Mother Christine of Mary and the Most Holy Spirit and The Birth of Mary, September 8
This is a long one, but I hope you’ll stay with it.
I’ve been pondering while we struggle through the mud trying to get this store permitted to open. When we closed the doors at the old place in May we expected to reopen within a week. We’d hoped to celebrate a grand opening by August 15. As the weeks have passed, and now the months, I’ve had to reflect upon the many gifts that God has graced this store with over the years.
Not the least of which was when we opened in 1998. I can’t tell you the day we met the Carmelites from Georgetown, but I do remember immediately becoming fast friends with Mother Christine and Sister Mary Bethany, (now Mother Mary Bethany). This cloistered order has raised the Sacramento diocese up in prayer for well over 60 years. They were delighted to hear our intended mission for the store and were determined to help us keep the store in line with magisterial teaching. And our store became a regular stop when they had errands in town.
Over the years Mother Christine became more than friend, she was a confidant, and true spiritual advisor. Wise and compassionate she recognized the strain of running an apostolate, so she often invited Sandy and I to spend silent retreats in the bungalows at the monastery.
Excited when we invited her to come and look at the place we were considering for our move in 2009, as she entered that large building she exclaimed, “What are you waiting for?” And when we had the walls painted and invited her to see how the place was shaping up Mother Christine was overjoyed to see the color we’d chosen, in our ignorance, a perfect Carmel brown!
September 8, the feast of the Birth of Mary, the Nativity of Mary, was our opening date. Mother brought us another grand gift, the statue of Maria Bambina*, the infant Mary. She was given a place of honor, and novenas distributed.
Mother Christine gained her eternal reward on “Our Lady’s day”, Saturday, October 17, 2015. I placed my hand on her chest covered with roses at her viewing and said good-bye to our dear friend, Mother Christine. During the eulogy after her funeral Mass we were granted a tiny insight into her mystical gifts. I pray for her still, and am encouraged believing she is praying for us before her Spouse and King in the presence of Our Lady, and dear friends, the saints.
But that date, September 8, I don’t know what’s waiting for us as we struggle to reopen the store. I do know Mother Christine wanted this novena spread. We started it but we are so easily distracted with the day-to-day details that the important things sometimes suffer. But we will begin the novena to Maria Bambina on Wednesday, August 31, in thanksgiving for God’s fathomless gifts, and the help He sends each of us every day in the middle of this chaos on earth. I hope you’ll join us, maybe we’ll be allowed to open this location on the feast of Mary’s Nativity.
By the way, the statue remains in our office until we have the means to construct another prayer room.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam All Honor and Glory to God AMDG
*Milan boasts a beautiful little image of the Infant Mary, often referred to as Maria Bambina. Here’s a picture of the one given to us by Mother Christine of Mary and the Most Holy Spirit. Mother also had a small booklet created with the history and the novena.
The infant Mary is wrapped in “swaddling clothes.” The three diamond studded gold bands symbolize the love the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity have bestowed upon Mary. The embroidered shield on her chest reflects the fact that she was protected by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit from the moment of her creation. The crown of twelve stars represents the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles.
The miraculous image of Maria Bambina was made prior to 1730 by a Franciscan nun who afterwards entrusted Her to others. During the ensuing years She came into the care of the Sisters of Charity at Lovere, Italy. In 1856 these Sisters of Charity were asked to take over the management of the Hospital of Ciceri in Milan and in 1876 this waxen image was carried to their Mother House there at Via S. Sofia 13, where She has remained ever since.
The beautiful image of the Maria Bambina was exposed for veneration only on the 8th of September, the Feast of Mary's Nativity. In 1884, those who were devoted to the Maria Bambina received a reward for their devotion. Due to paralysis in her arms and feet, Sister Josephine Woinovich was bedridden and in unbearable pain. On the 8th of September she begged the Mother General to get Maria Bambina and leave the image near her overnight. The following morning the Mother General was inspired to take the image, so old, worn and grayish colored to the other sick Sisters in the infirmary so they could kiss Her. There was in the infirmary a good novice, Giulia Macario, who was unable to move because of her serious illness, but who, overcome by her ardent faith, took the image into her arms and pleaded with Her in tender and loving words for the Grace for her recovery. She was immediately and miraculously cured, for such Faith moves mountains. And at the same time this image itself underwent an amazing transformation from the former dull gray color to the warm flesh hues it has today, as can be seen, where She is enshrined in the Sanctuary of the Mother House in Milan.
Many graces and miracles have come from devotion to the Maria Bambina, among them the recovery of Sister Josephine Woinovich herself. And that is why these sisters are now commonly known as the Sisters of Maria Bambina. Each year on Our Lady's birthday, the Sisters of the Bambina touch small pieces of cotton to the miraculous image of the Maria Bambina. These pieces of cotton are then distributed as sacramentals to those who have become attached to devotion of Maria Bambina. (Taken from information provided by the Sisters. Imprimatur: In Curia Arch Mediolani die 14-1-196; Theresius Ferraroni)
Holy Child Mary of the royal house of David, Queen of the angels, Mother of grace and love, I greet you with all my heart. Obtain for me the grace to love the Lord faithfully during all the days of my life. Obtain for me, too, a great devotion to you, who are the first creature of God's love. Hail Mary, full of grace................
O heavenly Child Mary, who like a pure dove was born immaculate and beautiful, true prodigy of the wisdom of God, my soul rejoices in you. Oh! Do help me to preserve the angelic virtue of purity at the cost of any sacrifice. Hail Mary, full of grace................
Hail, lovely and holy Child, spiritual garden of delight, where, on the day of the Incarnation, the tree of life was planted, assist me to avoid the poisonous fruit of vanity and pleasures of the world. Help me to engraft into my soul the thoughts, feelings, and virtues of your divine Son. Hail Mary, full of grace................
Hail, admirable Child Mary, Mystical Rose, closed garden, open only to the heavenly Spouse. O Lily of paradise, make me love the humble and hidden life; let the heavenly Spouse find the gate of my heart always open
to the loving calls of His graces and inspiration. Hail Mary, full of grace................
Holy Child Mary, mystical dawn, gate of heaven,
you are my trust and hope. O powerful advocate, from your cradle stretch out your hand, support me on the path of life.
Make me serve God with ardor and
constancy until death and so reach an eternity with you. Hail Mary, full of grace................
Blessed Child Mary, destined to be the Mother of God and our loving Mother, by the heavenly graces you lavish upon us, mercifully listen to my supplications. In the needs which press upon me from every side and especially in my present tribulation, I place all my trust in you.
O holy Child, by the privileges granted to you alone and by the merits which you have acquired, show that the source of spiritual favors and the continuous benefits which you dispense are inexhaustible, because your power with the Heart of God is unlimited.
Deign through the immense profusion of graces with which the Most High has enriched you from the first moment of your Immaculate Conception, grant me, O Celestial Child, my petition, and I shall eternally praise the goodness of your Immaculate Heart.
I M P R I M A T U R
In Curia Archiep. Mediolani
31 August 1931
Can. CAVEZZALI, Pro Vic. Gen