Skip to comments.Coming Dec 8th. Feast of the "Immaculate Conception"
Posted on 12/05/2005 4:56:34 PM PST by Rosary
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For Mary, Mother of our Lord,
God's holy Name be praised,
Who first the Son of God adored
As on her Child she gazed.
Brave, holy virgin, she believed,
Though hard the task assigned,
And by the Holy Ghost conceived
The Savior of mankind.
She gave her body as God's shrine
Her heart to piercing pain;
She knew the cost of love divine When Jesus Christ was slain.
Dear Mary, from your lowliness
And home in Galilee
There comes a joy and holiness
To every family.
Hail, Mary; you are full of grace,
Above all women blest;
And blest your Son,
Whom your embrace
In birth and death confessed.
MARY HAS UNIVERSAL SPIRITUAL MOTHERHOOD
Our Lady is mother of all humanity because she co-operated with faith, hope and charity Christ's work of restoring supernatural live to souls
Pope John Paul II
The Blessed Virgin, "having entered the Father's eternal kingdom, closer to her divine Son and thus closer to us all, can more effectively exercise in the Spirit the role of maternal intercession entrusted to her by divine Providence", the Holy Father said at the General Audience of Wednesday, 24 September, as he discussed Mary's motherhood in the order of grace. He went on to explain the meaning of the Marian titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix. Here is a translation of the Pope's catechesis, which was the 64th in the series on the Blessed Virgin and was given in Italian.
1. Mary is mother of humanity in the order of grace. The Second Vatican Council highlights this role of Mary, linking it to her co-operation in Christ's Redemption.
"In the designs of divine Providence, she was the gracious mother of the divine Redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord" (Lumen gentium, n. 61).
With these statements, the Constitution Lumen gentium wishes to give proper emphasis to the fact that the Blessed Virgin was intimately associated with Christ's redemptive work, becoming the Saviour's "generous associate", "in a singular way".
With the actions of any mother, from the most ordinary to the most demanding, Mary freely co-operated in the work of humanity's salvation in profound and constant harmony with her divine Son.
Our Lady's motherhood has universal scope
2. The Council also points out that Mary's co-operation was inspired by the Gospel virtues of obedience, faith, hope and charity, and was accomplished under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It also recalls that the gift of her universal spiritual motherhood stems precisely from this co-operation: associated with Christ in the work of Redemption, which includes the spiritual regeneration of humanity, she becomes mother of those reborn to new life.
In saying that Mary is "a mother to us in the order of grace" (cf. ibid.), the Council stresses that her spiritual motherhood is not limited to the disciples alone, as though the words spoken by Jesus on Calvary: "Woman, behold your son" (Jn 19:26), required a restrictive interpretation. Indeed, with these words the Crucified One established an intimate relationship between Mary and his beloved disciple, a typological figure of universal scope, intending to offer his Mother as Mother to all mankind.
On the other hand, the universal efficacy of the redeeming sacrifice and Mary's conscious co-operation with Christ's sacrificial offering does not allow any limitation of her motherly love.
Mary's universal mission is exercised in the context of her unique relationship with the Church. With her concern for every Christian, and indeed for every human creature, she guides the faith of the Church towards an ever deeper acceptance of God's Word, sustains her hope, enlivens her charity and fraternal communion and encourages her apostolic dynamism.
3. During her earthly life, Mary showed her spiritual motherhood to the Church for a very short time. Nonetheless, the full value of her role appeared after the Assumption and is destined to extend down the centuries to the end of the world. The Council expressly states: "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the Cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect" (Lumen gentium, n. 62).
Having entered the Father's eternal kingdom, closer to her divine Son and thus closer to us all, she can more effectively exercise in the Spirit the role of maternal intercession entrusted to her by divine Providence.
4. The heavenly Father wanted to place Mary close to Christ and in communion with him who can "save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25): he wanted to unite to the Redeemer's intercession as a priest that of the Blessed Virgin as a mother. It is a role she carries out for the sake of those who are in danger and who need temporal favours and, especially, eternal salvation: "By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix" (Lumen gentium, n. 62).
These titles, suggested by the faith of the Christian people, help us better to understand the nature of the Mother of the Lord's intervention in the life of the Church and of the individual believer.
5. The title "Advocate" goes back to St Irenaeus. With regard to Eve's disobedience and Mary's obedience, he says that at the moment of the Annunciation "the Virgin Mary became the Advocate" of Eve (Haer. 5, 19, 1; PG 7, 1175-1176). In fact, with her "yes" she defended our first mother and freed her from the consequences of her disobedience, becoming the cause of salvation for her and the whole human race.
Mary exercises her role as "Advocate by co-operating both with the Spirit the Paraclete and with the One who interceded on the Cross for his persecutors (cf. Lk 23:34), whom John calls our "advocate with the Father" (1 Jn 2: 1). As a mother, she defends her children and protects them from the harm caused by their own sins.
Mary is close to those suffering or in danger
Christians call upon Mary as "Helper", recognizing her motherly love which sees her children's needs and is ready to come to their aid, especially when their eternal salvation is at stake.
The conviction that Mary is close to those who are suffering or in situations of serious danger has prompted the faithful to invoke her as "Benefactress". The same trusting certainty is expressed in the most ancient Marian prayer with the words: "We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin" (from the Roman Breviary).
As maternal Mediatrix, Mary presents our desires and petitions to Christ, and transmits the divine gifts to us, interceding continually on our behalf.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I greet the new students of the Venerable English College and pray that the Lord will bless them abundantly as they begin their studies.
I extend a cordial welcome to the various ecumenical groups present, especially to the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Council. Thankful to God for the progress made so far in our official dialogue, I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Joint Commission in its current work. I send a special greeting to the General Secretary Dr Hale, who could not be here due to his wife's recent accident, and I pray for her prompt recovery.
I am so pleased to welcome the Delegation of the Disciples of Christ on the 20th anniversary of the dialogue between us. May the International Commission's continuing work on the theme of the Church's mission lead us steadily along the path towards ever greater unity.
I warmly greet the representatives of the Center of Christian-Jewish Understanding. I hope that your visit will further strengthen our mutual understanding and co-operation in the face of so many shared concerns.
Upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially those from England, Wales, Ireland, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and the United States, I invoke an abundance of divine grace and peace.
Weekly Edition in English
1 October 1997, page 11
So they're not all hurling insults at us.
So you're saying that we are not allowed to pray in any other way than the Our Father? That's kinda sad. I'm sure there are lots of prayers that could help others.
As always, Mary, the Blessed mother of Jesus, points us to her Son, Jesus. The Wedding Feast of Cana that teaches us that. But where is it said in the Bible that Mary didn't trust herself? That she did or did not? She did trust Jesus, "Do as he tells you".
MARY IS THE VIRGIN MOTHER OF GOD
Pope John Paul II
General Audience 13 September 1995
From the very beginning, the Church has recognized the virginal motherhood of Mary, who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1. In the Constitution Lumen gentium, the Council states that "joined to Christ the head and in communion with all his saints, the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ" (n. 52). The conciliar Constitution uses these terms from the Roman Canon of the Mass, thereby stressing how faith in the divine motherhood of Mary has been present in Christian thought since the first centuries.
In the newborn Church Mary is remembered with the title "Mother of Jesus". It is Luke himself who gives her this title in the Acts of the Apostles, a title that corresponds moreover to what is said in the Gospels: "Is this not ... the son of Mary?", the residents of Nazareth wonder according to the Evangelist Mark's account (6:3); "Isn't Mary known to be his mother?", is the question recorded by Matthew (13:55).
2. In the disciples' eyes, as they gathered after the Ascension, the title "Mother of Jesus" acquires its full meaning. For them, Mary is a person unique in her kind: she received the singular grace of giving birth to the Savior of humanity; she lived for a long while at his side; and on Calvary she was called by the Crucified One to exercise a "new motherhood" in relation to the beloved disciple and, through him, to the whole Church.
For those who believe in Jesus and follow him, "Mother of Jesus" is a title of honor and veneration, and will forever remain such in the faith and life of the Church. In a particular way, by this title Christians mean to say that one cannot refer to Jesus' origins without acknowledging the role of the woman who gave him birth in the Spirit according to his human nature. Her maternal role also involves the birth and growth of the Church. In recalling the place of Mary in Jesus' life, the faithful discover each day her efficacious presence in their own spiritual journey.
3. From the beginning, the Church has acknowledged the virginal motherhood of Mary. As the infancy Gospels enable us to grasp, the first Christian communities themselves gathered together Mary's recollections about the mysterious circumstances of the Savior's conception and birth. In particular, the Annunciation account responds to the disciples' desire to have the deepest knowledge of the events connected with the beginnings of the risen Christ's earthly life. In the last analysis, Mary is at the origin of the revelation about the mystery of the virginal conception by the work of the Holy Spirit.
This truth, showing Jesus' divine origin, was immediately grasped by the first Christians for its important significance and included among the key affirmations of their faith. Son of Joseph according to the law, Jesus in fact, by an extraordinary intervention of the Holy Spirit, was in his humanity only the son of Mary, since he was born without the intervention of man.
Mary's virginity thus acquires a unique value and casts new light on the birth of Jesus and on the mystery of his sonship, since the virginal generation is the sign that Jesus has God himself as his Father.
Acknowledged and proclaimed by the faith of the Fathers, the virginal motherhood can never be separated from the identity of Jesus, true God and true man, as "born of the Virgin Mary" as we profess in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. Mary is the only Virgin who is also a Mother. The extraordinary co-presence of these two gifts in the person of the maiden of Nazareth has led Christians to call Mary simply "the Virgin", even when they celebrate her motherhood.
The virginity of Mary thus initiates in the Christian community the spread of the virginal life, embraced by all who are called to it by the Lord. This special vocation, which reaches its apex in Christ's example, represents immeasurable spiritual wealth for the Church in every age, which finds in Mary her inspiration and model.
4. The assertion: "Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary" already implies in this event a transcendent mystery, which can find its most complete expression only in the truth of Jesus' divine sonship. The truth of Mary's divine motherhood is closely tied to this central statement of the Christian faith: she is indeed the Mother of the Incarnate Word, in whom is "God from God ... true God from true God".
The title "Mother of God", already attested by Matthew in the equivalent expression "Mother of Emmanuel", God-with-us (cf. Mt 1:23), was explicitly attributed to Mary only after a reflection that embraced about two centuries. It is third-century Christians in Egypt who begin to invoke Mary as "Theotokos", Mother of God.
With this title, which is broadly echoed in the devotion of the Christian people, Mary is seen in the rue dimension of her motherhood: she is the Mother of God's Son, whom she virginally begot according to his human nature and raised him with her motherly love, thus contributing to the human growth of the divine person who came to transform the destiny of mankind.
5. In a highly significant way, the most ancient prayer to Mary ("Sub tuum praesidium...", "We fly to thy patronage...") contains the invocation: "Theotokos, Mother of God". This title did not originally come from the reflection of theologians, but from an intuition of faith of the Christian people. Those who acknowledge Jesus as God address Mary as the Mother of God and hope to obtain her powerful aid in the trials of life.
The Council of Ephesus in 431 defined the dogma of the divine motherhood, officially attributing to Mary the title "Theotokos" in reference to the one person of Christ, true God and true man.
The three expressions which the Church has used down the centuries to describe her faith in the motherhood of Mary: "Mother of Jesus", "Virgin Mother" and "Mother of God", thus show that Mary's motherhood is intimately linked with the mystery of the Incarnation. They are affirmations of doctrine, connected as well with popular piety, which help define the very identity of Christ.
Weekly Edition in English
13 September 1995, p. 7.
MARY IS THE MOTHER WHO INTERCEDES FOR EVERYONE
Pope John Paul II
Angelus Message in Como, Italy 5 May 1996
The people of the world are wondering where this noise is coming from. I have to say it is coming from Como!
1. Dear young people present in this stadium, and dear brothers and sisters who are listening on radio or television I am pleased today to recite the Marian prayer of Regina Caeli in the land of Como. This ancient Church, whose territory extends between hills and plains lakes and mountains, is strongly marked by Mary's presence.
There are many shrines in the region some of which stand almost like sentinels over the whole breadth of the Alpine chain. From these sacred places, the Blessed Virgin watches over the towns and villages of the Diocese and gives her maternal protection to all who entrust themselves to her.
