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In the News: December 28, 2015

By Michael Duricy

Read recent items about Mary in both Catholic and secular news. Also see International Marian Research Institute news and updates.

ML/IMRI Features

Marian Events

Mary in the Catholic Press

Mary in the Secular Press

Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute Features


Dr. Virginia M. Kimball sent her annual poetic reflection on the Feast of the Nativity and granted us permission to share it (see immediately below).

The Christmas Cave

 There, in a simple cave, warm from the breath of cattle,

Lord of the cosmos whom galaxies adorn,

descended from  Eternity to dwell in earth with us,

vulnerable,  loving, and as a tender baby born.    

"Dearest Yosef, don't worry. This place is warm ... and hidden!

It will be fine."

"Oh, sweet little Miriyam, you are about to be a mother, so full of trust!

 What can I do?"

"You're a fine man! ... so true to Yahweh. Hold my hand, dear man,

it has begun."

"I will find a midwife, Miriyam. Soon, I promise, so now prepare ...

messiah comes!"

Once more, in a cold stone cave, repository of death,

Lord of Creation – in that moment of absolute glory

He rose from the tomb, emerging from earth's womb.

"Peter and John, come quickly. They have taken the Lord from the tomb.

Where can he be?"

"Hurry, Peter … can you run any faster?  Look, all I can see are

his burial cloths!"

"John, come in here too.  I see … the linens of his shroud,

I now believe!"

Birthing cave, empty cave … let us fall to our knees

clutching glory's plume!

From womb to tomb, from tomb to eternal womb

in God, Jesus bearing us all to God's realm,

Shalom – union with God ... Jesus at the helm!


Mary in Media: Books, Films, Music, etc.

Dr. Nastia Korbon, an expert on Jesus films, tells us that Le 13e jour, a French language version of The 13th Day--a feature-length [85 minute] film reenacting the story of the Marian apparitions in Fatima--will be released in France starting January 13, 2016. The original film was made in 2009 and an English-language version is available on DVD in Region 1 format from Ignatius Press. Click here for information about this DVD [including a link to a short video clip], or here for information about the French version [also including a short video clip].

From the Marian Treasure Chest

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M., sent us the text below along with the following comments: "The article below about devotions extending the celebration of liturgy was published in Messenger of Mary Immaculate, November-December, 2015, pages 20-21."

Devotions Extend and Continue the Liturgy by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

How many popular songs in recent decades have extolled memories? In addition, how often do we find ourselves and others recalling important incidents and persons of the recent or distant past?


When we stop to think about it, we are following the same human pattern when we celebrate some aspect of the official liturgy of the Church or a popular devotion. This is part of our Christian heritage.

Memories, stories, family customs and practices, and significant persons and events in our lives are a very important part of each of us. Recalling special persons and events, and continuing time-honored rituals with family and friends nourish the human spirit. This stimulates us to imitate and to continue what our predecessors have achieved.

Living the Liturgy

Thus it is with Jesus and His faithful followers. We look to Mary and the saints for models and examples of how to continue in the footsteps of our Redeemer. Therefore, we call on their help in a variety of ways.

The mystery of God becoming human and our role in this mystery is communicated to the Church not only in its official teaching, but also in its liturgy, piety, art, music, and in the religious experience of its members.

Our devotional heritage provides us with many patterns for approaching God and worshipping Jesus Christ outside of the Church's official worship, the sacred liturgy. But all focus on our active participation in the mysteries of salvation. Devotional practices extend and continue the graces of the Eucharist and the sacraments. They help us live our baptismal vocation. We insert ourselves into the ongoing plan of redemption as we make the way of the Cross, pray the rosary, follow a novena, fast, offer particular prayers, and perform charitable actions. However, from earliest times, devotions existed in the framework of the liturgy. For example, devotion to Mary has always existed in the Eucharistic Liturgy and in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Mary's close association in all the mysteries of Jesus is explicitly mentioned in those liturgical prayers.

Devotions evolved as related forms of prayer

However, as time progressed, new forms of honoring Mary and the saints, our heroes and models in the faith, were developed and practiced without the need of an ordained priest. The Bible, the liturgy, and the teachings of the Church have been the wellsprings for popular devotions that are celebrated in public or in private. From those sources, we develop other forms of celebrating God's love for us in company with Mary and the saints.

It is imperative to keep in mind that when we call upon Mary and the saints we are communicating also with Jesus for they lead us to him. In honoring the saints and asking for their assistance, we honor Jesus Christ. Christ is always our focal point.

Devotions are not meant to displace the liturgy but to extend it for special occasions and circumstances. They complement our liturgical prayer life with other forms of expressing our dedication to God.

If we honor or seek the help of Mary and the saints, it is because they are human mirrors reflecting the goodness of God. All this is borne out in the creed, code, and cult of our Christian faith. What is said and believed of Jesus applies also to Mary and the saints in appropriate, lesser degrees.

