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Easter Vigil: The Light of Christ


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Pope Francisattends Easter Vigil 2014 (Source: sacredspace102.blogspot.in)
Pope Francisattends Easter Vigil 2014 (Source: sacredspace102.blogspot.in)

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Easter is a joyful and happy occasion for all Christians. They decorate their churches with flowers and attend church on this day.

In some Christian churches, Easter worship begins at about 11:30 pm on Holy Saturday. At midnight, they ring the bells to tell the world that Christ has risen from the dead.

Roman Catholic monks of the Order of Saint Benedict preparing to light the Christ candle prior to Easter Vigil mass at St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey. (Photo: John Stephen Dwyer)
Roman Catholic monks of the Order of Saint Benedict preparing to light the Christ candle prior to Easter Vigil mass at St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey. (Photo: John Stephen Dwyer)

In some churches of the Roman Catholics and the Church of England, people will hold a vigil. They will gather outside the church around a bonfire.

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Paschal Candles
Paschal Candles

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The church being in darkness, one of the Deacons or Acolytes (servers) will carry a large unlit candle called the Paschal candle marked with a cross and the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet Alpha (Α) and Omega (Ω).

The Celebrant after blessing the fire will turn towards the person carrying the large candle and prepare the Paschal candle by drawing with his finger or incising in the wax with a stylus a Cross while reciting these words:

Christ yesterday and today, (the vertical beam)
the beginning and the end, (the transverse beam)
Alpha (the Greek letter Α above the vertical beam of the cross)
and Omega, (the Greek letter Ω below the vertical beam of the cross)

Year
all time belongs to Him, (the first numeral of the current year in the upper left-hand angle of the Cross)
and all ages; (the second number of the current year in the upper right-hand angle of the cross)
to Him be glory and power, (the third numeral of the current year in the lower left-hand angle of the Cross)
through every age and for ever. (the fourth numeral of the current year in the lower right-hand angle of the Cross)
Amen.

Next, one of the Acolytes (servers) gives the grains of incense symbolizing the five wounds Christ received at the crucifixion one by one to the Celebrant who inserts them into the candle, saying:

Grains

By his holy (1)
and glorious wounds (2)
may Christ our Lord guard (3)
and keep us. (4)
Amen. (5)

Lighting the Paschal Candle (Source: catholiccourier.com)
Lighting the Paschal Candle (Source: catholiccourier.com)

The Celebrant lights the Paschal candle saying:

May the light of Christ, rising in glory,
banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

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The Paschal candle is then taken through the church, with the deacon lifting it at three different times, singing: “The Light of Christ” (or Lumen Christi) and the congregation sings in reply: “Thanks be to God” (or Deo Gratias).

Everyone lights their candle from the Paschal candle and join the procession. The Paschal candle symbolizes Christ, the Light of the World.

After the procession with the paschal candle, before the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word, follows the glorious Easter song of the Catholic Church: the Exsultet (spelled in pre-1920 editions of the Roman Missal as Exultet) or Easter Proclamation (Latin: Praeconium Paschale).

The Exsultet is a magnificent hymn of praise sung, by a deacon, before the paschal candle during the Easter Vigil in the Roman Rite of Mass. Exsultet is also used in Anglican and various Lutheran churches, as well as other western Christian denominations.

In the absence of a deacon, a priest or by a cantor may sing the Exsultet.

The lyrics of Exsultet are beautiful and has profound symbolism. It describes the dignity and meaning of the mystery of Easter. It tells of man’s sin, of God’s mercy, and of the great love the Redeemer has for humanity. It admonishes the faithful to thank the Trinity for all the graces lavished upon them.

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Exsultet (Roman Catholic English text)

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

(Therefore, dearest friends,
standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you,
the mercy of God almighty,
that he, who has been pleased to number me,
though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me his light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises).

(Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.)
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.

It is truly right and just,
with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,
when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,
from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night
when Christ broke the prison bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!

O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!

O happy fault
that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
a flame divided but undimmed,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honour of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.
Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.
May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

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The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha – the First North American Indian Saint: Part 3


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Statue of Kateri Tekakwitha in front of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Source: thehundreds.com)
Statue of Kateri Tekakwitha in front of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Source: thehundreds.com)

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The Jesuit mission of Saint-François-Xavier du Sault-Saint-Louis

Father de Lamberville advised Kateri Tekakwitha to go to the Jesuit settlement of Saint-François-Xavier du Sault-Saint- Louis located along the St. Lawrence river in Quebec, Canada, opposite Lachine (later Montréal).

The historic mission was first established in 1667 when the Kanienkeha’ka (Mohawk) community located to the northern part of the Territory at Kentake, now known as Laprairie, Quebec. The community moved four more times due to economic, agricultural as well as political changes.

A typical Mohawk Longhouse
A typical Mohawk Longhouse

The Jesuits had founded the mission for the religious conversion of the natives. When it began, the natives built longhouses for residences. They also built a longhouse to be used as a chapel by the Jesuits. As a missionary settlement, it attracted other Iroquois, but it was predominantly Mohawk.

