Sunday, July 27, 2014



Photo Source: Wikipedia

As Catholics, we honor Mary, the Mother of God, under many beautiful titles. One of my favorite titles is "Refuge of Sinners." Her feast day under this title is August 13th.  

I love this title because this devotion reflects the mercy of God manifested through Our Blessed Mother. As fallen children of Eve, we can all run to her, the new Eve, and be embraced by her.  Through this devotion, we can see the similarity of "Refuge of Sinners" and the beautiful biblical story of the Prodigal Son. Mary leads all her prodigal children to the throne of God, where she rejoices with us that the sinner has come home!

Beginning as early as the second century in the writings of St. Justin, Martyr, the Church teaches us that Mary is a powerful intercessor for us before God the Father. Later, St. Alphonsus Liguori who was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 writes of Mary as Refuge of Sinners:

One of the titles by which the holy Church teaches us to invoke the divine mother, and which most encourages poor sinners, is the title of "Refuge of Sinners," with which we invoke her in the Litanies. There were anciently, in Judea, cities of refuge ; and criminals, who sought protection in them, were free from the penalty of their offences. Now, there are not so many cities of refuge, but instead of these there is one only, Mary ; of whom it was spoken : Glorious things are said of thee, oh city of God Gloriosa dieta sunt de te civitas Dei. But with this difference, that not all criminals could find refuge in those ancient cities, nor for all sorts of crime ; but under the mantle of Mary all offenders may find protection, what ever crimes they have committed. It is sufficient for any one to have recourse to her for protection. "I am the city of refuge for all those who flee to me," as St. John of Damascus says, speaking in her name...Read more

As Secular Carmelites, we have a great devotion to Our Lady. We wear her Scapular, her mantle. As St. Alphonsus writes, "...under the mantle of Mary all offenders may find protection..." The scapular should be a constant reminder to us that she is ever with us. She helps us poor sinners as we strive to overcome our faults and failings. She is with us as we journey to the summit of Carmel- spiritual perfection and union with her Son.

We only have to read the lives of the saints to see that they considered themselves poor sinners. St. Bernadette, to whom Our Lady appeared at Lourdes, was a saint who considered herself a "poor sinner." In fact, these were her last words, "pray for me, a poor sinner."  

If we don't see ourselves as sinners in need of God's mercy, there is not much room for spiritual perfection, there is no need for the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we don't see ourselves as sinners, there is no compassion and mercy for others. 

If we love God and are seeking spiritual perfection, we are called to be a refuge of sinners to our neighbor. We are called to be servants of God's mercy to others. We are called to serve with open arms and to welcome all those who have hurt us in life. Many times our human nature rebels against forgiveness and mercy, we want to hold a grudge. We want to let the other person know how they have hurt us. If we want to be holy, we cannot go this route. We must show the attributes of God; let us be slow to anger and quick to forgive. These spiritual qualities are proof that the Spirit lives and reigns in us. Let us strive to have the heart and mind of a saint. A heart that reflects the love and mercy of God!

In the rosary we say, "...pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death..." As sinners, let us turn to Mary, our mother and sure refuge. At the hour of our death she will be with us and lovingly defend us before the Throne of God. 

Mary, Daughter of the Eternal Father, pray for us.
Mary, Mother of the only-Begotten Son, pray for us.
Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us. 

Mary, Intercessor for All Mankind. (Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)

Prayer to Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners:

Hail, most gracious Mother of mercy, hail, Mary, for whom we fondly yearn, through whom we obtain forgiveness! Who would not love thee? Thou art our light in uncertainty, our comfort in sorrow, 
our solace in the time of trial, our refuge from every peril and temptation. Thou art our sure hope of salvation, second only to thy only-begotten Son; blessed are they who love thee, our Lady! Incline, I beseech thee, thy ears of pity to the entreaties of this thy servant, a miserable sinner; dissipate the darkness of my sins by the bright beams of thy holiness, in order that I may be acceptable in thy sight.


Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds.

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