Alone or in a group, in public or in private, with approved prayers or using a prayer which is spontaneous or has no special authorization, we celebrate the life and love of our Savior in many ways, most of which carry the respect of centuries: the Way of the Cross, Eucharistic adoration, honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying the mysteries of the Rosary, special hymns and practices which highlight Mary and the saints and their attachment to God, novenas, pilgrimages to shrines, applying particular titles of holiness and protection, and similar practices. Most of us have some familiarity with such devotions.

The domestic church

The time-honored Catholic tradition of small altars, shrines, and prayer niches in the home is a reminder of God's presence in the family setting. This practice began with the first Christians who prayed privately in their homes before churches were built for publish worship. And the custom continued and fostered personal prayer even after churches were constructed. 

Such a space in a family dwelling provides a place where members can gather to pray and focus on God. It is a tangible way of honoring God and his saints and attests that they have a cherished spot in the home ... that they are always in our midst.

 A simple altar-like setting may reflect the family's history, petitions, and special devotions. It is a place of honor for items that hold a special meaning and value: a crucifix, Bible, images or statues, votive candles, holy water, rosaries, medal, prayer books, palms, photos of loved ones, incense, and other sacramentals. These items may be rotated as the liturgical season changes.

Historical and doctrinal perspective

Important to our appreciation and use of devotions is the understanding that they complement our life and further enrich our personal relationship with Jesus, sometimes directly and sometimes through the saints.

Since the second century, devotion to Mary and the saints originated as a need arose, or when a priest was not available, or when a special occasion was to be marked, or when someone was inspired.

Devotions are based on faith and need a doctrinal underpinning. However, ordinary Christians at prayer are not concerned with theological nuance. Theological inquiry has produced a high Christology which tended to distance Jesus from ordinary people. He, like the Father, was king and judge. Jesus Christ was much too distant to approach directly. Enter Mary and the saints. It made much better sense to cultivate the attention of his mother and most faithful disciple, and that of the saints. They seemed much closer to our human condition and were kindhearted enough to bend God's ear in our favor. The Marian apparitions, even of the twentieth century, have reinforced this attitude. Mary and the saints lead to Jesus. At all approved shrines, for example, Mary directs us to her Son in the Eucharist and in the sacraments.

In terms of devotion to Mary, every age tends to shape her image according to its own needs and desires. Yet, there are certain constants in her image--healer, intercessor, prophet and social critic, gentlewoman who is mother, comforter, nurturer, counselor, and friend. Mary is the perfect friend and mother for us.

The Gospel continues in Mary and the saints--and in us. We, the Church, are the continuation of Jesus Christ in our time, place and circumstances. Consequently, we need these saints and heroes as our models. Christian life without the saints is unthinkable. The saints are for the ages, ours no less than others, because they proclaim by their lives that life is worth living ... that a provident God cares for us. Mary and the saints personify this hope.

Vatican II restored balance

However, the accolade that "never enough honor can be given to Mary" (De Maria nunquam satis) must be placed in proper perspective and understood accordingly. The Second Vatican Council moved in this direction by adapting Catholicism to the modern world, re-emphasizing the Biblical foundations of faith and worship, and directing us to the call of the social gospel.

Vatican II moved to correct abuses and excesses in liturgical worship and in popular devotions. The Council undertook a theological re-shaping of the image of Mary and the popular impulses of devotion to her and to the saints. It should be noted that in every age Mary’s image tells us as much about ourselves as it does about Mary.

Balance is what we seek. Blessed Pope John XXIII once remarked: "The Madonna is not pleased when she is put above her Son." We must not over-humanize or over-divinize the cult of Mary and the saints. Devotion should rest on a sure theological and historical footing without neglecting the needs of our affective piety for images of Mary and the saints, who are healers, intercessors, prophets, and friends. The saints and Mary do for the faithful what friends do for friends. Mary does for us what mothers do for children. What theologians may sometimes overlook, we ordinary Christians will provide.


Participating in and continuing honored practices of devotion are an important part of our faith-life. Devotions are touchstones of faith. They are part of our Christian heritage. Sound devotions extend and continue liturgical worship.

Remember, and be faithful.

Marian Events

Dear Friends,

Please accept my very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year of Mercy.

On Monday I received an e-mail from Father Stefano Cecchin, OFM, Secretary of the Pontifical Marian Academy International (PAMI) providing some details about the PAMI conference to be held at the Sanctuary of Fatima in Portugal Sept. 6-11, 2016. I’ve provided below an English summary of the points listed and Father Stefano’s original note in Italian. I told him that I would send a list of MSA members intending to go along with the titles of their presentations by the end of January.

A few of you have already expressed interest in going, and I intend to go as well. Unfortunately, the Sanctuary at Fatima can only provide food and lodging for two members of each society. We need to decide who from the MSA will be able to take advantage of this kind offer in an appropriate manner. In the meantime, I will explore other lodging sites in Fatima. If possible, please let me know by the third week of January whether you plan to attend the Sept. 6-11, 2016 PAMI Congress. I would also need the title of your proposed presentation and 2-3 sentences describing its scope. Please let me know if you have any questions. I wish you all a most blessed Christmas, Solemnity of the Mother of God, and New Year.