In 1677, Kateri was spirited away from the Mohawk the village of Caughnawaga by her brother-in-law and a Huron of Lorette with the assistance of Father de Lamberville. Kateri and her rescuers proceeded on foot to Lac du Saint-Sacrement (Lake George). After a long and harrowing journey , of about two weeks on the Lake George, Lake Champlain, and Richelieu River corridors, they completed their 200-mile journey and reached the mission. In all it took almost three months for the whole journey.

On arrival after the long and harrowing journey, Kateri was lodged in the longhouse where her mother’s close friend, Kanahstatsi Tekonwatsenhonko, was the clan matron. Her sister (the daughter of her adoptive parents) and her brother-in-law, and many other people who had migrated from Caughnawaga lodged in the same longhouse.

In the village, she found many Iroquoian-speaking Mohawk converts and the Jesuits whom she had met in 1666.

Kanahstatsi and other Mohawk women introduced Kateri to the regular practices of Christianity. She spent hours in prayer in the chapel.

Kateri Tekakwitha. An oil painting by an unknown artist in the Main Chapel, St. Peter's Mission, Fonda NY.
Kateri Tekakwitha. An oil painting by an unknown artist in the Main Chapel, St. Peter’s Mission, Fonda NY.

Kateri made her first communion on Christmas Day 1677. She spent hours in prayer in the chapel. During the winter hunting season she continued her pious exercises while taking part in the work of the community, and she created a place of worship near a cross carved on a tree beside a brook.

Corporal mortification

According to the historian Allan Greer, most of these early native converts to Christianity were women. They followed a way they thought was integral to Christianity by devoting their bodies and souls to God and participated in mortification of the flesh in groups. There were similar practices of mortification of the flesh traditionally carried out by Mohawk warriors. Piercing the body to draw blood was a traditional practice of the Mohawk and other Iroquois nations.

Though the women in the village usually followed the directions of the Jesuits, at times, they eluded their control. The Jesuits opposed the practice of mortification of the flesh, but the women claimed it was needed to relieve them of their past sins.

Kateri learned more about Christianity under her mentor Anastasia, who taught her about the practice of repenting for one’s sins. Kateri put thorns on her sleeping mat and lay on them while praying for the conversion and forgiveness for her kinsmen.

Two French Jesuit missionaries, Claude Chauchetière and Pierre Cholenec, played important roles in Kateri Tekakwitha’s life.

Father Pierre Cholenec arrived in New France in 1672, before Father Claude Chauchetière.

Father Claude Chauchetière and Tekakwitha arrived at the village in the same year, in 1677. Jesuits generally thought that the natives needed their guidance in Christianity to be set on the right path. However, Chauchetière’s close contact with and deeper knowledge of the natives in the village changed some of his set notions about the people and the differences among human cultures.

Father Chauchetière was the first to write a biography of Kateri Tekakwitha’s life in 1695, followed by Father Pierre Cholenec in 1696.

Father Chauchetière wrote that he was very impressed by Kateri, as he had not expected a native to be so pious. He believed that Catherine Tekakwitha was a saint. In his biography of her, he stressed her “charity, industry, purity, and fortitude.”

Father Chauchetière recounted the steps Kateri and some of her peers took in the name of their faith. Their mortifications were extreme, and Chauchetière says:

They covered themselves with blood by disciplinary stripes with iron, with rods, with thorns, with nettles; they fasted rigorously, passing the entire day without eating. These fasting women toiled strenuously all day – in summer, working in the fields; in winter, cutting wood. (…) they put glowing coals between their tows, where the fire burned a hole in their flesh; they went bare-legged to make a long procession in the snows; they all disfigured themselves by cutting off their hair, in order not to be sought in marriage…

Kateri Tekakwitha took a vow of chastity on the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, 1679. The Roman Catholic Church considers that on this day her conversion was truly completed and she became the “first virgin” among the Mohawk.

Father Cholenec introduced the traditional items of Catholic mortification – whips, hair shirts and iron girdles – to the converts at the village so they would adopt these items, rather than use Mohawk practices.

Statue of Kateri Tekakwitha at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, New York.
Statue of Kateri Tekakwitha at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, New York.

Father Cholenec quotes Kateri Tekakwitha as saying:

I have deliberated enough. For a long time my decision on what I will do has been made. I have consecrated myself entirely to Jesus, son of Mary, I have chosen Him for husband and He alone will take me for a wife”.

In the spring of 1678, Kateri met Wari Teres Tegaiaguenta, a young Oneida widow, for the first time. They became inseparable friends. Aspiring to devotion, they practiced mutual flagellation in secret.

Father Cholenec wrote that Catherine could flog herself between one thousand and twelve hundred blows in one session.

Tekakwitha’s dedication to the ritual mortification became more intense and consuming over the rest of her life; she included prolonged fasting, flogging, cutting, sleeping on a bed of thorns, and burning herself with hot coals.

Her spiritual directors became concerned because of her practice of self-mortifications were impacting her health and advised her to lighten the rigorous devotion. Father Cholenec suggested that she retire to the wilderness with her relations who were then engaged in the winter hunt to restore her strength, with proper diet and the fresh air in the forest.

