The Month of May:
In Honor of Mary
The Immaculate Conception
(Bartolome Esteban Murillo - 1665)
In the 17th Century, many great painters applied their skill to the theme of the Immaculate Conception. They strove to offer the Catholic faithful a pious portrayal of the unique creation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – conceived naturally in the womb of St. Anne, yet supernaturally gifted to be “full of grace” (hence conceived without any stain of the sin of Adam and Eve). El Greco, Francisco de Zurbaran, Diego Velazquez, Alonzo Cano, and the great Bartolome Esteban Murillo each burst onto the Spanish canvas with a renewed Marian piety, as if called by God directly to remind all generations (Lk 1:48) of the blessedness of Mary.
In the late 15th century, the universal Church had been encouraged to celebrate the feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception, a feast that had been celebrated as early as 750 A.D. in the eastern churches. The works of the great Spanish painters and the renewed faith of the People of God led eventually to the pronouncement of the Immaculate Conception as a Solemnity or a high feast (celebrated now on December 8th).
One of the earlier depictions of the Immaculate Conception is a work by the Italian Renaissance painter Piero di Cosimo, completed in 1510. We say "early" because the iconography for this subject was just becoming formalized. Cosimo portrays Mary standing on a stone pedestal carved with a low-relief image of the Annunciation. She is surrounded by saints and an earthly landscape showing the scenes of the Adoration of the Magi, the Adoration of the Shepherds, and the Flight into Egypt. Thus, Cosimo has painted a respectful yet "grounded" Mary; a Mary with her feet touching the ground.
As beautiful as this image of Cosimo's is, the Spaniards desired to portray Mary in the very "moment" of her conception, not as in the full bloom of her activity upon the earth. The work of these late Mannerist and Baroque painters was presented in a spiritual style using elongated forms which lift the eyes and emotions of the viewer above the earth. This other-worldly technique or imagery was well-suited for depicting Mary as a new creation, as one being formed in the act of God's thought, though not yet fully emancipated from that thought.
Thus, Mary is painted during this period as being conveyed from the divine mind into physical existence, still standing upon clouds of heaven surrounded or supported by angels, or upon a crescent or full moon, while often being shown wearing a crown of twelve stars around her head as adorning the "woman clothed with the Sun" (Rev 12: 1-2).
When one first observes these beautiful works of sacred art one might think that he is viewing a portrayal of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, or the Coronation of Mary as the Queen of Heaven. Yet, this initial error in one's perception is not without its own reward, since for the Catholic it is the notion of the Immaculate Conception as Mary created "full of grace" (Lk 1:28) that leads reasonably to the conclusion that Mary is assumed into heaven, full-body, and crowned therein as Queen.
The good news of the Gospel is that every human person born of grace who repents and believes in Jesus Christ as Lord, and who lives out his commands on earth, will be saved from eternal death and gain all the benefits of eternal life. We, the faithful who are not yet in heaven, may still reap the many benefits of a life in God including the prayerful assistance and activity of the saints and access to Mary. It was Mary who facilitated the opening and closing of the earthly ministry of Jesus at the marriage feast of Cana and at the foot of the cross, respectively. It is Mary who still tells us to “do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5) and to whom Jesus still sends his disciples for spiritual adoption (Jn 19 26-27).
Mary’s participation in the activity of the redemption of the human race cannot be understated neither in her free "yes" to God at the Annunciation, nor in her ongoing activity upon the earth in the hearts of all her spiritual children. Seek her in the Month of May and she will lead you to the love and salvation of Jesus Christ Our Lord!
Be in the Presence of Jesus: On Easter Day some of Jesus' disciples who knew of his suffering and death on the cross just two days prior, were walking and talking and probably lamenting over the horrific crucifixion of the person they thought was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. They were on their way to Emmaus, a town some seven miles distant from Jerusalem. The resurrected Jesus caught up with them, "but their eyes were kept from recognizing him." (Lk 24:16) They told Jesus of the great prophet who had been delivered up to death, and that even now his body was not in the tomb where his disciples had laid him. They did not undrstand.
Jesus therefore explained to them all the prophecies concerning the Messiah and how he was to suffer and all the mysteries that related to him and their hearts were "burning" inside them at his words and presence. Then Jesus, "took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight." (Lk 24:30-31).
The Eucharist is an eye-opener! It is in the Eucharist that Catholics most recognize Jesus here on earth. It is important to note that St. Luke in his gospel states that the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread and not in the "bread" itself. This is because the bread was no longer mere bread but the same Body of Christ that the Lord fed his Apostles at The Last Supper. This post-Easter encounter on the way to Emmaus was a training session in the Real Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus the physical person vanished, however Jesus the Holy Eucharist remained! It is in the blessing and breaking - the consecration of the bread into the Body of Christ - that the Church was expected to recognize Jesus until his Second Coming.
It takes grace and faith to recognize Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In the Eucharist, one's eyes are kept from recognizing him, however one's mind and heart and soul burns in recognition. Catholics must pray fervently for this grace and the grace of Adoration, and the best place to do this is before the Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
Come to the parish church of St. Francis Xavier of Acushnet and pray before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It is only in doing so that you will come to greater understanding by being in the Real Presence of Jesus, just as the men on their way to Emmaus recognized Jesus, only after he vanished from their sight, in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Parish Rosary CD is available for $5.00.
Copies are available at the parish office.
It is also sold on iTunes.
You can click on image and play the Rosary from this site.
Got Evening Prayer? We do! Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening in the parish church beginning at 6:30pm & concluding before 7:00pm. Please look for more information about Evening Prayer under the above home page heading: Parish Life & Liturgy
The church is open for prayer every day. Please call the office at 508 - 995 - 7600 if you require use of our wheel-chair lift.
Catholic Bible Study: will resume on Wednesday evening, May 13, and continue for the following three Wednesdays through June 3 in the Hospitality room of the parish center from 7 to 9pm. The Book of Tobit will be the subject of this study. The presentor will be Deacon David Pepin. All are welcome and best of all - no homework!
We Are Glad: to celebrate this month in honor of the Blessed Mother of Jesus. We will be praying a Daily Rosary every evening during May at 6:00pm (including Saturday and Sunday) and everyone is invited to join us (on Monday through Wednesday this will occur just before Evening Prayer at 6:30pm).
Mary was ground zero for the descent of the Holy Spirit on the great day of Pentecost, which we will celebrate on Sunday, March 24th. Be sure to ask that Mary will pray over you for the Holy Spirit to fill you life.
Corpus Christi: On the Feast of Corpus Christ (the Body of Christ) St. Francis Xavier Parish of Acushnet will join other parishes and the Franciscans of the Immaculate in a Eucharistic procession in Downtown New Bedford. The procession begins at 2:00pm on Sunday, June 7th from Our Lady's Chapel and proceeds to four local churches before returning to the chapel. Please join Monsignor O'Connor and your fellow parishioners for this solemn march of the Real Presence of the Lord in honor of our Lord Jesus who said "this is my body." (Please see Monsignor's column in the parish bulletin for more information).
Interested: in having your home enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Click here for more information on how to get started.
Recent Photo's & Events
May 04, 2014
St. Francis Xavier of Acushnet is a lively parish with many activities and opportunities for worship, prayer, and community. We extend to you an invitation to our parish family in hopes that you may join in our devotions and our reverent celebration of Holy Mass. Please contact us with any questions you have regarding our parish and living a life in the Catholic faith.
Copyright 2011 Saint Francis Xavier Parish - Acushnet, Ma. All rights reserved.