Three of the four gospels tell this powerful story about a withered hand. Each makes mention of this miracle, and all three use the same word to describe this man's condition: "withered hand." The term "withered" describes what once held life, but now the life is gone. (Like a flower.) That which was once strong is now fragile and weak. That which was once beautiful is now twisted and deformed.
Over the course of the years in my job at my parish, I have encountered hundreds of moms. These are women from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, socio-economic levels, education, and even languages, who meet to learn and worship together. Over time, I’ve heard many of their stories and learned of their sufferings. We have especially prayed for each other's children during times of trial.
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Devotion to Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows, took root in the Church around the 14th century. It was revealed to St. Bridget of Sweden that devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary's Seven Sorrows would grant seven extraordinary graces. In contemplating the suffering of Mary, one is drawn ever closer to her Son, Jesus, and his suffering which redeemed the world.
If we were teaching children about today’s Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Mother, we might include a birthday cake with white and blue frosting, sing Happy Birthday to her, and even have them make birthday cards to connect the Blessed Mother’s birth with a cause for celebration and how God chose her to become the mother of Jesus.
Mary’s birth is not recorded in the Bible. What we celebrate on September 8th each year is not Mary’s birthday in the traditional sense, but we honor the blessing of her being born. The word nativity refers to the circumstance or occasion of one being born. We honor the Nativity of Jesus, celebrated on December 25th, the date nine months after the celebration of the visit of the angel, Gabriel at the Annunciation. In a similar way, we remember Mary´s nativity, coming exactly nine months following the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the December 8th Solemnity when we commemorate Mary’s gift of prevenient grace allowing her to be born without Original Sin.
Peter, a humble fisherman, experienced a profound encounter with the Divine that speaks to our daily experiences and struggles. Just imagine, after a night of tireless effort, Peter and his companions found their nets bursting with an abundance of fish. Their hopes must have soared as they anticipated the ease of selling such a catch. It's natural for us to think, "If Jesus could do it once, why not invite Him as a business partner for a joint venture?" Yet, Luke's Gospel surprises us.