And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God, my savior."
Mary's response (the Gospel) based upon Hannah's prayer (Responsorial Psalm) can be our prayer today. Our anticipation of the coming of our Lord into our hearts grows as we praise God for coming to us in our lowliness.
†"The sacred heart of Christ is an inexhaustible fountain, and its sole desire is to pour itself out into the hearts of the humble so as to free them and prepare them to lead lives according to his good pleasure." — St. Margaret Mary
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"Charity is a noble virtue, superior to all other virtues, knowledge, and gifts. Charity embraces God, unites angels to men, and transforms the sons of men into sons of God and friends of the saints. It was charity that made Christ be born of a virgin and be crucified for our salvation. Charity cleanses the soul from sin and draws it to love God with one's whole heart, mind, and soul; it also inflames it and fills it with a marvelous sweetness. Charity justifies sinners, makes slaves into free men, enemies into friends, foreigners into fellow citizens, strangers into acquaintances, and wanderers into settlers; the proud become humble, the stubborn meek, the lukewarm fervent, the sad happy, the stingy generous, the worldly heavenly, and the unlearned wise. All this comes about through charity, which is poured into the hearts of the faithful by the Holy Spirit and given them from heaven." — Thomas à Kempis, p. 57 AN EXCERPT FROM Bountiful Goodness
Blessed Jacopone da Todi
Saint of the Day for December 22 (c. 1230 – December 25, 1306)
Blessed Jacopone da Todi's Story
Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna.
His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life.
He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order. Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him.
After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor. Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile, he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular.
Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine's successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, Stabat Mater.
On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the "Gloria" from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint. Reflection
His contemporaries called Jacopone, "Crazy Jim." We might well echo their taunt, for what else can you say about a man who broke into song in the midst of all his troubles? We still sing Jacopone's saddest song, the Stabat Mater, but we Christians claim another song as our own, even when the daily headlines resound with discordant notes. Jacopone's whole life rang our song out: "Alleluia!" May he inspire us to keep singing.
As I begin this prayer, God is here. Around me, in my sensations, in my thoughts and deep within me. I pause for a moment, and become aware of God's life-giving presence.
Your death on the cross has set me free. I can live joyously and freely without fear of death. Your mercy knows no bounds.
To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me. To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me. The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.
In those days, Hannah brought Samuel with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh. After the boy's father had sacrificed the young bull, Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said: "Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD." She left Samuel there.
Responsorial Psalm 1 Sm 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd R. (see 1a) My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior. "My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory."
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior. "The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength. The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil. The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes."
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior. "The LORD puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again. The LORD makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts."
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior. "He raises the needy from the dust; from the dung heap he lifts up the poor, To seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage."
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:46-56
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever."
Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Although Mary is giving thanks for the honour accorded her, this is a self-effacing prayer: it is a hymn of praise for everything the Lord has done for his people – the people as a whole (descendants of Abraham), as well as anyone anywhere who truly reveres [fears] God. There is joy and exultation which the angels around Bethlehem will also give voice to, at the coming of salvation.
▪ At so many points in their history, the people of Israel were tiny in the face of menacing enemies. And at the very coming of Jesus they seemed to be at the mercy of the occupying Romans. So we have the tradition of the Lord stepping in to vindicate or champion his people.
▪ This note will often be struck in the preaching of Jesus - the humble will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled. And there are 'beatitudes' praising persons whose lot in this world is hardship.
▪ The whole of history – who is victorious, who is downtrodden, is in the Lord's hands.
Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels. May I respond to your call today. Teach me to recognise your hand at work in my daily living.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
I, in turn, give him to the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:28)
In a moment of intense mental anguish, Scottish pastor George Matheson was inspired to write the hymn "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go." The song is a prayer about being sought by God, belonging to God, and dedicating one's life to God. "I give thee back the life I owe," Matheson prays.
This hymn sounds like a prayer that Elkanah and Hannah, the parents of Samuel, might have prayed. "Thank you, Lord, for having answered our prayers! In love and gratitude, we now dedicate our son to your service." Samuel was clearly a gift from God. For Hannah, a once barren woman, he was a sign of God's generosity and favor—a generosity that moved her to be just as generous in return.
