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Fr. Frank Sacks, CM, shares weekly reflections on the spirituality, history, and breathtaking art of the Miraculous Medal Shrine. Click Here to Email Fr. Sacks.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017 – The Windows in the Miraculous Medal Shrine

The Windows in the Miraculous Medal Shrine
November 14, 2017

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Gorgeous stained glass windows surround our Central Shrine of the Miraculous Medal; each window displays two medallions. In the weeks ahead, we will reflect on all 14 scenes, the details of which are truly amazing and inspiring. They portray scenes from the life our Blessed Lady from her own presentation in the Temple to her Assumption into heaven. This week, we describe these windows in general.

Beginning on the North side, to the left as one faces the Shrine, and moving along the curved wall behind the Virgo Potens altar to the South side, one sees a series of seven windows celebrating events in the life of our Blessed Lady. The first window displays two events that do not appear in our New Testament Gospels; while they appear in an apocryphal (non-biblical) Gospel of James, the Church does celebrate both these events: the Presentation of the Child Mary in the Temple, and Mary’s Espousal to Joseph. Except for the last scene that portrays the Assumption of Mary into heaven, all the other eleven medallions portray scenes from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Here is a complete list of the fourteen scenes portraying events in the life of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal:

The windows on the NORTH side:

1. The Presentation of Mary in the Temple
2. The Espousal of Mary to Joseph
3. The Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus
4. The Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth
5. The Nativity of the Child Jesus in Bethlehem
6. The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple

The window hidden BEHIND the Virgo Potens altar:

1. The Flight of Mary, Jesus, and Joseph into Egypt
2. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

The windows on the SOUTH side:

1. The Holy Family in Nazareth
2. The Marriage Feast at Cana
3. The encounter of Mary with Jesus on his Way to Calvary
4. The Crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary
5. The event of Pentecost
6. The Assumption of Mary

Like the small Rose Window above the Central Shrine and the large Rose Window on the front face of the Chapel, the Marian windows within our Central Shrine make use of glass in the strong blue coloring known as Bernardini blue. The stained glass emulates that of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and of the Cathedral of Chartres of the 1200s; the former breathtaking structure was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns, one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom.

Our prayer this week is taken from the Collect for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

We pray:

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son,
grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain
by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw,
so, through her intercessions,
we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Next week we shall begin our detailed look at each of the 14 Marian scenes portrayed in our Shrine stained glass windows. We will begin with The Presentation of Mary in the Temple.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 – The Lighting for the Central Shrine and the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception


The LIGHTING for the CENTRAL SHRINE

and the CHAPEL of the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
November 7, 2017

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

We have spent the past 17 weeks describing the many religious symbols in our Central Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. This week we deal with the lighting that enhances both this gorgeous Central Shrine and other shrines in our Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. We will also mention some possibilities for visitors to honor Mary by lighting votive candles before various Shrines.

Light, in our Catholic tradition, reminds us of Christ, the Light of the World. During the Easter Season and at every baptism, the Paschal Candle dramatizes this Light, overcoming the darkness of sin. Votive candles also represent the faithful, who offer prayer requests and honor Mary by lighting a candle, which remains lit after their visit to the Shrine.

Vigil lights represent the persons who own them before they present them to Mary. Devotees at our Shrine have an opportunity to give something of themselves by purchasing candles. The gift of their votive candles represents their prayer intentions for Mary’s help. People present them to Mary as a gift to her to keep their intentions and themselves before her in our Chapel. 

The image above is a photo of the lighting in our Central Shrine. It is the image you see in all of my Shrine Reflections as videos conclude with a word of thanks to each of you, the devotees of Mary. It is basically how the Shrine appears during two special times during our Summer Novena of Hope and the November Solemn Novena. Every Monday, most of these lights adorn the Central Shrine when we celebrate eight novenas honoring Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

As the sun sets outside, the lighting automatically shifts to a meditative soft blue glow.

In the environment of this Central Shrine there are dramatic candelabra which remain perpetually lit to honor Mary and to invoke her assistance for members of Mary’s Miraculous Medal Family – those who are yearly members of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal. Weekly intentions of those who pray at the Shrine are placed in a box before the Virgo Potens Altar.

Throughout the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception there are votive stands that offer opportunities for the faithful to request prayers for special intentions. If you so desire, you can request lighted candles on our web site (www.cammonline.org) or by approaching our staff in the Gift Shop during visiting hours.

Prices for votive candles vary widely. For the suggested donation of $250, you can place a votive candle for one year and request its location at one of three Shrines on the upper level:

(1) Before the statue of St. Catherine Labouré to the right of the Central Shrine,
(2) In front of the replica of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Pieta in the Chapel of the Holy Agony, or
(3) Near the replica of the First Apparition of the The Virgin of the Chair in front of St. Joseph’s Altar.

Your Memorial Votive Light will display any inscription of your choice, e.g., “A Gift from Mary’s Grateful Devotee,” or “For favors received through Mary,” or “For the Family of …,” etc.

On the lower level, smaller votive lights are available for pilgrims to display their devotion to Mary and to offer their prayer intentions before her. Many of these are located in a beautiful Shrine honoring The Virgin of the Globe (from the second apparition of Mary to St. Catherine Labouré). Others are placed before various images close to this Shrine:

•   Our Lady of Vailankanni, the Patroness of India;
•   Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Mexico and all of the Americas;
•   the Sacred Heart of Jesus, honoring the heart crowned with thorns on the Miraculous Medal; and
•   a large, ornate likeness of the front side of the Miraculous Medal.

Our prayer this week comes from the Blessing and Investiture with the Sacred Medal of Mary Immaculate (today known as the Miraculous Medal).

We pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,
who willed that Your Mother,
the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived without sin,
should become illustrious through countless miracles;
grant that we who ever seek her patronage
may finally possess everlasting joys.

We ask this of You,
who live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Next week we shall begin to examine the gorgeous and detailed Marian stained glass windows that adorn the Central Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 – Marian Symbols in the Floor Mosaic


MARIAN SYMBOLS in the FLOOR MOSAIC

OCTOBER 31, 2017

Marian Symbols in the Floor Mosaic – See below for close-up images showing more detail.

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

This week we focus on the specific floral MARIAN SYMBOLS incorporated into the mosaic on the floor of the Central Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

The mosaic appropriately celebrates Mary, the central figure in our Central Shrine. The large centerpiece displays her name “Mary;” encircled by roses, she is the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. In Marian art, roses are often associated with Our Blessed Lady.

The rose is a symbol that has a rich and ancient history. Like the cross, it can have paradoxical meanings. It is at once a symbol of purity and a symbol of passion, heavenly perfection and earthly passion; virginity and fertility; death and life.

The third-century Saint Ambrose believed that there were roses in the Garden of Eden. Initially these were without thorns, but they became thorny after the Fall and came to symbolize Original Sin itself. Thus, the Blessed Virgin is often referred to as the “rose without thorns,” since she was immaculately conceived. St. Bernard of Clairvaux compared her virginity to a white rose and her charity to a red rose.

The rose became a privileged symbol for Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth. During the Middle Ages, the rose also became an attribute of many other holy women, including Elizabeth of Hungary, Elizabeth of Portugal, Casilda of Toledo, and the martyrs in general. The rose is even a symbol for Christ, as seen in the German Christmas song, Es ist ein ‘Ros’ entsprungen.

Close-up details of the floral Marian symbols incorporated into the mosaic on the floor of the Central Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

With the rise of Marian devotion and the Gothic cathedral in the 12th century, the image of the rose became even more prominent in religious life. Cathedrals built around this time usually included a rose window, dedicated to the Virgin, at the end of a transept or above the entrance. Our Chapel boasts a gorgeous Marian rose window above the choir loft.

