Lansing, January 14, 2022
Feast of Saint Felix of Nola
Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord,
Welcome to Week Two of Disciples Together on the Way Challenge. How did you get on over the past seven days praising God and praising others? Well, I hope. If not, just pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and start all over again. The hallmark of the saints, after all, is that they never gave up!
This week we continue with the theme of praise, the form of prayer which “embraces all other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal” which is Almighty God. In the Fall of 1965, I entered Sacred Heart Seminary High School in Detroit. I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed my years at seminary. Sacred Heart in those days was a place of great learning and piety, of course, but also of great fun and friendships, many which persist to this day. One of the most enduring legacies of my years at seminary is this: praying Lauds (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer).
In those years at the seminary, the Church was going through many changes and, as a result, we did not have use of the current four volumes of the Liturgy of the Hours. So, our daily morning and evening prayer was a bit haphazard. Still, we prayed the Psalms and, at morning prayer, we prayed the Benedictus of St. Simeon. At evening prayer, we prayed the Magnificat also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary.
The text is taken the Gospel of Luke’s account of an expectant Mary’s visitation to her similarly pregnant cousin Elizabeth. In the canticle’s first three verses, Mary proclaims to her kinswoman:
“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.” (Luke 1:46-49)
What a beautiful hymn of praise to God. Mary recognizes she is lowly. So are we! And yet, through her perfect co-operation with God’s grace she will become loved and lauded until the end of time. There is the lesson for us. In praising God, we reflect, we magnify, we radiate, we share in the God’s great plan for his universe and all creation – you and I included. There lies the path to happiness as well as to Heaven. The popular 20th century evangelist, Bishop Fulton Sheen, liked to compare the radiance of Mary to the reflective light of the moon. He writes:
“God, who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. All its light is reflected from the sun. [Thus] the Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him, she is nothing. With Him, she is the Mother of Men.” As with Mary, so too with us.
Hence, my challenge this week: I want each of us to recite the Magnificat every evening for the next seven days, starting Sunday. Ave Maria!
See you next week as we continue our pilgrimage as Disciples Together on the Way. Until then, may God bless you throughout this coming week, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing