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Uncommon Vigilance


“Let the eye of vigilance never be closed.”~ Thomas Jefferson

Today our Church celebrates the final Saturday of the liturgical year, doing so in grand fashion by way of a cherished Marian Devotion known as the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The faith tradition of honoring Mary on Saturday was first formally promoted by a sapient albeit lesser known member of the Communion of Saints, Saint Alcuin (735-804).

Saint Alcuin was a Benedictine Monk who served as the Minister of Education for King Charlemagne. Amongst his many lofty and lasting accomplishments, Alcuin contributed significantly to the Carolingian Liturgical Reform. He devised different formulas for Votive Masses, one for each day of the week, with two set aside to honor Our Lady on Saturday. This practice was quickly and enthusiastically embraced by both clergy and laity, the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday eventually becoming known as the Common of the Blessed Virgin.

The name however strikes me as something of a misnomer. There is of course nothing common about the Mother of Jesus, our Eternal Mother too, she of whom Saint Louis Marie de Montfort declared “The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue, will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them.” It would seem obvious then that those who aspire to achieve sainthood should imitate, venerate and seek the intercession of the Queen of all Saints.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkennessand the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.” This was Jesus’ dire warning to his Apostles and to us in today’s Gospel (Luke 21:34-36). Given the proximity of this Gospel proclamation to the Thanksgiving Holiday, perhaps our Lord should have also warned us against the over-consumption of deep-fried turkey, biscuits, brussel sprouts ~ in sweet chilli sauce no less ~ and cherry pie. In the aftermath of the the previously aforementioned, the word drowsy takes on new meaning, of this I can personally attest.

But as we reflect upon this warning, we once again turn to our Blessed Mother and the words of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. Mary never lacked vigilance nor did she become drowsy or complacent in her prayers or her desire to fulfill God’s will for her life. She is forever our role model. As our loving Heavenly Mother, Mary yearns to bless us with her maternal love, to lead us to her Son. To guide us to Heaven. She calls us to conversion, which we must approach with determination and vigilance in order to renounce the world and its frivolous machinations. She urges us to remain vigilant in the pursuit of that which matters… the only thing that matters: Eternal Salvation.

Jesus will return someday, doing so in stunningly victorious fashion. In fact today’s 1st Reading from the Book of Daniel (7:15-27) serves as one of many scriptural reminders. Daniel sees a fearful image of the future, as four horrid beasts emerge from the sea. He is told that these beasts represent four kingdoms. Scripture Scholars have traditionally asserted that these “beasts” represent the Babylonian Kingdom, the Mede (Persian) Kingdom, the Greek Kingdom, and the Roman Kingdom. We know that these kingdoms ultimately passed away, as will the kingdoms of our time. But there is an Eternal Kingdom over which the Blessed Virgin Mary resides as Queen. As we find ourselves on the threshold of Advent, it would behoove all of us to get to know our Eternal Queen in a deeper and more profound way.

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Encountering our Blessed Mother by way of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary is perhaps the most sublime and efficacious path to deeper intimacy. In the words of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, “The Rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.”

My Advent challenge to you is to pray and meditate over the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary every day during the Advent Season, this in addition to you Daily Rosary On Mondays and Saturdays pray the Joyful Mysteries twice. Doing so will naturally draw you into a closer and more loving relationship with Mary, for captured in these mysteries is her journey, her struggles, her sacrifice and her vigilance in carrying out God’s will. It was the latter that changed the world.

“Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who bore the creator of all things. You became the Mother of your Maker, and you remain forever Virgin.”


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