But she replied:

It is true, my Father, that my body is served most luxuriously in the forest, but the soul languishes there, and is not able to satisfy its hunger. On the contrary, in the village the body suffers; I am contented that it should be so, but the soul finds its delight in being near to Jesus Christ. Well then, I will willingly abandon this miserable body to hunger and suffering, provided that my soul may have its ordinary nourishment.”

When Kateri and Wari Teres learned of nuns and convents for women, they asked the Jesuits for permission to form a group of native disciples, but they were told they were too “young in the faith” to form such a group. So, they created their own informal association of devout women. Wari Teres eventually left the group, supposedly due to personal issues. Kateri tried to reintegrate her into the group until her death.

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← Previous – The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha: Part 2

Next  The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha: Part 4

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The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha – the First North American Indian Saint: Part 2


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The oldest portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha is an oil painting on canvas 41 x 37" painted by Father Chauchetière between 1682-1693. Kateri appeared to him during that time. The original painting hangs in the sacristy of St. Francis Xavier Church on the Kanawaké Mohawk Reservation on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, near Montréal, Québec.
The oldest portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha is an oil painting on canvas 41 x 37″ painted by Father Chauchetière between 1682-1693. Kateri appeared to him during that time. The original painting hangs in the sacristy of St. Francis Xavier Church on the Kanawaké Mohawk Reservation on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, near Montréal, Québec.

Invasions by the French

In the mid 15th century, the Mohawk interacted with both Dutch and French colonists. Originally, the Dutch, who had settled in Albany and Schenectady traded fur with the Mohawk while the French traded with the Huron.

In 1666, when Tekakwitha was around ten years old, the French trying to make inroads into Iroquois territory in present-day central New York, attacked the Mohawk, and after driving the people from their the longhouses and wigwams they burned all three Mohawk villages and their corn and squash fields.

During the skirmish, the Mohawks took refuge in the forest. Little Tekakwitha spent the cold winter in the forest along with her aunt’s family.

After the defeat by the French forces, the Mohawk was forced to accept a peace treaty that required them to accept Jesuit missionaries, whom they called “Black Robes,” in their villages for converting them to Christianity. The Jesuits established the mission of Saint-Pierre de Gandaouagué on the north shore of the Mohawk River and quickly studied Mohawk and other native languages to reach the people and taught them Christianity using terms the natives could easily identify.

Tekakwitha went with her people to the mission of Saint-Pierre de Gandaouagué. She was impressed by the courteous manners and the piety of the Jesuit missionaries she met for the first time.

The Mohawk crossed the Mohawk River to rebuild Caughnawaga on the north bank

In 1667, Tekakwitha met the Jesuits Jacques Frémin, Jacques Bruyas, and Jean Pierron, who had come to the village. But, her uncle opposed any contact with them because he did not want her to convert to Christianity since one of his daughters had already left Caughnawaga to go to the Iroquois Catholic mission village near Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

The records of Jesuits who knew Tekakwitha describe her as a modest, shy girl who avoided social gatherings, and wore a blanket over her head to cover the pockmarks on her face. She learned the traditional way of making clothing and belts from animal skins; weaving mats, baskets and boxes of reeds and grasses; preparing food from the game, crops and gathered produce. She took part in the women’s seasonal planting and intermittent weeding.

Although small-pox had marked her face and seriously impaired her eyesight, her aunts started pressurizing her to marry, even at the young age of 13. As she grew older, she shrank from marriage with great aversion.

In the summer of 1669, a band of several hundred Mohican warriors, advancing from the east attacked the village of Caughnawaga. The Mohawks fought off the invaders who kept the village under siege for three days. Tekakwitha along with other girls of the village carried food and water to the defending warriors on the palisades. They also helped the Jesuit priest Jean Pierron who tended to the wounded, and buried the dead.

When reinforcements arrived from other Mohawk villages the Mohican warriors retreated. The Mohawk villagers led by chief Ganeagowa, pursued the Mohicans in the forest, killing over 80 and capturing several others. When the Mohawks returned to Caughnawaga amidst widespread celebration, they tortured the captive Mohicans – thirteen men and four women – for two days and had planned to kill them on the third. Father Jean Pierron who was tending to the captives also, implored the Mohawk to stop the torture, but they ignored his plea. He then instructed the captives in Catholic doctrine as best he could and baptized them before they died under torture.

The Iroquois Feast of the Dead

In late 1669, the Iroquois Feast of the Dead, held every ten years, was convened at Caughnawaga. It was the Mohawk custom to carefully exhume the cadavers of those who had died in the previous decade, so that their souls could be released to wander to the spirit land.

A few Oneidas and Onondagas came to attend the feast led by sachem Garakontié.

Father Pierron who was present in the village boldly censured the beliefs and logic of the Feast of the Dead. The assembled Iroquois, upset over his remarks, ordered him to be silent. But Father Pierron continued, exhorting the Iroquois to give up their “superstitious” rites. Under duress, Father Pierron left the gathering, but returned along with Garakontié, the Onondaga sachem. Under Garakontié’s protection Pierron finished his speech. He demanded that, to secure a continued friendship with the French, the Iroquois should give up their Feast of the Dead, their faith in dreams as a guide to action, and the worship of their war-god. Eventually, the assembled Iroquois relented. Exchanging gifts with Father Pierron, they promised to give up the customs and rituals he had denounced.