Sprigs of flowers are featured in two small mosaics to the right and left of the central Marian mosaic; they symbolize Mary’s virtues. The top small mosaic displays two palm branches that symbolize Mary Queen of Martyrs. The bottom small mosaic displays three symbols: a sword portraying Mary Comforter of the Afflicted; a flaming torch symbolizing Mary the Seat of Wisdom; and a horn witnessing to Mary the Bearer of the Word of God.

This Marian floor mosaic, then, is a great tribute to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. In geometric shapes and symbols, important truths of our faith and of our Marian devotion are memorialized in colored marble and floral images against mosaic golden chips.

Our prayer this week honors Our Lady of Fatima.[1]

We pray:

O Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary,
you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima and reveal a glorious message.
We implore you, inspire in our hearts a fervent love for the recitation of the Rosary.

By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption that are recalled therein
may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask,
through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.

Amen.

Next week, we shall review some of the lighting that adorns our Central Shrine of the Miraculous Medal and the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

[1] Listed as one of the Marian prayers at http://www.marypages.com/PrayerstoMary.htm

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 – The Floor Mosaic Honoring Mary


The FLOOR MOSAIC Honoring MARY

OCTOBER 24, 2017

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Our attention this week moves to the floor of the Central Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, specifically the FLOOR MOSAIC honoring Mary.

Geometric shapes compose this complex mosaic. Symbolically, stars represent various Christian truths. The mosaic includes eight-pointed stars that symbolize regeneration. The number eight is traditionally associated with the ideas of regeneration or baptism.

Other stars include the following:

Five-pointed stars symbolize the Epiphany, the manifestation of God to the Gentiles represented by the Three Wise Men from the East who followed the Star of Bethlehem.

Six-pointed stars represent the Creator’s star or the symbol of creation. Made of two triangles, the star emphasizes the Holy Trinity and God’s work in the process of creation. Together the triangles portray the Jewish Star of David, ancestor of Jesus the King of Israel.

Seven- and nine-pointed stars refer to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

All these shapes, including the large 12-sided Star of David, adorn this striking floor mosaic. The 12-sided star recalls the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 Apostles chosen by Jesus to preach the Good News to all Nations. On the Miraculous Medal, 12 stars surround Mary’s head, and, on the reverse side, 12 stars surround the symbols of Mary and Jesus.

On the whole, this attractive floor mosaic appeals to anyone who appreciates symbolism in Christian art. As we shall see in our next refection, the main overall symbolism honors Mary in her Central Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.

Our prayer this week is the Collect the Church prays on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11th. We pray:

Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness,
that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God,
may, with the help of her intercession, rise up from our iniquities.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen!

Next week we shall move our attention to the specific MARIAN IMAGES that make up the floor mosaic in our Central Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage, and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 – The Angel Holding the Monogram of the Heart of Jesus


The ANGEL holding the MONOGRAM of the HEART of JESUS

OCTOBER 17, 2017

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Our attention this week moves to another angel above the Virgo Potens altar, the one holding a shield with the image of the heart of Jesus surrounded by a crown of thorns. This image, of course, represents the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and bleeding.  The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus’ death while the fire represents the transformative power of Divine Love. Thus, the image represents both the passion and the resurrection of the Lord. The Sacred Heart of Jesus represents not simply His physical heart but also His love for all mankind. In this form, the image appears on the reverse side of the Miraculous Medal alongside the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions; Jesus Christ’s physical heart represents His divine love for all of us. The devotion is especially concerned with what the Church deems to be the long-suffering love and compassion of the heart of Christ towards humanity.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus goes back at least to the 11th century. Through the 16th century, it remained a private devotion often tied to devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ. Through the efforts of Fr. Jean Eudes (1602-1680), the first Feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated on August 31, 1670, in Rennes, France. From Rennes, the devotion spread, but it took the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) for the devotion to become universal. In all of her visions between 1673 and 1675, the Sacred Heart of Jesus played a central role. The “great apparition,” which took place on June 16, 1675, during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, is the source of the modern Feast of the Sacred Heart.

The devotion became quite popular after St. Margaret Mary’s death in 1690. Because the Church initially had doubts about the validity of St. Margaret Mary’s visions, it wasn’t until 1765 that the feast was celebrated officially in France. Almost 100 years later, in 1856, Pope Pius IX, at the request of the French bishops, extended the feast to the Universal Church. It is celebrated on the day requested by our Lord – the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, or 19 days after Pentecost Sunday.

Our Lord promised St. Margaret Mary that 12 blessings will be extended to those who practice devotion to the Sacred Heart. The 12th promise is the basis for the popular Catholic devotion of nine First Fridays:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the Sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

In the 19th century, another Roman Catholic nun in Portugal, Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, a religious of the Good Shepherd, received special revelations about the Sacred Heart. In the name of Christ, she petitioned Pope Leo XIII to consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At first the Pope disregarded her request. Her second letter, however, motivated Pope Leo XIII to accede to Christ’s request. She wrote:

One might find it strange that Our Lord should ask for this consecration of the entire world and not content Himself with [that of] the Catholic Church. But His desire to reign, to be loved and glorified, and to set ablaze all hearts with His love and His mercy is so ardent that He wants Your Holiness to offer Him the hearts of all those who belong to Him by Baptism, to facilitate their return to the true Church, and the hearts of those who have not yet received spiritual life by Holy Baptism, but for whom He has given His life and His Blood and who are equally called to be one day children of the Holy Church, to hasten by this means their spiritual birth.

On June 9, 1899 Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In his encyclical letter Annum sacrum (May 25, 1899), he also encouraged the entire Roman Catholic episcopate to promote the First Friday Devotions, established June as the Month of the Sacred Heart, and included the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart. Many of us will remember consecrating our families to the Sacred Heart and enshrining the image in a prominent place in our homes.

The joint devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary was first formulated in the 17th century. St. John Eudes obtained the approbation of the Church years prior to the visions of Saint Margaret Mary. Since 1832, the Miraculous Medal greatly advanced joint devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The Medal displays the Sacred Heart alongside the pierced heart of His Mother Mary.

Modern popes have supported the individual and joint devotions to the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Pope St. John Paul II in his 1979 encyclical Redemptor Hominis elaborated upon the theme of the unity of Mary’s Immaculate Heart with the Sacred Heart. In an address on September 15, 1985, he coined the term “The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.” The Miraculous Medal symbolically affirms this same holy alliance between Christ crucified and His blessed Mother.

Our prayer this week is the Collect taken from the Liturgy for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. We pray:

O Grant, we pray, Almighty God,
that we, who glory in the Heart of Your beloved Son
and recall the wonders of His love for us,
may be made worthy to receive
an overflowing measure of grace from that fount of heavenly gifts.

Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Amen!

Next week we shall move our attention to a very interesting MARIAN MOSAIC displaying a variety of geometric figures. It adorns the floor of our Central Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 – The Angel Holding the Monogram of the Cross of Jesus


The ANGEL Holding the Monogram of the CROSS of JESUS

OCTOBER 10, 2017

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Our attention this week moves to the angel holding a shield with the monogram of Christ’s Cross. The cross appears on the reverse side of the Miraculous Medal. It represents not only the victory of Christ over sin and death but also His passion and death on Calvary. At every Mass, we not only remember Jesus’ death on Calvary but also relive that mystery; His sacrifice is made present for us in an unbloody manner so we can participate in the death and resurrection of Christ.

The cross in early Christianity:

During the first two centuries of Christianity, the cross was rare in Christian iconography, as it depicts a purposely painful and gruesome method of public execution and Christians were reluctant to use it. They used instead the symbol of a fish to communicate in secret with fellow believers; the Greek word for fish was an acrostic with the letters representing Jesus-Christ-God-Savior.

St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians stressed the centrality of the cross of Jesus:

But may I never boast except in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen” (Gal. 6:14-18).

