Thank you to all our Frankie Award nominees, all those who promoted the contest on their blogs or through Facebook or Twitter, and to everyone who voted. The voting post had over 2100 hits, with 440 total votes. Larry Peterson's post garnered a third of those. Go, Larry!
If you did not win this year, I hope the contest did bring lots of extra traffic to your blog. And think of all those people learning more about the spiritual life, because they read what the Lord is teaching you! Now it's time to start planning for next year's posts. If you have any suggestions on how to improve our contest, please add a comment or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And some of you should consider becoming members of Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network. Check out our Welcome page for details.
The winning post is re-posted in full below. Larry, please use this badge on your blog with a link to CSBN to announce your win. I will send you your gift certificate to Mystic Monk Coffee shortly.
Please join me in congratulating Larry.
New Year's Day & The Blessed Virgin Mary
A little about Catholics (myself included) and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We Catholics have adorned our Blessed Mother with many titles (47 different ones, I believe) and she is the greatest of all saints. We believe that she has been spared from original sin and was taken into heaven body and soul never having to die in this world. But, before she left here she lived here, as a woman, a mom and a housewife. I think we do not pay enough attention to the earthly life of our spiritual Mom. January 1st of each year we Catholics honor her with a day we call the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. In the Catholic world today is a Holy day of Obligation and, just like on Sundays, going to mass is required. This woman is worthy of and deserves this special day of honor.
Remember that Mary had already survived the possibility of execution by stoning because she was pregnant prior to her marriage. You can’t tell me that she did not think about the potential consequences of her pregnancy. (Even her Son, the God Man, broke into a sweat in the Garden of Eden thinking about what was coming. Why wouldn't Mary be worried?) She knew she was pregnant, she knew this was an extreme violation of Jewish law and she knew the penalty. Her life was out of her hands and her fate thrust into the hands of another, a man named Joseph, her betrothed. Fortunately, he was the best fiancé ever, married her, took her in and accepted her child as his.
Then, at full term in her pregnancy, she has to travel with her husband over 80 miles on a donkey to be counted in a census. She survives the four or five day journey (no rest-rooms between Nazareth and Bethlehem) and the countless contractions she must have had along the way, to discover that her frantic husband cannot find a place for them to stay. She winds up giving birth in a stable with smelly animals, lots of straw, no running water and who knows how clean those swaddling clothes were. She was probably all of 14 years old.
Let’s not forget that after a while word comes to them that Herod wants to kill their baby. Hey, all you moms and dads, how would you like to know the head of the government has authorized your child’s execution? Can you imagine? So, this poor young mom is forced to make a 300+ mile journey to Egypt, hiding her child as best she can, while all the time hoping her carpenter husband can elude the soldiers searching for them. Talk about anxiety. Talk about fear. Talk about having Faith and praying like you never prayed before.
It probably was a year or two before the family made it back to Nazareth. Here they probably lived in a typical baked clay and straw brick house. Each day Mary would have to sweep the beaten clay floor, go to the cistern for water, travel outside the town walls for daily necessities such as spices and grain, which she would have to grind into flour to bake fresh bread (no preservatives in those days) . Of course, there was the laundry. Trust me, there were no laundromats and there were no detergents. There were also no diapers or Pampers or band-aids or cough syrups or baby powder or microwave chicken nuggets or McDonald's either. Her husband would be in his shop doing his carpentry chores and her boy, Jesus, would be with His dad or maybe helping His mom. And life would go on, day after day after day. The years go by and she is witness to his horrendous execution. No mom should ever have to witness her child being butchered. She was there for His first breath and His very last.
In conclusion, He came here for us and she gave birth to Him for us. She wiped His runny nose, changed His dirty diaper and watched Him grow up and be killed for us. That is why we call her MOM too. We believe that she is still watching out for us, her other kids. Ultimately, this transposes into the Greatest Story Ever Told. Jesus was the leading Man and Mary, the leading woman . You have to LOVE this story and its two main characters, from Beginning to Never-Ending.