Sachem Garakontié himself later became a Christian.

Family urges Tekakwitha to marry

Around 1674, when Tekakwitha turned 17, her adoptive parents, and other relatives became concerned over her lack of interest in young men as romantic partners or potential husbands. They urged Tekakwitha to marry a young Mohawk warrior. When she refused to marry the man chosen for her, she incurred the family’s displeasure, ridicule, threats, and harsh workloads. But Tekakwitha stayed firm in her resolution of resisting marriage, while submitting to their work demands.

Conversion and Baptism

In the spring of 1675, when she was about 18, Tekakwitha met the Jesuit priest Jacques de Lamberville. He taught her catechism.

A log beam across the ceiling of the church at the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha,  Fonda, New York (Source: tenkidsandadog.blogspot.in)
A log beam across the ceiling of the church at the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Fonda, New York (Source: tenkidsandadog.blogspot.in)

Convinced that Tekakwitha was ready for true conversion, Father de Lamberville baptized her on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1676, and gave her the name “Catherine” after St. Catherine of Sienna. The Victorian author Ellen Hardin Walworth conceived the alternate name “Kateri” which was first used in 1891.

Tekakwitha’s family opposed her conversion to Catholicism and continued to persecute her. They deprived her of food because she did not want to work on Sundays. People threw stones at her when she went to the chapel to pray. Some Mohawks accused her of sorcery and sexual promiscuity.

 Previous – The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha – Part 1 

Next  The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha: Part 3

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The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha – the First North American Indian Saint: Part 1


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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I am a flower of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
Like a lily among thorns, so is my friend among women.
Song of Songs 2:1-2

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Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C. (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Preface

July 14, is the feast day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first North American declared a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church, and the fourth Native American to be declared a saint after St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin and two other Oaxacan Indians. She is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks” and the “Genevieve of New France“. Like St. Francis of Assisi she is also the patroness of the environment and ecology.

Tekakwitha was a Mohawk-Algonquin virgin and laywoman belonging to the Turtle Clan of the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois nation. She was born in Auriesville, now part of New York in  As a child she lost her parents to a smallpox epidemic. She survived the catastrophe with damaged eyesight and pockmarks on her face. Her paternal uncle, a village chief, a great foe of the Roman Catholic missionaries from France in the area, adopted the orphaned girl.

Shunned by her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, Tekakwitha settled for the last years of her life in the Jesuit mission village, south of Montreal in New France, now Canada.

Kateri Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680, aged 24, at Caughnawaga, Canada. It is alleged that after her death, the scars on her face cleared. Various miracles and supernatural effects are assigned to her intercession.

Kateri Tekakwitha’s extraordinary life and reputation for piety have made her an icon to the native Roman Catholics of North America.

In 1943,  the Catholic Church declared Kateri Tekakwitha as venerable. In 1980, Pope John Paul II beatified her, and on October 21, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized her at Saint Peter’s Basilica.

According to one of her biographers, no other native American’s life has been more fully documented that of Kateri Tekakwitha. At least three hundred books have been published in more than twenty languages based on the writings of French Jesuit missionaries, such as Claude Chauchetière, Pierre Cholenec, and others who knew her personally.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha - The Lily of the Mohawks
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha – The Lily of the Mohawks

Because of her singular life of chastity, she is often associated with the lily flower, a traditional symbol of purity among Roman Catholics and one often used for the Virgin Mary.

The fleur-de-lys is a heraldic symbol of the French monarchy. Four lilies are depicted in the flag of Quebec. The French associated Kateri with the lily.

It was Father Claude Chauchetière who first evoked the lily metaphor when he wrote,

I have up to the present written of Katharine as a lily among thorns, but now I shall relate how God transplanted this beautiful lily and placed it in a garden full of flowers, that is to say, in the Mission of the Sault, where there have been, are, and always will be holy people renowned for virtue. 

Religious images of Tekakwitha are often  adorned with a lily and the cross. Feathers and turtle are incorporated as cultural accessories.

Colloquial terms for Tekakwitha are The Lily of the Mohawks, the Mohawk Maiden, the Pure and Tender Lily, the Flower among True Men, the Lily of Purity and The New Star of the New World.

Kateri Tekakwitha’s tribal neighbors praised Kateri Tekakwitha as “the fairest flower that ever bloomed among the red men.” Now, reverence of Kateri Tekakwitha transcends tribal differences. Indigenous North American Catholics identify themselves with her by portraying her in their art, and in their own traditional clothing.

Many consider her virtues as an ecumenical bridge between Mohawk and European cultures.

In Canada, the feast of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is celebrated on April 17.

The Story of Saint  Kateri Tekakwitha 

Portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha, painted by Kevin Gordon
Portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha, painted by Kevin Gordon

Weskarini, an Algonquin tribe, known as Petite Nation des Algonquins (Little Nation of the Algonquin), lived on the north side of the Ottawa River below Allumettes Island (Morrison’s Island), Québec, New France. They had close associations with the Jesuit missionaries.

