorate and lamented the so-few flags flying. This is Berkeley, after all; we rarely see the American flag on houses here. I took ours out and hung it, and then noticed a bunch of others did the same. Maybe we need reminding now and then.
Your post is just that. Reminding of mindfulness in what matters.

Johnell said...

What a lovely memorial on many levels. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful church and post!

Vijaya said...

Thank you, and yes, always ... memorare!