A Muslim’s “Turning Point” Standing Before Michelangelo’s Pietà
The Pietà by the young Michelangelo is one of the world’s most recognized and priceless works of art.  This past Lent and Holy Week, I’m sure that you’ve seen many images of the Pietà which depict that moment when the pierced and blood Body of Jesus is placed in Mary’s arms.  As the literal name for this most lamentable scene implies, many people’s reaction is “pity” or “compassion”.
I remember taking the photo above when I made a pilgrimage to Catholic Disneyland Rome last October.  Sadly, upon seeing this famous sculpture, I am ashamed to admit, that my first reaction was not one of pious devotion.  Rather, I was a little annoyed that so many people were gathered around the small chapel (next to Bl. John Paul the Great’s tomb) where the Pietà is displayed behind bullet proof glass.  As I maneuvered my way through the crowd of tourists, all I was focused on was getting the shot.  Once I got to the front of the crowd, I was struck by the great cultural, historical, and artistic significance of this piece.  Then, I was moved by the broken, lifeless body of Christ held in the lap of His Mother. With her left hand, Mary tenderly bears the Savior of the World, and with her right hand, she raises her palm up to heaven, every ready to accept and follow the will of God.
While still basking in the joyful light of the Resurrection, I cannot help but see Michelangelo’s Pietà as an image of the Church:  our ancient but ever youthful Mother who embraces the cross and presents the Body of Christ to the Body of Christ. 
For us Catholics, art is more than church decoration, something pretty to look at.  Art can provide us with an encounter with God who is the source of all that is True and Good and Beautiful. 
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a group of artists in another of Michelangelo’s masterpieces, his incredible Sistine Chapel.  Before the Last Judgement and under the Creation of Man, our Holy Father—a great lover of beauty—spoke these very poetic words:

Unfortunately, the present time is marked, not only by negative elements in the social and economic sphere, but also by a weakening of hope, by a certain lack of confidence in human relationships, which gives rise to increasing signs of resignation, aggression and despair. The world in which we live runs the risk of being altered beyond recognition because of unwise human actions which, instead of cultivating its beauty, unscrupulously exploit its resources for the advantage of a few and not infrequently disfigure the marvels of nature. What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation — if not beauty? Dear friends, as artists you know well that the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful.
Indeed, an essential function of genuine beauty, as emphasized by Plato, is that it gives man a healthy “shock”, it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from resignation and from being content with the humdrum — it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it “reawakens” him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft. Dostoevsky’s words that I am about to quote are bold and paradoxical, but they invite reflection. He says this: “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.” The painter Georges Braque echoes this sentiment: “Art is meant to disturb, science reassures.” Beauty pulls us up short, but in so doing it reminds us of our final destiny, it sets us back on our path, fills us with new hope, gives us the courage to live to the full the unique gift of life. The quest for beauty that I am describing here is clearly not about escaping into the irrational or into mere aestheticism.
Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy. It is a seductive but hypocritical beauty that rekindles desire, the will to power, to possess, and to dominate others, it is a beauty which soon turns into its opposite, taking on the guise of indecency, transgression or gratuitous provocation. Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence, the Mystery of which we are part; from this Mystery we can draw fullness, happiness, the passion to engage with it every day. In this regard, Pope John Paul II, in his Letter to Artists, quotes the following verse from a Polish poet, Cyprian Norwid: “Beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up” (no. 3). And later he adds: “In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, the artist gives voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption” (no. 10). And in conclusion he states: “Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence” (no. 16).
These ideas impel us to take a further step in our reflection. Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God. Art, in all its forms, at the point where it encounters the great questions of our existence, the fundamental themes that give life its meaning, can take on a religious quality, thereby turning into a path of profound inner reflection and spirituality.

An example of the powerful effect of beauty is Ilyas Khan, a British philanthropist, soccer team owner, and former Muslim.  In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Khan describes how Michelangelo’s Pietà, a piece of art over 500 years old, helped to bring him home to the Catholic Church.