2. Here I would like to mention some of these churches, starting with the cathedral of Como itself, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption; the sixth anniversary of the beginning of its construction occurs precisely this year. Then going west as far as the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, we find among others the shrines of Ardena and Drezzo, the smallest of all, both dedicated to Mary's Assumption. The Shrine of Our Lady of Succour in Isola Ossuccio, on the western shores of the lake, is particularly a place of prayer for vocations of special consecration. The shrine of Gallivaggio protects the Valchiavenna as far as the Spluga Pass, the ancient way to Rome and Italy. Our Lady of Sassella watches over the city and territory of Sondrio. The Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto in Tresivio, a monument of art and sincere faith, and that of the Blessed Virgin of Graces in Grosotto are places of devout pilgrimage which rekindle the devotion of the faithful. The diocesan shrine par excellence is located in Tirano. Tradition has it that in this spot the Blessed Virgin appeared to Omodei, asking that a church be built there to honour and invoke her. Believers, encouraged and led by ecclesiastical authority, come here from all parts to request cures and conversions and to express their filial gratitude to Jesus and Mary.
3. I am pleased to recall with you these sacred places which spiritually adorn your Diocese. They witness to a strong tradition of Marian devotion which has survived the centuries.
Sometimes it is objected that devotion to Our Lady, especially popular devotion, risks detracting attention from the centre of the faith, which is Jesus, who died and is risen. But this is not so. Through Mary, we come to her Son more easily. Mary is held up as a model for the believer and for the whole Church called to respond to the Lord with her own "yes". She is the Mother who intercedes for all: for souls thirsting for God and for those who are groping in the darkness of doubt and disbelief for those who are suffering in body or tried in spirit, for those who yield to the attraction of sin and for those who are struggling to escape its clutches. Her motherly concern overlooks no one.
The month of May, traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, has just begun. From her, let us learn the Gospel simplicity of children who entrust themselves to their Mother. May Mary lead us to Christ in joy and in suffering, "now, and at the hour of our death". Amen!
Weekly Edition in English
8 May 1996.
TO HONOR MARY IS TO GO TO JESUS
Pope John Paul II
General Audience 15 November 1995
1.After following in our previous catecheses how the Christian community's reflection on the figure and role of the Blessed Virgin in salvation history took shape from the earliest times, let us pause today to meditate on the Marian experience of the Church.
The development of Mariological thought and devotion to the Blessed Virgin down the centuries has contributed to revealing ever better the Church's Marian aspect. Of course, the Blessed Virgin is totally related to Christ, the foundation of faith and ecclesial experience, and she leads to him. That is why, in obedience to Jesus, who reserved a very special role for his Mother in the economy of salvation, Christians have venerated, loved and prayed to Mary in a most particular and fervent way. They have attributed to her an important place in faith and piety, recognizing her as the privileged way to Christ, the supreme Mediator.
The Church's Marian dimension is thus an undeniable element in the experience of the Christian people. It is expressed in many ways in the life of believers, testifying to the place Mary holds in their hearts. It is not a superficial sentiment but a deep and conscious emotional bond, rooted in the faith which spurs Christians of the past and present to turn habitually to Mary, to enter into a more intimate communion with Christ.
2.After the most ancient prayer, formulated in Egypt by the Christian communities of the third century, to implore "the Mother of God" for protection in danger, numerous invocations were addressed to her, whom the baptized consider most powerful in her intercession with the Lord.
Christian People Have Expressed Deep Devotion to Mary
Today, the most common prayer is the Hail Mary, whose first part consists of words from the Gospel (cf. Lk 1:28, 42). Christians learn to recite it at home from their earliest years and receive it as a precious gift to be preserved throughout life. This same prayer, repeated tens of times in the Rosary, helps many of the faithful to enter into prayerful contemplation of the Gospel mysteries and sometimes to remain for long intervals in intimate contact with the Mother of Jesus. Since the Middle Ages, the Hail Mary has been the most common prayer of all believers who ask the Holy Mother of the Lord to guide and protect them on their daily journey through life (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, nn. 42-55).
Christian people have also expressed their love for Mary by multiplying expressions of their devotion: hymns, prayers and poetic compositions, simple or sometimes of great quality, imbued with that same love for her who was given to men as Mother by the Crucified One. Some of these, such as the "Akathist Hymn" and the "Salve Regina", have deeply marked the faith life of believers. The counterpart of Marian piety is the immensely rich artistic production in the East and West, which has enabled entire generations to appreciate Mary's spiritual beauty. Painters, sculptors, musicians and poets have left us masterpieces which, in shedding light on the various aspects of the Blessed Virgin's greatness, help to give us a better understanding of the meaning and value of her lofty contribution to the work of Redemption.
In Mary, Christian art recognizes the fulfilment of a new humanity which corresponds to God's plan and is therefore a sublime sign of hope for the whole human race.
3.This message could not fail to be grasped by Christians called to a vocation of special consecration. In fact, Mary is particularly venerated in religious orders and congregations, in institutes or associations of consecrated life. Many institutes, primarily but not only female, include Mary's name in their title. Nevertheless, over and above its external expressions, the spirituality of religious families, as well as of many ecclesial movements, some of which are specifically Marian, highlight their special bond with Mary as the guarantee of a charism fully and authentically lived.
This Marian reference in the lives of people particularly favored by the Holy Spirit has also developed the mystical dimension, which shows how the Christian can experience Mary's intervention in the innermost depths of his being.
This reference to Mary binds not only committed Christians but also simple believers and even the "distant", for whom it is frequently their only link with the life of the Church. Pilgrimages to Marian shrines, which attract large crowds of the faithful throughout the year, are a sign of the Christian people's common sentiment for the Mother of the Lord. Some of these bulwarks of Marian piety are famous, such as Lourdes, Fatima, Loreto, Pompeii, Guadalupe and Czestochowa! Others are known only at the national or local level. In all of them, the memory of events associated with recourse to Mary conveys the message of her motherly tenderness, opening our hearts to God's grace.
These places of Marian prayer are a wonderful testimony to God's mercy, which reaches man through Mary's intercession. The miracles of physical healing, spiritual redemption and conversion are the obvious sign that, with Christ and in the Spirit, Mary is continuing her work as helper and mother.
Marian Dimension Pervades Church's Whole Life
4.Marian shrines often become centers of evangelization. Indeed, even in the Church today, as in the community awaiting Pentecost, prayer with Mary spurs many Christians to the apostolate and to the service of their brothers and sisters. Here I would especially like to recall the great influence of Marian piety on the practice of charity and the works of mercy. Encouraged by Mary's presence, believers have often felt the need to dedicate themselves to the poor, the unfortunate and the sick, in order to be for the lowliest of the earth a sign of the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin, the living icon of the Father's mercy.
It can be clearly seen from all this how the Marian dimension pervades the Church's whole life. The proclamation of the Word, the liturgy, the various charitable and cultural expressions find in Mary an occasion for enrichment and renewal.
The People of God, under the guidance of their Pastors, are called to discern in this fact the action of the Holy Spirit who has spurred the Christian faith onward in its discovery of Mary's face. It is he who works marvels in the centers of Marian piety. It is he who, by encouraging knowledge of and love for Mary, leads the faithful to learn from the Virgin of the Magnificat how to read the signs of God in history and to acquire a wisdom that makes every man and every woman the architects of a new humanity.
Weekly Edition in English
22 November 1995, p. 11.
MARY OFFERS SUBLIME MODEL OF SERVICE
Pope John Paul II
General Audience, 4 September 1996
1. Mary's words at the Annunciation "I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38), indicate an attitude characteristic of Jewish piety. At the beginning of the Old Covenant, Moses, in response to the Lord's call, proclaims himself his servant (cf. Ex 4:10; 14:31). With the coming of the New Covenant, Mary also responds to God with an act of free submission and conscious abandonment to his will, showing her complete availability to be the "handmaid of the Lord".
In the Old Testament, the qualification "servant" of God links all those who are called to exercise a mission for the sake of the Chosen People: Abraham (Gn 26:24), Isaac (Gn 24:14) Jacob (Ex 32:13; Ez 37:25), Joshua (Jos 24:29), David (2 Sam 7, 8, etc.). Prophets and priests, who have been entrusted with the task of forming the people in the faithful service of the Lord, are also servants. The Book of the Prophet Isaiah exalts, in the docility of the "suffering Servant", a model of fidelity to God in the hope of redemption for the sins of the many (cf. Is 42:53). Some women also offer examples of fidelity, such as Queen Esther who, before interceding for the salvation of the Jews, addresses a prayer to God, calling herself many times "your servant" (Est 4:17).
Mary's 'fiat' expresses total obedience
2. Mary, "full of grace", by proclaiming herself "handmaid of the Lord" intends to commit herself to fulfil personally and in a perfect manner the service God expects of all his people. The words: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord", foretel1 the One who will say of himself: "The Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45: cf. Mt 20:28). Thus the Holy Spirit brings about a harmony of intimate dispositions between the Mother and the Son which will allow Mary to assume fully her maternal role to Jesus, as she accompanies him in his mission as Servant. In Jesus' life the will to serve is constant and surprising: as Son of God, he could rightly have demanded to be served. Attributing to himself the title "Son of Man", whom, according to the Book of Daniel, "all peoples, nations, and languages should serve" (Dn 7:14), he could have claimed mastery over others. Instead, combating the mentality of the time which was expressed in the disciples' ambition for the first places (cf. Mk 9:34) and in Peter's protest during the washing of the feet (cf. Jn 13:6), Jesus does not want to be served, but desires to serve to the point of totally giving his life in the work of redemption.
3. Furthermore, Mary, although aware of the lofty dignity conferred upon her at the angel's announcement spontaneously declares herself "the handmaid of the Lord". In this commitment of service she also includes the intention to serve her neighbour, as the link between the episodes of the Annunciation and the Visitation show: informed by the angel of Elizabeth's pregnancy, Mary sets out "with haste" (Lk 1:39) for Judah, with total availability to help her relative prepare for the birth. She thus offers Christians of all times a sublime model of service.
The words: "Let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38), show in her who declared herself handmaid of the Lord, a total obedience to God's will. The optative genoito, "let it be done", used by Luke, expresses not only acceptance but staunch assumption of the divine plan, making it her own with the involvement of all her personal resources.
By conforming to God's will, Mary anticipates attitude of Christ
4. By conforming to the divine will, Mary anticipates and makes her own the attitude of Christ who, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, coming into the world, says: "Sacrifice and offerings you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me ... Then I said ... 'Behold I come to do your will, O God'" (Heb 10:5-7; Ps 40 : 7-9).
Mary's docility likewise announces and prefigures that expressed by Jesus in the course of his public life until Calvary. Christ would say: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work" (Jn 4:34). On these same lines, Mary makes the Father's will the inspiring principle of her whole life, seeking in it the necessary strength to fulfil the mission entrusted to her.
If at the moment of the Annunciation, Mary does not yet know of the sacrifice which will mark Christ's mission, Simeon's prophecy will enable her to glimpse her Son's tragic destiny (cf. Lk 3:34-35). The Virgin will be associated with him in intimate sharing. With her total obedience to God's will, Mary is ready to live all that divine love may plan for her life, even to the "sword" that will pierce her soul.
Weekly Edition in English
11 September 1996
JESUS WORKS MIRACLE AT MARY'S REQUEST
Pope John Paul II
Mary's great faith, the power of her prayer and her co-operation in her Son's saving mission invite Christians of every age to trust the Lord fully
"Mary's request: 'Do whatever he tells you', keeps its ever timely value for Christians of every age.... It is an exhortation to trust without hesitation, especially when one does not understand the meaning or benefit of what Christ asks", the Holy Father said at the General Audience of Wednesday, 26 February 1997, as he spoke of Mary's role at the wedding in Cana. Here is a translation of his catechesis, which was the 44th in the series on the Blessed Virgin and was given in Italian.
1. In the episode of the wedding at Cana, St John presents Mary's first intervention in the public life of Jesus and highlights her co-operation in her Son's mission.
At the beginning of the account the Evangelist tells us that "the Mother of Jesus was there" (Jn 2:1), and, as if to suggest that her presence was the reason for the couple's invitation to Jesus and his disciples (cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 21), he adds "Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples" (Jn 2:2). With these remarks, John seems to indicate that at Cana, as in the fundamental event of the Incarnation, it is Mary who introduces the Saviour.
