Thursday, November 20, 2014

Take the Scroll

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

By Melanie Rigney

I, John, heard a voice from heaven speak to me. Then the voice spoke to me and said: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll. He said to me, “Take and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.” I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it. In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then someone said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” (Revelation 10:8-11)

How sweet to my taste is your promise! (Psalms 119:103a)

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:45-46)

Lord, grant me the faith to be obedient to you, in suffering and in joy.

Today, I finish up a Marian consecration exercise, courtesy of Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC’s 33 Days to Morning Glory. The readings have been short, couple of pages most days, with wisdom from Sts. Louis de Montfort, Maximilian Kolbe, and John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. While you can start the “retreat” any time you like, Father Gaitley recommends beginning so that you conclude on one of seventeen Marian feast days. I went with this one because a friend gave me the book in late September. Coincidentally, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the days I knew the least about.

Mary and I have become closer in the past two or three years, and I’ve grown to greatly admire her “yes” to God; her Magnificat; her presence on her son’s walk to Calvary; and all that pondering in her heart of all that was going on. But I’d never really considered her as a child. That facet of her life doesn’t appear in the New Testament. Legend and tradition tell us she was born to the aged, childless Joachim and Anne, and that she was taken to the temple when she was three or so, perhaps remaining to study until she was twelve. There are reports that both her parents died while she was there.

Today’s first reading from Revelation tells us of a small scroll that tastes sweet in the narrator’s mouth, then sour in his stomach, sweet because it told of God’s people’s victories, sour because it also told of the people’s sufferings. In some ways, Mary’s life was a series of sweet and sour: her intelligence and opportunity to learn at the temple at the same time she might have been mourning her parents’ deaths. Her yes to being the Mother of God while sitting with Joseph’s initial concerns. Hearing Simeon’s words that her son was the Christ but that both would suffer greatly. Her message to the servants at Cana of obedience, and then demonstrating that same obedience by being present as Jesus carried his cross.

How to take in the profundity of Mary? How to consecrate ourselves to her, and through her, to the Lord? I find wisdom in a passage from Maximilian Kolbe in 33 Days:

I don’t know anything, either in theory and still less in practice, about how one can serve the Immaculata … She alone must instruct each one of us at every moment, (and) lead us…

Spend some time with Mary today talking about a slice of her life that resonates with you as we prepare for Advent.

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