Joyous solemnity

It’s a high feast day, a solemnity. It’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

It’s a very big feast and a happy great day. I’m happy for it! I love Mary and I love this feast. So, don’t forget your Blessed Mother today, she’s a gift to us all. I’m so grateful.


God gave her his help from the dawning of her days; the Most High has made his dwelling place a holy temple

Immaculate…what a concept


Saint Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary
Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse
 Oh, it’s a big feast today!  It’s one of those feasts: an uber Catholic one. It’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. It’s actually a Solemnity, which means it has even more import…so it’s a biggie!

 This is one of the big Marian feasts, and one that often gives many folks some consternation (from a scratch on the head to fits).  For a good explanation of it all, go here (and scroll down for all those, “What’s up with that” “How can that be?” kind of responses).  I can’t give you a great theological treatise on it.  It took brilliant theologians from the east and west to determine this one over the centuries, but they did because we are human. And our inquiring minds want to know, and puzzle and ponder.  So those who have gone before us prayed and debated and concluded.  I can say that it only makes sense to my puny brain.

Pierro de Cosimo, “The Immaculate Conception and Six Saints”
For a long time, I thought that the “immaculate conception”referred to Mary’s conception of Jesus, you know, with the descent of the Holy Spirit and Gabriel and all…clean, tidy, right?
But noit’s actually about Mary and her being preserved from the stain of original sin.
Confusing, a little, huh?
Well, this is how it parses out in my old mom brain: God himself is all love and of course, without sin.  God came to us in his son, Christ, who was also without sin (being God and all).  Since all purity and all love cannot coexist with the stain of sin, how could Christ come to us as a man, without first having a pure ‘vessel’, if you will?  Well, he couldn’t, that would not correspond with the natural/divine order.  Growing in utero is, utterly, coexisting.  So, if God cannot coexist with sin, then a human mom to be would have to be found, sinless.  And thus, since God is beyond time, he prepared Mary, {from her conception of course}, to be without sin.  Because God knew, outside of time, that Mary would be the perfect (literally and figuratively) mom for Jesus.

Now, I think that’s cool!  It makes perfect sense to me and really is one of those ‘clap your hands, I get it” kind of moments.  Yeah, it’s uber Catholic.  But hey, I love being Catholic because (well, so many reasons) its cool and rich and takes my breath away.  And of course,  I love feasts….so it’s a good day!

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

**Disclaimer: yes, you saw most of this last  year.  But it’s advent and I need to be frugal w/ my net time.  So instead of wracking my puny brain to find another way to say this. I’m gonna go with what I said.  Because I meant it then and still do. Thanks for understanding…

ALL saints day!

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints!

All Saints Day, Wassily Kandinsky 1911

That means that today is a big, big feast day! I know, we call it a “solemnity” even though it’s one of the biggie high feast days.  You might think we’d call it the “big bash feast day” or the “fabulous feast” or something.  But, in her wisdom, the Church knows that we all love a good feast/party quite well enough and that we need to also recall the fullness of the reasons for any given feast that’s big enough to be called a solemnity.  She’s always teachin’…our Church.  But, even though the word “solemnity” makes you think we are all serious and gravely solemn, it’s not really all about that.  It’s more about the SCOPE of the feast.  It’s a way to label a feast as really big, deep, wide, broad…FULL.  So, how does all that carrying on apply to a feast of the saints?  I mean, the saints: ya da ya da…we talk about them ALL the time, right? Well, you know I do!

But today is the day we get to remember the full spectrum of the saints! Not only the rock star saints and the celebrities and the poster boy or gal saints.  Today we remember that there are a legion of saints enjoying the Beatific Vision that are not on any rosters, except the rosters of our own little families and our individual hearts or forgotten history.  Meaning, all those little folks who lived saintly holy lives, way back when and even now in our modern era…but didn’t do anything in particular to be recognized, to be noticed…well, today is their big day.

Today is the day we can look to those quiet or ‘regular’ lives of holiness and know that they count; even if they actually, at their own time, flew under that radar.  So, for the Joe’s and the Janes, the Ida’s, the Elizabeths, the Tomas’, the Abe’s, the Godada’s, the Guday’s,  Vladimir’s, Ezra’s, William’s, Belaynesh’s, Judit’s, Amelia’s, Francois’, Helen’s, Lida’s, Lavida’s, Oliver’s, Orville’s, Paulos’, Myng Joo’s, Sylvia’s, Gustav’s, Constantin’s, Violet’s….well, you get the idea.  For all those names that we can’t really know over the centuries – today is the day we recall that they too, these ones we don’t know, yet, are enjoying eternity and are part of the “communion of saints.” They too, are cheering us on in our little mundane regular lives; praying for us even.  Because they know, certainly more than the rest of us, that these little lives count….despite or perhaps because of their small quiet ripples.  So, this feast day is for the little guys.  Ok, for the bigs too.  But, that’s why it’s a solemnity – it’s for all of them, and thus, for all of us.

All Saints Day 1, Wassily Kandinsky 1911

How cool is that?

I love the communion of saints! I love the liturgical year!

{And, if you’re feeling like really marking this feast, here is the Litany of the Saints…

and for those of you who want to know more,  here is a good explanation of this prayer.}

Happy All Saints Day!

>Assumptions on the Assumption


Mary’s house in Ephesus, where she is believed to have lived out her days.
It’s the feast of the Assumption of Mary!

I know, another uber Catholic post and event. Still, fascinating and cool for us and if you want to know more, go read here. I love this one!

