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Julian Tenison Woods
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December 10, 2016
With Christmas approaching, it is timely to turn our attention to Mary, the mother of God.
Maybe as the result of the early death of his own mother, Fr Julian developed a great devotion to Mary, mother of God, as someone to turn to, someone he could trust and someone who would console and encourage him.
His writings reflect an intensely personal relationship with Mary and he encouraged others to discover Mary as their mother too.
Have confidence in our sweet Mother… Our blessed Mother sustains me in a wonderful way, and thanks be to her sweet love, I am calm and tranquil in the midst.(Woods to the Sisters in Adelaide, November 5th 1871)
Another quote perhaps helps us understand the motivation for his devotion:
The love of Mary… makes us more simple, more obedient and more ready to do God’s Will in all things. But most of all it makes us burn with the love of Mary’s Son(Woods writing from Singapore 1883)
Fr Julian wanted his Sisters to know, and feel, that God is Love. For him, Mary showed the way – her openness to God allowed Jesus to be born into our world.
Mary’s heart made up for the poverty of Bethlehem. Like Mary’s heart, Jesus should ever find in the Sisters a place of recollection and repose...
Mary gives us an example of the way to live with Jesus and imitate Him(Woods, Instructions for the Use of the Sisters, reprinted in Archdiocese of Hobart, 1940, pg. 77)
For Pope Francis, too, Mary is Jesus’ gift to his people. In Evangelii Gaudium (2013), he describes her as an icon of womanhood and emphasises the close connection between Mary, the Church and each member of the faithful (#285).
Mary was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love. She is the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises….As a true mother, she walks at our side, she shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love. (#286)
In Laudato Si (2015), Pope Francis commends Mary to us as:
the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world….we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom. (#241)
Amid the hype of the fast approaching Christmas season maybe a few moments spent with Mary could help us depth the reason for the season, and pray with Pope Francis:
Mary, Virgin and Mother,
you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
welcomed the word of life
in the depths of your humble faith:
as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
help us to say our own “yes”
to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
(Evangelii Gaudium #288)
Sr Carmel Jones rsj
Images: Artist Sr Therese Quinn rsj