Shared Blessings (A Place to Belong): Inspiration for a Womans Heart

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Write a product review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. This beautiful volume is a wonderful devotional for women. Get to Know Us. Not Enabled Word Wise: Enabled Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item Would you like to tell us about a lower price? Delivery and Returns see our delivery rates and policies thinking of returning an item? See our Returns Policy. Visit our Help Pages. In effect, Mary's multifaceted mission for the people of God is a supernatural reality fruitfully at work in the ecclesial organism.

And it is gladdening to consider the singular aspects of this mission and to see how they are oriented, each one with its proper role, towards the same goal: She, free from every sin, leads her children to this: This liberation from sin is the necessary condition for every renewal of Christian customs. The exemplary holiness of the Virgin moves the faithful to lift their eyes to Mary, who shines as the model of virtues. These virtues of the Mother will adorn the children, who tenaciously contemplate her example in order to reproduce her virtues in their own lives.

And such progress in virtue will appear as a consequence and mature fruit of that pastoral force that springs from true devotion to the Virgin. The Catholic Church, basing itself on its secular experience, recognizes in devotion to the Virgin a powerful aid for man in the pursuit of his fulfillment.

The Virgin contemplated in her real condition in the City of God, offers a serene vision and a calming word: The Holy Father explains the Virgin's "motherly presence" along the path of faith from two points of view: The Church too, as a body , has a spirituality, that is to say, she has taken on attitudes, made decisions, and adopted a style of life. The Church's spirituality is a Marian spirituality because it imitates Mary's attitudes.

This is one of the most important conclusions of Conciliar reflection regarding the place of Mary in relation to the Church. In the documents where the Church points out her own intimate nature Constitution Lumen Gentium and her spirituality Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium she insists equally on presenting the Virgin as Typus, exemplar et imago of the Church herself. This relationship Mary as model for the Church is a constant encouragement for the Church to reflect on the Mother of the Savior: This imitation of Mary by the pilgrim Church which, under the signs of the times moves towards the Heavenly Jerusalem, constitutes the foundation of the Marian character of liturgical spirituality.

The imitation takes into account, above all, the exercise of the theological life of the Church, which reaches its greatest height in liturgical life The imitation and reproduction of the sentiments and attitudes of the Virgin are manifest and given life in the faithful, in seminarians, and in priests, through participation in the liturgy with a spirit of faith, hope, and charity, since the liturgy is Christ's own prayer to the Heavenly Father, exercised in union with his mystical body, and in a singular way with the Virgin.

In the Eucharist the Virgin Mary's motherhood in the order of grace has been understood and lived in a special way by the Christian people. There in the sacred Banquet Christ, with his true body, born of the Virgin Mary, is made present. Rightly so, popular Christian piety has always seen a profound link between devotion to the Blessed Virgin and Eucharistic worship, since Mary always guides the faithful to the Eucharist Reference to the person is essential to motherhood.

Motherhood always defines a unique and unrepeatable relationship between two people: One can affirm that motherhood "in the order of grace" maintains the analogy with "the order of nature" in its characterization of the mother-child union.

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The Marian spirituality of every priest is rooted in this relationship. Priestly spirituality cannot be considered complete if it does not take into serious consideration the testament of Christ crucified, who wanted to confide his beloved disciple to his Mother and, through him, all priests, who have been called to carry forward the work of redemption" Mary's motherhood, which is turned into mankind's patrimony, is a gift: The ever-Virgin is for priests the mother who leads them to Christ, at the same time that she makes them authentically love the Church and guides them to the Kingdom of Heaven" Where does the Church's spirituality come from?

From the heart of Christ, with which Mary's heart lovingly beats; in the Heart of Christ, which is the heart of the Church.

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The gesture with which Christ confided his disciple to his Mother and his Mother to the disciple 16 has defined an extremely close relationship between Mary and the Church. It is the will of the Lord that a Marian note mark the physiognomy of the Church, her road, her pastoral activity; and into the spiritual life of each disciple a "Marian dimension" is infused Mary is much more than a model and a figure of the Church. For, "with love she cooperates in the generation and education" of the sons and daughters of Mother Church.

The Church's motherhood is carried forth not only according to the model and figure of the Mother of God, but also with her "cooperation," which we understand as motherly mediation. Here we discover the real value of the words spoken by Jesus to his mother when he was on the cross: Woman, behold your son, and to the disciple, Behold you mother. They are words that define Mary's place in the life of Christ's disciples and express her new motherhood as mother of the Redeemer: Giving himself filially to Mary, the Christian, like the Apostle John, "welcomes as one of his own" Christ's mother and introduces her into the whole space of his interior life.