Were Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI also influential? Both have been described as so-called Balthasarians.
That’s a really good question. I’ve never been asked that question before. Yes, well, Cardinal Ratzinger, the current Pope, definitely qualifies as being “Balthasarian,” and Blessed John Paul II raised Balthasar to becoming a cardinal. Obviously, John Paul II was an influence beyond his regard for Von Balthasar — how could one not be influenced by such a great man? Like a great many people, Balthasar himself was not just a gigantic intellect, but also articulated how the mystery of faith is central to our lives as Christians. And, in that regard, the single most moving moment for me happened when I was in my mid-30s. I was walking past the Pieta in St. Peter’s, and I remember being literally arrested in my tracks by a combination of four or five things all at once. You asked me about my relationship with the Blessed Mother of God — well, that moment in time was really important. That can be described as being the turning point.
Was it the beauty of the Pietà that struck you?
Yes — and the context. This is God, I thought. This really is God. You must remember that one of the big things when we look at traditional Islam is the heresy — in their opinion — of equating the mortal Jesus with God. And if there is ever an obstacle that a Muslim convert has to contend with, intellectually and emotionally, more than anything else, that is it. At that moment, in front of the Pietà, I realized, through sheer emotion, that the truth of our religion is so simple and so direct.

A Muslim’s “Turning Point” Standing Before Michelangelo’s Pietà

The Pietà by the young Michelangelo is one of the world’s most recognized and priceless works of art. This past Lent and Holy Week, I’m sure that you’ve seen many images of the Pietà which depict that moment when the pierced and blood Body of Jesus is placed in Mary’s arms. As the literal name for this most lamentable scene implies, many people’s reaction is “pity” or “compassion”.

I remember taking the photo above when I made a pilgrimage to Catholic Disneyland Rome last October. Sadly, upon seeing this famous sculpture, I am ashamed to admit, that my first reaction was not one of pious devotion. Rather, I was a little annoyed that so many people were gathered around the small chapel (next to Bl. John Paul the Great’s tomb) where the Pietà is displayed behind bullet proof glass. As I maneuvered my way through the crowd of tourists, all I was focused on was getting the shot. Once I got to the front of the crowd, I was struck by the great cultural, historical, and artistic significance of this piece. Then, I was moved by the broken, lifeless body of Christ held in the lap of His Mother. With her left hand, Mary tenderly bears the Savior of the World, and with her right hand, she raises her palm up to heaven, every ready to accept and follow the will of God.

While still basking in the joyful light of the Resurrection, I cannot help but see Michelangelo’s Pietà as an image of the Church: our ancient but ever youthful Mother who embraces the cross and presents the Body of Christ to the Body of Christ.

For us Catholics, art is more than church decoration, something pretty to look at. Art can provide us with an encounter with God who is the source of all that is True and Good and Beautiful.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a group of artists in another of Michelangelo’s masterpieces, his incredible Sistine Chapel. Before the Last Judgement and under the Creation of Man, our Holy Father—a great lover of beauty—spoke these very poetic words:

Unfortunately, the present time is marked, not only by negative elements in the social and economic sphere, but also by a weakening of hope, by a certain lack of confidence in human relationships, which gives rise to increasing signs of resignation, aggression and despair. The world in which we live runs the risk of being altered beyond recognition because of unwise human actions which, instead of cultivating its beauty, unscrupulously exploit its resources for the advantage of a few and not infrequently disfigure the marvels of nature. What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation — if not beauty? Dear friends, as artists you know well that the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful.

Indeed, an essential function of genuine beauty, as emphasized by Plato, is that it gives man a healthy “shock”, it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from resignation and from being content with the humdrum — it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it “reawakens” him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft. Dostoevsky’s words that I am about to quote are bold and paradoxical, but they invite reflection. He says this: “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.” The painter Georges Braque echoes this sentiment: “Art is meant to disturb, science reassures.” Beauty pulls us up short, but in so doing it reminds us of our final destiny, it sets us back on our path, fills us with new hope, gives us the courage to live to the full the unique gift of life. The quest for beauty that I am describing here is clearly not about escaping into the irrational or into mere aestheticism.

Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy. It is a seductive but hypocritical beauty that rekindles desire, the will to power, to possess, and to dominate others, it is a beauty which soon turns into its opposite, taking on the guise of indecency, transgression or gratuitous provocation. Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence, the Mystery of which we are part; from this Mystery we can draw fullness, happiness, the passion to engage with it every day. In this regard, Pope John Paul II, in his Letter to Artists, quotes the following verse from a Polish poet, Cyprian Norwid: “Beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up” (no. 3). And later he adds: “In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, the artist gives voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption” (no. 10). And in conclusion he states: “Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence” (no. 16).