The meaning and role of the Blessed Virgin's presence become evident when the wine runs out. As a skilled and wise housewife, she immediately notices and intervenes so that no one's joy is marred and, above all, to help the newly married couple in difficulty.
Turning to Jesus with the words: "they have no wine" (Jn 2:3), Mary expresses her concern to him about this "situation, expecting him to solve it. More precisely, according to some exegetes, his Mother is expecting an extraordinary sign, since Jesus had no wine at his disposal.
Mary strengthened the disciples' faith by obtaining the miracle
2. The choice made by Mary, who could perhaps have obtained the necessary wine elsewhere, shows the courage of her faith, since until that moment Jesus had worked no miracles, either in Nazareth or in his public life.
At Cana, the Blessed Virgin once again showed her total availability to God. At the Annunciation she had contributed to the miracle of the virginal conception by believing in Jesus before seeing him; here, her trust in Jesus' as yet unrevealed power causes him to perform his "first sign", the miraculous transformation of water into wine.
In that way she precedes in faith the disciples who, as John says, would believe after the miracle: Jesus "manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him" (Jn 2:11). Thus, Mary strengthened their faith by obtaining this miraculous sign.
3. Jesus' answer to Mary's words, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come" (Jn 2:4), appears to express a refusal, as if putting his Mother's faith to the test.
According to one interpretation, from the moment his mission begins Jesus seems to call into question the natural relationship of son to which his mother refers. The sentence, in the local parlance, is meant to stress a distance between the persons, by excluding a communion of life. This distance does not preclude respect and esteem, the term "woman" by which he addresses his Mother is used with a nuance that will recur in the conversations with the Canaanite woman (cf. Mt 15:28), the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:21), the adulteress (cf. Jn 8:10) and Mary Magdalene (cf. Jn 20:13), in contexts that show Jesus' positive relationship with his female interlocutors.
With the expression: "O woman, what have you to do with me?", Jesus intends to put Mary's co-operation on the level of salvation which, by involving her faith and hope, requires her to go beyond her natural role of mother.
4. Of much greater import is the reason Jesus gives: "My hour has not yet come (Jn 2:4).
Some scholars who have studied this sacred text, following St Augustine's interpretation, identify this "hour" with the Passion event. For others, instead, it refers to the first miracle in which the prophet of Nazareth's messianic power would be revealed. Yet others hold that the sentence is interrogative and an extension of the question that precedes it: "What have you to do with me? Has my hour not yet come?". Jesus gives Mary to understand that henceforth he no longer depends on her, but must take the initiative for doing his Father's work. Then Mary docilely refrains from insisting with him and instead turns to the servants, telling them to obey him.
Miracle shows the power of Mary's prayer
In any case her trust in her Son is rewarded. Jesus, whom she has left totally free to act, works the miracle, recognizing his Mother's courage and docility: "Jesus said to them, 'Fill the jars with water'. And they filled them up to the brim" (Jn 2:7). Thus their obedience also helps to procure wine in abundance.
Mary's request: "Do whatever he tells you", keeps its ever timely value for Christians of every age and is destined to renew its marvellous effect in everyone's life. It is an exhortation to trust without hesitation, especially when one does not understand the meaning or benefit of what Christ asks.
As in the account of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:24-26), Jesus' apparent refusal exalts the woman's faith, so that her Son's words, "My hour has not yet come", together with the working of the first miracle, demonstrate the Mother's great faith and the power of her prayer.
The episode of the wedding at Cana urges us to be courageous in faith and to experience in our lives the truth of the Gospel words: "Ask, and it will be given you" (Mt 7:7; Lk 11:9).
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I extend special greetings to the representatives of the BBC and to the viewers of the "Songs of Praise" telecast from the Basilica of St Mary Major: may God fill your hearts with sentiments of joy and gratitude towards our Creator. To all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from Great Britain, Thailand, Hong Kong and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Weekly Edition in English
26 February 1997
On hearing the Angels praising the incarnate presence of Christ, the shepherds hastened as to a Shepherd, and beholding Him as a spotless Lamb, pastured in Mary's womb, her they hymned, and said:
Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and Shepherd. Rejoice, Fold of the rational sheep.
Rejoice, O Defense against invisible foes. Rejoice, Opener of the gates of Paradise.
Rejoice, for the things of Heaven rejoice with the earth. Rejoice, the things of earth join chorus with the Heavens.
Rejoice, never-silent Voice of the Apostles. Rejoice, never-conquered Courage of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, firm Support of the Faith. Rejoice, shining Token of grace.
Rejoice, you through whom Hades was laid bare. Rejoice, you through whom we are clothed with glory.
Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.
Beholding the Godward-pointing Star, the Magi followed it radiance; and holding it as a lantern, they sought through it the mighty King. And having approached the Unreachable, they rejoiced and cried to Him:
The sons of the Chaldees saw in the hands of the Virgin Him Who by His hand fashioned man; and sensing Him as Lord, even though He had taken the form of a servant, they hastened with gifts to do homage, and they cried out to her who is blessed:
Rejoice, Mother of the never-setting Star. Rejoice, Dawn of the mystic Day.
Rejoice, you who has quenched the fiery furnace of error. Rejoice, you who enlightens the initiates of the Trinity.
Rejoice, you who has removed the inhuman tyrant from power. Rejoice, you who has shown Christ, the man-befriending Lord.
Rejoice, you who has redeemed us from the pagan religion. Rejoice, you who has rescued us from the works of mire.
Rejoice, you who ceased the worship of fire. Rejoice, you who saves us from the flames of passions.
Rejoice, Guide of the faithful to chastity. Rejoice, O Delight of all generations.
Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.
Having become God-bearing heralds, the Magi returned to Babylon. Fulfilling Your prophecy, and having preached You as the Christ to all, they left Herod as a trifler, who knew not how to chant:
Having shed the light of truth in Egypt, You expelled the darkness of falsehood; and unable to bear Your strength, O Saviour, her idols fell; and they that were set free from them cried to the Theotokos:
Rejoice, Uplifting of men. Rejoice, Downfall of demons.
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the delusion of error. Rejoice, you who censured the deceit of the idols.
Rejoice,Sea which drowned the symbolic Pharoah. Rejoice, Rock which refreshed those thirsting for life.
Rejoice, Pillar of fire, guiding those in darkness. Rejoice, Protection of the world, more spacious than a cloud.
Rejoice, Nourishment, successor to manna. Rejoice, Minister of holy joy.
Rejoice, Land of promise. Rejoice, you from whom flows milk and honey.
Rejoice, O Bride Ever-Virgin.
When Symeon was prepared to leave from this age of deception, You were presented to him as a newborn Babe, but he recognized You as perfect God. Wherefore, he marvelled at Your ineffable wisdom, chanting:
CANTICLE OF MARY:
My soul gives glory to the Lord,
In God my Savior I rejoice.
My lowliness he did regard,
Exalting me by his own choice.
From this day all shall call me blest,
For he has done great things for me,
Of all great name his is the best,
For it is holy; strong is he.
His mercy goes to all who fear,
From age to age and to all parts.
His arm of strength to all is near;
He scatters those who have proud hearts.
He casts the mighty from their thrones
And raises those of low degree;
He feeds the hungry as his own,
The rich depart in poverty.
He raised his servant Israel,
Rememb'ring his eternal grace,
As from of old he did foretell
To Abraham and all his race.
O Father, Son and Spirit bless,
In threefold Name are you adored,
To you be ev'ry prayer address,
From age to age the only Lord.
When Jesus on the cross entrusted his mother to the beloved Disciple He was entrusting her to the Church. "Behold, your mother" is his command not just to St. John but to the faithful of every age. Therefore, the Fourth Commandment surely applies to us to give proper honor and respect to the Theotokos.
From the same Lutheran who posted the hymn much earlier in this discussion.
I look forward to the 200+ postings you will post to honor Christ, our Lord and Savior when the Advent season comes to it's pinnacle...
The stars around Mary's head represent the crown of the Woman of the Apocalypse (Revelation 12:1): 'A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.' The large star is the "Star of Bethlehem". The rose colored ball in the lower left corner symbolizes the earth in turmoil. The glow of Mary's heart is an evident sign of her tremendous love for all her children, especially the most helpless of all.
The incessant weeping over this horrendous evil has blackened her lovely eyes . The baby's Guardian Angel seems to be both saddened over the death of his charge and grateful for the Blessed Mother's care and concern.
The baby bears the five wounds of our Precious Saviour. Both baby and Angel are weeping and the baby's hands are clasped in prayer.
The reason the Blessed Mother's hand and fingernails are dirty is that she has to scoop and dig out these precious babies from trash bins, garbage dumps, and as in Wichita, Kansas, from a pile ready to be burned with dead animals at their dog pound.
MARY, MOTHER OF ALL THE LIVING, PRAY FOR US
I agree, but on some other posts I've been told the Muslims can be saved even though they refuse the Trinity and that Christ is the only way to be saved...this was told to me by some of your brethren...I wish others would see Islam for what it is, a rejection of Christ...
I can't wait too!!! She has OUTSTANDING meditations!
All of the Protestant Deformers believed in Mary's perpetual virginity.
Concur ... just making sure he (and others like him) don't get lost in the shuffle.
MARY IS ACTIVE IN HER SON'S MISSION
Pope John Paul II
Mary's request at Cana is a form of co-operation in the beginning of her Son's messianic mission and shows she was the first to believe in him
"By emphasizing Mary's initiative in the first miracle and then recalling her presence on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, the Evangelist helps us understand how Mary's co-operation is extended to the whole of Christ's work" the Holy Father said at the General Audience of Wednesday, March 5, 1997, as he reflected on Mary's role at Cana and her co-operation in her Son's messianic mission. Here is a translation of the Pope's catechesis, which was the 45th in the series on the Blessed Mother and was given in Italian.
1. Describing Mary's presence in Jesus' public life, the Second Vatican Council recalls her involvement at Cana on the occasion of the first miracle: "At the marriage feast of Cana, moved with pity, she brought about by her intercession the beginning of miracles of Jesus the Messiah (cf. Jn 2:1-11)" (Lumen gentium, n. 58).
Following the Evangelist John, the Council points out the Mother's discreet and effective role, when by her words she persuades her Son to perform his "first sign." Although her influence is discreet and maternal, her presence proves decisive.
Mary shows what a mother's love can do
The Blessed Virgin's initiative is all the more surprising if one considers the inferior status of women in Jewish society. At Cana, in fact, Jesus does not only recognize the dignity and role of the feminine genius, but by welcoming his Mother's intervention, he gives her the opportunity to participate in his messianic work. The epithet "Woman", with which Jesus addresses Mary (cf. Jn 2:4), is not in contrast with his intention. Indeed it has no negative connotations, and Jesus will use it again when he addresses his Mother at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:26). According to some interpretations, this title "Woman" presents Mary as the New Eve, the mother in faith of all believers.
In the text cited, the Council uses the expression "moved with pity", letting it be understood that Mary was prompted by her merciful heart. Having sensed the eventual disappointment of the newly married couple and guests because of the lack of wine, the Blessed Virgin compassionately suggests to Jesus that he intervene with his messianic power.
To some, Mary's request may appear excessive, since it subordinates the beginning of the Messiah's miracles to an act of filial devotion. Jesus himself dealt with this difficulty when, by assenting to his mother's request, he shows the Lord's superabundance in responding to human expectations, manifesting also what a mother's love can do.
2. The expression "The beginning of his miracles", which the Council has taken from John's text, attracts our attention. The Greek term arche, translated as "beginning", is used by John in the Prologue of his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word" (1:1). This significant coincidence suggests a parallel between the very origins of Christ's glory in eternity and the first manifestation of this same glory in his earthly mission.
By emphasizing Mary's initiative in the first miracle and then recalling her presence on Calvary at the foot of the Cross, the Evangelist helps us understand how Mary's co-operation is extended to the whole of Christ's work. The Blessed Virgin's request is placed within the divine plan of salvation.
In the first "sign" performed by Jesus, the Fathers of the Church glimpsed an important symbolic dimension, seeing the transformation of the water into wine as the announcement of the passage from the Old to the New Covenant. At Cana it is precisely the water in the jars, destined for the purification of the Jews and the fulfilment of the legal prescriptions (cf. Mk 7:1-15), which becomes the new wine of the wedding feast, a symbol of the definitive union between God and humanity.
