"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: New Eve (DAY 25)

Holy Family by Bartolomeo Schedoni

Today is Day 25 of the whole community retreat in light of the lockdown.

Point Of Departure:
I recommend the theme of Mary being the "New Eve" not to replace Christ through whom Mary, and the rest of us offspring of Adam, receive the grace of redemption. Maundy Thursday (Commandment Thursday) commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus gives a commandment to his disciples, "I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." The Dies Mandatum (Day of the New Commandment) is a Solemnity—the most solemn day of the Christian calendar. In this high feast Mary has played a big role for being the model follower of Jesus. "She is the favorite daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit... she far surpasses all other creatures, both in heaven and on earth..." (Lumen Gentium 53).

I remember the powerful scene in "The Passion of Christ" by Mel Gibson when the bloodied Jesus falls to the ground and encounters his mother running towards him. "I'm here" Mary tells and assures Jesus. And Jesus replies, "See, Mother, I make all things new." (cf. Rev. 21:5). That is the Blessed Virgin's biggest role in the whole plan of God to renew humanity. Mary uniquely participates in Christ’s redemption as the New Eve—hence, the title "co-redemptrix." In the Sacrament of Reconcilation, e.g., some priests use a short prayer for the spiritual well-being of the penitent: "May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints and also whatever good you do or evil you endure be cause for the remission of your sins, the increase of grace and the reward of life everlasting. Amen." The Protestant English Poet, William Wordsworth, wrote about Mary as "our tainted nature's solitary boast." All these show how the Church acknowledges Mary's role and the Communion of Saints in the greater context of grace.

The next poignant encounter would be at the foot of the cross when Jesus entrusts his disciples under Mary's maternal care. Jesus gives to us his own mother as our mother. In the 1854 apostolic constitution, Ineffabilis Deus, promulgating the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius IX referred to the opinion of the Fathers of the Church:
"Hence, to demonstrate the original innocence and sanctity of the Mother of God, not only did they frequently compare her to Eve while yet a virgin, while yet innocence, while yet incorrupt, while not yet deceived by the deadly snares of the most treacherous serpent; but they have also exalted her above Eve with a wonderful variety of expressions. Eve listened to the serpent with lamentable consequences; she fell from original innocence and became his slave. The most Blessed Virgin, on the contrary, ever increased her original gift, and not only never lent an ear to the serpent, but by divinely given power she utterly destroyed the force and dominion of the evil one."
There is another quotation that to me is so mind-boggling from the same document.

"From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for His only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, He would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of His divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully."

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire. To feel the sorrows of Mary for her son and to feel the same compassion to all those who are in great suffering.

Word Of God: (See full text below)

1. John 13:1–15 (I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.)
2. Isaiah 52:13—53:12 (He himself was wounded for our sins.) Fourth oracle of the Servant of the Lord.

Questions and Considerations To Ponder:

1. Spring-Cleaning: Traditionally, the Catholic church follows a spring-cleaning custom which comes from thousands of years of Jewish Passover preparations. The practice persists today in Greece, and other Orthodox nations. For Jesus, this feast reminds him also of the time when he was twelve, Mary and Joseph forego spring-cleaning in order to look for him who was missing for three days.

2. Promise yourself to pray the rosary using the sorrowful mysteries at least today. The Last Supper is the last time Jesus shows his tenderness towards his disciples. But Jesus is still betrayed by Judas. Peter will deny him three times. The rest of the group will abandon him out of great fear. Jesus must have thought of somebody else who would not do like what his beloved disciples did. That person was his mother. Meditate on Jesus' Passion with Mary every step of Jesus' way: the Agony at Gethsemane, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion. One of the reformers, John Calvin, known for being the most critical towards the Roman Catholic Church, yet he was the least effusive about the Virgin Mary. He said of Mary so profoundly,
"Let us learn from the sole title of mother how useful, indeed necessary, is the knowledge of her, inasmuch as there is no entrance to permanent life unless we are received in the womb of this mother, and she begets us, and feeds us at her breasts and finally she preserves us and keeps us under her guidance and government... it is also to be noted that outside of the womb of this Church one cannot expect forgiveness of sins or any salvation."
3. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the description of Mary's face as "the face that most resembled Christ" has been used. In the image above notice how Jesus is a spitting image of Mary. Peer into the face of Mary as you glimpse the Holy Face of Jesus.

4. Mater Dolorosa is one profound title of Our Lady because of her mission to share with the suffering of her son as described in Isaiah 53, sent by God "as a man of suffering accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem." Jaroslav Pelikan connects the famed Pieta to the poetry of Romanos the Melodist, in which Mary and Jesus discuss his death. She begs him to let her be present at the cross because she wants to remain close to him through his darkest hour. Christ encourages her to lay aside her grief because she is "in the bridal chamber." (Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through The Centuries: Her Place In The History Of Culture, Yale University Press, 1996). What role does Mary, Mother of Sorrows, play in your faith?

Prayer Requests:

You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIP) using 8thworkermercy@bloggercom—there is a DOT between 8thworker and mercy. It is restricted so that only me as blog author can read it. Others will NOT be able to read any email; instead they will get a message stating that this is private. We will offer your intentions during our regular 6:30AM Masses in our community of Jesuit priests and novices.

P.S. Feel free also to include the names of all who are currently sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

John 13:1–15

Jesus loved them to the end.

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
  So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Isaiah 52:13—53:12

He himself was wounded for our sins. (Fourth oracle of the Servant of the Lord.)

See, my servant shall prosper,
  he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him—
  so marred was his look beyond human semblance
  and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man—
so shall he startle many nations,
  because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
  those who have not heard shall ponder it.
Who would believe what we have heard?
  To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
  like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
  nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
  a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
  spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
  our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
  as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
  crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
  by his stripes we were healed.
  We had all gone astray like sheep,
  each following his own way;
but the Lord laid upon him
  the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
  and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
  or a sheep before the shearers,
  he was silent and opened not his mouth.
  Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
  and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
  and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
  and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
  nor spoken any falsehood.
But the Lord was pleased
  to crush him in infirmity.
If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
  he shall see his descendants in a long life,
  and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction
  he shall see the light
  in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
  and their guilt he shall bear.
  Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
  and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
  and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
  and win pardon for their offenses.