These ideas impel us to take a further step in our reflection. Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God. Art, in all its forms, at the point where it encounters the great questions of our existence, the fundamental themes that give life its meaning, can take on a religious quality, thereby turning into a path of profound inner reflection and spirituality.

An example of the powerful effect of beauty is Ilyas Khan, a British philanthropist, soccer team owner, and former Muslim. In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Khan describes how Michelangelo’s Pietà, a piece of art over 500 years old, helped to bring him home to the Catholic Church.

Were Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI also influential? Both have been described as so-called Balthasarians.

That’s a really good question. I’ve never been asked that question before. Yes, well, Cardinal Ratzinger, the current Pope, definitely qualifies as being “Balthasarian,” and Blessed John Paul II raised Balthasar to becoming a cardinal. Obviously, John Paul II was an influence beyond his regard for Von Balthasar — how could one not be influenced by such a great man? Like a great many people, Balthasar himself was not just a gigantic intellect, but also articulated how the mystery of faith is central to our lives as Christians. And, in that regard, the single most moving moment for me happened when I was in my mid-30s. I was walking past the Pieta in St. Peter’s, and I remember being literally arrested in my tracks by a combination of four or five things all at once. You asked me about my relationship with the Blessed Mother of God — well, that moment in time was really important. That can be described as being the turning point.

Was it the beauty of the Pietà that struck you?

Yes — and the context. This is God, I thought. This really is God. You must remember that one of the big things when we look at traditional Islam is the heresy — in their opinion — of equating the mortal Jesus with God. And if there is ever an obstacle that a Muslim convert has to contend with, intellectually and emotionally, more than anything else, that is it. At that moment, in front of the Pietà, I realized, through sheer emotion, that the truth of our religion is so simple and so direct.

Here is your Lenten Jam of the Week:  Undo by Rush of Fools

I’ve been here before
Now, here I am again
Standing at the door
Praying You’ll let me back in

To label me
A prodigal would be
Only scratching the surface
Of who I’ve been known to be

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one
Who can undo what I’ve become

I focused on the score
But I could never win
Trying to ignore
A life of hiding my sin

To label me
A hypocrite would be
Only scratching the surface
Of who I’ve been known to be

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one
Who can undo what I’ve become

Make every step lead me back to
The sovereign way that You

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one who can undo
You are the only one who can undo
You’re the only one who can undo
What I’ve become

LADY’S NIGHT - “Mater Misericordiae”
I know that I’m a day late for this Lady’s Night, but any night can be Lady’s Night, I think.  In any case, I’m sure Our Lady doesn’t mind. 
Well, we have just entered into Lent last Wednesday, our great retreat in the desert:  a special holy time and liturgical season when God calls out to us, "return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD your God" (Joel 2:12-13).  Indeed, rather than being another time to make a New Year’s resolution to eat less or exercise more, Lent provides us with an opportunity for conversion.  Particularly, we are encouraged to approach the Sacrament of Penance in order to aid our spiritual progress through this Lenten season in preparation for Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter.
Some of you, like me at times, may be hesitant to go to Confession.  And that is why, my brothers and sisters, that I am truly grateful for:
1.  God’s Divine Mercy,
2.  Our Lady,
3.  and confessionals with screens
Amen?
The photograph above is a picture that I took of a statue, a gift of one of Peter’s Successors, that stands in front of the House of the Virgin Mary, Meryemana, the sacred place in Ephesus where, it is said, St. John lived with Our Lady.  I choose this particular image for Lady’s Night because our Blessed Mother is depicted with her arms open. 
It is a gesture which reflects her openness to the will of God at the Annunciation. 
It is a posture she might have used when she embraced her Infant King in Bethlehem or the Child Jesus she found in the temple. 
Likewise, it is an imitation of our crucified Lord to Whom her life and mission have always been so closely united.
And for us, poor sinner, when we see Our Lady with open arms, we cannot help but think of the Father, recklessly extravagant in mercy, catching that first glimpse of his Prodigal Son walking on the road towards home.
So, too, Our Mother of Mercy opens wide her arms to embrace her sons and daughters who are ready to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.  She sees the great pain and hurt caused by sin—even though we have freely chosen the suffering as we have chosen the sin—and she desires nothing but to comfort us, enfolding us under her mantle. 
On seeing us so far away from her Son, our merciful Mother stretches her arms to us and cries out, "Come, my child.  Behold your Mother who loves you most tenderly despite your crimes.  I cannot condemn you, for you are my little one.  Run into my arms!  How greatly I long to hold you close to my Heart!  Take my hand, and let us go to Jesus."
In the Salve Regina, we pray, “Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy….”  The great son the Church and lover of Mary, St. Louis Maria de Liguori, meditated on this exact phrase in his amazing work, The Glories of Mary.  In it he wrote the following with my emphasis:

