Madonna of the Grapes
This image and title of Our Lady is indicative of how intimately she holds not only Jesus, but those chosen in persona Christi—his priests—close to her heart, ever encouraging the centrality of the Eucharistic life. Here she simply and quietly offers the grapes to which Jesus clings. Though Our Lady holds Jesus securely, she does so tenderly and lightly, for he belongs not to her alone but to the whole world. Jesus glances from beneath the security of her veil; how close is Mary to His veiled Eucharistic presence! The window in the background gives a glimpse of hazy skies—perhaps a world that needs the fullness of light offered in the Eucharist. The gaze of Jesus is deliberately on us. Mary maintains a posture of humility, peace, and contemplation—all hallmarks of the life of a Seven Sister.
Let us remain faithful in our tender and hidden prayer offerings in the Eucharistic Presence, holding our priests close to our hearts—but loosely so, for they are not exclusively ours. Rather, they are ours to support as their sisters and ours to bring to Mary their Mother.
Madonna of the Grapes, pray for us and guide us in our prayers!
A Gift from Dr. Elizabeth Lev to the Apostolate
Saint John Vianney Feast Day August 4th
Saint John Vianney (8 May, 1786 – 4 August, 1859) was a French priest who is venerated as the patron saint of all priests. He is often referred to as the Curé d’Ars. He became internationally known for the abundant spiritual fruitfulness of his pastoral work. This is attributed to his radical life of prayer and mortification, zealous ministry in the confessional, and ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through constant teaching and preaching he reversed the destruction of Catholic life in his village wrought by the French Revolution. He was humble and gracious with his brother priests even when he was misunderstood and mocked by them. He desired to run away to a monastery but faithfully spent himself serving his flock to the end.
Let us seek to nurture a friendship with Saint John Vianney. He will guide us in prayers for our priests and remind us to pray for the deepening devotion of our priests to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint John Vianney, pray for us and guide us in our prayers!
Saint Margaret Clitherow Feast Day March 26th
Saint Margaret Clitherow (1556—1586) was a married English convert with two sons and a daughter. She was said to be “possessed of good looks and full of wit and merriment, and of a charming personality.” During the persecution of Catholics following King Henry VIII’s divorce, Saint Margaret remained devoted to the true faith—courageously arranging and attending secret Masses. So deep was her belief in the Holy Eucharist that she was imprisoned twice for her refusal to stop organizing these secret Masses. She was a staunch supporter of priests both in prayer and in action. She offered protection by concealing them in her home in hiding places known as priest holes. Saint Margaret said, “By God’s grace all priests shall be more welcome to me than ever they were, and I will do what I can to set forward God’s Catholic service.” Saint Margaret was brutally martyred on Good Friday, March 25, 1586, as she lay cruciform between a rock and a wooden door frame while weights were incrementally dropped upon the door, crushing her to death. She simply prayed “Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy upon me.” Moved by her saintly life, all three of her children entered the consecrated life—her sons as priests and her daughter as a religious sister. Although remaining Protestant, Saint Margaret’s husband attested to her great love and virtue, saying “she is the best wife in all England, and the best Catholic.”
Let us find great inspiration in this heroically courageous saint. May we share her unwavering devotion to the Holy Eucharist and through her intercession serve our priests in this apostolate.
Saint Margaret Clitherow, pray for us and guide us in our prayers!