In keeping with the intention of the Eucharistic Revival, to be a grass-roots effort focused on reigniting our love for Jesus in the Eucharist especially at the local level, many dioceses across the U.S. have adopted their own, particular motto for the next three years. The Diocese of Fall River chose “My flesh for the life of the world” from the Gospel of John. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis decided on “They recognized him when he broke the bread” for their theme. My own diocese of Austin chose “That they may all be one,” taken from the Farewell Discourse in John’s Gospel.
This particular verse of John 17:21 immediately brought to mind another group who is also very committed to praying for and working toward the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer to the Father, the prayer that all of his disciples may be a unified whole. “That all May Be One” is also the special charism and calling of the Franciscan Friars and Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement, in Garrison, New York.
The founders of the Friars of the Atonement, Fr. Paul Watson, S.A. and Mother Lurana White, S.A., were especially focused on the idea of wholeness, achieved through At-One-Ment, meaning being at-one within ourselves, being at-one in our relationships with others, and being at-one with God. At-One-Ment is achieved through Jesus’ Atonement, and the friars and sisters strive to live out their call to heal and reconcile by giving special attention to the unity of all and seeking out “the broken and those who have lost their way.” They are guided in their efforts by Our Lady of the Atonement, whose feast day is celebrated every year on July 9, the day that Fr. Paul was inspired to begin the society back in 1898.
Our Lady of the Atonement is portrayed wearing a golden crown of 12 stars. She is dressed in a red mantle, symbolizing the Precious Blood of her son, through which we are reconciled to the Father. She holds her infant son in her arms, lovingly smiling down on him. The Christ Child holds a small cross in his right hand, and his arms are stretched wide, as though he wants to embrace the whole world. His left hand is arranged in the traditional Trinity blessing - three fingers are held together. Our Lady is also shown wearing white and blue garments, symbolizing her purity and her protection and intercession.
The members of the Atonement society have a special devotion to Our Lady of the Atonement. Fr. Dennis Polanko, S.A., writes on the society’s website that “Her garments are the colors of our country’s flag and remind me every day how desperately her intercession is needed in our divided country at this time.” Fr. Jerry DiGiralamo S.A., states that “The uniqueness of Our Lady of the Atonement, as compared to Our Lady of Sorrows, is that she took an active part in the Sacrificial Offering of her son. We, too, are called to be active participants in the Atonement of Christ by our offering of ourselves to the Will of the Father for the salvation of the world.”
Mary’s title of Our Lady of the Atonement can help us reflect on Mary’s role at the foot of the cross, a time of deep suffering for her when all seemed hopeless, cruel and overwhelming. Mary’s steadfast courage and conviction shows us the depth of her love for her son, whom she never left. In the same way, she remains with us as our mother, helping, guiding and comforting. She invites us to join in her Son’s offering of himself back to the Father, in our own small ways, in our daily lives, for the continuing atonement and At-One-Ment of the world. How will you join with Our Lady of the Atonement during the Eucharistic Revival?
Our Lady of the Atonement, pray for us and pray for those who never pray to you! Especially those who are broken or have lost their way.
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