3. The context of a wedding banquet, chosen by Jesus for his first miracle, refers to the marriage symbolism used frequently in the Old Testament to indicate the Covenant between God and his People (cf. Hos 2:21; Jer 2:1-8; Ps 44; etc.), and in the New Testament to signify Christ's union with the Church (cf. Jn 3:28-30; Eph 5:25-32; Rv 21:1-2, etc.).
Jesus' presence at Cana is also a sign of God's saving plan for marriage. In this perspective, the lack of wine can be interpreted as an allusion to the lack of love that unfortunately often threatens marital unions. Mary asks Jesus to intervene on behalf of all married couples, who can only be freed from the dangers of infidelity, misunderstanding and division by a love which is based on God. The grace of the sacrament offers the couple this superior strength of love, which can reinforce their commitment to fidelity even in difficult circumstances.
Mary initiates the Church's journey of faith
According to the interpretation of Christian authors, the miracle at Cana also has a deep Eucharistic meaning. Performing this miracle near the time of the Jewish feast Passover (cf. Jn 2:13), Jesus, as he did in multiplying the loaves (cf. Jn 6:4), shows his intention to prepare the true paschal banquet, the Eucharist. His desire at the wedding in Cana seems to be emphasized further by the presence of wine, which alludes to the blood of the New Covenant, and by the context of a banquet.
In this way, after being the reason for Jesus' presence at the celebration, Mary obtains the miracle of the new wine which prefigures the Eucharist, the supreme sign of the presence of her risen Son among the disciples.
4. At the end of the account of Jesus' first miracle, made possible by the firm faith of the Lord's Mother in her divine Son, the Evangelist John concludes: "and his disciples believed in him" (2:11). At Cana, Mary begins the Church's journey of faith, preceding the disciples and directing the servants' attention to Christ.
Her persevering intercession likewise encourages those who at times face the experience of "God's silence". They are asked to hope beyond all hope, always trusting in the Lord's goodness.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking visitors, especially the pilgrim groups from the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the students from the Bologna Center of Johns Hopkins University. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you I cordially invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Weekly Edition in English
12 March 1997
NATIVITY SHOWS MARY'S CLOSENESS TO JESUS
Pope John Paul II
General Audience, November 20, 1996
1. In the story of Jesus' birth, the Evangelist Luke recounts several facts that help us better understand the meaning of the event.
He first mentions the census ordered by Caesar Augustus, which obliges Joseph, "of the house and lineage of David", and Mary his wife to go "to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem" (Lk 2:4).
In informing us about the circumstances in which the journey and birth take place, the Evangelist presents us with a situation of hardship and poverty, which lets us glimpse some basic characteristics of the messianic kingdom: a kingdom without earthly honours or powers, which belongs to him who, in his public life, will say of himself: "The Son of man has nowhere to lay his head" (Lk 9:58).
2. Luke's account contains a few seemingly unimportant notes, which are meant to arouse in the reader a better understanding of the mystery of the Nativity and the sentiments of her who gave birth to the Son of God.
The description of the birth, recounted in simple fashion, presents Mary as intensely participating in what was taking place in her: "She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger..." (Lk 2:7). The Virgin's action is the result of her complete willingness to co-operate in God's plan, already expressed at the Annunciation in her "let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38).
Mary shares in Son's redeeming mission
Mary experiences childbirth in a condition of extreme poverty: she cannot give the Son of God even what mothers usually offer a newborn baby; instead, she has to lay him "in a manger", an improvised cradle which contrasts with the dignity of the "Son of the Most High".
3. The Gospel notes that "there was no place for them in the inn" (Lk 2:7). This statement, recalling the text in John's Prologue: "His own people received him not" (Jn 1:11), foretells as it were the many refusals Jesus will meet with during his earthly life. The phrase "for them" joins the Son and the Mother in this rejection, and shows how Mary is already associated with her Son's destiny of suffering and shares in his redeeming mission.
Rejected by "his own", Jesus is welcomed by the shepherds, rough men of ill repute, but chosen by God as the first to receive the good news of the Saviour's birth. The message the Angel gives them is an invitation to rejoice: "Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people" (Lk 2:10), along with a request to overcome all fear: "Be not afraid".
Indeed, as it was for Mary at the time of the Annunciation, so too for them the news of Jesus' birth represents the great sign of God's goodwill towards men. In the divine Redeemer, contemplated in the poverty of a Bethlehem cave, we can see an invitation to approach with confidence the One who is the hope of humanity.
The angels' song: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!", which can also be translated as "men of goodwill" (Lk 2:14), reveals to the shepherds what Mary had expressed in her Magnificat: Jesus' birth is the sign of God's merciful love, which is especially shown towards the poor and humble.
4. The shepherds respond enthusiastically and promptly to the angel's invitation: "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us" (Lk 2: 15).
They did not search in vain: "And they ... found Mary and Joseph, and the babe" (Lk 2:16). To them, as the Council recalls, "the Mother of God joyfully showed her first-born Son" (Lumen gentium, n. 57). It was the defining moment of their lives.
Mary pondered these events in her heart
The shepherds' spontaneous desire to make known what "had been told them concerning this child" (Lk 2:17), after the wondrous experience of meeting the Mother and her Son, suggests to evangelizers in every age the importance and, even more, the necessity of a deep spiritual relationship with Mary, in order to know Jesus better and to become the joyful proclaimers of his Gospel of salvation.
With regard to these extraordinary events, Luke tells us that Mary "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2:19). While the shepherds passed from fear to wonder and praise, the Virgin, because of her faith, kept alive the memory of the events involving her Son, and deepened her understanding of them by reflecting on them in her heart, that is, in the inmost core of her person. In this way she suggests that another mother, the Church, should foster the gift and task of contemplation and theological reflection, in order better to accept the mystery of salvation, to understand it more thoroughly and to proclaim it with renewed effort to the people of every age.
KaC's devotions (both traditional and her own) are becoming one of the highlights of this forum.
Greetings in Christ...I think the mistake that's most often attributed to Lutherans/Protestants is that we HATE the Virgin Mary...so so untrue, but it's easy to understand that mis-conception (no pun intended)...Mary is an extremely important part of Christ's path to salvatation...She is honored, she is the Mother of God, with that proving Christ is God, not to deify her of course...The bottom line is this...Praise and honor and glory must be given to God for his wisdom and mysterious way of conceiving his son in a virgin...we should honor Mary for being so blessed to had received the honor of being Christ's human mother...what an honor indeed! The concern I have is the over honoring of Mary...the raising of Mary to a pedestal reserved for God only...that's all I am concerned with...
I choose to give God the highest honor, glory and praise...Mary recieves her due honor but it is secondary to God and must always be as such. Sometimes it appears others put each on a pretty even level...
ON THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY1221-1274 A.D.
St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio
This short excerpt gives only a brief introduction to the mind and theology of this famous Doctor of the Church. It forms part of the Little Marian Library of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Home Page of the Immaculate. This site is maintained by Immaculate Mediatrix, Inc., under the direction of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.
Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (b. 1221; d. 1274 A. D.), is one of the most famous theologians and mystics in the Roman Catholic Church. The Popes have repeatedly set St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas before the universal Church as outstanding proponents and expositors of the dogma and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. Like his spiritual father St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bonaventure had the most ardent devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God.
From the Conferences on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her (Proverbs 31,10). This is the price of which the Apostle says: You have been bought at a great price; glorify and bear God in your body (1 Cor. 6,20)...This price had to be great to redeem the whole world and the entire human race. Hence, it was necessary that the price have a divine and human nature. Where is that price found? Nowhere but in the womb of the glorious Virgin. Thus one reads in Isaiah: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and he shall be called Emmanuel (7,14). Emmanuel is translated: God with us. It was not fitting that a virgin should have anyone as son but God, nor for God to have as a mother anyone but a virgin. That price, then, could only be found in the Virgin. Far and from the uttermost coasts: because in Him is united highest and lowest, first with last. That price is from afar whereby the entire human race is redeemed. Because the lowest is redeemed, it is the highest price; because the last is redeemed, it is the first. Man was the last of the creatures to be made.
Whose is this price? This price by which we are able to reach the kingdom of heaven belongs to this Woman, the Blessed Virgin. It is Hers, because taken from Her, offered by Her, possessed by Her: taken from Her in the Incarnation of the Word; offered by Her in the redemption of the human race; possessed by Her in attaining the glory of Paradise. She brought forth this price, paid this price, and possesses this price.
I. She brought forth this price, namely, God and man. The Blessed Virgin did so as the valiant and holy Woman, holy with the holiness of inviolate chastity, prompt obedience and total generosity. With the holiness of inviolate chastity: A holy and modest woman is grace upon grace (Eccli. 26,19). And the Angel said: Hail! full of grace, because She was holy and chaste: holy in Her body, chaste in Her mind. The Apostle states: The unmarried woman and the virgin thinks on the things of the Lord, that she might be holy both in mind and body (1 Cor. 7,34). And Bernard writes: Gabriel was sent to a Virgin, such as one described by the Apostle, holy in mind and body, not found by chance, but chosen from eternity, foreknown by the Most High and prepared for Himself, guarded by the angels, foretold by the patriarchs, promised by the prophets. To this Virgin Gabriel was to be sent, for She alone had pleased the Most High.
II. The Blessed Virgin brought forth that price by the holiness of Her prompt obedience. As everlasting foundations upon a solid rock, so the commandments of God in the heart of a woman (Eccli. 26,24). To found the Church, it was necessary to lay a foundation, namely, the commandments of God, and to place them in the heart of some person. This could be none but the Virgin...the One who was obedient. Thus, the commandments were rooted in Her heart. Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it (Lk. 11,28). Not only is the Virgin blessed, but all who follow Her as well. And who are these? All who hear the word of God and fulfill it.
III. The Blessed Virgin, valiant and holy, brought forth that price by the holiness of Her total generosity. Thus Gabriel said: Blessed art Thou among women...The Holy Spirit will come upon You and the power of the Most High will overshadow You. And therefore the One to be born of You holy will be called Son of God (Lk. 1,28-35). St. Augustine comments: The Holy Spirit is love, and although given with His gifts, is not a gift inseparable from any of them, except the gift of love. All the other virtues are common to the good and the bad; the love of God and neighbor is the privilege of the saints and the devout; it alone suffices. Thus Hugh of St. Victor remarks: Because the love of God uniquely burned in the mind of the Virgin, so She worked wonders in Her body. The love of charity preserves from corruption. Thus the One to be born of You, through a pure and immaculate love, will be called the Son of God. As from the love of a man and woman is born a carnal son, so from the love of the Virgin and God is born the Son of God. Whoever wishes to be holy must follow the glorious Virgin in the holiness of inviolate chastity, prompt obedience, and total generosity.
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are a Roman Catholic Religious Institute of solemn vows headquartered at Benevento, Italy. Their Home Page is maintained from the Marian Friary of Our Lady Queen of the Seraphic Order, New Bedford, MA, United States of America.
To Contact The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in the United States of America Write:
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ON THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
St. Anthony of Padua
Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231), is one of the most famous saints in the Roman Catholic Church. He is renowned not only for the innumerable miracles that he worked both in life and throughout the last 800 years since his death, but also for his lucid and inspiring sermons which he left in writing. Like his spiritual father St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony had the most ardent devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God. Indeed, he was instrumental in reinforcing faith in the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin at a time when many doubts were raised against the doctrine.
From a Sermon on the Purification of our Lady, #1
As sweet smelling incense in summertime, and as a bright fire and frankincense burning in the fire (Eccl. 50,8-9).
It is said in Genesis: the Lord God planted a paradise from the beginning, in which He planted man to dress and keep it (2,8.15). But he dressed and kept it badly. Thus it was necessary that the Lord God plant another and far better paradise, that of the blessed Mary, unto which the exiles of the first might return. In this paradise was placed the second Adam, who dressed and kept it. He worked great things, as She Herself says: He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name (Lk. 1,49). What we term holy (sanctum) the Greeks term hagion, etymologically "without land," because those consecrated to his name must hold their conversation not on earth but in heaven. He kept Her, preserving Her integrity; He dressed Her, making Her fecund; He kept Her, not violating Her virginity. Cursed in the work of Adam, the earth first produced thorns and thistles on being cultivated. Our earth, that is, the blessed Virgin, without the labor of man, brought forth that blessed fruit, whom today She offered to the God and Father in the Temple. Hence it is written: As sweet smelling incense in the summertime...