In contemporary Christianity, the cross is a symbol of the atonement and reminds us of God’s love in sacrificing his own Son for humanity. It represents Jesus’ victory over sin and death, since it is believed that through His death and resurrection He conquered death itself. As St. Paul proclaimed to the Colossians:

And even when you were dead [in] transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He brought you to life along with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, He also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross; despoiling the principalities and the powers, He made a public spectacle of them, leading them away in triumph by it (Col. 2:13-15).

As Catholics, we often use the Sign of the Cross to begin our prayers. At every Baptism, the priest, as well as the parents and sponsors of a child, sign the forehead of an infant with the cross, a sign of our faith in God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and in the death and resurrection of the Lord.

The cross that appears on the Miraculous Medal rests upon a crossbeam. This beam divides the realm of earthly existence below from the realm of heavenly existence above. As such it recalls the true nature of the one who was crucified and is victorious over sin and death; He is both human and Divine, both son of Mary and Son of God.

The same crossbar suggests also the altar that symbolizes Christ offering Himself in every Mass; it appears as a side view of the Mensa, the cover of the altar of sacrifice. We approach the altar with faith in the risen Christ who is really present there, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist. Here at the altar, we encounter the One who consoles us in all our needs. As St. Catherine Labouré reported about her conversation with Our Lady: “As to what I should do in time of trouble, [Mary] pointed with her left hand to the foot of the altar, and told me to come there and to open up my heart, assuring me that I would receive all the consolation I needed.”

Mary, symbolized by the “M,” appears entwined with the crossbar as one who participates in the mystery of the cross of her Son. That cross represents not only his victory over sin and death in His resurrection but also His suffering and death by which He has atoned for our sins. Mary participates in both aspects of this redemptive work of her Divine Son. She is both Our Mother of Sorrows as well as Our Mother of Mercy.

Our prayer this week comes from the Liturgy for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is the Collect the Church will pray on Friday, September 15th. We pray:

O God, who willed that,
when your Son was lifted high on the cross,
His Mother should stand close by and share His suffering,
grant that your Church,
participating with the Virgin Mary in the passion of Christ,
may merit a share in His resurrection.

Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Next week, we shall move our attention to another angel above the Virgo Potens altar, the one holding a shield displaying the heart of Jesus surrounded with thorns.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

 

 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 – The Angel Holding the Monogram of Mary’s Heart


MIRACULOUS MEDAL SHRINE REFLECTIONS:
The Angel Holding the “M” Shield
September 26, 2017Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady, Our attention this week moves to the large angels above the Virgo Potens altar. We will take our time to reflect on the significance of the shields that each holds, beginning today with the “M” monogram.Four reflections will give us the opportunity to reflect more deeply on the symbolism that appears on the reverse side of the Medal revealed to St. Catherine Labouré. Today’s image: the large “M” intertwined with a crossbar represents Mary.Symbolically, Mary stands at the foot of the Cross and hears her Son’s words that ground our Catholic belief that she is our Mother. “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son. Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27). God has ordained that Mary become our Mother; her maternal care has been revealed to St. Catherine Labouré.The reverse side of the Miraculous Medal portrays a profound Marian mystery. Mary at the foot of the Cross is intertwined with her Son symbolized by the “M” resting on the crossbar. In Catholic tradition, Mary has joined herself to the sufferings of her Son; she participates in His work of redemption. The mercy of God comes to us through Mary’s Son and His Mother’s intercession.The Medal portrays the Cross of Jesus resting on a crossbar. This vertical bar can be viewed as the dividing line between the realms of this world below and that of Divine Life above. The bar is also suggestive of an altar with the mensa (altar top) viewed from the front. As such, it recalls Mary’s promise to St. Catherine in the first apparition; Catherine tells us: “As to what I should do in time of trouble, [Mary] pointed with her left hand to the foot of the altar, and told me to come there and to open up my heart, assuring me that I would receive all the consolation I needed.”The first angel above the Shrine altar, then, holds a shield emblazoned with one of the main symbols on the Miraculous Medal – the “M” representing Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. As a messenger of God, this angel presents Mary to all of us. The angel is a visual reminder that the miraculous power related to the use of the Medal since 1832 comes ultimately from the throne of God who, through divine messengers, deigns to involve human beings in the mystery of redemption.Among these human messengers, the Son of God holds primary as Son of Mary and Son of God. Our Blessed Lady, the Queen of Angels and of Saints, also hold a primary place over all creatures, including angels. She is a messenger of God’s mercy. Through her intercession, we all benefit from the mercy of God. Some Catholics today look forward to the day when Pope Francis will proclaim Mary Co-Redemptrix with her Divine Son. The Church already honors her as Mother of Mercy and Co-Mediatrix with Christ.Two years before his death, St. Vincent offered a prayer to consecrate the Daughters of Charity to Mary their Mother; the prayer mentions her role as Mother of Mercy.  With Vincent, in solidarity with the Daughters of Charity throughout the world, we renew their consecration to Mary. Together with them we pray:

Mary, Mother of God and our Mother:

Since the Company of Charity has been established
under the standard of your perfection,
if we have hitherto called you our Mother,
we now entreat you to accept the offering we make you
of the Company in general
and each of its members in particular.
And, because you allow us to call you Mother,
and you are the Mother of Mercy,
the channel through which all mercy flows;
and because, as we believe,
you obtained from God the establishment of this Company,
be pleased to take it under Your protection.

AMEN!

(Coste X, p. 500)

Next week, we shall reflect on another angel above the Shrine altar, the one holding a shield displaying Mary’s heart.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 – The Angel Holding the “M” Shield


MIRACULOUS MEDAL SHRINE REFLECTIONS:
The Angel Holding the “M” Shield
September 26, 2017Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,Our attention this week moves to the large angels above the Virgo Potens altar. We will take our time to reflect on the significance of the shields that each holds, beginning today with the “M” monogram.Four reflections will give us the opportunity to reflect more deeply on the symbolism that appears on the reverse side of the Medal revealed to St. Catherine Labouré. Today’s image: the large “M” intertwined with a crossbar represents Mary.Symbolically, Mary stands at the foot of the Cross and hears her Son’s words that ground our Catholic belief that she is our Mother. “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son. Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27). God has ordained that Mary become our Mother; her maternal care has been revealed to St. Catherine Labouré.The reverse side of the Miraculous Medal portrays a profound Marian mystery. Mary at the foot of the Cross is intertwined with her Son symbolized by the “M” resting on the crossbar. In Catholic tradition, Mary has joined herself to the sufferings of her Son; she participates in His work of redemption. The mercy of God comes to us through Mary’s Son and His Mother’s intercession.The Medal portrays the Cross of Jesus resting on a crossbar. This vertical bar can be viewed as the dividing line between the realms of this world below and that of Divine Life above. The bar is also suggestive of an altar with the mensa (altar top) viewed from the front. As such, it recalls Mary’s promise to St. Catherine in the first apparition; Catherine tells us: “As to what I should do in time of trouble, [Mary] pointed with her left hand to the foot of the altar, and told me to come there and to open up my heart, assuring me that I would receive all the consolation I needed.”The first angel above the Shrine altar, then, holds a shield emblazoned with one of the main symbols on the Miraculous Medal – the “M” representing Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. As a messenger of God, this angel presents Mary to all of us. The angel is a visual reminder that the miraculous power related to the use of the Medal since 1832 comes ultimately from the throne of God who, through divine messengers, deigns to involve human beings in the mystery of redemption.Among these human messengers, the Son of God holds primary as Son of Mary and Son of God. Our Blessed Lady, the Queen of Angels and of Saints, also hold a primary place over all creatures, including angels. She is a messenger of God’s mercy. Through her intercession, we all benefit from the mercy of God. Some Catholics today look forward to the day when Pope Francis will proclaim Mary Co-Redemptrix with her Divine Son. The Church already honors her as Mother of Mercy and Co-Mediatrix with Christ.Two years before his death, St. Vincent offered a prayer to consecrate the Daughters of Charity to Mary their Mother; the prayer mentions her role as Mother of Mercy.  With Vincent, in solidarity with the Daughters of Charity throughout the world, we renew their consecration to Mary. Together with them we pray:

Mary, Mother of God and our Mother:

Since the Company of Charity has been established
under the standard of your perfection,
if we have hitherto called you our Mother,
we now entreat you to accept the offering we make you
of the Company in general
and each of its members in particular.
And, because you allow us to call you Mother,
and you are the Mother of Mercy,
the channel through which all mercy flows;
and because, as we believe,
you obtained from God the establishment of this Company,
be pleased to take it under Your protection.

