Saturday, January 17, 2015

Called By Name - homily for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time                                                January 18, 2015
1 Sam. 3:3-10,19            Ps. 40         1 Cor. 6:13-15,17-20                Jn 1:35-42

The Lord called Samuel’s name.  Did you hear it?  Young Samuel heard it.  He was Hanna’s son.  Remember her story?  She was the woman who couldn’t have a baby.  She went to the temple and prayed fervently for the gift of a child.  The Lord heard her prayer.  She and her husband conceived, and little Samuel came into the world.  After he was weaned Hanna, his mother, took Samuel to the temple and dedicated him to God.  This was how he came to live in the temple. 

Notice where Samuel was when he heard the voice of the Lord.  He was sleeping in the temple of the Lord.  That’s a good metaphor for the state of things in Israel at that time.  Opening up the bible to read the bigger story is revealing.  Earlier in the text, verse 1, we learn that “the word of the Lord was scarce and vision infrequent.”  Eli, the priest, was the supervisor of the other priests.  Go back another chapter and we learn that Eli’s sons were wicked.  They were cheaters, abusers, and totally lacked respect for God and for others. And Eli, who supervised the other priests, and who had a particular responsibility toward his sons, did not correct the problem.  So from the spiritual leadership on down Israel was spiritually asleep.

Does that problem sound familiar?  Various times in salvation history, God’s people have been asleep.  And sometimes some of the spiritual leadership has acted like Eli’s sons – corrupted by their greed and lust.  Sometimes those in authority have acted like Eli – not acting to correct the problem. 

So what did God do?  God acted to wake up his people.  That’s where Samuel came in.  Samuel was asleep in the temple where the Ark of God was when God called his name.  He didn’t understand what was happening at first, but he learned to say something important.  When God called his name he learned to say this – “speak, for your servant is listening.”
And so it was that Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him.  God used Samuel in a powerful way to turn all Israel back to the Lord. 

The Lord Jesus called his disciples to follow him.  Did you catch that?  So many in Israel were anxiously waiting for the Messiah.  John the Baptist had been preaching about it for some time, calling the people to turn away from their sins and prepare the way of the Lord.  He had been busy baptizing folks in the Jordan river, calling them to repent and believe.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus walk by, God inspired him with the knowledge that the Messiah was there and so he said, “behold the Lamb of God.”  It’s the same phrase we use in the Mass when we elevate the consecrated host.  Jesus is really here, present among us, calling us to himself.  John’s disciples believed when he uttered those words for the first time.  They went immediately with Jesus at his invitation and began staying with him. 

One of those men was Andrew.  He went immediately to his brother Simon and said rather excitedly – “we have found the Messiah, “and he brought him to Jesus.  It was surely the work of the Holy Spirit through Andrew, bringing his brother to Jesus, who looked at him and gave him a new name – Cephas – which is translated Peter.  Those apostles are the ones whom Jesus later sent out into the world to bring the light of the gospel to all peoples, lands, and nations.  God in his mercy has a plan of salvation for you and for me and for the whole world.

God has called each of us by name.  Have you heard it?  In the rite of baptism our names are presented to God and to all the people.  In the rite of baptism we are marked with the sign of our salvation, the sign of the cross.  In our baptism we are immersed into the death and resurrection of Jesus, washed clean of our sins, and given a share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal ministry of Jesus.  We are called by Jesus to become spiritually awake, like the prophet Samuel.  We are called by Jesus to become temples of the Holy Spirit and serve as instruments of his salvation in the world.

This weekend, we celebrate the great sacrament of baptism.  It is a wonderful opportunity for each of us.  This weekend, we bring these little ones to Jesus just like Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus.  So let us be joyful in bringing others to Jesus.  This weekend we renew our own baptismal promises.  So let us once again declare our faith in Jesus.  This weekend, we approach the altar of God to receive the Holy Eucharist.  We will once again repeat the words of John the Baptist – “behold the Lamb of God.”  Let us once again receive Jesus into our lives and stay with him.  Let’s pray that every fiber of our being becomes united with the will of God so that through us, His Church, his love and mercy will heal the world.