In Christ and our all-holy Mother,

Robert Fastiggi, President of the Mariological Society of America

English Summary:

The Congress will take place Sept. 6-11, 2016 at Fatima

1. The program foresees three afternoons reserved for workshops.

2. Workshops are subdivided according to languages (in order to allow fuller participation).

3. The afternoons of Wed. Sept. 7 and Thurs. Sept. 8 are expected to have papers on how the message of Fatima has been received and interpreted in diverse cultural, theological, and ecclesial settings.

4.The third afternoon of Friday, Sept. 9 is reserved (still following the language subdivisions) either for those wishing to present research projects in the field of Mariology on which they are already working or for the presentation of projects and activities that the individual societies intend to undertake. In this way one will be able to foresee possible projects of study and research to be accomplished in common with other interested scholars.

5. Both the presentations for the program of Sept. 7 and 8 and the presentations for the program of Sept. 9 should not be more than 10 minutes.

6. The Sanctuary of Fatima is offering two free rooms (food and lodging) for each Mariological society.

7. The names and titles of each presentation should be sent to the Secretary of the Academy as soon as possible.

Original Italian 

Il 24° Congresso si terrà a Fatima dal 6 all’11 settembre del 2016.

  1. il programma prevede 3 pomeriggi riservati ai Workshops,
  2. i Workshops sono suddivisi per lingue (allo scopo di favorire una ampia partecipazione)
  3. Nei 2 pomeriggi di mercoledì 7 e giovedì 8 settembre sono previste le comunicazioni su come il messaggio di Fatima è stato recepito e interpretato nei diversi ambiti culturali, teologici ed ecclesiali.
  4. Il terzo pomeriggio di venerdì 9 settembre è riservato (seguendo sempre la suddivisione per lingue) sia a quanti desiderano illustrare i progetti di ricerca in campo mariologico ai quali stanno lavorando, sia alla presentazione dei progetti e delle attività che le singole società mariologiche intendono attuare. Si potrà così prendere visione di eventuali progetti di studio e ricerca da realizzare in comune tra gli studiosi interessati.
  5. Sia le comunicazioni in programma il 7 e 8 settembre, sia le presentazioni in programma il 9 settembre, non devono i 10 minuti.
  6. Il santuario di Fatima offre 2 posti gratuiti (vitto e alloggio) a ciascuna società mariologica.
  7. I nomi e i titoli dei singoli intervento devono essere comunicati alla Segreteria dell’Accademia quanto prima.


Mary in the Catholic Press

In the Year of Mercy, Catholics in Middle East ‘Will Pray for Daesh’ from Zenit (Alqosh, Iraq) December 22, 2015

The Holy Year of Mercy that was solemnly inaugurated by Pope Francis in Rome on December 8--the Feast of the Immaculate Conception--is being hailed with joy by Catholics throughout the Arab world--from Morocco to Iraq. International Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), gathered impressions from across the Middle East.

Father Dankha Issa is a Chaldean monk in Alqosh. Last summer, hundreds of Christian refugees found refuge in the city after their villages were seized by jihadists. The ancient, exclusively Christian city is situated in the northern part of Iraq. As the crow flies, only about ten miles separate the monastery of the Virgin in the Corn Field from the front line of ISIS-held territory.

"We are very thankful to Our Holy Father that he has proclaimed a Holy Year of Mercy. It is a time of grace for us," the priest told ACN. He himself had been forced to flee Mosul in June of 2014 after it fell to ISIS, or Daesh, as the terrorist organization is known in Arabic. Father Issa said: "This Jubilee gives us new hope. Let us hope that this year will extinguish the fires of hate and bring peace...."

The sisters began the Jubilee with a prayer vigil. A Sister said: "We prayed to the Lord who is present in the Eucharist. In doing so, we took turns in singing the hymn that was composed for the Holy Year and held long moments of silent worship. As we did this, we were, together with the Immaculate Virgin, in communion with the entire Church."

Click here to read the complete article.


Mary in the Secular Press

The director and editors of All About Mary under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

Our Lady of the Cab Ride (The Now Word) November 20, 2015

He was a Muslim, and he was angry. As my fifteen minute cab ride unfolded, the young, stocky Islamic man at the wheel did not mince words.

"What would you do if the Americans were bombing your wife and children? What would you do?!" He went on to justify the suicide bombers who were attacking American targets overseas. He was coming a bit unglued in his anger actually, and so I prayed for a moment, and then changed the subject.

"Is it true," I asked, "that Muslims honor the Blessed Virgin Mary?"

All of sudden, the cabby's face that had been twisted in anger in the rear view mirror began to unwind, along with his tone and demeanor.

"Oh yes," he sighed. "She is the most beautiful of all women, a virgin, pure and holy." As he continued to speak of her, it was clear that this man had more devotion to Mary than many Catholics....

Click here to read the complete article.


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We continue to celebrate the Christmas season and Mary's Divine Motherhood.
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