AMEN!

(Coste X, p. 500)

Next week, we shall reflect on another angel above the Shrine altar, the one holding a shield displaying Mary’s heart.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 – The Choirs of Angels Above the Virgo Potens Altar


MIRACULOUS MEDAL SHRINE REFLECTIONS:
The Choirs of Angels  Above the Virgo Potens Altar
September 19, 2017Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,Our attention this week moves to the ceiling of the Central Shrine, specifically to the Choirs of cherubic angels. They surround images that speak to us of the Holy Spirit (a dove) and the power of God (the all-seeing Eye of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). As we saw in last week’s reflection, in our Christian tradition, angels are messengers of the Almighty. So, then, what messages do we hear from their visual witness on our Shrine ceiling?The first group of cherubs surrounds a dove. The dove in our history has deep spiritual meaning. Paragraph 701 of our General Catechism describes the dove as one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit:

The dove. At the end of the flood, whose symbolism refers to Baptism, a dove released by Noah returns with a fresh olive-tree branch in its beak as a sign that the earth was again habitable. When Christ comes up from the water of His Baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon Him and remains with Him. The Spirit comes down and remains in the purified hearts of the baptized. In certain churches, the Eucharist is reserved in a metal receptacle in the form of a dove suspended above the altar. Christian iconography traditionally uses a dove to suggest the Spirit.

All four of the Gospels witness to the scene of Jesus’ Baptism by John in the Jordan River.[1] Just prior to Jesus beginning His earthly ministry, He went to John the Baptist to be baptized. We read this account in Luke 3:21-22, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized, too. As He was praying, Heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from Heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.’”

Matthew records the same thing from a different perspective, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment, heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him” (3:16). Mark writes, “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw Heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove” (1:10). John also records this event in his Gospel as he wrote, “Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him’” (1:32).

The dove, then, is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. A dove also represents peace. When a believer receives the Holy Spirit and is born again, he has the peace of God on him (Rom 5:1) and is then at peace with God. The visual message on our Shrine ceiling thus emphasizes the power of the Spirit at work in the tradition of Mary’s Miraculous Medal. Only God’s power in the Spirit can make miracles happen. At the same time, Our Lady has an intercessory role in distributing God’s favors. All of God’s merciful action in relationship to believers not only flows through Mary’s Son Jesus, but also through herself as His Mother whom the Lord gave to us as our Mother.

The second circle of cherubs surrounds an eye within a triangle and circle. The symbolism here is clear. The all-seeing eye of God emphasizes that all comes under his purview and influence. The triangle symbolizes the Christian understanding of God as the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The circle, which also appears in the other circle of angels, portrays eternity, without end – the whole universe under God’s providence.

It is curious that those who crafted our two choirs of cherubic angels chose to use a mirror image of the cherubs – the one is a reverse image of the other.

The overall message could not be clearer. The power of the Miraculous Medal reflects the divine power that comes from God. It is the power of the Spirit at work in all who are baptized, above all the Lord upon whom God’s Spirit rested and remained. The same power of God is at work in Christ’s Body, the Church, especially in Her sacramental life.

Our prayer this week is adapted from a Prayer to the Holy Angels recommended online by the Knights of Columbus.[2] We pray:

O loving God, Creator of the heavenly armies,
although we are always unworthy, we beseech you that, with their prayers,
you may encircle us with the protection of the wings of their angelic glory.
Through your angelic hosts, watch over us as we bow low and earnestly cry out to you:
Deliver us from trouble, O Creator of your heavenly armies.

Amen.

Next week we shall move our attention to the large angels standing above our Shrine altar, beginning with the one holding a shield with the letter “M” that appears on the reverse side of the Miraculous Medal.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

 

[1] The following description comes from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/07/13/what-does-a-dove-mean-or-represent-in-the-bible/

[2] Prayer adapted from one that appears at https://www.kofc.org/en/resources/cis/devotionals/saints.pdf.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 – The Angels on the Ceiling above the Virgo Potens Altar


MIRACULOUS MEDAL SHRINE REFLECTIONS:
The Angels on the Ceiling above the Virgo Potens Altar
September 12, 2017Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,Our attention this week moves to Angels on the ceiling of the Central Shrine above the Virgo Potens altar.These are not the only images of angelic messengers in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. The three dramatic paintings in the main sanctuary include angels. On the left, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce that she will be the Mother of God. The painting in the center portrays the Immaculate Conception surrounded by many cherubs.On the right is the painting depicting the Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem. Seven circular stain glass windows above the main sanctuary display angels holding symbols of the three theological virtues and four cardinal virtues. Angels also appear on the edges of the beautiful Rose Window above the chapel balcony.There are carvings of angels on the new canopy over the main tabernacle. Sculpted angels support the altar honoring St. Vincent de Paul.What do angels represent in our Judeo-Christian tradition? [1]Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states about angels. Their existence is a truth of our Christian faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (328). St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit;’ if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel:’ from what they are, ‘spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel.’”  With their whole beings, the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in Heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do His word, hearkening to the voice of His word” (329).They are Christ’s angels; He is the center of their world: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him…”Like all things, angels were created through Him. They belong to Him more than any other creatures because God had made them messengers of His saving plan (331).Paragraph 333 describes the presence of angels since creation and throughout the history of salvation:

Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples. Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.

From the Incarnation to the Ascension of Christ, angels surrounded the life of the Word Incarnate with their adoration and service. Paragraph 334 summarizes this service and adoration:

When God “brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him.’” Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!” They protect Jesus in His infancy, serve Him in the desert, strengthen Him in His agony in the garden, when He could have been saved by them from the hands of His enemies as Israel had been. Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection. They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at His judgment.

Throughout history, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels. Paragraphs 335 and 336 describe this influence:

In Her Liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance in the funeral liturgy’s In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .[“May the angels lead you into Paradise…”]. Moreover, in the “Cherubic Hymn” of the Byzantine Liturgy, She celebrates the memory of certain angels – more particularly St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels.

From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. The angels in the life of the Church.

In summary, our Faith asserts that Angels exist; they are divine messengers who do God’s will. They protect the Church and guide Her members.

Our prayer this week comes from the Liturgy in the Roman Rite. It appears as part of the first Eucharistic Prayer and mention’s God’s holy Angel. We pray:

We entreat you, almighty God,
that, by the hands of your holy Angel,
this offering may be borne to your altar in Heaven
in the sight of your Divine Majesty,
so that as we receive in communion at this altar
the Most Holy Body and Blood of Your Son,
we may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace.

Next week, we shall comment on the messages of the choirs of angels portrayed above the Shrine altar; one encircling a dove and the other, an eye in a triangle.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

[1] Numerical references indicate sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 – Saint Vincent de Paul above the Virgo Potens Altar

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Today, we take a closer look at the image of St. Vincent de Paul that appears on Mary’s right side on the triptych above and behind the Shrine altar.

He stands in a pose that appears as a mirror reflection of the one struck by St. Louise on Mary’s left. Like those of St. Louise, Vincent’s hands suggest he is receiving blessings from Mary and extending them to his followers. In 1633, Vincent and Louise co-founded the Daughters of Charity. Almost two centuries later, in 1830, St. Catherine Labouré, a novice preparing to join the Daughters, experienced Mary’s appearances that we have memorialized in our Central Shrine.