The Lord is calling our names now.  He calls us to follow him and to stay with him.  He wants to raise us up to bring his light into the world.  May we respond with the same words of faith that young Samuel learned – “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

when they leave the church

As Mark Mallet writes below, lots of people have come to him with great sadness over their chidden. They were raised in the church, but as adults they have left the church.  Is this your story?  Have you witnessed family members who are "former Catholics" who have left the church?  Or who have abandoned faith completely?  

The reflection below by Mark Mallett offers great insight and hope.  I post it in its entirety for you, the reader to read and reflect.

Fr. Bill

Losing Our Children

for January 5th-10th, 2015
of the Epiphany
Liturgical texts here

have had countless parents come up to me in person or write me saying, “I don’t understand. We took our children to Mass every Sunday. My kids would pray the Rosary with us. They would go to spiritual functions… but now, they’ve all left the Church.”
The question is why? As a parent of eight children myself, the tears of these parents has sometimes haunted me. Then why not my kids? In truth, every one of us has free will. There is no forumla, per se, that if you do this, or say that prayer, that the outcome is sainthood. No, sometimes the outcome is atheism, as I’ve seen in my own extended family.
But this week’s powerful readings from the First book of John unveil the antidote to apostasy that truly is the answer to how to keep oneself and one’s loved ones from falling away.
St. John explains that the very hope of our salvation is that God loved us first.
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as expiation for our sins. (Tuesday’s first reading)
Now, this is an objective truth. And here’s where the problem for many families begins: it remains an objective truth. We go to Catholic school, Sunday Mass, Catechesis, etc. and we hear this truth, expressed in a multitude of ways through the life and spirituality of the Church, as objective truth. That is, many Catholics are raised their entire lives without being invited, encouraged, and taught that they must make this love of God a subjective truth. They must enter into a relationship, a personal relationship with God of their own free will in order for the power of these objective truths to personally “set them free.”
Sometimes even Catholics have lost or never had the chance to experience Christ personally: not Christ as a mere ‘paradigm’ or ‘value’, but as the living Lord, ‘the way, and the truth, and the life’. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, L’Osservatore Romano (English Edition of the Vatican Newspaper), March 24, 1993, p.3.
This is the beauty, wonder, and essential difference that sets Christianity apart from every other religion. We are invited by God Himself to a transforming and tender relationship with Him. Hence, St. John makes the crucial point that his victory over the world comes from having made the objective truth a subjective one.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. (Wednesday’s first reading)
What I am saying is that, as parents, we must do everything we can to bring our children to a personal relationship with Jesus, who is the way to the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to invite them over and over again to make their faith their own. We have to teach them that a relationship with Jesus is not just believing He exists (because even the devil believes this); rather, they need to cultivate this relationship through prayer and reading Scripture, which is God’s love letter to us.
…prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Kingdom is “the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity . . . with the whole human spirit.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2565
My heart explodes when I read these words. God wants to unite Himself to me. This is wondrous. Yes, as the Catechism teaches, “prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.” [1] As parents, we have to teach our children how to pray, how to approach God, how to quench their thirst for meaning at the Living Well of Christ—not only with rote prayers and formulas, which have their place—but with the heart. Jesus calls us “friends.” We have to help our children discover that Jesus is not just this “friend in the sky”, but one who is near, waiting, loving, caring, and healing us as we invite Him into our lives, and, as we in turn begin to love Him and others as He has loved us.
…if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. (Wednesday’s first reading)
We also have to remember as parents that we are not our children’s Savior. We have to ultimately entrust them to God’s care and let them go, rather than control them.
And we have to also remember that we belong to a body, and that there are many gifts and different functions in the body of Christ. In my own life, and that in my children’s, I can see the fruit of having encountered other like-minded Christians, others who are on fire for God, others who have the anointing to preach, to lead, to stir our hearts. Parents often make the mistake of thinking that it is enough to send their children to a Catholic school or the parish youth group. But in truth, Catholic schools can sometimes be more pagan than public ones, and youth groups nothing more than peanuts, popcorn, and ski trips. No, you must find out where streams of living water are flowing, where there is that divine “medicine” we read about in today’s Gospel. Find out where kids are being changed and transformed, where there is an authentic exchange of love, ministry, and grace.
Last, is it not apparent then, that in order to teach our children how to enter a personal relationship with Jesus, we must have one ourselves? For if we do not, then our words are not only sterile, but even somewhat scandalous, for they see us say one thing, and do another. One of the best ways a father can teach his children to pray is for them to walk into his bedroom or office and see him on his knees in converse with God. That is teaching your sons! That is instructing your daughters!
Let us call upon Mary and Joseph to help us, not only to bring our children into a personal relationship with Jesus, but to help us to fall in love with God so that everything we say and do is a manifestation of His omnipotent love and presence.
It is necessary to enter into real friendship with Jesus in a personal relationship with him and not to know who Jesus is only from others or from books, but to live an ever deeper personal relationship with Jesus, where we can begin to understand what he is asking of us… Knowing God is not enough. For a true encounter with him one must also love him. Knowledge must become love. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Meeting with the youth of Rome, April 6th, 2006;
…the victory that conquers the world is our faith. (Thursday’s first reading)

