Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Let us run to Mary

Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.
– St. Francis de Sales

One of my dad's friends was a priest. They went to Regis High School together in New York. My dad was a scholarship kid and lost his father suddenly his senior year to a heart attack so the going was rough. He told me that Fr. Fred was very kind to him during that difficult time. After Regis, my dad was drafted and served in the Army Air Corps in Korea as a navigator. Fr. Fred Jelly went on to become a priest.

Fr. Fred, as we called him, would come to our house to visit with his sister, who was a nun. They were both teachers, which intimidated us a bit since we went to Catholic school. On one visit my three year old sister, who was getting a bath, streaked naked through the living room laughing as toddlers do. Both Fr. Fred and his sister almost fell off of the couch laughing but my older brother and I were aghast and ran around trying to catch her.

Fr. Fred was a Marianist and this quote reminded me of his great love for Mary. He spoke eloquently about Mary whenever he gave a sermon at Masses he held in our kitchen and how she exemplified so many of the qualities that would lead to a good and productive life of service.

It wasn't until I was older that I realized that Fr. Fred Jelly had held positions such as dean of studies at various seminaries and was nationally known for his writings as a Marianist. This humble man never spoke of any of his achievements to me when I was a shy kid, but asked instead how I was doing in school and asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. He was a consummate educator and scholar and devoted himself to his students at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland.

He was very active in the Mariological Society. I found this on the web: "At the 1977 meeting, Fr. Fred Jelly, O.P., urged that the Society be more mindful of the role of catechesis and of the hermeneutics of the Marian dogmas. At the 1978 meeting, Fr. Jelly suggested that more attention be given to the ecumenical role of Mary and that the special relation between Mary and the Holy Spirit be studied." And after his death I found this:

"A special feature was a Power-Point presentation from Sr. Ann Marie Harrison, I.H.M., on a Marian invocation, "Mary, Beloved of the Trinity." ..Through her initiative, the title has received the approval of Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore; the late Cardinal John O'Connor of New York City; Fr. René Laurentin; the late Fr. Fred Jelly, O.P.; Prof. John Saward; Fr. Theodore Koehler, S.M.; and many others. Sister Anne Marie believes that the invocation will promote a consciousness of Mary's loving relation to the members of the Trinity and a Trinitarian spirituality which includes the presence and praise of Mary. ... The conferences given at the meeting will be published in Marian Studies, vol. 53 (2002), available in the spring of 2003. "

I knew him simply as Fr. Fred.

If you'd like to hear Fr. Fred, some of his tapes are available at Alba house (click above). And here's one of his books - Madonna: Mary in the Catholic Tradition:

I'd like to post a prayer to Mary that he taught me - I believe it's the oldest known prayer to her:

"We turn to you for protection,
Holy Mother of God.
Listen to our prayers
and help us in our needs.
Save us from every danger,
glorious and blessed Virgin."

(Found in Greece in the year 300)

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