Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies

"Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart"
Christmas Octave - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
January 1st, 2012
Year B

St Bernard of Clairvaux was once traveling with a poor, uneducated farmer, who noticed that the abbot kept his eyes cast downward. When the farmer asked why the saint wasn't looking at the beautiful countryside, Bernard explained that he wanted to avoid distractions while praying. In response, the farmer boasted, “I'm never distracted when I pray.” The saint objected, “I don't believe it. Now let me make a deal with you. If you can say the Our Father without one distraction, I'll give you this mule I'm riding. But if you don't succeed, you must come with me and be a monk.” The farmer agreed and began praying aloud confidently, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name...” Then, after pausing for moment, he asked St Bernard, “Can I have the saddle too?”

I think we can all relate to that. And if we find ourselves fighting distractions when we try to pray, imagine what our interior chamber – our inner selves – must look like when we're not trying to pray! Perhaps this is the case because as Catholics we have forgotten what it means to be contemplative people. Think about it – if you were to ask 10 random people on the street to describe Catholics, what type of adjectives would they use? Do you think you would hear – prayerful or spiritual? Probably not. Mary teaches us something here.
In very few words, our Gospel reading tells us much about our Blessed Mother. With great serenity she contemplates the wonderful things and the difficult things that surround the birth of her Divine Child. St. Luke tells us that she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” She studies them, ponders them and stores them in the silence of her heart. She contemplates them. She is, therefore, a true teacher of prayer. Mary teaches us what it means to be contemplative.

What does it mean to be a contemplative person? We all lead lives of contemplation because we are always thinking. The question is – what are we thinking about? Not one of us can say that we don’t think about things. We have lives, families, jobs, responsibilities and so on. But human thought is creative. If we send our thoughts down one road, our actions will follow. The actions of our lives are determined by our last most dominant thought. For example, for two-thousand years the saints have lived in every country, in every era, have been rich, poor, educated, uneducated, lay, religious, and so on. They are the most diverse group of people in history and yet we could say the same thing about every one of them – they bring Jesus to life for us. Why? because every single saint in history spent his or her life pondering, contemplating the very same thing – the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Mary included. They became what they thought and when they went to act, their last most dominant thought was the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. So, the question is – what are we thinking? On the way to work, while waiting in line at the market, while on hold on the phone…what are we thinking?
If we imitate Mary and the saints, if we contemplate, ponder in our hearts the life and teachings of Jesus Christ then we will be well on our way to becoming the men and women God has created us to be – saints. In this way we shall never lack His teachings, we will never lack His grace – not to mention gain a deeper understanding of His mysteries – the sacraments, the liturgy, doctrine, and so on. Speaking on the understanding of the Church’s sacred Tradition and the development of doctrine within the life of the Church, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, put it this way:

“There is growth and insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and the study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth.”

So, if we need to change what we have been thinking in order to begin again to ponder the life and teachings of Christ a new question arises: how do we ponder them? There can be no greater way than through the eyes of His mother – the rosary. Why? because nobody sees Christ in the way His mother sees Him. Moms can understand this because a mother has a unique perspective on the life of her child. There is a bond that is formed in the womb that no one can understand except a mother. Mary has that perspective and the rosary is our window into it. The rosary helps us to see with the eyes of faith, with the eyes of our hearts, helps us to understand with greater clarity and depth the mysteries of the life and teachings of Christ because in it, Mary shows us the way.

Mary ponders, she contemplates the good, the confusing, the unknown – everything about her Divine Child; she contemplates. The saints do the same. What are we thinking about? As we begin this New Year I’m sure every one of us has been thinking – contemplating if you will – about resolutions. What am I going to change about myself this year? Read more, watch less TV? Become healthier – eat right, exercise, lose 10 pounds? How about we change what we’re thinking? How about we invite more silence into our lives? And by inviting more silence into our inner chamber, with Mary’s help, there we will allow Christ to enter in. Then will we begin to truly contemplate Him and so emulate Him in our everyday lives and truly become fully alive for Him and the men and women He has created us to be – saints.







Fr. Jon Reardon


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.




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