It’s also a big Ethiopian Feast: Ethiopian Orthodox celebrate this feast in a big way and it is called “Filsata Mariam” – and Marta grinned with excitement when told what today is. So it’s a big deal even in the the other ancient Christian faith traditions.

That said, however, this is one of those Marian Catholic things that makes some folks a bit nuts. But really, it all makes sense. It is traced back to the apostles themselves:

At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that “Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.”
In the eighth century, St. John Damascene was known for giving sermons at the holy places in Jerusalem. At the Tomb of Mary, he expressed the belief of the Church on the meaning of the feast: “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . . You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth.” from Catholic

Again, it makes sense to me and to me, it’s beautiful.

“The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God’s crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.” From Catholic

When I think of and meditate on this mystery, this feast, I always can’t help but think of Mary and her close relationship to her Son. A love from two pure souls, not smudged up by selfish hurts or striving, pure true love.

And, because it’s always about me, I think of me and my sons. I am about to take my second son up to school, to move him out of the house. My eldest has already moved back up, he left last Sunday.  And I am already starting to leak tears here and there. And it will make me cry when we have to begin our drive home again, without him. I will try not to sob (not in front of him on campus, ok? Not cool.). But I will grieve him going. I will be very happy for him to be there, but it makes me cry to let him go. The house will echo without them here.

And then, I remember, when they come back on break or I go to visit them, the electric JOY that makes the world light up and a grin break across my face and dance to my feet. And that, that feeling, that reunion is what I think about, finally, every time, on this day.

My Jon
My Chris

Because no matter how old the mom is or how old the son(s)…..that feeling surely cannot change, it hasn’t yet.

The sheer undiluted JOY that must be had at THIS reunion – when Mary is lifted to heaven, after being physically separated for so long from her only dearest Son, and His for her. Think of that glee, those grins…I don’t imagine a static statue of elegant repose and small appropriate smile on their faces. I hear and see whoops of laughter and hugs and glee and tears and grins and kisses. The best reunion of all. Glorious.

So, does the Assumption make sense? Oh yeah, to a mom, I think it makes Perfect sense. And it is a happy glorious feast!

painting by Botticini
{official busy disclaimer; much borrowed from years past, but not all…mom to eight, ’nuff said}

>Sacred Hearts

> You know, I always get a little chuckle out of the biker tattoos and punk or rockabilly co-opting of the Sacred Heart image.  Some might well gasp in shock or tsk tsk…but really, I think it’s kind of a flipped, inside joke.

I mean, I know it’s supposed to be, in many tho maybe not all cases,  radical and all… and a way of thumbing their punk biker noses at organized religion or God or whatever.  But to me, it’s a little joke on them.  Because I really am  not sure  you can walk around wearing a Sacred Heart image without it somehow, in teeny tiny ways, rubbing off on you.  God’s funny like that.  He’s got a great sense of humor….look at my family, look at me!  Jesus, I would guess, is fine with a biker having a tattoo of His sacred heart…at least He’s there, right? Isn’t it a little bit like a small boy writing “Mama” on  his arm with a sharpie and then going in and being a out of control little rebel?  It’s that natural conflict that we all have.  These tough punkers or bikers seem to be much the same.  Can you say “arrested development?”  I can.  {Ok, now I am sure a fleet of rough tough bikers will want to come rumbling through my yard….please.  Have a sense of humor, life is short!}

And really, even punk   hipster mamas can carry their babes in these “rockabilly punk slings”, see just below…I’m not even sure what to make of that!  Good or no? Hmmmm, good, really….but too few really understand so the public at large will think you’ve gone punk if  you cart your kiddo around in this.  But the really hardcore Catholics might give you a big high five!  What’s a mom to do??  Ha! And speaking of moms…tomorrow we could, maybe, look at some fun co-opts of pop culture and Mary, talk about conflicted children! Folks can’t stop splashing her around…but she’s cool, or, as the youngsters say, “chill” (they say that right?), because we old moms know that just like with celebs, any publicity is good publicity.  (To a degree…there IS blasphemy and sacrilege, but this is a happy post so we won’t go there this time.)

Anyhow, today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June is the month of the Sacred Heart. {I lifted this part of this post, shamelessly, from a prior post on this solemnity, because of the travel thing, so cut me some slack ok!? Thanks!}  This is an old devotion, a private devotion and one that helps any day, every, day be more mindful. Read all about it here. It helps transform our mundane regular daily grind into something bigger than ourselves – and instead offers our mere efforts to Christ as a way of showing we love Him, despite ourselves and our habitual selfish nature. And it’s not just this month, it can be done year ’round, of course.

When I make this offering in the morning, somehow it helps my days. It doesn’t make them smoother, it doesn’t make them all jolly…but it makes even those “terrible horrible no good very bad days” into something more. It’s a comfort. Oddly, I am often more out of sorts when I forget this prayer to start the day. It’s like resting my head on His chest for a moment before I hop on the whirlwind of the day and try to lasso it.

So, yeah, it’s another Catholic post. It’s an uber Catholic post, really. Meaning, it’s one that might seem strange to those not familiar with it all (though I don’t mind explaining or questions either, I can take it!). It’s one of those old Catholic devotions, but it’s a goody. And if any of you are having days that are way stressed or out of sorts, I’d suggest giving it a go if you wonder… because really, what’s the risk? A little comfort? A little extra grace in the day? What’s not to like about that?

 Odilon Redon, The Sacred Heart
Heck, maybe you’ll want to get a radical tattoo…but because devotion to the heart of Jesus IS so cool, AND so radical, that you’d be hip to be square!  Who knew?