Meditation on Luke 1:46-55, The Blessed Virgin Mary

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The Lamenting Madonna, Icon, Egg Temera and Gilding on Gessoed Board, Phillip Schwartz

Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

 

As a child I was drawn to The Virgin Mary through medieval Christian art. I spent many hours as a child in museums, and when my father lost track of me, I could usually be located in the galleries containing icons, statues of Saints and other Christian art. The Cloisters was, and still is one my favorite places. When I came to the realization that my interest in Christian art was more about God than it was about beauty, I began my long journey of faith with it’s many twists and turns which ultimately led to my conversion, baptism and life as a Christian. I have the Blessed Mother to thank for leading me to her Son our Savior.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Galatians 3:22-28 August 14 Jonathan, Myrick Daniels

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Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

The scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

 

In light of the recent violence perpetrated by members of the KKK and other hate groups which espouse the racist, doctrine of white nationalism, honoring the life and sacrifice of Jonathan Myrick Daniels is especially important. Jonathan Myrick Daniels was martyred as he shielded a young African American girl from bullets fired by a white, racist, thug on this date in 1965 in Selma, Alabama. He wrote this during the time he spent in Alabama working for racial unity and voting rights for black Alabamans, “The faith with which I went to Selma has not changed: it has grown … I began to know in my bones and sinews that I had been truly baptized into the Lord’s death and resurrection … with them, the black men and white men, with all life, in him whose Name is above all the names that the races and nations shout … We are indelibly and unspeakably one.”

Phillip Schwartz

 

 

 

 

Meditation on Mark 9:14-29

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“I believe; help my unbelief!” Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz 

 

Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

Sometimes belief is simply a matter of having the desire to believe. In order to to believe in God we need to have both a desire to believe, and faith that what we believe is true. Like the father of the boy in today’s passage, we can ask Jesus for help with our unbelief, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Phillip Schwartz

 

Meditation on Saint Laurence Deacon and Martyr at Rome 258

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The Martyrdom of Saint Laurence, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

When a Roman prefect demanded that Saint Laurence give him information about the treasures of the Church, Saint Laurence presented to him the sick and the poor whom he had served and told the prefect, “These are the treasures of the Church.” Saint Laurence is believed to have then been roasted alive on a gridiron. Sometimes the most radical thing we can do is to serve one another and lend comfort to those in need. I have a feeling that if Saint Laurence were alive today he would be a brave and vocal advocate and activist for human rights and social justice in the service of Christ and for His glory.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Psalm 119:110

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Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

The wicked have set a trap for me, but I have not strayed from your commandments.

 

Fear and confusion can cause us to panic when we’re faced with one of life’s many challenges, but if we stop and pray, then with God’s help and renewed confidence we can escape many traps.

Philli Schwartz

 

 

 

Meditation on Psalm 39

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He Speaks His Mind, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

I said, “I will keep watch upon my ways, so that I do not offend with my tongue.”

 

Speaking one’s mind now seems to mean, either speaking without thinking, or saying something hateful. People who speak their minds in those ways utter offensive things that most of us would not say, not because we are obsessed with political correctness, but because we value our neighbors and their feelings.

Phillip Schwartz

 

Meditation on Psalm 37

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Seeing Red, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.

 

This verse popped out today because of all the energy I’ve wasted on anger and rage throughout my life. I lived for almost twenty years in Boston, the premier city of road rage. While I lived there using my middle finger to communicate my displeasure with other drivers became reflexive. I drove with another finger on the horn ready, to honk at the slightest provocation. After I moved to the Hudson Valley, it took one very embarrassing incident for me to realize that I had a problem. I flipped off a driver who had honked at me, only to realize that the honk was meant as a greeting and that it came from a woman who sat a few pews away from me every Sunday morning. I hoped that she hadn’t seen my middle fingered wave, but I knew that I needed to apologize. That was the beginning of my great and ongoing, effort to unlearn what twenty years of Boston driving had taught me.

Phillip Schwartz