That is to say, into his human and Christian "I": He took her into his home" This is motherhood in the order of grace, because she implores the gift of the Holy Spirit which gives rise to the new children of God, redeemed by Christ's sacrifice: By the coincidence of the data of faith and the facts of the anthropological sciences - when these have been applied to Mary of Nazareth - we have better understood that the Virgin is, at the same time, the highest historical realization of the gospel, and also the woman who, by her self-dominion, her sense of responsibility, her openness to others and spirit of service, her strength, and her love, has fulfilled the human dimension of life more completely than anyone else It is necessary to draw the men of our times near to the figure of the Virgin, putting into high relief her historical image of the humble Jewish maiden.

It is necessary to show Mary's lasting and universal human qualities, in such a way that studying Mary sheds light on the study of man Because of her two-fold condition of perfect follower of Christ and the woman who has completely fulfilled herself as a person, she is a perennial source of fruitful inspirations for life. For the disciples of the Lord, the Virgin is the great symbol of the human being who fulfills the deepest longings of her mind, will, and heart, opening herself through Christ and in the Spirit to God's transcendence in a filial surrender of love, and fixing herself firmly in history by effective service to men Having considered the importance of the figure of the Virgin in salvation history and in the life of God's People, and following the indication of Vatican II and the Holy Fathers, one cannot seriously think of discarding today the teaching of Mariology: Research and teaching in Mariology and service in pastoral work tend towards the promotion of an authentic Marian piety, which must characterize the life of every Christian and particularly of those who dedicate themselves to theological studies and are preparing themselves for the priesthood It is necessary to stir up an authentic Marian piety among seminarians.


The Code of Canon Law, when treating of the formation of candidates to the priesthood, recommends devotion to the Blessed Virgin, nourished by those acts of piety with which the students acquire the spirit of prayer and strengthen their vocations In this sense the Congregation for Catholic Education has insisted on the need to give students in all centers of ecclesiastical studies and seminarians an integral Mariological formation that includes study, devotion, and life.

They will have to acquire a complete and exact knowledge of the Church's doctrine concerning the Virgin Mary, nourishing an authentic love for this mother, which expresses itself in genuine methods of veneration and are translated into "imitation of her virtues" 26 , and above all, a determined decision to live according to the commandments of God and to do his will 27 ; they will also have to develop the capacity to communicate that love - by words, writings, and by their own lives - to the Christian people A few advantages of an adequate Marian formation follow In the intellectual realm, because the truth about God and about man, about Christ and about the Church, are known more deeply and more sublimely through knowledge of the "truth about Mary.

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In the spiritual realm, because that formation helps the Christian to welcome and introduce the Mother of Jesus "into the whole space of his own interior life. In the pastoral realm, so that the Mother of the Lord is powerfully felt as a presence of grace for the Christian people. The acquisition of a solid Marian spirituality is an essential aspect of Christian spirituality. On his road to full maturity in Christ 30 , the Lord's disciple, conscious of the mission that God has entrusted to the Virgin in salvation history and in the life of the Church, takes her as a mother and a teacher in the spiritual life 31 ; with her and like her, in light of the Incarnation and the Pascal mystery, he stamps his own existence with a decisive orientation towards God through Christ in the Holy Spirit, so as to live out in the Church the radical invitation made by the Good News, and in particular, the commandment of love The piety related to Mary of Nazareth must constitute a permanent task, since the value of the Virgin's example and her mission are effectively permanent.

The mother of the Lord is a fact of divine revelation and constitutes a motherly presence always at work in the life of the Church Indeed, a just valuing of the work of women within the family is required.

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In this way, women who freely desire will be able to devote the totality of their time to the work of the household without being stigmatized by society or penalized financially, while those who wish also to engage in other work may be able to do so with an appropriate work-schedule, and not have to choose between relinquishing their family life or enduring continual stress, with negative consequences for one's own equilibrium and the harmony of the family. It is appropriate however to recall that the feminine values mentioned here are above all human values: It is only because women are more immediately attuned to these values that they are the reminder and the privileged sign of such values.

The word designates indeed the fundamental human capacity to live for the other and because of the other. Therefore, the promotion of women within society must be understood and desired as a humanization accomplished through those values, rediscovered thanks to women. Every outlook which presents itself as a conflict between the sexes is only an illusion and a danger: Without prejudice to the advancement of women's rights in society and the family, these observations seek to correct the perspective which views men as enemies to be overcome.

The proper condition of the male-female relationship cannot be a kind of mistrustful and defensive opposition. Their relationship needs to be lived in peace and in the happiness of shared love.