Vincent lived in the 17th century. As a newly ordained priest, he sought to escape from the poverty of his origins by accepting several benefices (permanent Church appointments, typically that of a rector or vicar, for which property and income are provided in respect of pastoral duties). With the help of spiritual directors, he felt himself called to a deeper holiness. Through two separate events in 1617, Divine Providence moved him to a firm determination to dedicate himself to the salvation of the poor.

The first event took place in Gannes, where, through his help, a dying man made a good Confession. On the 25th of January, 1617, in Folleville, Vincent preached on the need for a General Confession; so many people responded that other clerics were enlisted to hear all their Confessions. This experience of the need for Penance led Vincent to commit himself to evangelize the poor in the country districts of France. Eight years later, he formally established the Congregation of Mission to preach the Gospel to the poor.

The second event took place in Châtillon-les-Dombes on August 22, 1617. It involved the establishment of a Confraternity of Charity to assist the poor in the parish where Vincent was pastor. Eventually, he enlisted the help of St. Louise de Marillac, and, in time, they co-founded the Daughters of Charity in 1633.

Years later, in a conference to his confreres, Vincent looked back to the year 1617 as the origin of his vocation. The Congregation of the Mission was established in 1625, and the Daughters of Charity founded in 1633. This year, 2017, then, is the 400th Anniversary of the establishment of the Vincentian Charism.

Today, Vincent is acknowledged as the inspiration for many other groups who are true Vincentians. All of them share Vincent’s concern to serve the poor. Together, they are planning events to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the founding of their Charism to serve the poor. The extended Vincentian Family today includes, among others, the following groups:

1. Ladies of Charity (wealthy women whom Vincent involved in caring for the poor);
2. Confraternities of Charity (that began in 1617);
3. Congregation of the Mission (established in 1625);
4. Daughters of Charity (established in 1633);
5. Confraternity of the Children of Mary (requested by Our Lady when speaking to St. Catherine in 1830, and formally established 16 years later);
6. Members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society; (begun by Blessed Frederick Ozanam in 1833); and
7. Members of the Federation of the Sisters of Charity (six communities tracing their roots to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, their founder).

It was members of the Congregation of the Mission who built the chapel that houses our Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. The first group of Vincentians arrived in Baltimore in 1816, and established roots in Perryville, Missouri. From there, a group traveled to Philadelphia in 1841 at the invitation of Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick. Ten years later, the community established St. Vincent’s Parish in Germantown, Philadelphia; that parish community continues to the present day. The Vincentian congregation purchased a property in 1865, which became St. Vincent’s Seminary. The plan to build a seminary chapel began in 1871. At the request of Bishop James Frederick, the new chapel provided access for the public; to the present day, the building retains its original title, Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. In 1927, our gorgeous Shrine of the Immaculate Conception replaced an original side chapel dedicated to St. Vincent.

How fitting that St. Vincent de Paul should hold a place of honor in the Shrine Chapel. After all, his spiritual sons built St. Vincent’s Seminary and the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Through the world, Vincentian priests, brothers, and sisters have been promoting devotion to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Five years after the establishment of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, under the supervision of its Director, Father Joseph Skelly, CM, the Central Shrine replaced the former St. Vincent’s Chapel. That gorgeous tribute to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal remains the focus for Vincentian Marian piety originally demonstrated by the Vincentian founders St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, and St. Catherine Labouré. Members of the Congregation of the Mission continue to promote all the spiritual activities in the Shrine.

In this year commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the establishment of the Vincentian Charism, we ask God to inspire all Vincentians to serve the poor.

We pray:

Lord, Merciful Father,
who instilled in Saint Vincent de Paul
a great concern for the evangelization of the poor,

infuse your Spirit in the hearts of his followers,
that, as we hear the cry of your abandoned children,
we may run to their assistance,
“like someone who runs to put out a fire.”
Revive within us the flame of the Charism,
that flame which has animated our missionary life for 400 years.
We ask this in the name of your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord,
the Evangelizer of the Poor.

Amen

Next week, we shall move our attention to the ceiling of the Central Shrine of Our Lady — images of angels overshadowing the Virgo Potens altar.
Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 – St. Louise de Marillac Above the Virgo Potens Altar

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Today we take a closer look at the image of St. Louise de Marillac that appears to Mary’s left on the triptych above and behind the Shrine altar.  [1]

We see St. Louise gazing in the direction of our Blessed Lady, her right hand poised to receive the blessings and protection promised by Mary to St. Catherine Labouré. Her left hand is higher in a gesture suggesting Louise is passing on Mary’s blessings to her Daughters and the poor whom they have served since she and St. Vincent co-founded the Daughters of Charity. This is the community that St. Catherine Labouré eventually joined in Paris in 1830.

During her adult life, Louise held a leadership role in the Ladies of Charity, an organization of rich women. They were the first group organized by St. Vincent. He had enlisted wealthy women of the royal court to assist persons oppressed by poverty and disease.

As early as 1629, Vincent invited Louise to assist him with another group, the Confraternities of Charity. He had helped establish such groups 12 years earlier. Vincent organized the first confraternity in August 1617, in Châtillon-les-Domes as a response to the urgent needs that he found in this village where he served as pastor.

Through activities like these, Louise gained a deep knowledge of the needs of the poor, developed her innate management skills, and identified effective structures for service. These tasks were therapeutic for Louise and formative for her future work.  On November 29, 1633, in her own home, she began to train young, mostly simple, uneducated women to address the needs of poor persons and to gain support for their life together. From this humble beginning, the community of the Daughters of Charity emerged. Until her death in 1660, Louise provided leadership and expert management to the evolving network of services she and Vincent inspired.

Very likely, Louise never knew her own mother, so she always looked to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, as her mother. In her extensive writings, St. Louise frequently mentions the Virgin Mary. She invokes her in all sorts of circumstances; she offers her as a model for herself and her Daughters; she finds a place for Mary in her painting; and she eventually persuades St. Vincent to consecrate the Community of the Daughters of Charity to Mary.

In his conference of December 8, 1658, to the Daughters, Vincent de Paul offered this prayer to Mary:

Since the Company of Charity has been established under the standard of your perfection, if we have hitherto called you our Mother, we now entreat you to accept the offering we make you of the Company in general and each of its members in particular. And, because you allow us to call you Mother, and you are the Mother of Mercy, the channel through which all mercy flows, and because, as we believe, you obtained from God the establishment of this Company, be pleased to take it under Your protection” (Coste X, p. 500)

In her Rule of Life in the World, St. Louise listed several devotional practices to honor Mary. She explained and recommended the Hail Mary and the Rosary in a catechism she wrote. She composed a little chaplet that has endured in the traditional prayers of the Daughters between the mysteries of the rosary.

Louise bequeathed to her sisters this final testament before her death: “Pray earnestly to the Blessed Virgin, that she may be your only Mother”.[2] This ultimate, solemn summary witnesses to St. Louise’s entire life of gratitude to the Virgin Mary, her only Mother.

As St. Catherine was later to hear in her conversation with Mary in July of 1830, Mary promised her protection for both Vincentian communities of the priests and brothers and the Daughters of Charity. That tender concern reflects the longstanding belief of St. Louise and her Daughters of Charity to the present day. Mary is our only Mother. How fitting, then, that St. Louise appears next to Mary behind our Shrine altar.

Our prayer this week comes from the little chaplet composed by St. Louise to honor Mary. We pray:

Most Holy Virgin, I believe and confess
your holy and Immaculate Conception, pure and without stain;
O most pure Virgin,
through your virginal purity,
your Immaculate conception,
your glorious prerogative of Mother of God,
obtain for me from your Divine Son
humility, charity, great purity of heart, mind, and body,
holy perseverance in my dear vocation,
the gift of prayer, a good life, and a happy death.