In March 1643, Jeanne Mance, a French nurse at the Hôtel-Dieu in Montréal took care of Pachirini Sachem Carolus, a wounded young Algonquin warrior. Sachem baptized on April 2, 1643, in Montréal by Father Imbert Duperon. He was given the Christian name of Charles. He lived in Montréal for some time with the two Jesuits of the post. Most of the Weskarini Algonquin became Catholics, being baptized between 1643 and 1650 by the Jesuits in Montréal and the rest later at Trois-Rivières. They settled in Trois-Rivières, setting up their village near the Fort there. While his fellow tribesmen left for Trois-Rivières, Charles Pachirini led the Jesuits to explore the shore that was later to become Laprairie (a Jesuit mission).

Prior to 1648, Charles Pachirini rejoined his people at Trois-Rivières and became the captain of the Christian Algonquins, even during the lifetime of his discredited predecessor Paul Tessouhat II, the chief of the Kichesipirini, or Algonquins of Allumette Island. He was given a Fiefdom in Trois-Rivières.

This was a time when the Iroquois were at war with the Algonquin.

Earlier, on October 18, 1646, near the village named Ossernenon also known as Gandaouge, Gandawaga and Caughnawaga in the Iroquois Confederacy in New France (present-day Auriesville, New York) the Iroquoi Mohawks killed Saint Isaac Jogues, a Jesuit missionary and threw his body in the St. Lawrence River.

Around 1652-1653, Mohawks of Ossernenon raided the town of Trois-Rivières and the Algonquin village of Sachem Charles Pachirini.

When the Mohawks attacked the area, the women and children sought shelter in the Fort while the braves joined the soldiers in repelling the attack. The raiding party killed many braves and soldiers defending the fort and the Indian village of the Weskarini. They also abducted French and Algonquin children and women. It became the norm to take the women and children of the defeated with them as prisoners and subsume them into their fold.

One of the abducted women Kahontáke (Meadow) or Kahenta also known as Tagaskouita, was an Algonquin, a member of the Weskarini Band of Sachem Carolus Pachirini. She had been baptized and educated among the French in Trois-Rivières. She married Kenneronkwa, an Iroquoi Mohawk warrior. Around 1656, Kahontáke gave birth to a girl at the Turtle Castle of Ossernenon, in the village of Ossernenonon on the banks of the Mohawk River. According to some authorities the child was born in the village of Gandaouge.

Catherine Tekakwitha, so renowned today in New France for the extraordinary marvels that God has bestowed and continues to bestow through her intercession, was born an Iroquois in 1656 in a Mohawk village called Gahnaougé. Her mother, an Algonquin, had been baptized and educated among the French in Trois-Rivières. She was seized there by the Iroquois with whom we were at war at that time, and taken as a slave to their homeland. She lived there and after a little while was married to a native of the place, and had two children: a son, and a daughter, Catherine.” From Catherine Tekakwitha, Fr. Pierre Cholenec, S.J., Her Spiritual Advisor.  (Translated by William Lonc, S.J., 2002)

During the years 1661 and 1662, the Mohawk suffered from a smallpox epidemic, the disease brought to the Americas by the Europeans. The disease devastated the village of Ossernenon, causing the death of most of the villagers. Kenneronkwa, his wife, and baby son succumbed to the disease. However, his daughter survived the catastrophe with damaged eyesight and pockmarks on her face. She was adopted by her father’s sister and her husband, a chief of the Turtle Clan, and raised as one of his daughters. The chief was a great foe of the Roman Catholic missionaries from France in the area.

Shortly afterwards, the survivors of the smallpox epidemic of the village of Ossernenon built a new village at the top of a hill, a mile or two west up the Mohawk River along its southern bank and called it Caughnawaga (“at the wild water”).

Because of her weakened eyes, the girl had trouble seeing in front of her, especially in the sunshine. Her uncle and aunts named her “Tekakwitha” meaning “she who feels her way ahead.”

Next  The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha: Part 2

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Prayer Ropes: The Orthodox and Eastern Catholics’ Chotki / Komboskini / Komvoschonion


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Prayer ropes used by Orthodox Christians to pray are known as Chotki, Komboskini or Komvoschonion. These are somewhat similar to the Rosary of the Roman Catholics.

The prayer rope is part of the habit of Eastern Orthodox monks and nuns who pray “Jesus Prayer” instead of “Hail Mary” and “Our Father.”

The Jesus Prayer is a short, formulaic prayer esteemed and advocated within the Eastern Orthodox & Oriental Orthodox churches:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”

The prayer rope dates back to the origins of Christian monasticism itself. It was the custom of the monks to pray the entire 150 Psalms every day. However, because some of the monks were illiterate, they would have to memorize the psalms or perform other prayers and prostrations in their stead. Thus, the tradition of saying 150 or more Jesus Prayers every day began. The prayer rope becomes a very practical tool in such cases for keeping count of the prayers said.

To the Orthodox Christians prayer is heartfelt and inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is a weapon that defeats Satan and the prayer rope is the sword of the Spirit.

The Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic Churches, refer to the canonical hours as the ‘Divine Services,’ and the Book of Hours as the Horologion (Greek: ῾Ωρολόγιον).

