Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Today we continue our release of the companion video podcasts for the Birthing the Holy Prayer Cycle which was created to accompany my book Birthing the Holy: Wisdom from Mary to Nurture Creativity and Renewal. The full prayer cycle is available here.
Today’s video podcast for Day 4 morning and evening prayer explores Our Lady of Silence and Our Lady of the Underworld. Our Lady of Silence invites us into the heart of stillness and quiet where we can listen to the still small voice within.
Holy Mary, Lady of Silence, we come to you in quiet this day. Be with us in our time of silence as we let go of words and chatter. Journey with us into the space of deep listening and stillness that we may pause, rest, and discover the magic to be found within the still point of the heart.
This excerpt from Birthing the Holy provides an introduction to Our Lady of the Underworld and the Black Madonna featured in Day 4 Evening Prayer.
Scattered across Europe and other continents are a series of medieval paintings and statues known as Black Madonnas who have dark or black features. Many are well-known pilgrimage shrines such as Our Lady of the Hermits in Einsiedeln, Switzerland; Our Lady of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, Poland; and Our Lady of Montserrat in Catelonia, Spain. Included among these is Notre Dame Sous-Terre, who dwells in the crypt beneath the church in Chartres Cathedral in France.
Christian feminist theology sees the Black Madonna as revealing aspects of the sacred feminine that are generally not represented in traditional images of Mary. These dark representations of Our Lady expand Mary’s image beyond her usual depiction as a docile white woman. The Black Madonna roots Mary in the struggle of her Black and Brown sisters for justice. Even more than a connection through skin color, the Black Madonna reveals a dimension of the sacred feminine that is fierce and able to stay present with us through our own times of darkness.
Mary in her blackness offers us a fierce love in which she unequivocally claims that every oppressed person should be nourished, cherished, and welcomed. She compels us to act for justice out of this witness of expansive love.
(Reprinted with permission from Ave Maria Press)
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Join Simon and me tomorrow for our monthly contemplative prayer service. This is our final prayer service before we take our summer break.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Image: Our Lady of the Underworld Icon by Kreg Yingst