From a Sermon on the Nativity of Our Lady, (2,4)
Like the morning star in the midst of the cloud and as the moon at its full she shines (Eccl. 50,6).
The morning star is named Lucifer"Lightbearer," because among all the stars it shines more brightly, and so is rightly described as splendid. Lucifer, preceding the sun and announcing the morning, dispels the darkness of night with the light of its splendor. The morning star, viz. Lucifer, is the blessed Mary, who, born in the midst of the cloud, announces the morning of grace, the Sun of justice, to those sitting in darkness. Hence, of Her the Lord speaks to Job (38,32): Can you bring forth the daystar in its time? When the time of mercy came, the time for building the house of the Lord, the acceptable time and day of salvation (Ps. 101,14; Agg. 1,2; II Cor. 6,2), then the Lord made Lucifer, that is, the blessed Mary, as a light unto the people. They must say of Her what they said of Judith, as recorded in that book (13,22.23-25): The Lord has blessed you by His power, because by you He has brought our enemies to naught. Blessed are you, Daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women on earth. Blessed be the Lord who created heaven and earth, who has directed you to the beheading of the prince of our enemies; because He has so magnified your name today, that your praise shall never depart out of the mouths of men. The blessed Mary was, therefore, like the morning star in Her birth. About this Isaiah says (11,1): There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise out of his root.
And as the moon at its full she shines. The blessed Mary is said to be the full moon, because in every way perfect. The moon is imperfect when a half-moon, because it is stained or horned. But the glorious Virgin neither in Her birth had any stain, because sanctified in Her mother's womb, guarded by angels, nor in Her days had She the horns of pride. Hence, She shone fully and perfectly. She is said to be light because She dispels the darkness.
We beseech You, our Lady, that You who are the morning star, cast out the cloud of diabolical suggestion shrouding the land of our minds; that You who are the full moon fill our emptiness, dispel the darkness of our sins, that we might merit to come to the fullness of eternal life, to the light of unending glory. May He grant this who made You our light, who to be born of You made You be born today. To Him be the glory and honor for ever. Amen.
ON THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
St. Francis Anthony of Lucera
Saint Francis Anthony of Lucera (b. 1681; d.1742 A. D.), is one of the most famous Franciscan preachers in the history of the Order. Like his spiritual father, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis Anthony of Lucera had the most ardent devotion to the Mother of God.
From the Mariale of St. Francis Anthony of Lucera
How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O Daughter of the Prince! (Cant. 7,2)
O soul, ponder how, transparent and pure as She was from the very moment of Her Immaculate Conception, Mary came forth from the Most High God as the first-born Daughter of all creation, formed by His creative word.
Her appearance on earth was like the first immaculate ray of light...the sun, the moon, the stars, all of nature, the whole visible and invisible world bowed at Her feet as She walked the earth: How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O Daughter of the Prince!
Oh! so beautiful are the steps of Mary as She walks through life!...And You, O soul, who meditate on them now, what steps have you taken with your feet since reaching the use of reason? Were they meritorious or not?...And from that time, over the course of so many years, what have you accomplished for the good of your soul?...for your growth in holiness? And where are you going now?...Are your steps taking you toward God or away from Him?
O Immaculate Virgin, loveliest Daughter of the Most High Prince, perfect Thou my goings in Thy paths (Ps. 16,5). Direct and keep, we beg You, our steps strictly upon Your paths as we strive to follow in Your sacred footprints!
Ponder, O soul, how Mary is said to progress through life on beautifully sandaled feet. In connection with the Saints, sandaled feet signify their interior affections, perfected and strengthened by the virtues...Mary from the first moment of Her existence was always most pure and perfect. Her thoughts, Her affections, Her desires, and Her plans were always strengthened and embellished by admirable virtues. Like fragrant flowers, they filled all Her surroundings with sweet fragrance, without any foul odor or dark cloud ever to tarnish or diminish their beauty.
And you, O soul who meditate on Her affections, you wander through the impure desert of this earthly pilgrimage with nary a thought as to how you might strengthen yourself with all the necessary virtues.
Courage! Today, lift up your spirit! Away with the impurities surrounding you. Fortify yourself with the shield of holy virtues so that you can walk as Mary did, and attain the blessings awaiting you in Paradise. O Mary, most pure among all creatures, direct our feet, strengthen our affections as we strive to imitate Your holy virtues!
O soul, ponder how Mary who, after Her Son, is the first-born Daughter of the Most High God, is called par excellence Daughter of the Prince, that is, the most beloved, dearest, worthiest of Her Prince Father, God. And this filiation which Mary had by Her Immaculate Conception She always kept inviolate...never did She weaken it by disobedience. Rather, She continued wondrously to enhance it through the complete observance of the Law and absolute conformity to the will of Her heavenly Father.
O Mary, most beautiful, You were always a Daughter and never a slave, always a Daughter of grace and never a slave of sin!
And you, O soul who meditate on Her filiation, how have you treasured the filiation God gave you through grace at your holy Baptism?...Whose son or daughter have you been for so long a time?...And whose child are you now?...In charity recover anew that divine filiation. Never lose it again...Propose now, firmly, nevermore to be a child of Eve, a slave of sin, but a child of Mary, first-born Daughter among all creatures, and Mother of all graces.
Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, et al, disagree with you.
ON THE IMMACULATE
St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe
Excerpts from the Writings of St. Maximilian
Immaculate One, Virgin Mother, to Thee I turn in humble prayer: "Grant that I may praise Thee, O holy Virgin; give me strength against Thine enemies!" (Bl. John Duns Scotus)
The Immaculate One appears in this world without the least stain of sin, the masterpiece of God's hands, full of grace. God, the Most Holy Trinity, beholds the lowliness (that is, the humility, the root of all Her other virtues) of His Handmaid, and does great things for Her, He the Almighty (cfr. Lk. 1,49). God the Father gives Her His own Son to be Her Son; God the Son descends into Her womb; and God the Holy Spirit forms the body of Christ in the womb of this pure Virgin. And the Word was made flesh (Jn. 1,14). The Immaculate One becomes the Mother of God. The fruit of the love of God in his Trinitarian life and of Mary the Immaculate One is Christ the God-Man. (Sketches for a Book, SK 1295)
Who is the Immaculate One? To this abrupt question it is not possible to give a satisfactory answer because this mystery transcends our human intelligence. She is the Mother of God, and Her name is the Immaculate One. When God showed Himself to Moses, He said of Himself: I am the One who is (Ex. 3,14)in other words, I am Being itself. When St. Bernadette asked the most blessed Mother Her name, Mary replied: I am the Immaculate Conception. Such is the Immaculate One defined by Her own words.
But what does the expression Immaculate Conception mean? The word conception tells us that She is not eternal, that She had a beginning. Immaculate tells us that from the first instant of Her existence there never was in Her the least conflict with God's will. The Immaculate One is the most perfect of all creatures...She was immaculate because She was to become the Mother of God; She became the Mother of God because She was immaculate.
Mother of God! The human mind cannot grasp what God is. Neither can we comprehend the dignity of the Mother of God. It is easier to understand a title like servant of God; daughter of God is more difficult to grasp; but Mother of God transcends our minds completely.
God calls creatures into being when He creates them. Then, in their movement of return to God, these creatures draw near to Him and come to resemble their Creator more and more. God comes to this most perfect Creature, the Immaculate One; and the fruit of Their love is Jesus Christ, the Mediator between the Creator and all creatures...
True knowledge of the Immaculate One can only be acquired in prayer. The purer a soul is, the greater efforts it makes to avoid sin; and if it does happen to sin, it tries its best to rise from sin and to make up for its fault by love. The more humble it is, and the more spirit of penance it shows, the more and better it will get to know the Immaculate. (Conference 26.VII.39)
Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe (b. 1894; d. 1941 A. D.), is one of the most famous Franciscan martyrs in the history of the Order. He is renowned for his complete and total dedication to the service of Christ and His Immaculate Mother. He is the spiritual father of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the Mission of the Immaculate Mediatrix Movement, the Academy of the Immaculate.
I agree with you on #1...2 I don't only because scripture is very clear that those who do not believe on the Son are condemned...there are several passages showing this and I just can't get around them...There is only one way to Salvation from what scripture tells us, The Christ, the Son of God the Father...
I guess I look at it this way...if one does not have to believe in Christ's redeeming actions then his redeeming actions are not necessary for salvation...I would think that is universally accepted as falst gospel for the the true gospel tells us the "by grace we are saved thru faith in Christ Jesus"...that just sums it all up as far as I'm concerned...
Blessings in Christ to you and yours!
You understand incorrectly.
ON THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
St. Lawrence of Brindisi
This short excerpt gives only a brief introduction to the mind and theology of this famous Doctor of the Church. It forms part of the Little Marian Library of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Home Page of the Immaculate. This site is maintained by Immaculate Mediatrix, Inc., under the direction of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi (b. 1559; d. 1619 A.D.), is one of the most famous Capuchin preachers and theologians of the Sixteenth Century. He is renowned for his complete and thorough refutaion of the doctrines of Martin Luther. St. Lawrence, like his spiritual father St. Francis of Assisi, had an ardent devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God. Indeed, he was the first to write on all aspects of theology that concern the Blessed Virgin.
The root of humanity, bedchamber of God, and pure water: This is Mary, therefore Immaculate.
Great was the happiness of human nature in paradise before original sin, so long as man remained in the state of innocence and original justice. Then was human nature like that tree seen by King Nabuchodonosor in his dreams: tall, with its top touching heaven; wide, with its branches filling the whole world; adorned with the loveliest fronds and flowers and the best of fruits in greatest abundance. But soon, by virtue of the sentence executed by the Angel, this tree was despoiled of its goods, and, with branches and trunk cut off, was reduced to nothingalmost, except for the command that a root with a shoot be preserved safe and intact (cfr. Daniel 4,7-12). On account of sin, humanity tumbled from maximum good fortune to maximum misfortune; light was changed into darkness, the bright day into the cloudiest of nights, a full moon went into eclipse.
But from the contagion of that sin, the shoot, that is, Christ, was preserved, as well as the root (Mary) from which that shoot was to rise...We see in Genesis the root with its shoot preserved; for before a penalty for sin was inflicted on man, it was said to the serpent: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she will crush your head (Gen. 3,15).
When a king builds some palace to be a proper and rightful dwelling for himself and his family, he constructs it wholly magnificent, and adorns it royally as befits his majesty. In such wise did Solomon build his house (III Kings 7,1-12). Such a king will especially adorn with the greatest magnificence and riches his own chamber, where the throne of his majesty is to be placed. So too does God build His holy Church, the living Temple of God: Behold, the tabernacle of God with men (Apoc. 21,3); You are the temple of God (II Cor. 6,16), a temple made of living stones, the whole constructed with divine magnificence, as the temple of Solomon (cfr. III Kings 6,1-18). But above all, God adorned His own chamber, which is the most holy Virgin. He did so just as did Solomon adorn the holy of holies, the dwelling place of God (III Kings 6,19-36).
You are all fair, my love, and the stain is not in you (Cant. 4,7). The Hebrew reads: the stain not in youwithout the verb is. Similarly, the verb is does not appear in Deuteronomy 32,4 when Moses said of God: A faithful God and without any iniquity. David said: Because You are a God that wills not iniquity (Ps. 5,5); yet the Hebrew for that actually reads: not a God willing iniquity You. The latter means: You never were, are not, nor will be willing iniquity; there never was, is not, nor will be iniquity in God. So too, the statement the stain not in you means that the stain never was, is not, nor will be in you. Thus must be understood (not limited to the present tense only) the statement the stain not in you.
One only is my dove, one my perfect one (Cant. 6,7). The Hebrew reads: my immaculate one. There are three words in Hebrew very similar: tham, thamah, and thamim, of which the first means simple, the second immaculate, and the last perfect. The Hebrew text here, however, uses the second. For this reason, therefore, the all-holy Virgin is unique above all queens... and young maidens (Cant. 6,7) because She is immaculate, like the purest dove, like the sun itself, which was made full of light. Hence it is written: you all fair, my love; and the stain not in you. The singular for you is used: You all (tota tu); not in you; this denotes the uniquely singular grace of Mary.
The soul of the Virgin Mother of God was in Her conception like the bush with Moses, entirely intact in the midst of the flames, not consumed, unharmed (Ex. 3,2).
