Saturday, 1 October 2011

October devotions and little flowers

Like the rest of the country, Oscott's been roasting of late. I live on the front of St Bede's (the south-facing façade of the house), and the sun has been pouring in through the windows, so it is especially oven-like. If we leave the windows and doors open though, the breeze is quite cooling! Someone must have heard our complaining, though, as we didn't have any hot water this morning: cold showers all round.

Today is the first day of October, which is a month dedicated to Our Lady, particularly, our devotion to her in the holy Rosary. The Council of Trent ordered that October be given this dedication in particular for priests and seminarians (a new creature in that century!) could re-dedicate themselves to their heavenly Mother.

As is our Catholic tradition this month, as well as May, today, after lunch, Father Rector solemnly crowned the statue of Our Lady in the back cloister, outside the Northcote Hall.

The veneration of Mary is the surest and shortest way to get close to Christ in a concrete way. In meditating on her life in all its phases we learn what i means to live for and with Christ - in the everyday, in an unsentimental matter-of-factness that nonetheless enjoys perfect inner intimacy. Contemplating Mary's existence, we also submit to the darkness that is imposed on our faith, yet we learn how we must always be ready when Jesus suddenly asks something of us. (Balthasar)
Our Lady is an object of our veneration because she points us to Christ; by becoming like Him through the sacrament of baptism, we become, like him, Sons of the Father, through the grace of adoption. That requires trust, and a lot of it! Mary is our greatest model for trust, and, like her, so is St Teresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, who feast it is today.

Several of the community have been praying a novena in preparation for her feast day today. Our meditation for day seven of the novena was the spiritual fruit of trustfulness. St Therese's last words in her autobiography read, 'I lift myself to him by trust and love'. In her dark night, she says with Job, 'though He should kill me, yet will I trust in him.' We strive as Christians to abandon ourselves completely, in our own ways, to the Lord. St Therese is known as the 'Little Flower'; not a beautiful rose, or other-such glorious bloom, but a little flower in the crag of a cliff, clinging to the rock for life, lest it be blown away by the tempest.

As Pope Benedict said to the German seminarians last week:

Even for my own generation, it was not exactly easy to imagine how many decades God might assign to me, and how different the world might become. Will I be able to hold firm with him, as I have promised to do? ... It is a question that demands the testing of the vocation, but then also – the more I recognize that he does indeed want me – it demands trust: if he wants me, then he will also hold me, he will be there in the hour of temptation, in the hour of need, and he will send people to me, he will show me the path, he will hold me. And faithfulness is possible, because he is always there, because he is yesterday, today and tomorrow, because he belongs not only to this time, but he is the future and he can support us at all time.

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