Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
We continue to share the release of our 7-Day Prayer Cycle to honor Mary and the sacred feminine with Day 5 which focuses on Mother of Sorrows and Greenest Branch.
The first reading for Morning Prayer on Mary as Mother of Sorrows is from Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
Even yet in the midst of all our bandages and broken spirit-bones, [Mary] calls us to stop mis-thinking that we stand alone in our challenges, when in fact, she ever stands with us. We ought ever flee to her side, ever hide under her shoulder, ever shelter under her inviolate mantle, ever be guided by her wisdom so hard-won—for she too bore miracles, menacings, and sufferings in her life. She too lost everything precious to her soul in the darkened world of human fools, foibles, and frailties of spirit.
Mary knows the absolute heartbreak of living in this world, her own son tortured and murdered before her eyes, holding the weight of his adult body in her arms. She grieves with us for all the places where we have lost our humanity and compassion. In times of war, pandemic, and civic unrest, Mary embraces us and stays with us through our own grief and unknowing.
The song we are sharing in the video link above is Requiem, written by Eliza Gilkyson and recorded by Simon de Voil. It is the opening song for this morning prayer and we asked our friends at Morgan Creative to create a video for it to enrich your experience of the song. Gilkyson wrote it after the tsunami in Asia in 2004 as a vehicle for grieving so much loss. Simon sings: “Oh Mother Mary come and carry us in your embrace that our sorrows may be faced.” Mary calls us to the powerful and necessary work of lament.
To support this work in community we are hosting a Grief in Poetry, Prose, and Song event this Friday, June 10th where I will be joined by Claudia Love Mair (my book club co-host and beautiful writer herself) and Simon de Voil.
The evening prayer service for Day 5 celebrates a name for Mary given to her by St. Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th century German Benedictine Abbess: Greenest Branch. For Hildegard, viriditas or the greening power of God was the primal life force infusing and animating all physical and spiritual life. Mary’s own fruitfulness and willing to birth the holy into the world also makes her a conduit for this greening power in the world. She is the greenest branch, and as the northern hemisphere approaches summer, we are witness to viriditas at work in the world.
To celebrate summer’s greening power and fruitfulness, I am leading a writing workshop online for St. Placid Priory this Saturday, June 11 on Writing Summer’s Abundance.
It is also my great joy to announce the Birthing the Holy: Singing with Mary and the Sacred Feminine album is now available for streaming or digital download! This album is a companion to the Birthing the Holy Prayer Cycle and my book Birthing the Holy. The 17 songs celebrate the names of Mary offered during the prayer cycle, and includes two litanys and the prayer cycle responses.
I was also interviewed about Birthing the Holy on the podcast How They Love Mary. Listen to the podcast here.
And finally, please join Simon de Voil and me tomorrow – Monday, June 6th – for our Contemplative Prayer Service. St. Columba’s (St. Colmcille in Ireland) feast day is Thursday and we will be celebrating his wisdom and guidance in following our calls in the world and the challenges we sometimes face.
We will then be taking a break from the services in July, August, and September, and will return in October.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
PS Simon de Voil created a delightful, behind the scenes of the prayer cycle video that you can watch here.
Video © Abbey of the Arts