Read an Excerpt
Pure Love. Pure Love flows from God, and all Love leads back to God. We need that Pure Love to live; noting else satisfies us. BY its very nature, Pure Love is unconditional. Anything less is mere conditional love, which tells us that we are not intrinsically worthy of being loved just for who we most deeply are. Pure Love, however, loved us into being, sustains us in being, and patiently awaits us day and night. Each of us was breathed out of the Heart of God into our mother's womb, and if we follow our deepest longings, theywill lead us back to the Heart of God Who is Pure Love. Nothing in life is worth so much as finding Pure Love. Once that gift is ours, we possess the secret of the ages.
Pure Love is also pure grace. Grace, which is love betweenworld for the God and a human soul, is something no one can earn. No one can buy it either, and no one can deserve it, because Pure Love is not about deserving. The fact that we exist is proof that we are loved. God created, sustains, and nurtures us on this earth because of His Faith in us and His Hope that each of us will freely choose to love our way back to the Divine Heart whence we came.
Praying with Mary is a tradition as old as Christianity itself. Jesus certainly prayed with His Mother, and so did the Apostles. On the night of Pentecost, Mary was present with Jesus' disciples as the group prayed and experienced the Holy Spirit. And Scripture offers us a perfect example of Mary's intercessory power in Saint John's scene of the wedding feast at Cana. Although Jesus said to His Mother that His hour for performing public miracles had not yet arrived, Mary, knowing that thehosts would need more wine, simply pointed to Jesusand toldthe wedding attendants, "Do whatever He tells you." Jesus, of course, went on to perform a miracle, changing the water towine. Mary's faith in Jesus' Pure Love was so great that sheknew He would not refuse her request to take care of the people; today, she still presents our requests to God with the same perfect faith and compassion.
Each of us who seeks a full prayer life should know the powerful story of Mary's Dormition. Here is how Saint Johneven after Damascene wrote about it early in the eighth century:
It has been handed down to us from of old, that at the time of the glorious passing of our Lady, all the Holy Apostles who were then toiling in various parts of the world for the salvation of mankind were in an instant caught up into the air, and borne together to Jerusalem. There a vision of angels appeared to them, and they heard the Chant of Angelic Powers. And thus, with glory to God, she yielded up her blessed soul into the hands of her Maker. As for her body, which in an ineffable manner had harbored God, it was carried out for burial amid the hymns of angels and the apostles, and was laid in a tomb at Gethsemane, and for three days the songs of angels continued without ceasing. At the end of the three days the melody of the angels ceased, and Thomas, who alone had been absent, having come on the third day, and desiring to pay homage to that body which had harbored God, the apostles opened the tomb, but search as they would, nowhere could they discover the sacred body. They found only the clothes in which it had been enshrouded and being refreshed with the ineffable fragrance which proceeded from them, they once more closed the tomb. Astounded at the extraordinary and mysterious event, they could but conclude, that He Whom it had pleased to take flesh of the Virgin Mary, and of her to be made Man and to be born--though He was God the Word and the Lord of glory--and Who had kept her virginity unimpaired even after childbirth, had also been pleased, upon her departure hence, to shield her sinless body from decay, and to honor it by removal hence from the common and universal resurrection.
According to Holy Land lore, one of the most important and beloved prayers to Mary traces its origins to this glorious scene. Legend tells us that Mary appeared to the apostles gathered there, surrounded by brilliant Light and angels of celestial splendor. She wore a crown of twelve stars that seemed to join heaven and earth; the awestruck mourners swooned as the divine Light illuminated their human understanding. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they greeted her with the following salutation:
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
This prayer--which can also be found in chapter 9--sometimes called the "angelic-apostolic salutation," is the famous Hail Mary. It can be prayed on its own (it is often repeated three times) but also frequently makes up a part of other prayers, such as the Angelus (this chapter) and, of course, the Rosary (chapter 9).
Early believers knew about and understood the importance of Mary's apparition to the Apostles and disciples. No one doubted that Mary lives on in her Son, the Resurrected Christ. And so it was only natural that people of faith would begin to spend time each day in dialogue with Mary. Holding their Spiritual Mother's hand in prayer, people began to climb the spiritual staircase out of human helplessness, poverty, defeat, sickness and even death.Praying with Mary. Copyright � by Janice Connell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.