Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Our Lady of Joy, of the Smile, and of Surprises

 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Our Blessed Mother has much to be concerned about with all of God’s children, but she also makes time for joy. Mary can enter into any situation in our lives and make things better. What better time to go to her than during the Advent season as we prepare for the joy of Christmas?

We can tap into her influence to bring us the happiness God wants us to receive.  Although many people are familiar with the sorrows of Our Blessed Mother, let us not overlook her joyful side.

OUR LADY OF THE SMILE
On May 13, 1883, the ten-year-old St Therese of Lisieux was in bed, sick with a fever. Her sisters Celine, Leonie, and Marie prayed by her bedside. Her father Louis prayed in his study, struggling to accept God’s will since he had already lost his wife Pauline and four other children.
St. Therese in a moment of consciousness from her raging fever, looked up at a statue of the Virgin on a table near her bed. She saw the Blessed Mother smile and felt love radiating from her. The little Therese became instantly healed. The statue has since been called “Our Lady of the Smile.”
Our Lady smiles upon us and can help us to heal also.  If we look to her for help, she prays for the Lord to make his face shine upon us and to fill us with graciousness.


Gentle Mary, My Mother,
I place before you the worries,
hurts and hopes of my heart.
They shrink my soul and I feel heavy and hopeless.
Darkness closes in around me.
I reach out to you, bright Lady of Hope.
Smile on me.
Smile on my loved ones and the intentions I place before you.
(Mention your intentions here...)
Your tender smile works miracles and heals,
as you did with St. Thérèse, the Little Flower.
You are my true Mother.
You show the tender mercy of God.
Smile on me, Blessed Mother,
and all will be well.

Our Lady of Surprises
It is fun to surprise loved ones with unexpected presents or good news, so of course Our Blessed Mother enjoys doing the same. And Jesus surprised people endlessly while he was on Earth from raising Lazarus, multiplying the loaves and fishes, to walking on water and especially through his resurrection from the dead. We too often experience God’s unexpected delights and answers to our prayers when we least expected it.
There is an actual title for the Blessed Mother as Our Lady of Surprises. God gives us our desires when they are in union with his will for our destiny and he gave us a heavenly mother who cares about us. Our Blessed Mother was a part of God’s plans for surprises such as giving birth to our Savior in a manger and the turning of water in wine at Cana.
We need to follow God’s agenda, not the other way around, and ask Our Blessed Mother to lead us to all the graces and surprises God has in store for us. Consider how many former anti-Catholics surprised everyone, especially themselves when they converted. Many of them struggled with the idea of praying to Mary but later came to love her immensely. God’s never-ending surprises keep things interesting.
Here is a prayer from the book Mary Take Over.
Prayer to Our Lady of Surprises
O Mary, my mother and Our Lady of Surprises, what a happy joy you caused the wedding guests, when you asked your Divine Son to work the miracle of water into wine. What a happy surprise for them since they thought the wine had run dry. I, too, Mary, love surprises and as your child, may I ask you to favor me with one today? I ask this only because you are my ever-caring mother.

Our Lady of Joy
Several Catholic Churches are named, Our Lady of Joy including in Arizona and in Pittsburg and one built in 1620 at Valletta in Malta that serves as the chaplaincy for the Port of Valletta. The name comes from a miraculous occurrence in 1134. Muslims in Egypt held as prisoners, three Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. A statue of Our Lady, which they named Our Lady of Joy, or Notre Dame de Liesse, appeared in their cell.
A young Muslim princess took an interest in the Knights and became converted through their prayers. She helped them escape and joined them on their journey. The knights brought the statue with them and thirty-five miles northwest of Rheims; they founded a church as a resting place for the statue.
Notre Dame de Liesse came to refer to both the devotion and the church. During the French Revolution, the statue was destroyed but the devotion continued.  A new statue was installed and crowned there in 1857.


Especially during the season of Advent, let us ask our Lady of Joy to direct our preparations. As the mother of Jesus, she deeply understands the joy of Christmas and longs to share that with us.
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