A Priest in My Own Home: Part I and Part II

The Works of Justice - #baptismofthelordhomily

Baptism of the Lord                                                                January 11, 2015
Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7                   Acts 10:34-38             Mark 1:7-11

Today we celebrate the last day of Christmas. So for the last time we can wish one another “merry Christmas.” Before the end of the weekend we will take down all the Christmas decorations and get settled into winter ordinary time and the long wait until Easter. 

But we still have a day to go - so “merry Christmas.” On this last Sunday of the Christmas season we celebrate the great feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It is like a second Epiphany. Last week we learned that Epiphany means “manifestation of God” or “the “aha moment of understanding a great truth.” Well, today we remember when Jesus went to the river Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist. 

And remember what happened next? The heavens opened up and the spirit of God came down on Jesus.  The voice of the Father was heard saying “this is my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” In this very moment we have a true epiphany. In fact, we call this episode a “theophany” – and that is a fancy word that means a true “revelation of God.” The Holy Trinity was revealed in that moment. The Holy Spirit came down like a dove. The Voice of the Father was heard. Jesus was revealed as the beloved Son.  So we have a revelation of the Holy Trinity. 

In the gospel of Mark this is the moment when we first encounter Jesus as the revealed Messiah. Jesus came to fulfill the will of the Father. Our first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah gives us more insight into what this means.  It is a messianic prophecy and refers to what the messiah will accomplish. The key word in this passage is the word “justice.” Let’s look at some key phrases. “He shall bring forth justice to the nations.” “He establishes justice on the earth.” “I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice.”

Three times, in this passage, the oracle emphasizes the concept of justice as a key component of the purpose of the messiah. To bring forth justice, to establish justice, and to have the victory of justice.  A little later it describes what this looks like.  It is startling.

1.  to be a covenant of the people
2.  to be a light for the nations
3.  to open the eyes of the blind.
4.  to bring out prisoners from confinement

Let’s consider the idea of God’s justice as explained by Isaiah. This is the will of the Father given to Jesus in his messianic ministry. And, since through baptism we share in the life of Jesus, it is our Christian task as well. Justice is this: “the restoration of right relationship.”  This, in a nutshell, is what Jesus set out to do. Where all has gone hopelessly wrong and apparently unfixable, Jesus set out to bring us into right relationship with God and with one another. It starts in the person of Jesus who accomplished the Father’s will perfectly. Therefore he himself became the covenant for the people and the light for the nations. Through his covenant by the cross and resurrection and by the light of his perfect righteousness he opens the eyes of the spiritually blind and brings those imprisoned by sin out of confinement. That’s the restoration he accomplishes. Where we all deserve separation from God because of our sins Jesus obtains for us both pardon and healing. He restores us to right relationship with God. 