On a more concrete level, if social policies — in the areas of education, work, family, access to services and civic participation — must combat all unjust sexual discrimination, they must also listen to the aspirations and identify the needs of all. The defence and promotion of equal dignity and common personal values must be harmonized with attentive recognition of the difference and reciprocity between the sexes where this is relevant to the realization of one's humanity, whether male or female. From the beginning of Christianity, the Church has understood herself to be a community, brought into existence by Christ and joined to him by a relationship of love, of which the nuptial experience is the privileged expression.

From this it follows that the Church's first task is to remain in the presence of this mystery of God's love, manifested in Jesus Christ, to contemplate and to celebrate it. In this regard, the figure of Mary constitutes the fundamental reference in the Church.

Keyword:Shared Blessings (A Place to Belong): Inspiration for a Woman's Heart

One could say metaphorically that Mary is a mirror placed before the Church, in which the Church is invited to recognize her own identity as well as the dispositions of the heart, the attitudes and the actions which God expects from her. The existence of Mary is an invitation to the Church to root her very being in listening and receiving the Word of God, because faith is not so much the search for God on the part of human beings, as the recognition by men and women that God comes to us; he visits us and speaks to us. Faith continually makes reference to Jesus: Mary, in the hour of darkness, perseveres courageously in faithfulness, with the sole certainty of trust in the Word of God.

It is from Mary that the Church always learns the intimacy of Christ. Mary, who carried the small child of Bethlehem in her arms, teaches us to recognize the infinite humility of God. She who received the broken body of Jesus from the Cross shows the Church how to receive all those in this world whose lives have been wounded by violence and sin. From Mary, the Church learns the meaning of the power of love, as revealed by God in the life of his beloved Son: From Mary, the disciples of Christ continually receive the sense and the delight of praise for the work of God's hands: To look at Mary and imitate her does not mean, however, that the Church should adopt a passivity inspired by an outdated conception of femininity.

Nor does it condemn the Church to a dangerous vulnerability in a world where what count above all are domination and power. In reality, the way of Christ is neither one of domination cf. In entrusting his mother to the Apostle John, Jesus on the Cross invites his Church to learn from Mary the secret of the love that is victorious. Far from giving the Church an identity based on an historically conditioned model of femininity, the reference to Mary, with her dispositions of listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting, places the Church in continuity with the spiritual history of Israel.

In Jesus and through him, these attributes become the vocation of every baptized Christian. Regardless of conditions, states of life, different vocations with or without public responsibilities, they are an essential aspect of Christian life. While these traits should be characteristic of every baptized person, women in fact live them with particular intensity and naturalness. In this way, women play a role of maximum importance in the Church's life by recalling these dispositions to all the baptized and contributing in a unique way to showing the true face of the Church, spouse of Christ and mother of believers.

In this perspective one understands how the reservation of priestly ordination solely to men 22 does not hamper in any way women's access to the heart of Christian life. Women are called to be unique examples and witnesses for all Christians of how the Bride is to respond in love to the love of the Bridegroom. In Jesus Christ all things have been made new cf. Renewal in grace, however, cannot take place without conversion of heart. Gazing at Jesus and confessing him as Lord means recognizing the path of love, triumphant over sin, which he sets out for his disciples.

In this way, man's relationship with woman is transformed, and the three-fold concupiscence described in the First Letter of John 1 Jn 2: The witness of women's lives must be received with respect and appreciation, as revealing those values without which humanity would be closed in self-sufficiency, dreams of power and the drama of violence.

Women too, for their part, need to follow the path of conversion and recognize the unique values and great capacity for loving others which their femininity bears. Such a conversion cannot take place without humble prayer to God for that penetrating gaze which is able to recognize one's own sin and also the grace which heals it. Only thus can the path of peace and wonderment be recovered, witnessed in the verses of the Song of Songs, where bodies and hearts celebrate the same jubilee.

The Church certainly knows the power of sin at work in individuals and in societies, which at times almost leads one to despair of the goodness of married couples. But through her faith in Jesus crucified and risen, the Church knows even more the power of forgiveness and self-giving in spite of any injury or injustice. AAS 87 , ; Catechesi sull'amore umano English translation in The Theology of the Body , Boston: Guidelines for Education within the Family December 8, AAS 91 , AAS 80 , ; cf.

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Ireneus, Adversus haereses, 5,6,1; 5, 16, SC , ; ; St. Gregory of Nyssa, De hominis opificio, PG 44, ; In Canticum homilia, 2: PG 44, ; St. Augustine, Enarratio in Psalmum, 4, 8: It carries no implication of inferiority or exploitation if we remember that God too is at times called ezer with regard to human beings cf. AAS 80 , Pauline Books Media, , AAS 86 , AAS 86 , ; cf.