But maybe you fear that Mary simply will not intercede for certain sinners because their crimes are so terrible. Or maybe we ought to feel awe before a Queen so holy and exalted!
This is not the case at all, says St. Gregory the Great. The holier she is, the greater is Mary’s compassion for sinners who come to her with the determination to do better.
Kings and queens, because they are invested with majesty, do inspire awe and make their people fear to come near them. But how can any poor sinner fear to approach this Queen of Mercy? She inspires no terror, shows no severity to anyone, but is so tender and gentle!
….
Then St. Bernard asks: “Who are the most logical candidates for mercy if not the miserable? And since you are the Queen of sinners, it follows that I am the first of your subjects. So how can you help showing me mercy, O Lady?”
Have pity on us then, Queen of Mercy, and remember our salvation.
Accordingly St. Gregory of Nicomedia exclaims: "O Blessed Virgin, never say that, because our sins are too numerous, you cannot help us. No matter how numerous they are, they can never outweigh your power and your compassion."
…
Suppose a mother (says Adam, the Abbot of Perseigne) knew that her two sons had a mortal hatred for each other, and that each was planning the other’s murder. Would she not do everything in her power to make peace between them? Any good mother would consider it her duty to do this.
Mary acts in the same way, for she is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of human beings. When she sees a sinner at enmity with Jesus, she cannot bear such a state of things —- she does all in her power to reconcile them.
This kindest of Ladies demands only one thing —- that sinners recommend themselves to her and be determined to change their ways. When she finds sinners at her feet imploring mercy, she does not fix her attention on their crimes, but she looks only at the motive that brings them to her. If the motive is good, and even though they have committed every conceivable sin, this most loving Mother takes them in her arms to heal the wounds of their soul.
She is not only called the Mother of Mercy. She is the Mother of Mercy. And she proves herself such by the loving tenderness with which she helps us all…
In the Second Book of Samuel (14:6) we read how that wise woman of Tekoa addressed King David: “Your majesty, I had two sons, and to my misfortune one killed the other, so that I have now lost one and justice demands the life of the other, the only one that is left. Have mercy on a poor mother and let me not lose both my sons.”
In a similar way we may imagine Mary pleading with God, when His justice is directed against a sinner who has recommended himself or herself to her.
"My God, I had two sons, Jesus and Mankind. mankind took the life of Jesus on the Cross, and now your justice would condemn the guilty one. O Lord, my Jesus is already dead. Have pity on me; if I have lost the one, do not let me lose the other also.”

You can read his entire reflection on the first part of the Salve Regina here.
If you are in the state of sin, as I was until recently, do not hesitate one moment to go to Confession.  Take courage and find comfort in your Mother who is so merciful.  Fly into her arms, for she desires to embrace you.
"Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).

LADY’S NIGHT - “Mater Misericordiae”

I know that I’m a day late for this Lady’s Night, but any night can be Lady’s Night, I think.  In any case, I’m sure Our Lady doesn’t mind. 

Well, we have just entered into Lent last Wednesday, our great retreat in the desert:  a special holy time and liturgical season when God calls out to us, "return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD your God" (Joel 2:12-13).  Indeed, rather than being another time to make a New Year’s resolution to eat less or exercise more, Lent provides us with an opportunity for conversion.  Particularly, we are encouraged to approach the Sacrament of Penance in order to aid our spiritual progress through this Lenten season in preparation for Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter.

Some of you, like me at times, may be hesitant to go to Confession.  And that is why, my brothers and sisters, that I am truly grateful for:

1.  God’s Divine Mercy,

2.  Our Lady,

3.  and confessionals with screens

Amen?

The photograph above is a picture that I took of a statue, a gift of one of Peter’s Successors, that stands in front of the House of the Virgin Mary, Meryemana, the sacred place in Ephesus where, it is said, St. John lived with Our Lady.  I choose this particular image for Lady’s Night because our Blessed Mother is depicted with her arms open. 

