About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark has served since 1989 as Music Director and Organist at Saint Cecilia Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. For the Archdiocese of Boston, he directed the Office of Divine Worship Saint Cecilia Schola. His compositions have been performed on four continents.
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"Upon the road, René was always occupied with God. His words and the discourses he held were all expressive of submission to the commands of Divine Providence, and showed a willing acceptance of the death which God was sending him. He gave himself to God as a sacrifice, to be reduced to ashes by the fires of the Iroquois, which that good Father's hand would kindle. He sought the means to bless Him in all things and everywhere. Covered with wounds as he himself was, Goupil dressed the wounds of other persons, of the enemies who had received some blows in the fight as well as those of the prisoners. He opened the vein for a sick Iroquois. And he did it all with as much charity as if he had done it to persons who were his best friends."
— St. Isaac Jogues (writing in 1643)

Mary was one of the strongest women to ever walk planet Earth.
published 31 December 2016 by Richard J. Clark

HE BLESSED VIRGIN Mary is often depicted in art and in song as “meek” and “mild.” “Humble” and “lowly” are perhaps even better descriptions. But those adjectives are mistaken for submission and weakness.

Rather, humility and accepting a lowly state is a display of unprecedented strength. Only a person filled with great strength could possess the qualities of meekness and lowliness. The Magnificat is a profound manifesto of praise for God, coming from a woman of great inner confidence, self-knowledge, and power. How bold it is to say:

“For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.”

No, Mary was not simply unknowing and along for the ride. Consider, her strength was apparent from beginning until the end: from the visit of the Angel Gabriel in her “Yes!” to God, to pushing Jesus into his public ministry at the wedding feast at Cana, to enduring her own agony at the foot of the Cross. Such was the strength of Mary’s confidence in Jesus.

HILE RECENTLY REHEARSING the familiar Mode I “Ave Maria” with my choir, I reminded them of Mary’s extraordinary strength. I asked them to consider that very distinct opening melody of the chant. It is sturdy and purposeful. It is to be sung not only with conviction, but with energy. Such can be said of the familiar “Salve Regina” and “Ave Maris Stella.” These are melodies that are sturdy and enduring. They are not precious relics but bold foundations able and ready to nurture our faith.

In our prayer, song, architecture, and art, let us rely the strong intercession of our blessed Mother in Heaven.

I share with you a live recording at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of organist, Rosalind Mohnsen performing “Gaudens Gaudebo.” In this you will hear several Marian melodies including the final toccata on “Ave Maria.” This piece explores Mary’s “Yes!” Furthermore, the pipe organ is a particularly versatile instrument, able to to convey a wide range of color and emotion ranging from intimacy to towering strength.

Here is another work for organ. The quote of “Ave Maris Stella” is where the organ rises to its fullest: