Ave Maria (Verdi’s Otello) – Renee Fleming

The Ave Maria aria is sung by Desdemona (Otello’s wife) in Act 4, as she kneels in prayer with a troubled mind before going to bed.

Here is the English translation

Ave Maria, overflowing with grace,
Blessed be the fruit of thy womb.

Blessed are you above all women
for delivering to us Christ Jesus.

Pray for the one
who kneels in prayer before you,

Pray for the wrongdoer
…and for the innocent,

Pray for the weak and oppressed,
…and for those in power,

For the wretched, likewise,
show your mercy.

Pray for the one suffering
cruel misfortune,

Pray for the one who bows his head
under injustice and cruel fate.

And for us… pray for us,
pray always…

…and in the hour
of our death.

Pray for us…
Pray for us…
for us.

Ave Maria . . .
…In the hour of our death.


The Annunciation – Our Blessed Mother’s Assent to the Will of God – “I am the Handmaid of the Lord”

“As a sheaf of grain is tied together in the middle and spreads out at either end, so Mary’s life is bound together by her assent” – from the beginning of “The Handmaid of the Lord” by the great 20th century wife, mother, physician and mystic Adrienne von Spyer.  It has become my absolute favorite book on the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It has transformed my understanding and deepened my love and appreciation for Mary, the Mother of God…Our Blessed Mother.

Mary’s assent to the Lord binds the whole of her life such that “From this assent her life receives its meaning and form and unfolds toward past and future”.  This assent, the great “Yes” to the will of God is the moment.

“This single, all-encompassing act accompanies her at every moment of her existence, illuminates every turning point of her life, bestows upon every situation its own particular meaning and in all situations gives May herself the grace of renewed understanding.  Her assent gives full meaning to every breath, every movement, every prayer of the Mother of God

Everything that we understand Mary to be, do, and say finds her assent at its source.  But, the assent must be understood as one of freedom, “This is the nature of an assent: it binds the one who gives it, yet it allows him complete freedom in shaping its expression”.  Her assent binds her to the Lord, yet it frees her to express herself dramatically much like the sheaf is bound by the cord around its middle but the sheaf bursts freely outward from the binding cord.

“Mary’s meeting with the angel is like the summation of her entire preceding life of contemplation. It is the first thing we learn about her.  We do not know who she is, we do not know her past.  But when we learn that she saw the angel, the whole composition of her soul becomes visible.  The angel which appears is the fulfillment of her prayer – not in the sense that she had prayed for the appearance or prepared herself for it, but rather in the sense that she has held herself in readiness for a mission still unknown to her.  She has lived in an attitude of prayer, and in virtue of this life she is capable in the crucial moment of seeing and obeying the angel who comes to her.  Both vision and obedience flow from the same source in her; from the openness toward the mission which God may give her, when and in whatever way he likes.  Her obedience is the prototype of every future instance of Christian obedience, which draws its whole meaning from the life of prayer and the perception of God’s will.” [Adrienne von Speyr: Handmaid of the Lord. From the Chapter, “Mary and the Angel“, pg. 27]

Take a look at an excerpt from “Handmaid of the Lord”  you can purchase it from Ignatius Press as a book or you may like to download the mp3 reading.  Check it out….

The Angelus – Discerning Hearts

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:

And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. Hail Mary . . .

Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.


“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28)

“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb”
(Lk 1:42).


“May Your Will Be Done” – Reflections on the 5th Sunday of Lent w/ Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the readings from the 5th Sunday of Lent.  Lord, create in me a new heart.  God wants to live in you.  How does that happen?  We must die.  What does that mean?  When we come to Jesus we must completely surrender.  Physically dying, in some ways, is easy. But surrendering to God, dying to ourselves, now that is hard.  If your Lenten journey has not lead you to  totally surrender, then you haven’t gotten it yet, but it’s not too late.  It’s ultimately about the choices we make.  What will your choice be?

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website:  Building a Kingdom of Love

IP#146 Mary Eberstadt – Adam and Eve After the Pill on Inside the Pages

Mary Eberstadt is one of the brightest lights we have voicing the intelligent response to the arguments brought forward by women who advocate the “contraceptive” mentality, especially those which come from women who claim the Catholic mantle.  Her book, “Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution” is outstanding! In her incredibly fluent writing style, Mary chronicles the damage done to women, men and children as a result of the “sexual revolution” and the paradoxes of our promiscuous behavior.  She is  wonderful to listen to as she calmly fillets, like an intellectual ninja, the viewpoint of the sexual secular left.  In our conversation, she also discusses the challenges to religious liberty that we face in this country.  A “don’t miss” book and discussion.

You can find Mary’s book here

Mary Eberstadt is our premier analyst of American cultural foibles and follies, with a keen eye for oddities that illuminate just how strange the country’s moral culture has become. —George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Be sure to check out Mary’s “Inside the Pages” interview for “The Loser Letters

ST15 – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – “Genesis” Opening Lecture and Explanation of Seeking Truth

Episode 15 – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran.    “Genesis” Opening Lecture and Explanation of Seeking Truth

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your every day life.

This lecture is not only an overview of the book of Genesis, but also a sweeping view of the story of salvation. The “narratio”, or the narration, is the story of Christ, present from the very beginning of time to the very end yet to come. It is a powerful story that is present throughout the entire Bible.

“Seeking Truth” is an in depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to:www.seekingtruth.net

The 3 Levels of the Heart with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff offers a teaching on the 3 levels of the heart.  He begins by looking at the Sacred Heart of Jesus, then moves to the examination of the layers of our hearts. In understanding of this is vitally important to appreciate how we make decisions and pray…if we are in our own will or God’s will.

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website:  Building a Kingdom of Love