The practice of daily prayers grew from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day. In the Book of Acts, Peter and John visit the Temple for the afternoon prayers: Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. (Acts 3:1)

In the Psalms we read: Seven times a day I praise you because your judgments are righteous. (Psalms 119:164)

Among some Orthodox monastics, the canonical hours and preparation for Holy Communion may be replaced by praying the Jesus Prayer a specified number of times.

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Chotki 100 beads
Chotki 100 beads

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Historically, the prayer rope would typically have 100 knots. However, today, Chotkis come in a variety of sizes: 33, 50, 100, 101, 103, 150, and 300 beads tied from 100% wool. Most versions come with multiple divider beads, a knotted cross or a tassel, said to be used to wipe away one’s tears. The Greek Komvoschonion is usually made of knotted wool or “rattail”, while the Byzantine Ruthenians of the Carpatho-Rusyn Mountains use strung wooden beads.

How to Pray a Chotki

Praying the Chotki can be very elaborate, with an entire liturgy written for this purpose or can be very simple using a variation of the Jesus Prayer on each bead.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of Your most holy mother, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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Prayer Beads: The Anglican Rosary and Other Christian Prayer Beads


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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In the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Rosary is a sacramental and Marian devotion to prayer to commemorate events in the life of Jesus. Many similar prayer practices exist in various other Christian communities, each with its own set of prescribed prayers and its own form of prayer beads or prayer rope. These other devotions and their associated beads are usually called “chaplets” are sometimes used by other Christians.

An Anglican Rosary made of Olive Wood & Chiastolite
An Anglican Rosary made of Olive Wood & Chiastolite

In the mid-1980s, Episcopalians in the United States participating in a study group dealing with methods of prayer developed a particular contemplative prayer form using prayer beads. Since then, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and other Protestant groups, have adopted or adapted the design of the Episcopalian prayer beads with their own set of prescribed prayers, thus giving rise to the term “Christian prayer beads.”

The string pf Anglican prayer beads, also known as the Anglican rosary is a loop of strung beads which Anglicans, as well as Christians of other denominations, use to order their prayer. It combines the elements of the Roman Catholic Rosary and the Jesus Prayer Rope of the Eastern Orthodox.

The Anglican rosary

The Anglican Rosary is designed using a cross and 33 beads to signify the traditional number of years of earthly life of Jesus.

There is one ‘Invitatory’ bead followed by four sets of seven beads each called a ‘week.’ In the Judeo-Christian tradition the number seven is deemed to be spiritually perfect and complete.

A single bead called the ‘Cruciform’ bead is positioned between each week. When the rosary is placed on a flat surface, the four Cruciform beads form a Cross.

The small beads in the week are often separated by small spacer beads.

The Anglican prayer beads are made of a variety of materials: precious stones, wood, colored glass, or even dried and painted seeds, and adorned with a variety of crosses or, occasionally, crucifixes. The Celtic cross and the San Damiano cross are two which are often used.

While the traditional Rosary used by Roman Catholics focuses on the seminal events in the life of Christ and asks the Virgin Mary to pray for their intentions, the Anglican rosary are most often used as a tactile aid to prayer and as a counting device. There are no set prayers for the Anglican Rosary. It is the choice of the individual or of the congregation.

The rosary is prayed, unhurriedly, three times to signify the Holy Trinity. This makes for ninety-nine prayers, and in Middle Eastern traditions, 99 is the complete number of the Divine Names similar to the Islamic tradition of reciting the 99 names of Allah.

The inclusion of the cross at the beginning or the end, brings the total number of prayers said to 100, which is the total of the Orthodox Rosary and represents the fullness of creation. The saying of the rosary is then followed by a period of silence for reflection.

The Book of Common Prayer brims with many choice prayers; particularly among the morning and evening prayers, the prayers of the people, the numerous collects and even lectionary readings. Psalms and Canticles are time honored devotions, as are the Jesus Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Serenity Prayer.

The standard Anglican set consists of the following pattern, starting with the cross, followed by the Invitatory Bead, and then, the first Cruciform bead, moving to the right, through the first set week to the next Cruciform bead, continuing around the circle. The prayer may close by saying the Lord’s prayer on the invitatory bead and/or a final prayer on the cross as in the example prayers given below. The entire circle may be done thrice, to signify the Holy Trinity.

The Cross

In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Or

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Or

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.

Or

Blessed be the one, holy and living God. Glory to God forever and ever. Amen.

The Invitatory

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Or

Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Or

O God make speed to save us, O Lord make haste to help us. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, I snow and will be forever. Amen.

The Cruciforms

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.

Or

Guide us waking O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.

Or

Behold now, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord. You that stand in the house of the Lord, lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the Lord.

Or

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us.

The Weeks

Almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless us and keep us. Amen.

Or

Jesus, lamb of God, have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world, give us your peace.

Or

I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the Lord, the make of heaven and earth.

Or

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner.

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Prayer Beads: The Roman Catholic Rosary


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Roman Catholic Rosary
The Roman Catholic Rosary

Many scholars admit that the use of prayer beads originated with the Hindus in ancient India, and the Hindu or Buddhist mala is the great mother of rosaries. From India and the Himalayan kingdoms, the prayer beads traveled west to Africa and Europe, where it evolved into the Islamic Subha, the Christian rosary, the Eastern Orthodox prayer rope, and the secular worry beads used throughout Greece and the Middle East.

