Category Archives: Mary Garden

Mary’s Visits

Our Lady of Lourdes Statue, Lourdes, France

Today’s Feast of Mary’s Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth points to more than the single visit recalled in the Gospel of Luke. In this mystery Mary promises “all generations” the blessing of her presence. Each generation knows her; occasionally over the years she visits some in apparitions. 

Three prominent apparitions of Mary have occurred in the last 500 years resulting in major Marian shrines –in Lourdes, Fatima and Mexico City. In 1858 Mary appeared to 14 year old Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes in France as she was gathering firewood. In 1917 Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima in Portugal. In 1531, she appeared to the Mexican peasant Juan Diego on a hillside outside of Mexico City. These are major pilgrimage sites today. Three liturgical feasts in our church calendar honor these apparitions.

The depictions of Mary in art follow closely, if not perfectly, the accounts the visionaries gave of the apparitions. Mary, arms folded in prayer, prays for her children on earth and she encourages them to pray with her.  

The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes made by Fabisch in 1864 and placed in the grotto at Lourdes in France (above) is a model for the many statues of Our Lady of Lourdes in churches and shrines throughout the world. We have one in our Lourdes Grotto in Jamaica, NY. (below)

Various images of Our Lady of Fatima exist; we have one in our monastery chapel.(above) Her bright white garments witness to the glory the visionaries saw surrounding her. She brings the glory of heaven to brighten the earth, as Jesus did at his transfiguration. “And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.” (Mark 9:2-3)

Images of Our Lady of Guadalupe show her in the native dress of the time; she identifies with the native peoples then under colonial subjugation.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Contemporaries of Bernadette and the children of Fatima faced trials of another kind than the native peoples of Mexico. Secularizing governments promoted unbelief in society and wars were increasing in number and intensity. Mary’s appearances were not only the occasion of physical cures and healing. To ordinary people then and afterwards Mary’s appearances brought reassurance and renewed faith in the promise of God’s glorious power and presence. Their faith was real.

In his letter Laudato si’ Pope Francis calls upon Mary to visit us today as we struggle to care for the earth we have neglected. I like this image of Mary, holding in one hand Planet Earth and in the other her Son, Jesus Christ, who holds the Book of his life-giving Wisdom. “We can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom,” the pope says. May she hold in her hand our wounded world.

Christ the Mystic Vine

Mary Garden, Jamaica, New York

John 15:1-8

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

On this feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a beautiful hymn to Our Lady written by a Passionist, Fr. Justin Mulcahy, C.P. (1894-1981) is most fitting. In the third line, we are invited to contemplate the mystery of Christ the Mystic Vine, whose sacred humanity sprung from Mary the Root. 

Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the Gate, Christ the Heav’nly Way!
Mary the Root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the Grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the Wheat-sheaf, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the Rose-Tree, Christ the Rose Blood-red!
Mary the Font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the Chalice, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the Temple, Christ the Temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the Beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the Mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the Mother, Christ the Mother’s Son.
Both ever blest while endless ages run.
Amen.

Totus Tuus, Maria!

“The Virgin has given birth to the Savior (4 panels)”
From the Liturgy of the Hours, January 1, Morning Prayer, Antiphon 1
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Totus Tuus (“totally yours” or “all yours”) was the personal and episcopal motto of St. John Paul II. The motto is inspired by the teaching of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort who wrote:

Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt...

I am all yours, and all that I have is yours, O most loving Jesus, through Mary, your most holy Mother.

Treatise on True Devotion, n. 233

A Garden Enclosed, a Fountain Sealed

Mary Garden at the Passionist Monastery in Jamaica, New York (Photo by GMC)

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; 1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22 

In the enclosed garden of Eden, a river branched out to the four corners of the earth, enlivening and nourishing all creatures (Genesis 2:10-14).

The universe (from Latin uni + versum = turned towards unity) was a fountain sealed in oneness, void of rupture, opening or closing. The virgin universe and Adam in whom God dwelt as in a temple mirrored one another as a fountain sealed in oneness.

When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree, the floodgate of the mind burst open and the knowledge of good and evil was conceived. Oneness of spirit, soul and body disintegrated and the inner light darkened to the cravings of the five senses and logic run amok.

