He has cast down the mighty


This magnificent image from Thomas Mainardi was shared on Fr. James Martin’s Instagram feed. It’s one of the most powerful depictions of the Mary I have ever seen. I carry a rosary with me everyday and pray it frequently. Maybe it’s all the heartache and crisis of this year. Maybe it’s because in the middle of this pandemic we had our own Madonna born in August. A beautiful granddaughter born amidst all the tumult and chaos of this year. In all the darkness there has been incredible light

 His mercy is from generation unto generations to them that fear Him.He has showed might in His arm: He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.He has cast down the mighty from their seat, and has exalted the humble.He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.

Ave Maria Gratia Plena Dominus Tecum!

Against all odds

Despite voter intimidation, gerrymandering, voter suppression, lies, threats of violence to voters and officials Joe Biden is President-elect of the United States. Today was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The second Marian Feast in less than a week’s time. You might call December the Month of Mary. How is the opening sentence related to the second sentence? Joe Biden carries a rosary with him everyday and there are reports that in addition to his daily attendance at Eucharist he also prays the rosary. We have that in common in addition to our Catholic faith.

Did Mary have something to do with the outcome of the presidential election? There are some who would scoff at that. Others might say yes. In the past four years I’ve prayed the rosary almost everyday. I usually pray it as I walk but sometimes when I’m riding in the car. Some days when it is too cold to hold the beads in my hands I keep track of the prayers with my gloved hands. I pray the Franciscan Crown Rosary which is seven decades and it’s easiest for me to remember the seven joys of Our Lady.

Today as I sat in an Advent prayer service at Mount Irenaeus I reflected on both the feast day and Mary. The mother of the Messiah was not famous nor powerful. She was lowly and betrothed to Joseph The lowliness of his handmaid is duly noted in the Magnificat.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.

The mighty are pulled from their seats of power. The humble and meek are exalted and are fed while the rich go away empty. The handmaid of the Lord became the Queen of Heaven. Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum.

Feast of the Assumption

Today I rose early for a trip to Erie, PA for another certification test. This one for School Building Leader credentials. I studied the preparation materials and committed some information to memory as best I could using some of the techniques I learned while reading, “Moonwalking with Einstein,” by Joshua Foer. I climbed in the RAV4 while it was still dark and drove the 100 plus miles to Erie. As I drove I thought of the Magnificat.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name. — Magnificat

I thought of Our Lady and the devotion I have for her. I thought of how often she has protected me and guided me with the gentle touch of a mother. Today, I prayed the Magnificat often as I made my way to Erie in the pre-dawn. I believe I did well on the examination today and I have renewed faith in myself and respect for the test creators and for the testing industry in general. Today was a transformational day for me. I’m grateful for tests as they have helped me to learn even though my frustration with the process had reached a fever pitch last week. Thank you to all who may have prayed for me and for an answer to my own prayers. When I finished the examination and made my way to Barnes & Noble near Millcreek Mall for a well deserved cup of coffee and a cookie I thought of the Latin version of the Magnificat and I recited it too in thanksgiving for my good fortune today.

Magnificat: anima mea Dominum.
Et exultavit spiritus meus: in Deo salutari meo.

My soul proclaims

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. That short sentence is the beginning of the Magnificat and it’s what I was listening to this morning as I drove along the country roads leading from my home in Franklinville, New York to the Franciscan Moutain Retreat in West Clarksville. I’ve written often of Mt. Irenaeus and its my home on Sunday morning. I enjoyed the ride and on the way I prayed the Franciscan Crown Rosary and listened later to John Michael Talbot sing the Magnificat.

I was feeling very grateful this morning as I reflected on the goodness of God and his expression in my life. When I came to live in the Southern Tier a bit over thirty years ago, I was a bit down on my luck and for many years I struggled to move elsewhere. There was a restlessness that brought me some emotional discomfort from time to time. In the past ten years and especially since I’ve been a Franciscan coming to weekly to the Mountain as it’s called,  that drive has been eliminated. Today I was reflecting on the goodness of my creator and the beauty of my surroundings. Even though it was raining this morning I felt the presence of the Lord and thought of his many blessings.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
My spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,
According to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

Mountain Madonna

The topic today at our Secular Franciscan meeting was Mary. There was a lot of sharing and discussion among our members. I said that this painting was one of my favorites and Fr. Lou McCormick, OFM our spiritual assistant knew exactly where it was and brought it into our meeting and placed it on the table in front of us. I took this picture after the meeting. I think I’ve written about this painting before, but I find it especially captivating. The picture embodies the way I think of Mary. She was the mother of the Messiah and she is our protector too. She was the ultimate mother. She’s my mother too and my protector too and when I feel troubled as I do sometimes I always turn to her. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of her as a mystic before but I should have. What else could she have been?

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen