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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Framing Prayer 21 The Jesuits and Mary

While some orders have a day of discipline, by setting aside certain hours for prayer and some for work and necessities, such as eating and sleeping, the Jesuit must organize his own day according to his work.

In this way, the day of the Jesuit, especially in the missions, would resemble a lay day. And, if the Jesuit teaches at one of the many colleges or universities, his day would be similar to that of a college professor--with a huge difference.

I assume that most readers do not know that the patron of the Jesuit order is Our Lady Mary, under the title of Madonna Della Strada, Our Lady of the Road.

St. Ignatius chose this devotion to Mary as she interceded for him under this title. But, for me, this name of Mary evokes the peripatetic nature of missionary work and the movement of the Jesuit order across the world. In addition, such a patron would help a lay person realize, in his or her busy life, that Mary is with him or her on the way.

Like the popes before him, Pope Francis has a great love for Mary, especially Our Lady Undoer of Knots. But, this love of Mary has been a mark of the Jesuit order from day one. This image of Mary may be found in the Gesu, the main Jesuit Church in Rome. I was there twice.

Other chapels are dedicated to Our Lady of the Road, like the one at Loyola in Chicago.

Mary calls each one of us to follow her to Jesus, to take up a "way", a life, which includes prayer and discipline.  One of the readings for the Feast of Our Lady of the Way, or Road (May 24th) follows. In this selection from Proverbs, the reader is exhorted to become wise, become just, and then, perfect. 

Proverbs 4:10-18Douay-Rheims 

10 Hear, O my son, and receive my words, that years of life may be multiplied to thee.
11 I will shew thee the way of wisdom, I will lead thee by the paths of equity:
12 Which when thou shalt have entered, thy steps shall not be straitened, and when thou runnest thou shalt not meet a stumbling block.
13 Take hold on instruction, leave it not: keep it, because it is thy life.
14 Be not delighted in the paths of the wicked, neither let the way of evil men please thee.
15 Flee from it, pass not by it: go aside, and forsake it.
16 For they sleep not except they have done evil: and their sleep is taken away unless they have made some to fall.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of iniquity.
18 But the path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forwards and increaseth even to perfect day.

Of course, one of my favorite paintings of Christ, mentioned several times on this blog, the original Sacred Heart by Batoni is also in the Gesu, and in the old Jesuit Church in Malta, the Church of the Circumcision, where I would go pray daily when I lived in Valletta.

This call to the devotion to Our Lady is advice not only for a Jesuit, but for us as well. Our prayers must be based on the words of God, on the Word of God and the Mother of the Word. We, too, must leave the way of evil and cling to Mary. The Post-Communion prayer for the day indicates that one must rely on Mary to intercede for us daily in our work and we are called to look to her for inspiration.
we rejoice in your sacraments
and ask your mercy
as we honour the memory of the Virgin Mary.
May her faith and love inspire us to serve you more faithfully
in the work of salvation.
Grant this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
Perhaps Mary of the Road is a good companion for a lay person on the way to deep prayer and union with Christ.
to be continued....