This has amazing implications for us. It is an “aha” moment of truth unlike any other. Through faith in Jesus we are able to receive unconditional pardon from our sins. Over and over again when we return to him in faith. Over and over again he brings us into right relationship with God and with one another.

Therefore, we are called to do the same. For this reason in the epistle of James he says this; “faith without works is dead.” Faith demands works of justice. Faith calls for restoration to right relationship with God and with one another. 

So, here’s a question. How do we make that practical? How do we accomplish works of justice in our world today? While one could look at the violence in the world today and point to the increase in works of darkness, each and every one of us is given the task to acknowledge God, take the next right step, and become a beacon of hope for others. So let’s consider three works of justice that all of us can do.

The first work of justice is prayer. We return to God with thanks and open our hearts to listen.  Prayer is the key and the foundation for anything else good to happen. Prayer is the first work of justice.

The second work of justice is reconciliation. We return to God and to our neighbor to give and receive pardon because of our offenses. And we no longer hold our neighbor in debt because of their offenses. The prisoner is set free. Confession, absolution, and penance are necessary elements for there to be justice. As believers in Jesus, we must be committed to celebrating this sacramentally and living it out with others. Reconciliation is the second work of justice.

The third work of justice is communion. As we are reconciled to one another and to God we are then brought into communion with one another. There are now no longer barriers of hostility between us. Therefore the Eucharist is the pre-eminent sacramental sign of the work of Christ to accomplish communion in us. And, as we learn in the gospel of John from the story of the upper room, in order for communion to be lived we must wash feet. We must do works of loving service. Communion is the third work of justice.

Prayer, reconciliation, and communion have a profound meaning for us all. It is in these works of justice that the Holy One, the Mighty One, the Savior of the world is revealed through his Church. For it is Jesus, present in his Church, who shall bring forth justice to the nations.
It is Jesus, present in his Church, who establishes justice on the earth.
It is Jesus, present in his Church, who has the victory of justice.
It is Jesus, present in his Church, who eternally receives these words from the Father – “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is God’s justice – a gift of grace to us all. So once again we rejoice in the gift of Jesus, God’s only Son. Once again we can say with gratitude – “Merry Christmas.”

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

With joy you will draw water...

(Today I share with you this marvelous reflection on joy by Janet Klasson.  I find her writing to be sublime and beautiful.  Read on and enjoy.  -BB)

