“As my day draws to a close, Loving God, I thank You for all the good things this day has brought. I thank You, too, for the challenges and difficulties, for these were opportunities for me to grow and change as You would have me do. Forgive me, please, for the times I have failed to walk in the footsteps of Jesus this day. Forgive me if I have hurt or offended anyone, and give me the courage to face my limitations. I need Your help and I rely on You. Without You who knows what I might do! May I rest in You this night, and may I fall asleep knowing that You hold me in Your loving embrace. May a good night’s sleep refresh me to begin anew tomorrow to love and serve You and others. Amen.”
This memorial falls one day after the Feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross and reminds us of Mary’s suffering during Jesus’ passion and death. Michelangelo’s Pieta and the hymn, Stabat Mater, are artistic representations of Mary’s grief.
The First Reading for today as well as the gospel speak of “being lifted up.” Moses lifted up the bronze serpent so those who were bitten by snakes might be cured. Jesus was lifted up on the cross so we could be saved. The word in Greek that is translated a “being lifted up” meant both being crucified and being enthroned as king. In John’s gospel it is the cross from which Jesus reigns. This cross of torture and death God turned into victory. So, today let us acclaim: “We adore You O Christ and we praise You because by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.”
Mary is one of the few that we celebrate that person’s birth (Jesus, of course, Christmas and John the Baptist is another one). In the prayers for the mass and the Liturgy of the Hours we find out why: “the birth of the Virgin Mary’s Son was the dawn of our salvation,” and again, “of whom was born the Son of Justice.” As usual, Mary points to her Son, Jesus Christ.
Sep. 1 is observed as World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. In the Genesis story, Adam and Eve (and thus their descendents) were made stewards of creation. A good steward takes care of something, in this case creation, as if he/she owns it knowing that they really don’t own it. They are keeping it for the rightful owner. We need to give thanks to God for His handiwork of creation and do what we can, as stewards, to protect it.
Yesterday, we had the Memorial of St. Monica, St. Augustine’s mother. Monica prayed ardently that Augustine would change his wayward ways and become a Catholic Christian. Finally, in his early 30’s, Augustine was brought into the Church by St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. He was later ordained a priest and then Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. His writings are so extensive it is said that one could spend their whole lives just reading what Augustine wrote. He is most famous for his “Confessions” which chronicles his search for God. Augustine understood that the focal point for unity in the church was the Eucharist.
Mother of St. Augustine. She prayed relentlessly for his conversion to Christianity. She never stopped her prayers and didn’t give up. Tomorrow, we will remember her son, the fruit of all those prayers.