On the Mother of God and Grace

Talk for the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Stone by Fr Benedict Jonak o.p.

We say this prayer many times every day. In fact, for many of us who say the Rosary regularly, it is the prayer that we say most often: ‘Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mather of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death. Amen.Why do we have such a great devotion to the Mother of God? Is it simply a matter of a well established Catholic sentiment?


I'd like to explore with you today what it means for us to say that 'Mary is full of grace'.Let us do it by considering the life of the Mother of God in its three crucial stages:

The first stage is from her Immaculate Conception in the womb of St Anne to the moment of Annunciation: when Christ, the Word of God, the Son of God, begins His Incarnate life in the womb of His mother. 

Second, from the moment of Christ's incarnation to His Ascension to the right hand of the Father.  And third stage of Mary's life: from Christ's Ascension until now.

 Let us begin then. 

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Aquinas and The Mysteries of Light

On Saturday 25th March the Rosary Shrine hosted its first day conference in Blackfriars Hall. Four talks were given on the insights into the mysteries we contemplate in the Rosary which are found in the works of the great Dominican theologian St Thomas Aquinas.  The following is Sr Ann's talk.

The other talks at the conference may be found at the following link: http://rosaryshrine.co.uk/conference-talks/

"Et in mundo conversatus, sparso verbi semini" St Thomas on the Mysteries of Christ's Ministry, and on the lessons of His lifestyle. by Sr Ann Swailes o.p.


photo by Lawrence Lew o.p.

The eagle eyed among you will recognise that, in the way today's conference has been structured, the four papers correspond to the four chaplets of the rosary, the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries.

This is both obviously and deeply appropriate in this place, where the rosary is literally built into the fabric of the church next door, but at first sight, perhaps I could be forgiven for thinking that, in being asked to speak here, of all places,  about the mysteries of light, the mysteries, as my title puts it, of Christ's ministry, I've drawn something of a short straw compared with my three dear brothers in St. Dominic

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Nightfever Transfigured...

 by Sr Ann Catherine o.p.


A reflection  for Compline at the close of "Nightfever",  at Fisher House, Cambridge, an initiative in which student volunteers go out into the streets and invite those they meet to come into the church to light candles and spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.


They will see the Lord face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; there will be no need of lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

There will be no need of lamplight or sunlight. Compline this evening has been a little different from usual. We did not start our night prayer tonight as we have come to do in this place, every Friday, with the ceremony of lighting the lamps, reminding ourselves at the end of our day, as more and more candles are set ablaze about the altar, of our need for the light of Christ. That’s not just because we began our prayer significantly later than usual, and we decided to cut the ritual down to the bare minimum so that we can all go home to bed..  At the start of this compline, our church was already afire with the light of candles, each one representing the longings, the anxieties, the prayers of those we have welcomed here tonight, representing too the Lord’s longing to shelter and protect them, to protect us, to protect our desire, and theirs, fragile and flickering as it may be, to come to him in love and faith, to give ourselves to him as fully as we can.  And so it would have been a little redundant, a little artificial, on this night, to light yet more candles. The Lord’s love for each one of us is our light, and it is already shining on us here. The Lord, the light of the world, is enshrined in his Eucharistic presence on our altar, and his glory is reflected in the candles surrounding the monstrance.  Our love for the Lord, however fitful and dimly burning, and our desire to serve him in our brothers and sisters, as we have done this evening, that desire which is itself his gift to us, is shining out in this place too.

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