Amen.

Next week we shall move our attention to the image of St. Vincent de Paul standing to Mary’s right in the triptych above and behind the Shrine altar.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

[1] This reflection is heavily dependent upon two sources: a short biography, “Louise de Marillac”  (see http://famvin.org/wiki/Louise_de_Marillac) and “The Most Holy Virgin, Louise de Marillac’s only Mother” (see http://filles-de-la-charite.org/focus-on-2/focus-on-archives/2017-05/); the latter was taken from “I continue to ask God for his blessings for you,” by Fr. Corpus Delgado, CM that appeared in Echo (Nov-Dec 2014 – Saint Louise).

[2] Saint Louise de Marillac, Spiritual Writings. Ed. Louise Sullivan. New York: New. City Press, 1991, p. 835.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 – Saint Vincent de Paul above the Virgo Potens Altar


Mary Between St. Vincent and St. Louise
Above and Behind the Virgo Potens Altar
August 22, 2017

 

 

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Today we take a closer look at the image of Mary in the triptych above and behind the Virgo Potens altar in our Central Shrine.

She stands in a posture of prayer. Her eyes are lifted toward heaven, similar to Mary’s pose in the large Rose Window above the choir loft in the main Chapel. Mary’s right hand is extended in the orans position, the prayer pose with the open palm pointed to heaven in intercessory prayer. For whom is our Blessed Lady praying?

Given the images that flank her, Mary is interceding for the sons and daughters of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity, the communities founded by St. Vincent and St. Louise. She is fulfilling her promise to St. Catherine that night she knelt next to Our Lady of the Chair. Mary told Catherine: “My child, I particularly love to shed graces upon your Community. I love it very much.” Mary further affirmed: “The protection of God will be ever present in a special way, and St. Vincent will protect you. I will grant you many graces…Have confidence. You will recognize my coming and the protection of God over the Community, the protection of St. Vincent over both Communities. Have confidence; do not be discouraged; I will be with you then.”

Of course, Mary is also interceding for all of us who respond to her invitation to ask for what we need. In time of trouble, as St. Catherine attested, “[Our Lady] pointed with her left hand to the foot of the altar, and told me to come there and to open up my heart, assuring me that I would receive all the consolation I needed.” During the third apparition, Mary promised: “All who wear [the Medal] will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for those who wear it with confidence”.

Mary’s left hand strikes a different pose from her right hand; it is lifted higher to heaven, with the palm facing outward as though she is blessing the viewer. It is a fitting pose for her whose intercession brings abundant graces to us through her Son. Catherine reported what Mary had told her: “As to what I should do in time of trouble, she pointed with her left hand to the foot of the altar, and told me to come there and to open up my heart, assuring me that I would receive all the consolation I needed.” The pose she has in the image above the altar suggests Mary is pointing not only to the Christ on the altar but also to God, the source of all blessings. Through Mary’s intercession, then, God and her divine Son bless anyone who approaches her in trust.

Our prayer for this week is the Novena Prayer by which the devotees of Mary call upon her during the Monday Perpetual Novena. We pray:

O Immaculate Virgin Mary,
Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Mother,
penetrated with the most lively confidence
in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession,
manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal,
we your loving and trustful children
implore you to obtain for us
the graces and favors we ask during this Novena,
if they be beneficial to our immortal souls,
and the souls for whom we pray

(Form your own intentions)

Thank you, Mary, for your protection.
AMEN!

Next week we will take a closer look at the image of ST. LOUISE de MARILLAC on Mary’s left side in the triptych above our Shrine altar.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.


The Triptych Above and Behind the Virgo Potens Altar
August 15, 2017

 

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Today we shift our focus to the striking triptych above and behind the Virgo Potens altar. Mary stands in an attitude of prayer between the images of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac.

Mary appeared to St. Catherine Labouré when she was a novice at Rue du Bac in Paris. At the time she was preparing to make her vows in the community of the Daughters of Charity, co-founded by St. Vincent and St. Louise some 200 years before the appearances of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

In her extended conversation with St. Catherine in July of 1830, the Virgin of the Chair had expressed her love for both religious communities founded by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. Mary called for a reformation of the communities and promised her protection. Catherine later recounted this conversation:[1]

My child, I particularly love to shed graces upon your Community; I love it very much. It pains me that there are great abuses in regularity, that the rules are not observed, that there is much relaxation in the two Communities.

In 1830, when Our Lady visited St. Catherine, the Communities of St. Vincent were passing through the painful days of reorganization that followed the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Mary continued:

Tell that to him who has charge of you, even though he is not the superior. He will be given charge of the Community in a special way; he must do everything he can to restore the rule in vigor. Tell him for me to guard against useless reading, loss of time, and visits. When the rule will have been restored in vigor, a community will ask to be united to your Community. Such is not customary, but I love them; God will bless those who take them in; they will enjoy great peace.

Our Lady was speaking of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg, Maryland, who petitioned for union with St. Vincent’s Community and were admitted in 1849. This large American religious community was one of the six communities which trace their origins back to Mother Seton. Mary continued:

The Community will enjoy a great peace; it will become large. But, there will be an abundance of sorrows, and the danger will be great. Yet, do not be afraid; tell them not to be afraid. The protection of God will be ever present in a special way – and St. Vincent will protect you. (Now the Blessed Virgin was very sad.) I shall be with you myself. I always have my eye upon you. I will grant you many graces. The moment will come when the danger will be extreme. It will seem that all is lost. At that time, I will be with you. Have confidence. You will recognize my coming and the protection of God over the Community, the protection of St. Vincent over both Communities. Have confidence; do not be discouraged; I will be with you then.

Given Mary’s words to St. Catherine it is very fitting that our Central Shrine honoring Mary’s apparitions to St. Catherine should include the beautiful triptych of Mary, Vincent and Louise.  With the establishment of Associations of the Miraculous Medal throughout the world, Vincentian priests, brothers and Daughters of Charity continue to promote devotion to Mary of the Miraculous Medal. In more recent years, many other groups that look to St. Vincent for their inspiration to serve the poor have promoted the Perpetual Novena in Honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

Our prayer for this week was perhaps the earliest one celebrating the Miraculous Medal. It was composed by St. Maximilian Kolbe. In 1917, he founded a community, the Militia of the Immaculata (MI for short). This organization still exists today. Its mission is “To Lead Every Individual with Mary to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus”.[2] With St. Maximilian we pray:

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for all who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to you. Amen.

Next week we will take a closer look at the image of Mary that is flanked by Saints Vincent and Louise in the triptych above our Shrine altar. Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

 

[1] Source for quotes: The Lady of the Miraculous Medal by Rev. Joseph I. Dirvin, CM, cited in http://www.miraclesofthechurch.com/2010/11/miraculous-medal-apparition-of-virgin.html

[2] http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/miraculous-medal-prayers.html


Silver Mosaics of the Miraculous Medal
August 8, 2017

 

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

We have spent some weeks describing the ornamentation on the Virgo Potens altar in our Central Shrine. Two more images remain to be discussed: the two silver mosaics that flank the striking statue of Our Lady of Grace. They portray the last apparition of Mary and round out the symbolism for all three apparitions memorialized in the Shrine altar.

In her extended conversation on July 18, 1830, the Virgin of the Chair promised Sister Catherine Labouré: “My child, the good God wishes to charge you with a mission.”  The full meaning of this mission became clear only four months later. On November 27, 1830, on the occasion of the second apparition of the Virgin of the Globe, Catherine witnessed a shift to the third appearance. The golden ball that Mary was holding disappeared, and her hands turned down in the pose of Our Lady of Grace. As Catherine later reported:

At this moment, I was so overjoyed that I no longer knew where I was. A frame, slightly oval in shape, formed ‘round the Blessed Virgin. Within it was written in letters of gold: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.’ The golden ball disappeared in the brilliance of the sheaves of light bursting from all sides; the hands turned out, and the arms were bent down under the weight of the treasures of grace obtained. Then the voice said: ‘Have a Medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they shall wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for those who wear it with confidence.’

