Posted by: fvbcdm | May 11, 2012

Feast of Saint Francis Jerome (11 May 2012)

The fact that this is the month of May, dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, reminds me of various prayers that we Catholics have used for centuries in honor of the Mother of God.  I remember one time in particular, I drove with some friends down from the San Francisco Bay area to the charming town of Carmel by the Sea in the vicinity of Monterey, California.  In the old mission church in Carmel is the tomb of Blessed Junipero Serra, the founder of the first Franciscan missions along the coast of California. Then, a few miles south of Carmel there is a monastery of Carmelite nuns that we visited and where we heard the nuns chant the Divine Office.  

As I was sitting in that impressive chapel listening to the Latin prayers being sung, I noticed above the altar an inscription in Latin which I began to translate for myself even though my Latin classes in high school had ended about seven years before that.  When I had it all sorted out, I discovered that it was a prayer to Our Lady which says this: “Remember, Virgin Mother of God, when you stand before the face of the Lord, that you say good things about us so that he will turn his displeasure away from us.”  It’s a lovely, naive, childlike prayer; you get the impression that a small child is talking to his or her mother and expecting the mother to protect the child from the parental displeasure of the father.  You can almost envision the little tyke standing behind his or her mother, hiding behind her skirt and feeling more secure when protected by her gentleness that softens the justice of the father who has been offended by a forbidden raid upon the cookie jar or muddy footprints in the house.


This kind of naivete is also to be found in an old painting I’ve seen of the Archangel Michael holding a balance in his hand.  In one of the pans of the balance there is a human being kneeling, looking very frightened because in the other pan there are his sins all arranged in bales and looking very heavy indeed.  But above the pan with the frightened sinner, Our Lady sits in heaven, allowing to fall into the pan her Rosary which is proportionately very large and heavier-looking than the packages of sins on the other side of the balance.  


When we say to her “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death,” we are really saying, help me in my hour of judgment, my hour when I will need all the help I can get. Your Divine Son Jesus died for my salvation, but having done that, he expects virtue from us.  And we have not always been virtuous and grateful for our salvation.  So, blessed Mother, be a mother to me.  Be a mother of mercy, not of justice.  I am counting on you, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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