The gate of Eden burst open and shut, expelling Adam to grope his way in the dis-universe torn asunder (Genesis 3:24). The cherubim and a fiery revolving sword guarded the way to the tree of life east of the garden. Adam and Eve became wanderers in the arid desert of death.

The prophet Ezekiel found himself outside the locked gate of Eden in a divine vision:

Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary facing east, but it was closed. The Lord said to me: This gate must remain closed; it must not be opened, and no one should come through it. Because the Lord, the God of Israel, came through it, it must remain closed. Only the prince may sit in it to eat a meal in the presence of the Lord; he must enter through the vestibule of the gate and leave the same way (Ezekiel 44:1-3).

The new cosmic temple, new Adam and new Eve are prophesied in Ezekiel’s vision. Mary ever-Virgin is the new Eden facing east, the new temple of the Holy Spirit, and the new earth. 

The Fathers of the Church saw the Incarnate Son of God in the prince who entered the sanctuary through the locked gates of the Virgin and exited without breaking the seal. Mary’s perpetual virginity is a truth of the faith held by the Church East and West for two millennia. 

Ezekiel also beheld the rivers of Eden:

The angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing out from  beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the façade of the temple was toward the east… As I was returning, I saw along the bank of the river a great many trees on each side. He said to me, “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:1, 7-9, 12).

Mary ever-Virgin, Mother and Bride is the enclosed garden of Eden without rupture or opening, an icon of the Virgin Father in whom the Son is eternally begotten and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds.

“The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

Mary ever-Virgin is the city of God, the new Jerusalem:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will look upon his face,and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 21:1-2, 22:1-5).

Centuries before the virgin birth of Christ, the psalmist rejoiced over the fountain of life-giving water in the city of God: 

There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn (Psalm 46:5-6).

The temple of the first Adam and the old Jerusalem mirrored one another by their death and destruction, but the temple of the second Adam and the new Jerusalem rose to immortality:

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken (John 2:19-22).

The temple of Christ’s Body, born of the Virgin Mary, is organic and growing virgin persons born of the Father’s Womb:

Brothers and sisters: You are God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy (1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17).

Every celebration of the Church is also a celebration of Mary, the new heavens and new earth, and the garden of paradise, our eternal home:

A garden enclosed, my sister, my bride,
a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed! (Song of Songs 4:12)

-GMC

Of Gates and Pearls

Gate of the Mary Garden at the Passionist Monastery in Jamaica, NY

12th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday (Year II)

Matthew 7:6, 12-14

Ever since the gates of Eden closed, the children of Adam have been searching for the tree of life from every corner of the earth. The world was not abandoned to utter darkness, however; the “true light that enlightens every man… was in the world,” though dimly (John 1:9-10). Whatever is true, good and beautiful in every pre-Christian philosophy was a glimpse of that Light shining in the darkness. The intricate design of micro and macro galaxies in the universe sing the praises of the Creator.

The Light shines as through a peephole in a vast, dark room… the “narrow gate” of which Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount. Even after the Light “came to his own home… his own people received him not” (John 1:11). Few find the Cross palatable.

The ego-destroying seed of the Cross does not germinate easily. Sometimes scattered seeds are devoured immediately by birds. Other times, they fall on rocky or thorny soil and have difficulty taking root (Matthew 13:4-7). Jesus warned the disciples to discern the time, place, and condition of hearts before throwing their pearls lest they are trampled underfoot.

Between these two teachings about the narrow gate and the pearls, Jesus inserted the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.” He who embodied the law of love perfectly, who was the narrow gate and the pearl, was finally trampled but not defeated. His life is our pattern: if we die with Christ, we will also live with him (Romans 6:8).

Mary, the Theotokos, wants to lead us safely by the hand through the narrow gate. She is our Mother.

-GMC

Pray for us to God, O Queen of Heaven!

Photo art by Fr. Victor Hoagland, C.P. and Gloria M. Chang

The Regina Caeli is a 12th century antiphon in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary that is prayed during the Easter season in place of the Angelus. A legend records that during a pestilence in Rome, while the Regina Caeli was being prayed in procession with her image, angels were heard singing along and an end was put to the plague. Let us pray to our Queen with the angels to end the COVID-19 pandemic.