Catherine went on to describe a final change:

At this instant, the tableau seemed to me to turn, and I beheld the reverse of the Medal: a large M surmounted by a bar and a cross: beneath the M were the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the one crowned with thorns, the other pierced with a sword.

Images of this Medal appear throughout our Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. They are posted outside with the metal sign identifying “The Miraculous Medal Shrine.” One sees an image of the reverse side painted on the archway over our Central Shrine. The Medal is also etched into the glass that separates the chapel narthex (foyer) from the nave (main body) of the building. In the Lower Shrine, two striking replicas rest in an attractive glass display case. A large ornate replica hangs near the Lower Shrine as a striking memorial of the third and final apparition of Mary.

In time, we will discuss further the meaning of the images appearing on the Miraculous Medal. For the present, we simply point out that the silver mosaics of the Medal on either side of Mary’s statue complete this striking altar that memorializes all three apparitions to St. Catherine. The front mosaics depict the first two apparitions, and the statue of Our Lady of Grace flanked by the silver mosaics of the Medal complete the symbolism.

Our prayer this week comes from the Perpetual Novena in Honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. We pray:

O Lord Jesus Christ,
who, for the accomplishment of Your greatest works,
have chosen the weak things of the world,
that no flesh may glory in Your sight:
and who, for a better and more widely diffused belief
in the Immaculate Conception of Your Mother,
have wished that the Miraculous Medal 
be manifested to Saint Catherine Labouré,
grant, we beseech You, that filled with like humility,
we may glorify this mystery by word and work.

AMEN.

Next week we shall move our attention to the triptych above and behind the altar, namely, the large mosaics of Mary flanked by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.


The Peacocks Above the Shrine Tabernacle
August 1, 2017

 

 

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Our previous reflections described appointments adorning the Virgo Potens altar in our Central Shrine. The front mosaics and the striking statue of Our Lady of Grace portray the three apparitions of Mary to St. Catherine Labouré. Last week, we described the symbolism of the pelican that adorns the door to the tabernacle. Today, we take a closer look at two other symbols that appear above the tabernacle door: a host flanked by two peacocks. As we shall see, there is a very strong connection between these two symbols.

Peacocks often appear in early Christian art as a symbol of the Resurrection and Eternal Life. There are various levels of meaning in the symbolism of peacocks.

The ancients believed that the peacock’s flesh never decayed. St. Augustine refers to this in his classic work, The City of God. In chapter four, he gives examples from nature that prove bodies may remain unconsumed and alive in fire. One example he cites is the peacock: He asks, “For who but God, the Creator of all things, has given to the flesh of the peacock its antiseptic property?” Augustine goes on to describe an experience he had after dining on peacock. He says, “And after [a slice of the peacock] had been laid by for 30 days and more, it was still in the same state; and a year after, the same still, except that it was a little more shriveled, and drier.” No wonder, then, that Christians saw the peacock as a symbol of eternal life.

In medieval times it was also thought that peacocks shed their feathers every year and that the new ones that grow are more beautiful than the older ones. Along with this idea, medieval legends included the theory that the gorgeous colors of the peacock’s feathers came from a special diet. The peacocks could kill and eat poisonous snakes; they ingested the poison, transforming it into the colors of their feathers. Thus, people viewed the peacock as an apt symbol of Christ’s Resurrection, since, as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “Christ became sin for us on the Cross, but then rose from the dead with his glorified body and wounds having conquered the powers of evil.”

One recent commentator adds to this symbolism.[1] During a normal day, peacocks are fairly ordinary looking. And yet, while they are pecking and clucking like very average birds, a hidden splendor lies underneath. The symbolism applies analogously to Christian life. When we see a Christian walking along the street next to someone who has never been baptized, we usually cannot tell the difference. Our interior splendor as followers of Christ will only become fully visible when we enter into Eternal Life and come to share fully in Christ’s own glorious Resurrection. At that point, the hidden magnificence of each Christian’s soul will be revealed, to the wonderment of all, similar to a sudden splendor revealed whenever the peacock spreads its magnificent feathers.

The peacock also symbolizes the cosmos. The spray of its ornate feathers has many “eyes,” suggesting the vault of heaven dotted by the sun, moon, and stars.

The peacocks in our mosaic above the Tabernacle, then, portray the Resurrected and Eternal Christ, the one who will never die again, the Lord of the cosmos — Christ who is embodied in the consecrated host flanked by the peacocks. The Eucharistic Christ is the source of our Eternal Life. All of us believers already possess life in Christ; however, the full splendor of Christ’s glory remains hidden. The full glory of God within us has yet to be revealed in the life to come. The consecrated host represents the Real Presence of Christ. In John’s Gospel, Jesus proclaimed: “I am the Bread of life. Whoever eats this Bread will live forever” (Jn. 6). The Blessed Host and the peacocks speak of resplendent Eternal Life.

Our prayer this week celebrates Eternal Life in the Body and Blood of Christ. Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, we praise and thank you
for shedding your precious Blood to wash away our sins.
Continue in this world to nourish us with your sacred Body and Blood,
so we might eventually come to enjoy Eternal Life in Heaven
where all shall celebrate the glory You share with us,
Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and all the Angels and Saints,
forever and ever.
AMEN.

Next week we shall discuss the final images that adorn the Virgo Potens altar in our Central Shrine — the silver mosaic replicas of the Miraculous Medal.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.


The Door of the Tabernacle
July 25, 2017

 

 

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

In recent reflections we have described the Virgo Potens altar in our Central Shrine, specifically the front mosaics and the beautiful image of Our Lady of Grace that surmounts the altar. Today, we reflect on the beautiful tabernacle that rests on the Virgo Potens altar. It’s made of precious metal with dramatic highlights. One of these is the face of the tabernacle door.

The cover to the tabernacle boasts a bronze carving depicting a pelican caring for her young. She is displayed opening her breast and feeding her chicks with her maternal blood. A similar relief carving appears on the marble front below our new tabernacle in the main sanctuary.

In medieval Europe, the pelican was thought to be particularly attentive to her young, to the point of spilling her own blood by piercing her breast to feed her starving chicks when no other food was available. As a result, the pelican came to be seen as a symbol of the Passion of Jesus and of the Most Blessed Eucharist.

A reference to the mystical characteristic of the pelican is contained in a well-known hymn composed by St. Thomas Aquinas; it’s entitled the Adoro te devote. The sixth verse describes Christ as the loving, Divine Pelican able to wash away our sins with one drop of His blood. One English translation of St. Thomas’ hymn renders verse six as follows:

Lord Jesus, Good Pelican,
wash my filthiness and clean me with your blood,
One drop of which can free
the entire world of all its sins.

The ancient legend of the pelican had some variations. The image of the pelican was adopted into Christianity by the 2nd century as evidenced in The Physiologus, which was a Christian adaptation of popular animal legends and symbols.

The text describes this variant: “The little pelicans strike their parents, and the parents, striking back, kill them.” The text continues: “But on the third day, the mother pelican strikes and opens her side and pours blood over her dead young. In this way they are revivified and made well. So, the text goes on, “Our Lord Jesus Christ says also through the prophet Isaiah: ‘I have brought up children and exalted them, but they have despised me’ (Is 1:2).” The text then strikes the parallel: “We struck God by serving the creature rather than the Creator. Therefore, He deigned to ascend the cross, and when His side was pierced, blood and water gushed forth unto our salvation and eternal life.”

Our Blessed Lady, in her conversation with Saint Catherine Labouré, encourages us to “come to the altar,” and there to encounter her Divine Son who shed His blood for us. Mindful of the rich symbolism of the pelican on our Shrine tabernacle, let us pray:

Lord Jesus, we praise and thank you
for shedding your precious Blood to wash away our sins.
Continue in this world to nourish us with your sacred Body and Blood
so we might come to enjoy the fullness of life
with you and all the Angels and Saints,
forever and ever.
AMEN.

Next week we will reflect on the peacocks who also adorn our tabernacle in the Central Shrine.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.


The Statue of Our Lady of Grace in the Miraculous Medal Shrine
July 18, 2017

 

 

Greetings, Friends of our Blessed Lady,

Last week we spoke about the Virgo Potens altar in our Central Shrine. Today we address very central religious image, the centerpiece of the altar; it is a truly dramatic image of Our Lady of Grace that surmounts the Virgo Potens altar. This statue calls to mind the third of the apparition of Mary to St. Catherine Labouré.

In our previous reflection we focused on the second apparition of Mary to St. Catherine: Our Lady of the Globe, also known as the Virgo Potens. That vision appeared to Catherine above the sanctuary in the chapel at Rue de Bac. As Catherine continued to pray before the image it gradually shifted to the third apparition.

St. Catherine saw the globe in Mary’s hands disappearing as she dropped both her hands in the pose of Our Lady of Grace. Rays of light emanated from several rings on her fingers. Other rings did not emit rays of light; Catherine came to understand that the rings without rays represented graces that Mary wishes to bestow on us, her children, but we are not asking for her help.

Eventually we will discuss the relationship of this pose of Mary to the medal that she commissioned be struck in her honor. For the present, we meditate on this gorgeous Shrine statue of Our Lady of Grace. We see Mary standing in the pose that reflects the beginning of the third apparition of Mary to St. Catherine. Thus, the Virgo Potens altar incorporates in stone images of all three Marian apparitions: two of the front mosaics depict the Madonna of the Chair and the Madonna of the Globe (the Virgo Potens). The statue of Our Lady of Grace surmounting the altar depicts the beginning of the third apparition.

It has been said that the McBride Brothers of Philadelphia, the builders of the Shrine, donated the dramatic statue of Mary in honor of their mother. The imported Italian Carrara marble from which this statue has been chiseled is of first quality marble, so rare and so expensive that seldom is it used for statuary.

A pamphlet celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal describes the statue as follows:

For tender beauty and maternal loveliness this statue is an unsurpassed masterpiece. Mary’s outstretched arms seem to be hungering for sinners – to console them, and for the sorrowing – to comfort them. Her downcast eyes of mercy seem to invite only confidence and love. She seems to dwell there in tranquil peace, just for the sake of her children, to solve their problems, to bind up their broken hearts, to send them on their way with new hope and new courage.

Small wonder that Mary’s children flock to her in our Shrine, not only every Monday on her Novena days, but also at other times of pilgrimage and prayer in our public chapel. Our Novena Prayer includes the Memorare. Originally composed by an unknown 15th-century hymnist, this popular Marian prayer was a favorite of St. Francis de Sales, a contemporary of St. Vincent de Paul. It expresses our confidence this week in Mary’s intercession. Let us pray:

Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your assistance,
or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
we fly unto you,
O Virgin of Virgins, our Mother;
to you we come;
before you we kneel,
sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not our petitions,
but in your clemency hear and answer them.
AMEN.

Our reflection next week will focus on the beautiful tabernacle that rests on the Virgo Potens altar.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.


The Virgo Potens Altar in the Miraculous Medal Shrine
July 11, 2017

 

 

Greetings, Friends of Our Blessed Lady,

Last week I introduced you to our new series entitled, “The Miraculous Medal Shrine Reflections.” As promised, we will be looking at specific religious images in our gorgeous Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, and eventually we will reflect on other images in the larger Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

Today we take a close look at the altar in our Marian Shrine. It is made of Pavanazzo marble and named in honor of the “Virgo Potens,” one of the titles for Mary from the Litany of Loreto. More importantly, the title, translated as “Virgin Most Powerful,” reflects one of the Marian apparitions to St. Catherine Labouré.

Recall that Mary appeared to St. Catherine three times. The second appearance took place on November 27, 1830. Catherine, along with companion novices, was at evening prayer in their chapel at the Rue de Bac in Paris. Mary appeared above the sanctuary to the right. She was holding a globe in her hands. For that reason, this vision has come to be remembered as Our Lady of the Globe.

At that time, France was enduring great sufferings, as was the whole world of 1830. Catherine understood that the globe in Mary’s hands represented France in particular and the whole world in general. Mary promised to intercede for anyone who asked for her help. She stood on a much larger globe with her foot crushing the head of a serpent. The image portrays Mary as intercessor for the suffering of the world; she is the one victorious over Satan.

The first apparition of Our Lady to St. Catherine also appears on the altar front, to the left of the dedicatory title mosaic. It recalls our Lady of the Chair. On the evening of July 18, 1830, Catherine spent some two hours in conversation with Mary. She knelt beside Mary seated in a chair. Her hands rested on Mary’s lap. Among other things, our Lady promised Catherine she would give her a mission. Eventually, we will reflect further on this mission to have a medal struck.

Replicas of this medal also appear in subtle silver mosaics on the Virgo Potens altarpiece to the left and right of a very striking statue of Our Lady of Grace. Our next reflection will comment further on this beautiful statue. For the present, we call upon Mary, Virgin most powerful, to intercede for us who have recourse to her.

Our prayer this week is taken from An Act of Consecration to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal which we offer as part of our Monday Novenas. We call upon Mary, the Virgo Potens, our most powerful Mother:

O most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior,
Keep us close to you every moment of our lives.
Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death;
so that, in union with you, we may enjoy the bliss of heaven forever.
AMEN.

Thank you, dear friends, for your patronage, and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.


Introduction to a New Series
July 4, 2017

 

 

Welcome, everyone! My name is Fr. Frank Sacks, CM. I presently serve as one of the Associate Directors at the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal. Allow me to introduce you to our new series; it’s entitled Miraculous Medal Shrine Reflections (or the shorter version: Shrine Reflections). In the weeks ahead, we’ll share the beauty of our Miraculous Medal Shrine, as well as additional images in our larger Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception was dedicated in 1875; originally it was built as a chapel for our Vincentian seminary established some years earlier on the same campus as the Chapel. The Bishop at the time asked our Vincentian Community to provide access for the public. Catholics who worshiped here eventually built their own basilica-sized Church nearby. To this day, our building here has retained the title “Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.”

Typical of all our Vincentian churches, there is a side chapel in the eastern transept, and it honors the Holy Agony. This side Chapel focuses here on Mary’s role in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Moving to the right, one sees the large sanctuary dedicated to Our Blessed Lady. The large paintings of the Annunciation, the Immaculate Conception, and the Birth of Christ emphasize Mary’s place in God’s plan of Salvation.

Moving further right past the altar dedicated to St. Vincent de Paul, one sees the more recent Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. This gorgeous Shrine replaced the original Shrine of St. Vincent that was located in the western transept. The Miraculous Medal Chapel was dedicated in 1927, 12 years after the establishment of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.

It is this holy Shrine of Our Blessed Lady that remains the central focus for our devotion to our Lady. Every Monday, we celebrate eight Novena services at the Shrine, including Novena Prayers to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal with Mass, Benediction, and opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Throughout this Miraculous Medal Shrine and the larger Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, there are inspiring frescoes, mosaics, paintings, stained glass windows, marble statues and altars and many other religious artifacts. Most of these in some way give honor to Our Blessed Lady. In the weeks ahead I will be reflecting with you on these images.

Each week, we will examine one of the images. Each will lead to some spiritual reflection concluding with an appropriate prayer of the week. Devotees of the Shrine will be encouraged to email me their own thoughts and prayers. Please keep our Shrine Reflections in your prayers. Thank you for your interest and especially for your devotion to Mary. May you always remain close to Our Blessed Lady.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.