Scriptural Reflection on the Rosary
by: Maryann Marshall
The First Joyful Mystery The Annunciation
St. Luke the Evangelist relates, in the first chapter of his gospel, the
event in which Mary is told of her special mission:
In the 6th month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of
Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of
the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary (v. 26-27).
The Angel's Greeting
Coming to her he said, "Hail, favored one! Blessed are you among
women. The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of
greeting this might be (v. 28-29).
The angel gives Mary a new name, as the Lord often does with those He
has called to a major task in His Plan (ex. Gen 17:5, 15; 32:29; Mt 16:18).
This name of hers is variously translated: 'full of grace,' 'gracious,' or
'highly favored one.' Each conveys the idea that Mary was especially
chosen by God for this purpose and given the grace and favor she needed
to carry it through.
"The Lord is with you," echoes the greeting of the angel to Gideon as he
is called to be the champion of the Lord to free the Israelites from the
oppression of Midian (Jdg 6:11-18).
This greeting also brings to the mind of those familiar with the Hebrew
scriptures, the story of Judith whom God sent into the enemy camp to
behead Holofernes without compromising her virtue (Jdt 13:20). Uzziah
commended her saying: "Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High
God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at the head
of the chief of our enemies. Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by
those who tell of the might of God." (Jdt 13:18-19) This is a marvelous
story of God's might shown through a woman. We will examine the story
in a later issue.
The Good News
Then the angel said to Mary, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have
found favor with God. Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and bear
a son. You shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son
of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his
father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom
where will be no end." (v. 30-33)
St. Thomas Aquinas comments: "It may perhaps in the first instant of
reflection appear shocking to our ideas, that God should dwell in a
human body; but does not the sun emit its rays into all kinds of places
without any detriment to its purity. How much more would the Sun of
justice, assuming a most pure body, formed of the purest blood of the
spotless Virgin not only remain free from even the least stain Himself, but
even impart additional sanctity to His virgin Mother."
This announcement carries the full weight of the scriptures on its back.
Here is the Messiah that has been promised throughout the ages! Nathan
declared the promise to David:
I will fix a place for My people Israel; I will plant them so that they may
dwell in their place without further disturbance...I will raise up an heir
after you sprung from your loins and I will make his kingdom firm...I will
be a Father to him and he shall be a son to Me...I will not withdraw My
favor from him...Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever
before Me: Your throne shall stand firm forever (2 Sm 7:10, 12, 14-17). This
promise echoes in Psalm 89.
Psalm 72 gives a description of the reign of the King of kings. Isaiah
expresses for us the fulfillment of the promise in one of the most beautiful
passages in the Bible which we hear at Christmas:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light: Upon those
who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown. You have brought
them abundant joy and great rejoicing, As they rejoice before you as at the
harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that
burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their
taskmaster you have smashed as on the day of Midian. For every boot
that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood will be burned as fuel
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder, dominion
rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God Hero, Father Forever,
Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David's
throne and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by
judgement and justice, both now and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this (Is 9:1-6).
Jesus declared that He is the fulfillment of these promises as He gave
the disciples the great Commission: "All power in heaven and on earth
has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit. Teaching them to observe all that I have command you...I am with
you always, until the end of the age."
The Power of God
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I have no relations with a
The angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and
the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to
be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your
relative, has also conceived a son in her old age and this is the sixth
month for her who was called barren, for nothing will be impossible with
God." (v. 34-37)
Isaiah tells of the birth of the Messiah: "Therefore, the Lord Himself will
give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and shall
name him Immanuel." (Is 7:14) He goes on to tell of the desolation which
results from the rejection of the word of God, but not without hope, as we
have seen above.
Mary's question of the angel holds a different tone than others, who
have doubted, but who received the same reassurance (Gen 18:12-14, Lk
1:18-19). Truly, nothing is impossible with the Lord!
He made heaven and earth and all their inhabitants (Gen 1). He has the
power to bring life into a womb which has passed its years of health, and
to one which is virginal. He can bring salvation to even those who are
most distracted by worldly things (Mt 19:16-26, Mk 10:17-27, Lk 18:18-27).
He can change water into wine (Jn 2:1-11) He can take a child's lunch and
feed a large crowd (Mt 14:15-21, 15:32-39, Mk 6:34-44, 8:1-10, Lk 9:10-17,
Jn 6:1-15). He can heal the sick and crippled.
He can forgive our sins. He can change bread and wine into His body and
blood (Mt 16:16-28, Mk 14: 22-23, Lk 22:17-20) in order to provide for us
food which brings us eternal life (Jn 6:35, 48-58).
Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done unto me
according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her. (v. 38) A handmaid is a female servant
or attendant. With all modesty and humility of heart and mind, Mary
consented to the divine will; in that moment the Redeemer and Savior of
the world was conceived.
Abigail presents herself as the handmaid of David as she intercedes for
Nabal (1 Sam 25:24-35).
David later makes her his queen (1 Sam 25:39-42). The term comes into
use again as Joab strives to reconcile David with his son Absalom (2 Sam
Another Side of the Story
We can also look at the event from Joseph's point of view:
Now, this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother
Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together she was
found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, since he
was a righteous man yet unwilling to expose her to shame decided to
divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to
him in a dream and said.
"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your
home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived
in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save
his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had
said through the prophet: "Behold the virgin shall be with child and shall
bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel." which means "God is
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded
him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until
she bore a son and he named him Jesus. (Mt 1:18-25)
Joseph is presented as wholly obedient to the Word of God, as well. He
is twice more given instructions in a dream (Mt 2:13, 19). He was a
'righteous man' who was well versed in the scriptures. It is entirely
possible that Joseph was familiar with the prophesies which Matthew
quotes and grew in his understanding of them as Jesus grew "in wisdom
and age and grace with God and man." (Lk 2:40) One wonders what form
the scripture study of the Holy Family took. they obviously took much
time in this endeavor as Jesus displayed much knowledge in this area (Lk
2:46-50, 4:2-13) although His understanding is much deeper than that of
those of us who are only human (Lk 24:13-27). With the help of the Holy
Spirit and the Church, we too are called to an ever deepening
understanding of the Word of God.
A prayer from the Solemnity of the Annunciation
Almighty Father of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, You have revealed the
beauty of Your Power by exalting the lowly virgin of Nazareth and
making her the mother of our Savior. May the prayers of this woman
bring Jesus to the waiting world and fill the void of incompletion with the
presence of her Child Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
The Second Joyful Mystery
St. Luke's Gospel tells of a meeting which confirms
the message of the angel to Mary:
"During those days, Mary set out and travelled to the hill country in
haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and
greeted Elizabeth." (Lk 1:39-40) The angel told Mary that Elizabeth,
although she was very old--probably past menopause--was pregnant. The
information was a statement of God's power and established a connection
between the two women and eventually between the two men.
By placing Mary into the context of John's story ["In the sixth month, the
angel came... she remained...three months, then returned to her home" (Lk
1:26 and 56)], Luke draws parallels between the two births--that of John
the Baptist and of Jesus: Both Zechariah and Mary were cheerfully going
about their duties when an unexpected visitor startled them. Births were
announced by an angel telling how the sons would fulfill many
prophesies. Neither Mary nor Elizabeth were considered 'able" to have a
child. The angel also gave the names of the children to be born.
On the other hand: Elizabeth and Mary were at opposite ends of their
childbearing years, pointing out, perhaps, that John heralded of the end of
an age while Jesus was the beginning of the next.
Gabriel spoke to the father of John the Baptist and the mother of Jesus.
While Mary accepted the angel's word readily adn is lauded for her faith
and obedience, Zechariah rebuffed it and was punished for his unbelief.
Re-read these scriptures (Lk 1:5-22; 26-38). Think about the ways the
two births can be compared.
Elizabeth also reminds us of Sarah and Rebekkah who were old before
God gave them children.
Sarah's situation foretold the long wait Israel would have for the
Rebekkah's twin sons foreshadowed the relationship between John the
Baptist and Jesus: "One will surpass the other; the older will serve the
younger." (Gn 25:22) Yet, instead of using treachery, as Jacob did, Jesus
awaited God's perfect timing. John, for his part, did not resist or resent
being superseded by Jesus, but clearly stated that "He must increase,
while I must decrease." (Jn 3:30)
A Leap for Joy
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb"
(Lk 1:41) Elizabeth tells us that her babe leaped for joy (vs. 44)!
Since Mary "went in haste," to Judea, the conception of Jesus may have
been less than a week earlier. At six months in utero, John recognised
Jesus through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, as he would at Jesus'
baptism (Mt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21; Jn 1:29-34). A wonderful, strong
state- ment about the beginning of human life!
"...Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out with a loud voice, and
said, 'Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the Fruit of your
womb.'" (Lk 1:41-42) Here, both Mary and 'the fruit of [her] womb' are
called 'blessed.' They are set apart as being holy.
Mary, for the sake of her Son, on account of her ready response to the task
presented to her by the Lord, is to be esteemed by both men and angels.
Elizabeth's greeting echoes the greeting of the angel to Mary. This in
turn, recalls Gideon and Judith, as we saw earlier. In addition, it alludes
to the canticle of Deborah praising Jael for destroying the chief of Israel's
enemies by a blow to his head (Jdgs. 5:24-31). The canticle ends with the
victorious statement: "May all Your enemies perish thus, O Lord! But
Your friends be as the sun rising in its might!" (Jdgs. 5;31) Asaph also
refers to the incident in Psalm 83.
The Mother of God
"How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come
to me?" (Lk 1:43) Elizabeth is the first human to declare the divine title
given to the risen Jesus (Jn 20:28; Acts 2:36; Phil 2:11) which is the essence
of the Christian creed (Rm 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3; Col 2:6). This confirms His
Lordship as foretold in Psalm 110 and Isaiah 45:24. Luke uses this title to
emphasize Jesus' authority and power throughout his gospel (Lk 7:13;
10:1, 39, 41; 11:39).
Through this expression, Elizabeth asserts that Mary is the mother of
God. St. Jerome observes "Elizabeth was a just and blessed woman; yet
the excellency of the mother of God does so far surpass that of Elizabeth,
and that of every other woman, as the great luminary outshines the
smaller stars." In this way, we see that the Bible encourages us to honor
Mary, for her faith and obedience, as the mother of God. A woman in
the crowd extolled Mary's physical motherhood (Lk 11:27-28). Jesus
corrected her saying it is not simply because Mary cared for His needs
when He was a helpless infant, but rather because she heard the word of
God and acted upon it.
"Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled." (Lk 1:45)
Jesus revealed that those who believe and act on the Word of God are
His mother, brothers and sisters (Mt 12:46-49; Mk 3:31-35; Lk 8:19-21).
Since Mary had already given her assent to doing God's will, this places
her right at the heart of His family.
From the cross, He looked upon 'the disciple that Jesus loved' as His
brother. John had indeed heard the Word of God and followed it, even to
the cross. It was fitting that Jesus give His mother to us, His brothers and
sisters with John as our representative, to be honored in accord with the
command- ments (Ex 20:12).
God has promised much to those who obey Him:
"...if you continue to heed the voice of the Lord, your God, and are
careful to observe all His commandments...the Lord, your God, will raise
you high above all the nations on earth. When you hearken to the voice of
the Lord, your God, all these blessings will come upon you and
May you be blessed in the city and blessed in the country! Blessed be
the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your
livestock, the issue of your herds, and the young of your flocks! Blessed
be your grain bin and your kneading bowl! May you be blessed in your
coming in and blessed in your going out!
The Lord will beat down before you the enemies that rise up against
you; though they come out against you from but one direction, they will
flee before you in seven. The Lord will affirm His blessing upon you, on
your barns and on all your undertakings, blessing you in the land which
the Lord, your God, gives you. Provided that you keep the
commandments that the Lord, your God, and walk in His ways, He will
establish you as a people sacred to Himself, as He swore to you; so that,
when all the nations of the world see you bearing the Name of the Lord,
they will stand in awe of you." (Deuteronomy 28:1-10)
A Prayer from the Feast of the Visitation:
Eternal Father, You inspired the Virgin Mary, mother of Your Son, to
visit Elizabeth and assist her in her need. Keep us open to the working of
Your Spirit, and with Mary may we praise You forever. We ask this
through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You
forever and ever. Amen.
The Third Joyful Mystery
"In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole
world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment when Quirinius was governor of Syria" (Lk
'Whole world,' here, refers to the Roman Empire ruled by Caesar
Augustus during a long period of peace. As he was revered as savior by
his subjects, Luke parallels Caesar with the real Savior and Peace Bearer
(Lk 2:11, 14; 19:38).