The Roman Catholics use the word ‘Rosary’ to describe a string of prayer beads, a device used to keep count of the recited prayers, as well as a sequence of prayers.

Mary world Rosary

In the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Rosary is a sacramental and Marian devotion to prayer to commemorate events in the life of Jesus.

Traditionally, the prayer beads have consisted of strings of similarly sized beads, seeds, knots, or even rose petals and beads made from crushed roses, from which we get the word “rosary.” In Latin the term “rosarium” means ‘crown of roses’ or ‘garland of roses.’ The Roman Catholics sometimes write the word ‘rosary’ with an initial capital as ‘Rosary.’

To the Roman Catholics, the Rosary is above all a protracted prayer that helps to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ and His Mother Mary. Strongly associated with the Blessed Mother, the Rosary relies on her intercession with her Divine Son and on her ability to raise the minds and hearts of the faithful to God through both vocal prayer and reflection on all that God has done for us.

The Perugia Altarpiece, Side Panel Depicting St. Dominic by Fra Angelico (1395–1455)
The Perugia Altarpiece, Side Panel Depicting St. Dominic by Fra Angelico (1395–1455)

According to Cornelius Sneck, a disciple of the French Dominican Blessed Alain de la Roche, the concept of the rosary was given to Saint Dominic in an apparition by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1208 at the church of Prouille in a hamlet in Languedoc, France. Here are the words of Cornelius:

We read that at the time when he was preaching to the Albigenses, St. Dominic at first obtained but scanty success: and that one day, complaining of this in pious prayer to our Blessed Lady, she deigned to reply to him, saying:

Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.

Traditionally, from this time onwards, the Rosary included 150 “Hail Marys,” one for each of the Psalms, which were gradually divided into 15 groups of ten each, corresponding to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary for meditation. Therefore, technically, a complete Rosary was for many years 15 decades long. Nowadays, the most commonly used Rosary has five decades, and the mysteries were commonly divided into three groups, the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious, with five mysteries in each group.

Thirteen popes starting with Pope Leo XIII supported the tradition that the Blessed Virgin Mary first revealed the Rosary devotion to St. Dominic.

How to recite the Holy Rosary

The Prayers

IN THE NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (As you say this, with your right hand touch your forehead when you say Father, touch your breastbone when you say Son, touch your left shoulder when you say Holy, and touch your right shoulder when you say Spirit.)

I BELIEVE IN GOD, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

OUR FATHER, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

HAIL MARY, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among 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. Amen.

GLORY BE to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O MY JESUS, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen.

HAIL HOLY QUEEN, mother of mercy; our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of he promises of Christ. Amen.

O GOD, WHOSE only-begotten Son by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

ANNOUNCE each mystery by saying something like, “The third Joyful Mystery is the Birth of Our Lord.” This is required only when saying the Rosary in a group.

Say the above prayers in the order shown in following image:

The Catholic Rosary

INTRODUCTION
1. IN THE NAME…
2. I BELIEVE IN GOD…
3. OUR FATHER…
4 – 6. HAIL MARY…
7. GLORY BE…
8. O MY JESUS…

THE FIRST DECADE
9. ANNOUNCE…
10. OUR FATHER…
11 – 20. HAIL MARY…
21. GLORY BE…
22. O MY JESUS…

THE SECOND DECADE
23. ANNOUNCE…
24. OUR FATHER…
25 – 34. HAIL MARY…
35. GLORY BE…
36. O MY JESUS…

THE THIRD DECADE
37. ANNOUNCE…
38. OUR FATHER…
39 – 48. HAIL MARY…
49. GLORY BE…
50. O MY JESUS…

THE FOURTH DECADE
51. ANNOUNCE…
52. OUR FATHER…
53 – 62. HAIL MARY…
63. GLORY BE…
64. O MY JESUS…

THE FIFTH DECADE
65. ANNOUNCE…
66. OUR FATHER…
67 – 76. HAIL MARY…
77. GLORY BE…
78. O MY JESUS…

CONCLUSION
79. HAIL HOLY QUEEN…
80. O GOD, WHOSE…
81. IN THE NAME…

The Mysteries of the Rosary

The praying of each decade is accompanied by meditation on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which allow the faithful to contemplate on the life and death of Jesus – from the “Annunciation” of the birth of Jesus to his “Ascension” into heaven, and beyond.

The three Mysteries are known as: the Joyful (or Joyous), the Sorrowful, and the Glorious.

Each of these Mysteries allows the faithful to contemplate on five different stages of Christ’s life. Based on the long-standing custom, these traditional 15 Mysteries of the Rosary were standardized by Pope Pius V in the 16th century.

In October 2002, Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae recommended an additional set of Mysteries called the Luminous Mysteries (or the “Mysteries of Light”) thus increasing the total number of mysteries to twenty.

Various other mysteries for meditation and thematic Scriptural passages called ‘Scriptural Rosary’ have been provided. Though these additional offerings are not official, they are perfectly acceptable means of praying the Rosary and meditating on the mysteries of salvation by the faithful.

Although it is recommended, it is not obligatory to recite the fruits of the mystery before each decade. As such, many Catholics have long forgotten the fruits of the mysteries.

