Mother of God

December 31

Eve of the Feast of Mary, Mother of God

Mother benign of our redeeming Lord,
Star of the sea and portal of the skies,
Unto thy fallen people help afford –
Fallen, but striving still anew to rise.
Thou who dids’t once, while wond’ring
worlds adored,
Bear thy Creator, Virgin then as now,
O by thy holy joy at Gabriel’s word,
Pity the sinners who before thee bow.

-Roman Breviary, Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin


For Reflection

Spend some quiet moments with Mary by reflecting on this antiphon. Journal your reflections.

Highest dignity

December 30
“God could make a bigger world or a wider sky, but He could not raise a pure creature higher than Mary, for the dignity of Mother of God is the highest dignity that can be conferred on a creature.”
-St. Bonaventure
For Reflection
Pray the prayer of Consecration to Jesus Through Mary by St. Louis Grignion de Montfort. Jot down any insights, reflections, inspirations that come to you through this prayer. Adopt this prayer as your own for the next year or write your own prayer of consecration to Jesus through Mary. Add this to your list of resolutions for the coming new year.

Ardor in learning

December 29
“The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?”
-St. Ambrose of Milan
For Reflection
What has Mary taught me in the “course” of this past year? What lesson is she “kindling” in me now? What lesson would I like her to teach me in this coming year? I will formulate a request to her and add it to my list of resolutions.

True love of God

December 28

“True love of God consists in adhering perfectly to His holy will, not desiring to do or to be other than what God indicates for each of us, to the point of becoming, as it were, “a living will of God.”

-Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, OCD


For Reflection

How does the Blessed Virgin Mary demonstrate true love of God according to the definition given to us in this quote? How and why is she the icon of “a living will of God?” To what extent am I the same? What one strategy in the coming new year can I employ to help me be more so? Add it to my list of resolutions.

Read the rest…

Blessed in her discipleship

December 27

“The Blessed Mary certainly did the Father’s will and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been His mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood.”

-St. Augustine


For Reflection

Consider this quote in light of Luke 11: 27-28. Write your thoughts and reflections. How did Mary’s discipleship begin at the moment of the Annunciation and continue throughout her life? To what extent does your discipleship mirror hers? Formulate a new year’s resolution to help you grow in this way in the coming year.

The hands that bore our Savior

December 26

Her Feet Shod with Holiness

And, if our faith had given us nothing more
Than this Example, of all Womanhood,
So mild, so merciful, so strong, so good,
So patient, so peaceful, loyal, loving pure –
This were enough to prove it higher and truer
Than all the creeds the world had known before.
Virgin, who lovest the poor and lonely,
If the loud cry of a mother’s heart
Can ever ascend to where thou art,
Into thy blessed hands and holy
Receive my prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
Let the hands that bore our Savior bear it
Into the awful presence of God;
For thy feet with holiness are shod,
And, if thou bearest it, he will hear it.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


For Reflection

What qualities does Longfellow cite that underscore for him why Mary is the “Example of all Womanhood?” How have we seen these virtues expressed in the excerpts from A Woman Wrapped with Silence? Which of these virtues do I most need to acquire? What does the poet admit is the benefit of offering our prayers to Jesus through Mary, His Mother?


Born to you a Saviour

December 25
Tall men were these, the shepherds come from flocks
And wearing sheephides with the dew still wet
Upon the wool…
No further movement
Till the youngest, kneeling still, moved on
From out the rest, and when his eyes had marked
The swaddling bands… and did not shrink at what he saw.
The full words spilled out to her in eagerness
Of quiet flocks, the brightness of the sky…
The music that had sifted
Down, more fragile than the light of stars…
The upswept choirs and surge and flight of wings:
I bring you tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger…Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will.
For Reflection
How swiftly the shepherds respond! How quickly do I respond to the call of God? What causes me to hold back an immediate response? The angels tell the shepherds, “I bring you tiding of great joy…” How can these words encourage me to respond more quickly. Why do you think it is the youngest who tells Mary about what he saw? Think of this in light of Is. 11:6 and Jesus words in Mk 10:14. What thoughts do you have?
(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

Wrapped in swaddling clothes

December 24

A little girl
Had wandered in the night, and now within
The shadows of a broken stall, was waiting,
While the night winds and the breath of time
Were moving over her.

The beat of pulses and the hush of heat
Had made a silence more intent within
Surrounding silence. Deepening of night.
…And then a moment’s fall,
…A sigh, unheard within the dark, and then…

She…wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid
Him in a manger.

She knelt and held Him close against her heart,
And in the midnight, adoration fused
With human love, and was not separate.

And very near, the man named Joseph came.
He was the first
To find her thus, the first of all the world.
And when her faint smile called for him to take
Him for a breathless moment, he was first
To know there is no other blessedness.


For Reflection

What is Mary’s interior response to Jesus? Joseph’s? What is your response to Jesus when you behold Him in the Blessed Sacrament? When you receive Him into your being at Holy Communion? How can you increase your devotion to the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Entrust to Mary, Mother of God, your reception of her Son. Her intercession will yield abundant fruit, the Fruit of her womb.

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

Joseph knew

December 23

There was no room for them within the inn.
And Joseph turned away.
To find again,
A woman wrapped in silence. Had she heard?
No sign appeared, nor stir of tranquil veil
To tell of it.
But Joseph knew. And silence and the glance
That smiled at him could not shut out the need
   For shelter that was yet unsaid. He knew!
And suddenly it rose in him again
What it was he knew, and what was here
Beseeching in the night. An innocence
That had been burnished flawless to return
All brightness, till the Inexhaustible
Had searched for her this last and utter grace
That left no more to give.
…Like blessedness that had not been before…
And he was guardian. Guardian!
Whose task to fear not, but to throw his life
About her as a cloak. To be a strength
Between her and the world’s uncertainties.
To fend, and guard, and break the fall of harsh
He had not thought refusal was a word
Remaining in a language that had held
Her name.
For Reflection
What aspects of these lines strike you most? Consider the relationship between Mary and Jesus. How was/is rejection of her, rejection of Him? What is Joseph’s response to the rejection? How do you see in his response the charisms that mark authentic masculinity – provider, protector, leader? What do you make of the surprise he experiences as expressed in the last three lines? How have you experienced rejection in your life? During this beautiful season, ask St. Joseph’s intercession.

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

No room at the inn

December 22

A little while,
And then the day was slipping down behind
The dark, and clung there, like a crystal drop…
O, was there here some haste
That pushed the light more hurriedly, as if
This were an ending era, and the last
Of days? …
Then suddenly, the road
Was turning, and ahead, some clustered roofs…
He turned,
And called to her: “Mary. It is here.
This is Bethlehem.

So now he pulled the bridle on a path
Well worn, ahead of him.
…A fire and feel that there were others near.
A kind of courtyard, square, but with a roof
Around the edges, and a gate to close…
Joseph’s eyes were hopeful as he stood
To wait an answer. Then he heard them say,
There was no room for them within the inn.


For Reflection

These lines speak of hope and promise, new beginnings and graces. But, they also speak of the Cross. Where and how do you see both? Consider how the Cross is implicit from the moment of Mary’s annunciation to the moment of Golgotha. How is it at the heart of the Christmas story – in its joys and its deprivations? How have your crosses also produced joy? Journal your thoughts. What do you make of the words, “…as if this were an ending era, and the last of days?”

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)