Bottom line: St. Dominic's vision of heaven underscores the importance of placing ourselves under the Virgin Mary's motherly care.
Today we celebrate a beautiful feast in honor of Mary: the Immaculate Conception. What does it mean for us to have such a mother, such an intercessor in heaven?
To help understand the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would like to tell you about a vision which St. Dominic had. You have probably seen paintings of St. Dominic - he is a thin man with a brown beard and a crown of hair, bald in the middle because of the tonsure. He wears a white tunic with a black cape. Often, depicted at Dominic's feet you will see a dog - an animal which lovingly looks at his master, as Dominic did to the Lord.
In his life Dominic did not have many visions, but on today's Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I would like to tell you about a vision which underscores the motherly care of the Virgin Mary.
One night Dominic was praying alone in the chapel of his monastery. He saw the heavens open with Christ in the center and the Blessed Virgin Mary next to him. As St. Dominic looked around, he began to weep bitterly. The Lord asked him why he was so sad. "I am grieving," said Dominic, "because I see here members of every religious Order, but of my own, not one."
Jesus then asked him if he would like to see those of his own Order. Dominic replied that he ardently desired to see them. The Lord then placed his hand lovingly on the Virgin's shoulder and said, "I have given over your Order to my mother's care." At this the Blessed Virgin drew back her mantle, and opening it wide before St Dominic, it seemed to enclose nearly the whole of that heavenly country, so vast was it, and beneath it he saw a great host of his brethren.
The vision ended, but Dominic remained in joyful, grateful prayer. When the first light of dawn broke, Dominic rang the bell and gathered his brothers into the chapel. He told his brothers about the vision and exhorted them to love Blessed Virgin Mary and place themselves under her motherly care.
Now, I am no Dominic. I do not have heavenly visions. But I do hope one day to reach heaven. I would certainly want to ask the Lord, "Where are my children? Where are the parishioners you entrusted to me for a time?" How beautiful it would be if our Lady would draw back the hems of her mantle - and I could see you there! On today's Feast of the Immaculate Conception, let us place ourselves under her motherís care.
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