It is a gesture which reflects her openness to the will of God at the Annunciation. 

It is a posture she might have used when she embraced her Infant King in Bethlehem or the Child Jesus she found in the temple. 

Likewise, it is an imitation of our crucified Lord to Whom her life and mission have always been so closely united.

And for us, poor sinner, when we see Our Lady with open arms, we cannot help but think of the Father, recklessly extravagant in mercy, catching that first glimpse of his Prodigal Son walking on the road towards home.

So, too, Our Mother of Mercy opens wide her arms to embrace her sons and daughters who are ready to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.  She sees the great pain and hurt caused by sin—even though we have freely chosen the suffering as we have chosen the sin—and she desires nothing but to comfort us, enfolding us under her mantle. 

On seeing us so far away from her Son, our merciful Mother stretches her arms to us and cries out, "Come, my child.  Behold your Mother who loves you most tenderly despite your crimes.  I cannot condemn you, for you are my little one.  Run into my arms!  How greatly I long to hold you close to my Heart!  Take my hand, and let us go to Jesus."

In the Salve Regina, we pray, “Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy….”  The great son the Church and lover of Mary, St. Louis Maria de Liguori, meditated on this exact phrase in his amazing work, The Glories of Mary.  In it he wrote the following with my emphasis:

But maybe you fear that Mary simply will not intercede for certain sinners because their crimes are so terrible. Or maybe we ought to feel awe before a Queen so holy and exalted!

This is not the case at all, says St. Gregory the Great. The holier she is, the greater is Mary’s compassion for sinners who come to her with the determination to do better.

Kings and queens, because they are invested with majesty, do inspire awe and make their people fear to come near them. But how can any poor sinner fear to approach this Queen of Mercy? She inspires no terror, shows no severity to anyone, but is so tender and gentle!

….

Then St. Bernard asks: “Who are the most logical candidates for mercy if not the miserable? And since you are the Queen of sinners, it follows that I am the first of your subjects. So how can you help showing me mercy, O Lady?”

Have pity on us then, Queen of Mercy, and remember our salvation.

Accordingly St. Gregory of Nicomedia exclaims: "O Blessed Virgin, never say that, because our sins are too numerous, you cannot help us. No matter how numerous they are, they can never outweigh your power and your compassion."

Suppose a mother (says Adam, the Abbot of Perseigne) knew that her two sons had a mortal hatred for each other, and that each was planning the other’s murder. Would she not do everything in her power to make peace between them? Any good mother would consider it her duty to do this.

Mary acts in the same way, for she is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of human beings. When she sees a sinner at enmity with Jesus, she cannot bear such a state of things —- she does all in her power to reconcile them.

This kindest of Ladies demands only one thing —- that sinners recommend themselves to her and be determined to change their ways. When she finds sinners at her feet imploring mercy, she does not fix her attention on their crimes, but she looks only at the motive that brings them to her. If the motive is good, and even though they have committed every conceivable sin, this most loving Mother takes them in her arms to heal the wounds of their soul.

She is not only called the Mother of Mercy. She is the Mother of Mercy. And she proves herself such by the loving tenderness with which she helps us all…

In the Second Book of Samuel (14:6) we read how that wise woman of Tekoa addressed King David: “Your majesty, I had two sons, and to my misfortune one killed the other, so that I have now lost one and justice demands the life of the other, the only one that is left. Have mercy on a poor mother and let me not lose both my sons.”

In a similar way we may imagine Mary pleading with God, when His justice is directed against a sinner who has recommended himself or herself to her.

"My God, I had two sons, Jesus and Mankind. mankind took the life of Jesus on the Cross, and now your justice would condemn the guilty one. O Lord, my Jesus is already dead. Have pity on me; if I have lost the one, do not let me lose the other also.

You can read his entire reflection on the first part of the Salve Regina here.

If you are in the state of sin, as I was until recently, do not hesitate one moment to go to Confession.  Take courage and find comfort in your Mother who is so merciful.  Fly into her arms, for she desires to embrace you.

"Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).

I have given everything to my Master: He will take care of me…The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants of us! — St. Josephine Bakhita

O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ, grant, we pray, that by her example we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus crucified, remaining steadfast in charity and prompt to show compassion.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

"Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God.  Hope and have confidence in Confession."  -St. Isidore of Sevilla