In mercy, “God bends over us”

In mercy, "God bends over us"

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Ostra Brama, Our Lady of the Dawn Gate, or the East Gate. It is in Vilnius Lithuania, facing east towards Russia. It is a very  important Marian shrine little known to those in the West. Devotion to Our Lady of Mercy found great endorsement here.

In
1927, after a renovation of the chapel, Our Lady of Ostra Brama was
‘crowned’ by the townspeople and Pope Pius XI gave the title of Mater
Misericordiae
(Mother of Mercy) to the Virgin. 

In
1977, shortly a year before he became Pope, Cardinal Wojtyla gave a
homily at a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius’s
coronation of the Mother of Mercy. He was in Krakow thinking of the
Lithuanian shrine. Wojtyla began by the great Polish writer Adam
Mickiewicz, whose exile led him through the east gate:

“O
Holy Maid, who Czestochowa’s shrine dost guard and on Pointed Gateway
[Ostra Brama] shine!” And although we stand here and although we regard
with joy this image blessed just now, which is a copy, our thoughts fly
to the same place as the thoughts of poet: “Meanwhile, bear off my
yearning soul . . .”

Or
rather, our thoughts are both there and here. We express our great joy
that here, too, the 50th anniversary of the coronation of the Blessed
Mother in her image of Ostra Brama was observed by our brothers, that
this great anniversary was commemorated by a proper ceremony both
there and here. It is indeed a great anniversary. . . The invocation of
the Homeland turns immediately to the Blessed Mother: Who defends Jasna
Czetochowa and shines in the pointed star.” We must remember the depth
of suffering from which these words flowed, the depth of the soul that
spawned them.  . . .  Mickiewicz,
who before leaving his homeland, attended a morning Mass before the
image of Ostra Brama, his fac buried in his hands, his soul steeped in
prayer. And that is how he went into banishment. . . Many others went in
the same way. Those that remained made countless sacrifices, endured
humiliations and sufferings. Many times they took up armed struggle, so
that finally the day might come when a crown from the Holy Father Pius
XI was placed on the head of Our Lady of Ostra Brama. . .

Very often, justice without mercy is unjust. Justice without mercy is often an injustice, it does not build equality, it often creates new inequalities, divides people anew . . . such is justice by itself. Man is not accommodated within the dimensions of justice.  The whole truth about man calls for the equality which is found in mercy, it calls for the Mother of Mercy. The whole truth about man calls for the equality which is found in God’s Mercy: when Christ bends over us, when His Mother bends over us, that expresses the image and likeness of God. In the name of the unfathomable equality with God, which we have obtained in Jesus Christ, God bends over us: He is merciful to us. (found in The Making of the Pope of the Millennium, p. 792)

Sister Faustina notes that the first Celebration of the Feast of Mercy was in Vilnius — the First exposition of the Divine Mercy Image at the Gates of Dawn – Vilnius April 1935

Strangely, all things came about just as the Lord had requested. In fact, it was on the first Sunday after Easter [April, 1935] that the Image was publicly honoured by crowds of people for the first time. For three days it was exposed and received public veneration. Since it was placed at the very top of a window at Ostra Brama [Shrine of Our Lady above the “Eastern Gate” to the city of Vilnius], it could be seen from a great distance. (Diary §89)

And she had a vision at this spot. An Image of the Mother of Mercy comes alive and speaks to St. Faustina at the Gates of Dawn Vilnius on the vigil of the feast, 15th November 1935:

On the evening of the last day of the novena at Ostra Brama, after the singing of the litany, one of the priests exposed the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance. When he placed it on the altar, I immediately saw the Infant Jesus, stretching out His little arms, first of all toward His Mother, who at that time had taken on a living appearance. When the Mother of God was speaking to me, Jesus stretched out His tiny hands toward the congregation. The Blessed Mother was telling me to accept all that God asked of me like a little child, without questioning; otherwise it would not be pleasing to God. At that moment, the Infant Jesus vanished, and the Mother of God was again lifeless, and Her picture was the same as it had been before. But my soul was filled with great joy and gladness, and I said to the Lord, “Do with me as You please; I am ready for everything, but You, O Lord, must not abandon me even for a moment.”

Karol Wojtyla,
as Archbishop of Krakow, well aware of
the mysterious events that had transpired
at Ostra Brama and having visited the
place in his youth, who opened the
cause of beatification of St Faustina his
contemporary and declared her the first
saint of the new millennium on April 30,
2000.

So states Wanda Skowronska, who provides a very illuminating  account of the significance of the shrine of Our Lady of Ostra Obrama (find it here).

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