This census, the first of 3, lasted from 8 B.C. to 6 A.D. Luke's details
show that in spite of Caesar's power, he was used by God: as an agent to
assure the public record of the ancestry of His Son; and to provide the
pre-ordained birthplace for the Savior. Surely, God is in control of all
things! St. Bede noted: Augustus meant to enumerate his subjects, but
among them was numbered his God.
The City of David
"All went to be enrolled . . . to his own town. Joseph too went up from
Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of
David...Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David . . .
with Mary his betrothed, who was with child" (Lk 2:3-5).
Moses prophesied the Messiah to come from Israel, with a warning of
the fate of those who reject Him (Dt 18:15-19). It was commonly known
that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Mt 2:4-6; Jn 7:42):
"But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of
Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One Who is to be ruler in Israel;
Whose origin is ...from ancient times. Therefore the Lord will give them
up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne (Is 7:14)...the
rest of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. He shall stand
firm and shepherd His flock by the strength of the Lord, in the majestic
name of the Lord, His God...they shall remain, for now His greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth" (Mi 5:1-3) The Birth in Bethlehem,
fulfills the promise God made to David that the everlasting King would
be born from his family (2 Sm 7:19-29; 1 Chr 17:16-27). The family is
associated with Bethlehem from 'ancient times' (Ru 1:2).
Luke (1:27, 34-35) and Matthew (1:18, 20, 25) both emphasize Joseph
was not responsible for Jesus' conception. Since he is not Jesus' natural
father the line of ancestry (Gn 5; 1 Chr 1-5; Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-28) seems
severed. As the law commands that people from the same clan marry to
preserve their inheritance (Nm 36;6-9), Joseph and Mary are both from the
family of David. They were obliged to go to Bethlehem (1 Sm 16:1-13) for
Abram adopted Lot, taking him into his family and eventually saving
him from death (Gn 12:4; 14:11-16; 19:29). Joseph adopted Mary's Son, by
taking her and the Child into his home, re-establish- ing the line of
ancestry and renewing the covenant made with Abraham (Gn 13:15; 17:7;
22:16-17; Lk 1:55; 72-73). This foreshadowed our adoption as God's
children (Jn 1:12-13; Gal 3:14-4:7; Eph 1:4-14) through Baptism and the gift
of the Spirit--faith. We are brought into Mary's home, too: she becomes
our mother as the spouse of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35).
Already the Sign of Contradiction
"While they were there, the time came for her to have her Child, and she
gave birth to her firstborn Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes
and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn"
The description of Jesus as firstborn is a legal description indicating
certain dignity, rights, and privileges (Gn 27; Ex 13:2; Nm 3:12-13; 18:15-
16; Dt 21:15-17). It does not necessarily mean that Mary had other
At Jesus' birth, the paradox of the Incarnation is already evident.
Allusion is made to David's son, Solomon. A great king who was born
and wrapped in swaddling clothes like any infant (Wis 7:4-6).
The manger recalls prophecy of Israel's rejection of the Messiah:
"...Sons have I raised and reared, but they have disowned me! An ox
knows its owner, and an ass, its master's manger; But Israel does not
know, my people has not understood. Ah! sinful nation, people laden
with wickedness, evil race, corrupt children! They have forsaken the
Lord, spurned the Holy One of Israel, apostatized" (Is 1:2-4).
How often do we reject the poor and helpless because they do not come
as we expect? Is there space in our lives for the tiny Babe Who will teach
the world the greatest Lesson of Love?
"There were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping
night watch over their flock" (Lk 2:8).
The announcement to shepherds keeps Luke's theme that the lowly are
singled out to receive God's favors and blessings (Lk 1:48, 52).
"The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord
shone around them, and they were struck with great fear" (Lk 2:9).
Throughout Scripture, the angel of the Lord bears the Lord's messages.
In early writings, it is a visi- ble manifestation of God Himself (Gn 16:7;
Ac 7:38). Later, angels are shown as created beings dis- tinct from God,
members of the heavenly court (Jb 1:6), sent to bring messages (Mt 1:20;
Lk 1:11, 26), to execute judgement (Ex 12:23; 2 Kg 19:35), or as guardians
of nations or individuals (Dn 10:13; Tb 3:17; Ac 5:19).
This appearance echoes the presence of the Lord on Mt. Sinai (Ex 24:16-
18). Here is the brilliant light, the unapproachable majesty of God. It
shone from the mountain, from the face of Moses (Ex 34:29) and
Solomon's Temple (1 Kg 8:10-11).
What Are You Looking For?
"The angel said...'Do not be afraid...I proclaim good news of great
joy...for all people. For today in the city of David, a Savior has been born
for you Who is Messiah and Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will
find an Infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger'" (Lk
The angel brings the basic message of the infancy narrative: this Child is
Savior, Messiah, and Lord.
(Mt 1:21; 16:16; Jn 4:42; Acts 2:36; 5:31; Phil 2:11).
'Christos' is Greek, equivalent to the Hebrew 'Mesiach'--anointed one.
Certain groups in first-century Judaism expected a royal leader, an heir of
David, to restore the kingdom of Israel (Ac 1:6).
Luke is the only synoptic gospel writer to use the title Savior (Lk 1:69;
2:11; 19:9; Ac 4:12; 5:31; 13:23). He plays down the political overtones of
the title. Instead the Messiah is One who brings salvation to all humanity,
Jew and Gentile (Lk 2:29-32). He rescues humanity from sin and delivers
us from our alienation from God.
Lord, the most frequently used title for Jesus in Luke and Acts, is
reserved for Yahweh in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, a new
era, it is used for the Father and the Son. When used of Jesus it points to
his transcendence and dominion over humanity.
Peace on Earth
"Suddenly, there was a multitude of the Heavenly Host with the angel,
praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace
to those on whom His favor rests!'" (Lk 2:13-14)
The peace of which Luke's gospel speaks (Lk 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; 10:5-6;
19:38, 42; 24:36) is more than external--the absence of war as in the pax
Augusta; it includes security and well-being, charac- teristic of peace as
frequently described in the Old Testament. It is clearly a major attribute of
God's Kingdom. Peace and reconciliation is offered to men through the
mercy and good will of God. It is available on earth, since human nature,
before an enemy to God, is now reconciled and united to Him by His
Incarnation. It results from encountering Christ, as God favors us with
His grace--a gift of faith. It is up to each to exercise 'good will' in
accepting this gift.
"When the angels went away from them to Heaven, the shepherds said
to one another, "Let us go then to Bethlehem to see this thing which has
taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant, lying in
the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had
been told them about this Child. All who heard it were amazed by what
had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then
the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all they had
heard and seen, just as it had been told to them." (Lk 2:15-20).
Visitors from Afar
Matthew, like Luke, places Jesus' birth in the context of history. Herod
was king of Judea, Id- umaea, and Samaria from 37 to 4 B.C.
"When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King
Herod, behold magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is
the newborn King of the Jews? We saw His star at its rising and have
come to do Him homage.'" (Mt 2:1-2)
The reference to 'wise men from the east' seems deliberately vague to
forecast Christ's mission: He is rejected by the Jews while the wise men of
the Gentiles are attracted by His light.
Magi were originally of the Persian priestly caste. The same Greek word
was used to denote magicians such as Simon (Ac 8:9) and Elymas (Ac
13:8). Later, the word came to be used for those who seemed to have more
than human knowledge. Some translations speak of them as if they were
kings, princes, or lords of some small territories.
Matthew's magi are astrologers. They calculated the location to which
the star pointed. He indicates that the magi observed a miraculously
bright star rather than some natural phenomenon. It appears to them 'at
its rising,' (v. 2). Then it appears again 'over the place where the Child lay'
(v. 10) This star is assumed to have appeared around the time of Christ's
birth. But it is not clear whether it continued to guide them along their
journey to Jerusalem or just shone long enough for them to make their
calculations and plan their trip.
In the ancient Middle East, a star signified a god--the birth of a divine
king. The wise men may have had access to the prophetic works of Israel
or they may have preserved their own prophecies. Certain Arabic tribes
may have had in their history Balaam's prophesy when Balak ordered
him to curse Isra- el: "I see him, though not now; I behold him though not
near: a star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel..."
(Nm 24:17) This passage points to the dynasty of David from which the
Messiah was to come.
"When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled and all
Jerusalem with him." (Mt 2:3)
The number of these wise men is uncertain: we usually consider that
they were 3 because they bore 3 the gifts that are named. However, they
may have been a large number of travellers--enough to cause a stir in
Jerusalem when they entered. In addition, Herod's anxiety filtered to the
people. Herod gained his power through violence. So when these
strangers entered the city inquiring after a new king, the people feared
Herod's reaction. They knew of his jealous nature. He could enforce on
them a much more gruelling slavery. They had been so worn down by
wars that a peace, even at the cost of Roman bondage was at least some
peace to be preserved, almost at all costs. It seems from the subsequent
events that their fears were somewhat justified.
A Question for the Experts'
"Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he
inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, "in
Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:
'And you Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the
rulers of Judah; since from you is to come a ruler who will shepherd my
people Israel.'" (Mt 2:4-6)
Again we see that it was well known that the Messiah would come
The chief priests and scribes were known as 'doctors of the Law' (Lk
5:17; Ac 5:34) or 'lawyers' (ex. Lk 7:30). Their occupation was to interpret
the scriptures, especially the Law of Moses, in order to put forth
guidelines for conduct for the Jewish people. Most were Pharisees. These
lawyers were held in high esteem among the people. Along with the high
priests and the elders they constituted the Sanhedrin.
Herod's consultation with the chief priests and scribes has some
similarity to a Jewish legend about the child Moses: Sacred scribes
warned Pharaoh about the imminent birth of one who would deliver
Israel from Egypt. Consequently, the king made plans to destroy him.
"Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained the time of the
star's appearance, He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go, and search
diligently for the Child. When you have found Him, bring me word that
I, too, may go and do Him homage.'
After their audience with the king, they set out. "And behold the star
that they had seen at its rising preceded them until it came and stopped
over the place where the Child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the
star, and on entering the house, they saw the Child with Mary His
mother. They pros- trated themselves and did Him homage. Then they
opened their treasures and offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and
myrrh." (Mt 2:7-11)
Reference to the time elapsed between Jesus' birth and the visit by the
magi is absent here. Speculation gives it a range from 13 days to the two
years Herod determined as the range of age for the boys to be killed (v.
16). In his irrational rage, Herod may well have extended beyond the time
the magi had indicated for the star's appearance to be assured no chance
of missing his 'mark.' It is possible that, after the magi's visit, the
disturbance in the Temple at the time of the purification ceremony may
have re-kindled Herod's fury.
However long it may have been, it is unlikely that Mary and her Child
would remain in an open, drafty stable for any length of time. She was
constrained to stay at Bethlehem for 40 days until the sacrifice was offered
for her purification after the birth (Lv 12; Lk 2:22-24). She could have
moved into a house with the diminishing of the census crowd.
The magi offered much more than the cursory salutation to the Child. In
this way, they gave an example for us. When they prostrated themselves,
they acknowledged His divinity. Their gifts indicate recognition of His
royalty (gold), divinity (incense), and His mortality--looking ahead to His
Passion (myrrh). The gifts also recall Isaiah's description of the glory of
the New Zion (Is 60:4-6). Isaiah and David give us an indication that these
visitors may have been royal:
"May the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute, the kings of
Arabia and Seba offer gifts.
May all kings bow before him, all nations serve him...Long may he live,
receiving gold from Arabia, prayed for without cease, blessed day by
day...May his name be blessed forever; as long as the sun, may his name
endure. May the tribes of the earth give blessings with his name; may all
the nations re- gard him as favored." (Ps 72:10, 11, 15, 17)
We adore Christ in the Eucharist. He chooses to give Himself to us
under the appearance of a per- fect man, a speechless child as here, or
under the appearance of bread and wine. It is evident that he is there; in
whatever manner or place he appears, He is true God. For that alone he is
to be adored.
Christ was not in Bethlehem, nor did he descend from heaven to be
adored: He tells us in Matthew 20, verse 28, that the Son of Man came not
to be ministered unto, but to minister. Yet he was adored on earth, even
while he was in his mortal state, by the magi, by his disciples, by the
blind man that was cured of his blindness, etc.
