Friday, November 16, 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Ostra Brama (Mother of Mercy)

Shared by Mary Jane.

The history of Our Lady of the Dawn, who is also known as Our Lady of Ostra Brama, begins in 1386. In that year prince Jagellon of Lithuania married the Polish princess Jadwiga. She was the first to introduce Catholic practices in the Russian Orthodox kingdom. Even though the Orthodox of Lithuania venerated the Virgin in their liturgy and prayers, they were unfamiliar with the intensity of the Polish love and devotion for Mary. However, when it was first introduced by princes Jadwiga, the people of Lithuania welcomed it with open arms. Early in the fifteenth century, the new city walls of Vilnius were built. Above each of the gates the people of the town placed an image of the Blessed Virgin. About a century later, Carmelites took over one of the parish churches in the vicinity of the southeastern gate of the town. In the Lithuanian language this gate was commonly known as 'Auros Vartai' (the gate of dawn). The Polish speaking population knew it as 'Ostra Brama' (the sharp gate). The Carmelites are known for their special dedication to the Mother of Jesus. They took special care of the image that was placed above the gate near their church. When the army of Moscow set fire to the city of Vilnius in 1655, most of the town was destroyed in a fire that lasted seventeen days. However, the image above the Ostra Brama gate survived without any damage. This strongly encouraged the people’s devotion toward it and attracted many pilgrims from outside. Early in the eighteenth century there was yet another fire in Wilna. When the image survived once again, the Carmelite fathers built a special shrine chapel for it above the gate in 1706. Since that year, people come to this chapel daily to recite the litany of Loreto before the image. There are several things about the Virgin of the Gate of Dawn worth noting. One of the most unusual aspects are the crossed hands. In similar icons where Mary is depicted without the Child Jesus, she is normally in an oran position, the attitude of prayer, with arms and hands extended upward or towards Christ. Unusual too are the relatively large robe and veil. Since early Byzantine times, the Virgin has been depicted covered by a flowing floor length robe with a veil showing her hands, face, neck, and sometimes a small part of one ear. In the Ostra Brama icon though, the robe is unusually large. It can be said that the iconography of the image of Our Lady of Ostra Brama is Western, but with strong Eastern Orthodox influences. This is quite common in the Eastern European region, where there is often no clear division between Catholic and Orthodox Christian art. In 1927, after the renovation of the painting and the chapel, a formal ceremony was held in front of the Cathedral of Vilnius in which the icon was crowned. By a special command of Pope Pius XI, it was also given the title 'Mater Misericordiae' (Mother of Mercy). The chapel was renovated in 1931-1932. Since 1936 the Carmelites have been taking care of the shrine chapel again. During the Second World War, the Archbishop of Vilnius decided that the miraculous picture should stay in the town. During the Russian communist occupation of Lithuania the chapel of Ostra Brama remained open. The Mother of Mercy was a powerful symbol in the struggle for Polish and Lithuanian independence. Our Lady of Ostra Brama (Vilnius), Pray for Us!
Pope John Paul II Links Fatima to the Divine Mercy
From September 4th to the 10th, 1993, John Paul II took his apostolic mission to the three former Soviet Baltic republics, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. It was a miracle – a word not commonly heard in these countries – that the head of the Catholic Church stood among Lithuanians on that September day in Vilnius, and knelt together with them before the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Mercy of Ostra Brama. Only after his consecration of Russia in 1984, was the Pope able to go on pilgrimage to countries of the former atheist empire, pray the rosary for peace, undertake acts of entrustment, and preach the mercy of God.
Mother of Mercy, Ostra Brama
When John Paul II knelt in prayer at the feet of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, at her Sanctuary of Ostra Brama, his presence there in a remarkable way, linked the Message of Fatima with the Divine Mercy. He also thereby fulfilled both aspects of the words of the Angel to the children of Fatima in the second apparition in 1916: “The most holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy upon you.”
Just five months before his visit to Vilnius, on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 18, 1993, the Pope had declared Blessed the Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska, to whom Our Lord had revealed His Divine Mercy in the 1930s. When in September, 1993, the Holy Father knelt beneath the image of the Woman of the Apocalypse at Ostra Brama (and Our Lady’s intervention at Fatima is accepted by many authorities as a fulfillment of chapter 12 of the Apocalypse), he would certainly have recalled that the image of the Divine Mercy was painted in Vilnius, and was first exposed precisely in the shrine of the Mother of Mercy in Ostra Brama. Sister Faustina briefly describes this event on page 44 of her Diary.
The proclamation of God’s Mercy at the present time coincides distinctly with the proclamation of the Message of Fatima, for the Mother of God of Fatima is also the Mother of Mercy, Stella Orientis, the Patroness of the East. This became apparent at the meeting of John Paul II with two Polish priests of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. In February, 1994, Father Adam Boniecki, MIC, Superior General of the Marian Fathers, and Fr. John Nicholas Rokosz, MIC, Superior of the Polish Province, had a private audience with the Pope and presented him with two books, the Russian version of Blessed Faustina Kowalska’s Diary and the extended Polish version of Fatima, Russia and Pope John Paul II (from which we cite this material). The Pope was very pleased with this gift – holding them in his hands he said, “Good. Let the people read them. Let them know who brought them their freedom.”
On Divine Mercy Sunday, April 10, 1994, the editor-in-chief of the Marian Fathers’ publishing house in Warsaw, Fr. Kazimierz Pek, MIC, distributed the first Russian copies of the Diary in Moscow to the people gathered in the Immaculate Conception of Mary church. Here is part of what he said in his homily:
“The Divine Mercy begins to be proclaimed in Russia just from here, from the church dedicated to Our Holy Mother, immaculately conceived. It flows from the throne of a Woman, whose Heart was ever immaculate, filled with joy, because she experienced that “from age to age his mercy extends to those who live in his presence.” And she, who lives in his presence, is inviting all of us to do the same –by experiencing the Divine Mercy in our lives. Mary’s Immaculate Heart begins to triumph today because you can expect real miracles where the Divine Mercy is venerated and when people trust in the Divine Mercy (iHeartworks emphasis)…The statue of Our Lady of Fatima…is a sign. Our Lady seems to be saying: “Let them read. Let them know who brought them their freedom.” This is a way to fulfill all the promises and plans God has for Russia…”
The connection between Fatima and the Divine Mercy was further emphasized by Fr. Rokosz in the homily he delivered in Stockbridge, Massachusetts on the same day of Divine Mercy, April 10, 1994. Referring to his meeting with the Pope in February, Fr. Rokosz said in his sermon:
Brothers and Sisters! do you realize what the Pope said? It is the Divine Mercy that freed the Soviet nations from the chains of Communism! And the further fate of these nations and even of the entire world depends on it. The Pope points out that the message of Fatima and Divine Mercy meet again. The history of the world is entering a new phase. This epoch, at the dawn of which we are living, is the epoch of Divine Mercy.
And, for further evidence of the connection between Fatima and Divine Mercy, we have Our Lady’s words of Divine Mercy given at Fatima.
As noted above, a year prior to Our Lady’s apparitions in 1917, the Angel appeared to the three seers . During the second apparitions, the Angel said to them, “Pray! Pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you.”

