A short essay for my Mariology course to reflect upon one proclamation of the Litany of Loreto:
Mary! Mary! The delight, the consolation this holy name brings to the hearts of her children is enough to fill the course of the spiritual life. In recent years, I have discovered that memories and gratitude are two pillars of prayer which lead to holiness of life. It is good to recount the graces Our Lord has given me. And I don’t do this enough.
A lot of things can be fixed by harvesting gratitude. So often I have little frustrations, annoyances, impatient moments with those whom I love, grudges, and judgments. These are a waste of my time. I lose sight of the gifts I have been given from our Gracious Lord, and those given through Our Lady. And I disrupt my peace of soul by worrying about petty things.
I have been reminded of so many memories filled with graces, especially those of charity and counsel. Graces which have formed who I am today and my desire for holiness. For these, incomprehensible to my understanding they may have been and might continue to be, I must always have gratitude. These memories taught me something in a deeper way than I had previously considered. It was that I can’t hold onto memories or desire to control my circumstances as a way to preserve these memories, wanting them never to change, wanting them to remain familiar.
This is something that I have been thinking about for quite some time. How true it is that I don’t know what tomorrow brings, or even what today will bring. What I do know is that I have been given the grace to rise this morning, to love and to serve our Lord, in whatever may come.
This isn’t to say, I can’t cherish my memories or have a fondness for them. In fact, I should use them to spur on my charity, especially in praying for the sanctity of those who are so dear to me, this affinity is a good thing. The joys of friendship, those truly rooted in charity, are just a little taste of blessedness in Heaven. And so I relate a story with a friend in Venice.
I recall my first trip to Venice to visit a priest friend. I did not know what to expect after I heard so many people say Venice is another world. I spent the first day sweating the five liters of water I had drunk. And finally was able to take in more of the beauty of this city on water as the sun set and reflected off the facades of the basilicas and the palaces.
My priest friend took me to St. Mark’s Basilica on Sunday afternoon. I was expecting enormous crowds and for the visit to seem like a visit to a museum. We arrived, however, when the Basilica was closed to tourists, and somehow we were able to enter to pray. I didn’t want to seem too eager, or like a tourist, so I stayed by the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and where the Icon of Our Lady is kept. I wasn’t worried about time and so I wouldn’t be able to say how long we remained in the basilica, but we stayed for Vespers. Following Vespers on Sunday evening, there is Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament and a procession with the canons of the basilica.
Having lived in Rome for some years now, I’ve learned to appreciate the assertive nature of Italians in forming processions or attempting to enter holy sites. I’ve learned well, and I was right behind the priest in cope after he left the sanctuary. Again, in not having seen the entire basilica before this procession, I was overtaken with the greatest delight and peace. Being summer, rays of light were still coming in and illuminating the mosaics. The smoke of the incense billowed in the air scattering the light and lifting our prayers to the Blessed Virgin as we sung the Litany of Loreto. The chant, previously unfamiliar to me, was in the Venetian tone. It is a tone symbolizing prayer, for it is an ascending cadence as you make the exclamations to Our Lady. I knew that Our Lady was lifting, is always willing to lift, my prayers to Our Lord. The procession was less than ten minutes, but throughout I had the sense that such a moment could go on forever. I have this same sense at times when I am serving the Holy Mass. The end of the procession was at the ‘Icon of the Blessed Virgin not written by human hands,’ where we all knelt and continued singing the Litany. We had arrived at the place we were meant to be.
Besides being a living reality, it seems that my spiritual life rests in these moments of peace. It’s these moments which are able to be carried over into the dull moments of mental prayer or into the frustrations of life, as to increase my charity.
I haven’t been clear in my statement of choice, but its the first acclamation of ‘Sancta Maria’ which means so much to me. It is a prayer in which I don’t have to think too much, or over-analyze. The Name contains all hope, all perfect fear, all love. Our Lady has seemingly been the only constant in my spiritual life, or rather the only constant amidst the circumstances that have come to comprise this daily journey over the course of years. In joys, in sorrows, in difficulties, and in all my hopes, only one Name is upon my lips, Mary, for I know she will always lead me Jesus, right where I am meant to be.
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