The Saving Fountain of Joy

Fountain of Joy - (Photo by Slunia)
Fountain of Joy – (Photo by Slunia)
(Besides being a bit under the weather the last few weeks, I have been a bit overwhelmed. Our Janet Klasson, better known as Pelianito, very kindly sent me this to use as a guest column while I finish sorting a few things out. It is a wonderful and worthy meditation for these times – indispensable to girding our loins for the year before us.- CJ)
Guest Column
By Pelianito
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3) 
Global tensions are on a seemingly exponential uptick—the Storm is upon us. In spite of this, the critical importance of joy has been coming to me again and again. The above Scripture passage can be read in two ways, a passive way and an active way. The passive way implies that joy is what we are filled with after we are saved. Very true. But the active reading of this passage tells us that joy can also be the “bucket” we can use to draw water from the wells of salvation. Joy therefore becomes an instrument of salvation in the hand of the Christian.
Think about it: a dour Christian makes a crummy witness, but a joyful Christian is a powerful sign to others that no matter the circumstances of our earthly lives, our hope is in something infinitely greater. But more than that, Christian joy has its own power to transform the hearts and the lives of those who cultivate it—as well as those around them.
But this must be done appropriately. As the days darken, as the sufferings of the current trial intensifies, it would be insensitive in the extreme to just say, “Chin up! Things will be better tomorrow. This too shall pass.” We are no mere optimists. We are filled with joy because a life lived for God gives meaning to everything—the good and the bad. In all circumstances we believe that God is, that He loves us, that He redeemed us, that when this life is over He will take us to himself. We know that God can use everything we give him, our joys and sorrows, our strengths and weakness, our consolations and our sufferings. In Him nothing is wasted.
Suffering in this “Valley of Tears” is normal, a consequence of our fallen nature. Sometimes we are given consolations, earthly joy, and for those times we are appropriately grateful. But we are foolish if we mistake those consolations for heaven. They are a pale imitation, a limited foreshadowing. No, we don’t get heaven here, but we can bring heaven to earth—for ourselves and others—through our selfless acts and attitudes. And this too is cause for rejoicing.
St. Paul told the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Ph 4:4) He did not say to rejoice in the Lord sometimes. He said always. Rejoicing always is a form of gratitude that goes beyond the secular ideal of living a life of gratitude. Rejoicing always means that you have a wellspring of hope that no earthly circumstance can drain. Even your suffering has an edge of anticipation to it. “Yes, I am suffering now, but this is not all there is. God has given meaning to my suffering. I am on the cross, with Christ. I know and trust that God will use my suffering to accomplish something far more wonderful than anything I could possibly imagine. I believe that in Christ every crucifixion is followed by a glorious resurrection. Jesus I trust in you! Use me as you wish to accomplish your designs upon the world.”
This does not mean that we should not pray to be delivered from suffering, but that if we are not delivered, we can rejoice knowing that God has a divine plan and that he will bear the burden with us, heaping on us grace upon grace so that we will not be crushed by the burden.
This also does not mean that we have to enjoy the suffering. Jesus and Mary did not enjoy the crucifixion, but they rejoiced in it, knowing that the glory of God to be revealed would far exceed the dear cost. They gave it their “Fiat!” and in that word, God’s glory was spectacularly revealed. Our “Fiat” too has immense power. It is a profession of trust in the divine plan, of hope in things unseen and unimagined. This joy fills us with grace and strength. “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh 8:10)
We are in the beginnings of what will certainly be a tumultuous year ahead. One of the most important ways to prepare for uncertainty is to cultivate holy joy—a joy that is rooted in trust and abandonment to the perfect will of God. We know that God has a plan. While he rarely divulges the details to us, we can trust that he always has one, and that the victory is always his. He asks only that we trust him and that we remain faithful to the end, like the Blessed Mother, John and the women at the foot of the cross.
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jer 29:11) The future of hope, my friends is not referring to this life, but to an eternity of joy and peace undreamed of in this life. That is the source of our joy.
“But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you.” (1 Pt 2:14-15)
God is. God loves us. Christ redeemed us, and when this life is over He will take us to himself. Jesus is our hope. Rejoice and be glad!

Monday, January 5, 2015

keeping the light of Christ

In these days following the feast of the Epiphany, we do well to consider the manifestation of Jesus in  history, and the ongoing revelation of the presence of Jesus in our day and time.  He comes to us in Word and Sacrament, he comes to us when the church gathers in prayer, and he comes to us as that still small voice when we are quiet in his presence.  

It is certainly in my mind as we begin 2015 to fix my eyes firmly on Jesus and to encourage all others to do so.  This is the hope of the world during days of increasing darkness.  This is how we become a sign of enduring hope to one another - by carrying the light of faith within us.

I share with you this article from the marvelous Mark Mallett, as I look forward to the reflection that will follow this one.

The Smoldering Candle


All through Christmas, this interior “vision” I had eight years ago has been on my heart, confirmed in a multitude of ways. We are living, and going to live it, in a very profound and real manner in the days to come.
It is a “prologue” to my next writing, and so I encourage you to read it—a living parable of our times…

The truth appeared like a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame. —St. Bernadine of Siena 

A POWERFUL image came to me… an image that carries both encouragement and warning.
Those who have been following these writings know that their purpose has been specifically to prepare us for the times which lay directly ahead of the Church and world. They are not so much about catechesis as calling us into a safe Refuge.

I saw the world gathered as though in a dark room. In the center is a burning candle. It is very short, the wax nearly all melted. The Flame represents the light of Christ: Truth[1] The wax represents the time of grace we live in. 
The world for the most part is ignoring this Flame. But for those who are not, those who are gazing at the Light and letting It guide them, something wonderful and hidden is happening: their inner being is secretly being set aflame.
There is rapidly coming a time when this period of grace will no longer be able to support the wick (civilization) due to the sin of the world. Events which are coming will collapse the candle completely, and the Light of this candle will be snuffed out. There will be sudden chaos in the “room.”
He takes understanding from the leaders of the land, till they grope in the darkness without light; he makes them stagger like drunken men. (Job 12:25) 
The deprivation of Light will lead to great confusion and fear. But those who had been absorbing the Light in this time of preparation we are now in will have an inner Light by which to guide them (for the Light can never be extinguished). Even though they will be experiencing the darkness around them, the inner Light of Jesus will be shining brightly within, supernaturally directing them from the hidden place of the heart.
Then this vision had a disturbing scene. There was a light in the distance… a very small light. It was unnatural, like a small fluorescent light. Suddenly, most in the room stampeded towards this light, the only light they could see. For them it was hope… but it was a false, deceptive light. It did not offer Warmth, nor Fire, nor Salvation—that Flame which they had already refused.  
…in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel. —Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 12, 2009; Catholic Online 
It is precisely at the end of the second millennium that immense, threatening clouds converge on the horizon of all humanity and darkness descends upon human souls.  —POPE JOHN PAUL II, from a speech, December, 1983;

The Scripture of the ten virgins came to mind immediately following these images. Only five of the virgins had enough oil in their lamps to go out and meet the Bridegroom who came in the darkness of “midnight” (Matthew 25:1-13). That is, only five virgins had filled their hearts with the necessary graces to give them the light to see. The other five virgins were unprepared saying, “…our lamps are going out,” and went off to buy more oil from the merchants. Their hearts were unprepared, and so they sought the “grace” they needed… not from a Pure Source, but from deceptive peddlers. 
Again, the writings here have been for one purpose: to help you acquire this divine oil, that you may be marked by God’s angels, that you may see with a divine light through that day when the Son will be eclipsed for a brief period of time, plunging mankind into a painful, dark moment.

We know from our Lord’s words that these days are going to catch many off guard like a thief in the night:
As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They ate and drank, they took husbands and wives, right up to the day Noah entered the ark—and when the flood came it destroyed them all. 
It was much the same in the days of Lot: they ate and drank, they bought and sold, they built and planted. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be like that on the day the son of Man is revealed… Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it; whoever loses it will keep it. (Luke 17:26-33)
Several of my readers have written, alarmed that their family members are slipping away, becoming more and more hostile to the Faith.
In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1)—in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 10, 2009; Catholic Online
There is indeed a sifting and purification happening as we speak. However, because of your prayers and because of your faithfulness to Jesus, I believe they will be granted great graces when the Spirit of God opens all hearts to see their souls as the Father sees them—that incredible gift of Mercy which is drawing closer. The antidote to this apostasy within your family ranks is the Rosary. Read again The Coming Restoration of the Family. 
You are chosen by God, not to save yourself, but to be the instrument of salvation for others. Your model is Mary who surrendered herself completely to God thereby becoming a co-operator in redemption—the Co-redemptrix of many. She is a symbol of the Church. What applies to her applies to you. You too are to become a co-redeemer with Christ through your prayers, witness, and suffering. 
Coincidently, these two readings are from today’s (Jan. 12th, 2007) Office and Mass:
Those who have been considered worthy to go forth as the sons of God and to be born again of the Holy Spirit from on high, and who hold within them the Christ who renews them and fills them with light, are directed by the Spirit in varied and different ways and in their spiritual repose they are led invisibly in their hearts by grace. —Homily by spiritual writer of the fourth century; Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. III, pg. 161
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? 
Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear; Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust.
For he will hide me in his abode in the day of trouble; He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent, he will set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27)
And last, from St. Peter:
We possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (2 Pt 1:19)

First published January 12th, 2007.