In the third apparition, the Angel taught them the moving Trinitarian prayer of Eucharistic reparation (see below), which bears a noteworthy similarity to the prayer to the Eternal Father in the Divine Mercy chaplet (see Chaplet Prayers).
In July, 1917, Our Lady revealed God’s plan of mercy, to save the souls of poor sinners from going to hell by establishing in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart. Participation in this merciful work of salvation is extended to all the faithful who comply with Our Lady’s requests for prayers, sacrifices and acts of reparation, and is one of the principle elements in the Fatima Message.
Finally, in the last apparition of Our Lady at Tuy on June 13, 1919, Sr. Lucia was granted a vision of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, in which “under the left arm of the cross, large letters, as if of crystal clear water ran down upon the altar, formed these words, “Grace and Mercy’. Our Lady then said to me: “The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.” (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, 9th edition, page 235).
View Sr. Lucia’s vision Now!
Sister Lucia, Our Lady’s chosen instrument for the communication of these divine mysteries, herself commented: “Who better than this Immaculate Heart could have revealed to us the secrets of Divine Mercy?” (ibid., page 19).

Trinitarian Prayer of Eucharistic Reparation (Fatima)
“Most Holy Trinity -Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.”    

"Our Lady of Ostra Brama" (Our Lady of Mercy) is the patroness of the Marian Province in the United States.
When Bl. John Paul the Great visited Our Lady of Ostra Brama's image, he recited

this prayer: The Litany of Loreto

V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Christ have mercy.
V. Lord have mercy. Christ hear us.
R. Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us. 
Holy Mother of God, pray for us. 
Holy Virgin of Virgins, [etc.]
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good Counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of families,
Queen of peace,

V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Spare us, O Lord. 
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord. 
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may we be freed from present sorrow, and rejoice in eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.