Joyful Mysteries (Monday, Saturday)

  1. The Annunciation (of the Birth of the Savior to Mary).
    Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
  2. The Visitation (of Mary to Elizabeth and John the Baptist).
    Fruit of the Mystery: Charity, Love of neighbor
  3. The Nativity of Our Lord.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty of spirit, Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of riches, Love of the poor
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience, Purity of intention
  5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Piety

Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday, Friday)

  1. The Agony in the Garden:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Contrition, Conformity to the will of God
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Purity, Mortification
  3. The Crowning with Thorns:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Moral Courage, Contempt of the world
  4. The Carrying of the Cross:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
  5. The Crucifixion:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Final perseverance, Salvation, Self-Denial

Glorious Mysteries (Sunday, Wednesday)

  1. The Resurrection:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
  2. The Ascension:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Hope, Desire for Heaven
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (on Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost):
    Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God, Wisdom, Knowing and sharing the truth
  4. The Assumption of Mary:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Devotion to Mary, Grace of a happy death
  5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Eternal Happiness

Luminous Mysteries (Thursday)

  1. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit, Living one’s baptismal promises
  2. The Miracle at Cana: To Jesus through Mary,
    Fruit of the Mystery: Doing whatever Jesus says
  3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance, Trust in God
  4. The Transfiguration:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Becoming a new person in Christ, Desire for holiness
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Eucharistic Adoration, Active participation at Mass

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The Magnificat: The Song of Mary / The Canticle of Mary


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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The Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli
The Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli

Mary Visits Elizabeth – Luke 1:39-45

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,

“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,

according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

    • When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, (Luke 1:41)

is reflected in

    • But the children jostled each other in the womb so much that she exclaimed, “If it is like this, why go on living!” She went to consult the LORD, (Genesis 25:22)
    • And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. (Luke 1:14-16)

Also,

    • cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Luke 1:42)

has similarities in

    • While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11:27-28)
    • Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, blessed among tent-dwelling women! (Judges 5:2)
    • Then Uzziah said to her, “Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at the head of the leader of our enemies. (Judith 13:18)
    • Blessed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock, the issue of your herds and the young of your flocks! (Deuteronomy 28:4)

And then Elizabeth says,

    • “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)

Even before his birth, Jesus is identified in Luke as the Lord through the phrase,

    • “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)

Luke portrays Mary as a believer whose faith stands in contrast to the disbelief of Zechariah,

    • “But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” (Luke 1:20).

Mary’s role as a believer in the infancy narrative should be seen in connection with the explicit mention of her presence among “those who believed” after the resurrection at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles:

    • All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14).

The Magnificat

Although Mary is praised for being the mother of the Lord and because of her belief, she reacts as the servant in a psalm of praise, the Magnificat.

The Magnificat or “[My soul] magnifies” in Latin is also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary. It is a canticle frequently sung liturgically in Christian church services. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn. The name comes from the first word of the Latin version of the canticle’s text.

Because there is no specific connection of the canticle in the context of Mary’s pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat with the possible exception

    • For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. (Luke 1:48)

may have been a Jewish-Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if this canticle was not composed by Luke, it fits in well with the themes found elsewhere in Luke:

    • joy and exultation in the Lord;
    • the lowly being singled out for God’s favor;
    • the reversal of human fortunes;
    • the fulfillment of Old Testament promises.

The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.

The Song of Hannah

The canticle echoes several biblical passages from the Old Testament. The most pronounced allusions are to the Song of Hannah, from the Books of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10) ,

1 And Hannah prayed:
“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted by my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in your victory.

2 There is no Holy One like the LORD;
there is no Rock like our God.

3 Speak boastfully no longer,
Do not let arrogance issue from your mouths.
For an all-knowing God is the LORD,
a God who weighs actions.

4 “The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.

5 The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry no longer have to toil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.

6 “The LORD puts to death and gives life,
casts down to Sheol and brings up again.

7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich,
humbles, and also exalts.

8 He raises the needy from the dust;
from the ash heap lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.
“For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and he has set the world upon them.

9 He guards the footsteps of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall perish in the darkness;
for not by strength does one prevail.

10 The LORD’s foes shall be shattered;
the Most High in heaven thunders;
the LORD judges the ends of the earth.
May he give strength to his king,
and exalt the horn of his anointed!”

Along with the Benedictus, as well as several Old Testament canticles, the Magnificat is included in the Book of Odes, an ancient liturgical collection found in some manuscripts of the Septuagint.

The original language of the Magnificat is Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament. However, in the liturgical and devotional use of the Western Church, it is most often found in Latin or the vernacular.

English Scripture text: Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen

Latin (present official Roman Catholic form)
Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum,
et exsultávit spíritus meus
in Deo salvatóre meo,
quia respéxit humilitátem
ancíllæ suæ.Ecce enim ex hoc beátam
me dicent omnes generatiónes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericórdia eius in progénies
et progénies timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo,
dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui;
depósuit poténtes de sede
et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis
et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum,
recordátus misericórdiæ,
sicut locútus est ad patres nostros,
Ábraham et sémini eius in sæcula.Glória Patri et Fílio
et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio,
et nunc et semper,
et in sæcula sæculórum.
Amen.