The Gentle Presence Of Mary
The Cathedral in Saipan is dedicated to her.
Agat has this woman as her patroness. In
Tamuning there is a small community of Discalced
Carmelite Sisters who regard her as their
mother, sister, patroness and model. Her
name is Mary, she is also known as Our Lady
of Mount Carmel. Tomorrow is her feast day.
A round brilliant cut diamond has fifty eight
facets and they all reflect the inner sparkling
beauty of this precious stone. The Carmelites
underline one particular facet when they
look at Mary - her tenderness. In their anthem,
known within Carmel at least from the late
14th century, the Flos Carmeli, they sing
"Mother most tender, whom no man didst
know". When he wrote to the Carmelites,
Pope John Paul II in March 2001 spoke of
the "tender and maternal presence of
Mary" which we seek by wearing the Brown
Scapular. She is loving, she is tender, she
is affectionate. She is gentle.
There is a tribe in East Africa where the
art of intimacy is fostered even before birth.
When a woman desires a child, she goes off
and sits alone under a tree and listens until
she can hear the song of the child she hopes
to conceive. Once she hears it, she returns
to the village and teaches it to the father
so that they can sing it together. When the
child is conceived, she sings it constantly
to the baby in her womb.
She even teaches it to the midwives who will
accompany her in the delivery… and this song
accompanies the child in his growth, in his
initiation, in his marriage, in his death.
I am sure that Mary's song that accompanied
Jesus in his life here spoke of compassion
There is a saying "Never enough about
Mary". And this is true. But perhaps
what we need today is more awareness of her
devoted being-there in our lives.
St Teresa of Avila chose Mary to be her mother
when at the age of twelve she lost her natural
mother: "When I began to understand
what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before
an image of Our Lady and besought her with
many tears to be my mother. It seems to me
that although I did this in simplicity it
helped me. For I have found favor with this
sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked
of her, and in the end she has drawn me to
The Carmelite Father Michael of St Augustine
(1684) wrote: "the one who loves Mary
by constant exercise acquires the habit or
practice of having her as loving Mother present
in his mind, so that all his thoughts and
affections come to end both in her and in
God, and he can forget neither the loving
Mother nor God!"
Mary can be such a healing presence in our
hectic and many times restless lives. One
day she kissed Jesus. "You bore him
in your arms, took care of him, kissed him
with your pure mouth, nursed him at your
bosom and put him on your knees…" Today
she wants to kiss us!
'Sweet kissing' the Greek Orthodox Church
calls it. As she caressed Jesus, she can
and she wants to caress us! She enjoys hugging
us! There is only one proviso. We need to
let ourselves be consciously her sons or
her daughters. Many Catholics are like those
teenagers who would not want to be caught
death around their mother! It is just not
But the truth is the opposite. There is something
with this woman that is remarkable. In a
world with so much distress and ugliness
it would benefit us if look upwards and relax
in her. She will beautify us all the time.
She will remain always besides us, singing
the song that she conceived in her mind and
in her heart when we were thought of by God!
This is after all what the scapular all about.
A constant and tangible reminder of her protection.
"The humble brother of Carmel can exult
and sing with joy: 'See! The Queen of Heaven
is my sister; I can act with confidence and
"For a very long time I too have worn
the Carmelite Scapular! Because of the love
which I have for our heavenly Mother, whose
protection I experience constantly…"
echoed Pope John Paul II before he died.
I too echo the same sentiments, having been
called to be a Discalced Carmelite since
the early age of sixteen! Thanks, Mary!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
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