When we receive a gift, we can respond in different ways. We can say, "Thank you" and move on. We can run out and buy a gift for the one who gave it to us. Or we can put the gift to good use. But what about consecrating the gift? What about using it in a way that serves and glorifies God? We consecrate sacred objects like candles or rosaries, so why not consecrate other things too?
Why would we want to do this? Because we're grateful for all that God has done for us and all that he has given us. Because his love for us moves us to love him in return.
Think about something that you consider yours. It may be your car, a special talent, or your level of education. Now imagine dedicating it to God, even to the point of allowing him to take it away from you. It's a difficult concept, but it can help us discern when we may be trying to possess something instead of offering it to the Lord.
God gives us gifts because he loves us and wants to give us real, tangible evidence of that love. Let that thought sink in for a moment. God. Loves. You. He always has, and he always will. Take this truth with you throughout the day, and let it move you to imitate Samuel's parents, by consecrating your gifts and talents to him.
"Father, with a grateful heart, I consecrate everything you have given me. May these gifts bring you glory and turn others' hearts toward you."
Today we heard Hannah say "Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD." What's interesting about Hannah and Samuel? Hannah was crying one day, in the temple, whispering quietly her prayers for a baby, to not be disgraced any longer, to be in God's favor, as was the thought of the day...and Eli was there and yapped at her "Stop your yapping...are you drunk?" he asked her. She replied, trying not to cry "Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation." She said, "Let your maidservant find favor in your sight." Eli said for God to grant her petitions and be in her favor. And she was favored, and the entire point is the offering...she returns after weaning him, to offer her only son to God...her life as well. Gratitude, and Eucharist means thanksgiving.
We prayed today "My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory." Yet, my victory is God. Because it is through Him that victory is victorious. Therefore, this is the reason for joy, to exult in the Lord, my horn is my life testimony, and the testimony in Jesus is a testimony in victory, over sin...and death. We exult, and I exalt thee. I sing this sometimes during Holy Communion, I exalt thee, and it moves the song and one's soul to blast the horn of praise and victory in a battlefield of life.
In the Holy Gospel we heard a most beautiful prayer, the praise of Mary, the mother of God. Not that she created God, but that she mothered the most powerful being...the creator of life Himself! ""My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior." When John Michael Talbot sings "Holy is His Name", the song begins with these very words of our Mother, what we know as the Magnificat, My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord". I wanted to give our Mother a beautiful flower the other day, and it came to be known that a most sacrificial and heartfelt prayer would suffice...authentic, not fake flower.
"..for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed" and as Catholics we pray constantly "blessed are you among women...and blessed is the fruity of thy womb...JESUS". She was simply saying the truth, because the truth was in her...about 3 months already in her womb...JESUS. "He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation." Another truth proclaimed from her holy lips, "He has mercy on those who fear Him". Do you fear God? Be careful how you answer this question, because it is one of many dimensions. Do you hold Him in highest esteem? Do you love Him? Do you do as He says? Are you not found in awe and wonder of Him? Mary was, and Mary is. Found in awe, found in His favor...His light. His look is light. The Lord loves a giver. She gives. She spends months with her cousin to help her. She gives her life to God..and ultimately gives her only Son, her life...Jesus. Today, many people don't see giving to God as a good. They will not offer their son or daughter to God. They will not take him or her to Heaven's gate. We raise kids as savages, and then wonder why the world is corrupt, and point fingers. I remember I was hurt by an adult one time, because they were my neighbors, his sons were my friends, and he, for who knows what reason, didn't like them hanging out with me anymore. That hurt. He didn't want them getting into drugs and thought I was a bad influence. I have never touched drugs in my life. That hurt even more. His sons eventually got into drugs and one by one, as they grew drifted away from Church, one vowing to be an atheist later on. That hurts too. Pointing fingers like a terrorist does, blaming the world, when it is in your world you must be the agent of change for the good. Mary became the vessel of hope, of truth, and of light, the ark that held the promises near and dear to her precious and most sacred heart.
Things should be striking at home now. The world then, is in God's hands, but His hands on earth are yours. Will people ever see God? Will we?
Will I be the bible? Will I be Jesus to the world? Will I offer my life to the world? Will I seek the lost, the poor, the lowly? God did....when He found Mary And now He is looking...at hearts