St. Chryostom urges us to imitate the magi. We see him not in the crib,
but on the altar. It is not a woman holding him, but the priest who is
present. At the same tim, the Holy Spirit pours out abundantly upon the
A prayer from Christmas Mass at Midnight:
Lord our God, with the birth of Your Son, Your glory breaks on the
world. Through the night hours of the darkened earth, we Your people
watch for the coming of Your promised Son. As we wait, grant us a
foretaste of the joy that You will grant us when the fullness of His glory
has filled the earth, who lives and reigns with You, forever and ever.
The Fourth Joyful Mystery
The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
"When 8 days were completed for His circumcision He was named
Jesus, the name given Him by the angel before He was conceived in the
When the days were completed for their purification according to the
law of Moses, they took Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord,"
Mary was raised above the law by grace (Mt 1:18-25), but humility
subjected her to it (Lk 1:38).
Her humility was confirmed as she presented the offering prescribed for
Discharges of bodily fluids, especially blood (Lv 15:19-27), were unclean
according to the Law (Lv 15:2-18; Ez 4:12-15). Since uncleanness was more
contagious than sacredness (Hg 2:11-13), anyone who came into contact
with one who was unclean was also considered unclean (Lv 5:2-3).
Although Tradition tells of a miraculous Birth so that Mary was not
exposed to the blood which would make her unclean, they were obliged
to observe this Purification Law--she by the fact of giving birth, and the
Child since He was considered 'unclean' through close contact with His
"...When a woman has conceived and gives birth to a boy, she shall be
unclean for 7 days, with the same uncleanness as at her menstrual period.
On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy's foreskin shall be circumcised, and
then she shall spend 33 days more in becoming purified of her blood; she
shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary till the days of her
purification are fulfilled...When the days of her purification ...are fulfilled,
she shall bring to the priest...a yearling lamb for a holocaust and a pigeon
or a turtledove for a sin offering...If, however, she cannot afford a lamb,
she may take two turtledoves... the one for a holocaust and the other for a
sin offering. The priest shall make atonement for her, and thus she will
again be clean." (Lv 12)
The Importance of the Law
We see Jesus' parents as devout Jews who were careful to observe the
commands of the Law given by God through Moses. Luke described them
in a similar way as he did John's parents (Lk 1:6), Simeon (Lk 2:25), and
Anna (Lk 2:36-37).
"just as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male that opens the
womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,' and to offer the sacrifice of a pair
of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the
law of the Lord." (Lk 2:23-24)
Jesus was consecrated to the Lord as the law required (Ex 13:2; 12-15).
The consecration of the first-born commemorated the final plague in
Egypt: the first-born of the Egyptians were slain while those of the
Israelites were spared due to their observance of the decree to sprinkle the
blood of a lamb on their doorposts (Ex 11-12). Luke emphasized this
ceremony as a direct statement of the future of the Child.
The Church fathers suggest several reasons for our Lord to choose to
submit to these Laws:
It made clear to the world the reality of His human nature (1 Tm 2:5-6),
and the difference between His divinity and humanity (Phil 2:6-11).
Circumcision demonstrated He was the seed of Abraham (Gn 17:11-13).
The purification identified Him as one of God's chosen people (Ex 19:5).
By submitting to to these mandates, our Lord showed His approval of the
laws which He had instituted (Mt 5:18). He taught humility and
obedience by His obedience to laws to which He was not bound (Jn 1:17).
We see His approval and obedience modelled explicitly at His baptism by
John (Mt 3:13-17). Thus, Christ left an example for rulers to obey their
own laws. Leaders can expect laws to be observed by others only when
they themselves show respect for laws.
By receiving the burden of the law, Christ freed those that were under
the law (Gal 3). Finally, the Jews could have no excuse for rejecting
Christ on account that He had not followed these laws.
Those Who Were Waiting
"There was a man in Jerusalem . . . Simeon . . . righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It
had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death
before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord." (Lk 2:25-26).
Simeon and Anna represented the hopes and expectations of faithful,
devout Jews. Many at the time were looking for the restoration of God's
rule in Israel (Is 40:1; 42:1) and redemption of mankind from sin and the
devil. The birth of Jesus brought these hopes to fulfillment. He is the
Christ (One anointed or set aside) for a saving mission as the King of
Israel (I Sm 15:17-18; 23:1-7). God's chosen Prince was consecrated
through the law and the witness of these 2 holy people as the Messiah
Who would establish the Kingdom of God.
"He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in
the child Jesus...he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
'Now, Master, You may let Your servant go in peace, according to Your
word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You prepared in sight
of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for Your
people Israel. (Lk 2:27-32)
A spirit of grace and prophecy led Simeon to the temple at the very time
Jesus was brought to observe the law for newborns. He had been
promised that he would see the Messiah. It was with great joy, then, that
Simeon greeted the Holy Family. Simeon's words would be echoed by
John the Bapist as he preached to the crowds (Lk 3:6). He quotes Isaiah's
prophecies that Salvation is for gen- tiles as well as Jews, but that the Jews
will get the glory (Is 40:5; 42:6; 49:6; 52:10)
"The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about
him;" (Lk 2:33)
Imagine the surprise of the Holy Family as a man hailed them, cradled
the Precious One in his arms and spoke of them in this manner!
A Mixed Blessing
"and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Behold, this
child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign
that will be con- tradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the
thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'" (Lk 2:34-35)
Christ came for the redemption and salvation of all, God did not send
His Son for the fall of anyone.
Simeon tells of what happens to those who, in their willful blindness and
obstinacy, refuse to receive and obey Him. They choose their own falling.
This passage points, especially to the Jews who would discharge the
arrows and darts of their malice at Jesus on account of His doctrine.
Mary suffered anguish as she witnessed the Passion of her Son. In part,
this pain would come from her knowlege of His true innocence and
Nature. Additionally, as the true Daughter of Zion, Mary would also bear
the sorrowful destiny of her race.
"There was also a prophetess, Anna . . . advanced in years, having lived
7 years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until
she was 84. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with
fasting and prayer . . . coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks
to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the
redemption of Jerusalem." (Lk 2:36-38)
Anna has credentials as a woman dedicated to God and an interpreter
of His intentions (1 Tm 5:4-5). She reminds us of holy women: Miriam (Ex
15:20), Deborah, (Jg 4:4-5), Huldah, (2 Kg 22:15), and Judith (Jd 8:4-6) who
were entrusted with expressing God's word to the people.
On Jesus' Growth
"When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew
and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon
him." (Lk 2:39-40)
This statement about growth of a child is echoed 3 times in the infancy
narrative: first for John the Baptist (Lk 1:80) and finally after the Holy
Family returns from Jerusalem (Lk 2:52). It seems to be a summation of
the hidden years of childhood as it is for John and for Samuel (1 Sm 2:26).
While Jesus is God thus cannot truly grow in wisdom, as He advanced in
age as a man, He gave increasing evidence of His divine widsom and
A Prayer from the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
All powerful Father, Christ Your Son became Man for us and was
presented in the temple. May He free our hearts from sin and bring us
into Your presence. We ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son, Who lives
and reigns with You and the Holty Spirit, one e God, forever and ever.
The Fifth Joyful Mystery
Finding Jesus in the Temple
The infancy narrative--a unique section in the Gospels--ends as it began,
in the Jerusalem Temple.
The Holy Family, faithful Jews, teach their Son the traditions and laws (Ex
12:26-27; Dt 4:9-10; 6:7, 20-25; 11:19; Ps 78:5-7; Pr 1:8; 6:20) and observe the
holy days of Israel (Ex 2:2-28; Dt 16:1-7). We have also a first indication of
Jesus' awareness of His identity as the Son of God.
Another Trip to Jerusalem
"Each year His parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and
when He was 12 years old, they went up according to festival custom" (Lk
Although Joseph and Mary were reluctant to live in Jerusalem for the
Child's safety (Mt 2:22-23), these trips to the Temple provided them a
measure of anonymity due to the crowds.
This was not Jesus' first visit to Jerusalem since His presentation in the
Temple. It was taken for granted that children and their parents firmly
bonded (I Kg 3:16-28; Pr 4:3; I Th 2:7-8). Sheltered and protected by the
family (Ps 131:2; Is 66:12-14), it was unthinkable for a mother to leave a
child (Ps 27:10; Is 49:15) especially for the 3-week trip required here.
Three Days Lost
"After they completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus
remained behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Thinking
that He was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for Him
among their relatives and acquaintances," (Lk 2:43-44).
Entire towns made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem 3 times each year, as
commanded (Ex 12:25; Dt 16:5-6, 16). Even today, Jews long to celebrate
Passover in Jerusalem: they proclaim to each other at the end of the seder:
"Next year in Jerusalem!" As they travelled they sang the pilgrim psalms
(42-72) which express a desire for the Holy City. Men gathered at one part
of the caravan, women at another. Among family and friends, youngsters
wandered within the crowd, free to be with whichever group they
wished. It is easy to understand how each parent might think that their
Son was some- where among the relatives the first day of the journey. As
they prepared for the night, however, it became obvious that no one had
seen Him. Imagine the panic which seized Mary and Joseph as they re-
traced their footsteps.
"not finding Him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. After 3
days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking questions. All who heard Him were
astounded at His understanding and His answers" (Lk 2:45-48).
The 3 days Jesus spent in the tomb as He 'went about His Father's
business' to redeem mankind are foreshadowed here. The joy of His
spiritual family, at the latter time, can be compared with that of these
worried parents as they found their lost Son.
In My Father's House
At the age of 12, a boy is considered a man in Jewish custom. He gains
the privilege to speak in the temple. Jesus apparently seized this
opportunity to begin to let the elders know that the Messiah had come. In
youthful innocence, the Boy desired to share with the teachers and
religious rulers a perspective to free the people from the extra trappings
heaped on them by generations of priests and lawyers in order to
safeguard the people of God. He asked child-like questions which
probably made them re-think some of their assumptions. He interpreted
scriptures as a young man might view them, in a way which was fresh
and new. Yet His statements made perfect sense. It was clear to the
teachers that this Boy had reflected deeply on the Scriptures, even though
He was not educated at Jerusalem (Mt 13:54-56; Jn 7:15). Some years later,
as He began His ministry, the people grew to admire Him (Mt 7:28; Mk
1:22; Lk 4:15; 22). The apostles experienced a similar reaction as they
began to preach (Ac 2:6-11; 4:13). As years went by, however, among
Jewish leaders fear took precedence over awe.
We see a parallel to another Passover, 21 years later, when the elders
(perhaps some of these same elders) were somewhat differently
impressed with Jesus' understanding and knowledge (Mt 12:14; Jn 5:18;
What Kind of Answer is This?
"When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother
said to Him, 'Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I have
been looking for You with great anxiety.'
"He said to them, 'Why were you looking for me? Did you not know
that I must be in My Father's house?' But they did not understand what
He said to them" (Lk 2:49-50).
At first glance, Jesus' answer may look like a teenager's defiant
declaration of independence. Upon reflection, something else entirely
appears to be stated. Jesus says that we do not have to wander far and
wide, as some of us have done, to find Him. He is present in the temple--
in our present day, in the Catholic church. We find Jesus' heart for the
place of assembly for His people. He is found frequently in the synagogue
and becomes angry as He observes the misuse of temple grounds (Mt
21:12-13; Mk 11:15-17; Lk 19:45:46; Jn 2:14-18).
At this point, Jesus also declares that He is not the son of Joseph, but
that His Father is divine. The confusion on this point is emphasized
throughout the Gospels (Mt 12:46-50; 13:54-57; Mk 3:31-35;6:2-6; Lk 3:23;
4:23; 8:19-21; Jn 6:42). Would He be required to condemn even His
relatives, be- cause of their lack of faith, on Judgement day, as the Levites
were required to do to those who had worshipped the golden calf (Ex
32:25-29; Dt 33:9; Mt 10:37; Lk 14:26)?
His parents misunderstood His words. Many people throughout His
ministry, even the apostles, had a similar obstacle (Mt 15:16; 16:9, 23;
20:22; Mk 4:13; 6:52; 7:18; 8:17-18, 21, 33; 9:10, 32; 10:38; Lk 9:45). Do we
miss the straightforward message of scripture? Do we make Christianity
more complicated than it needs to be? Jesus teaches that the mysteries of
the faith are within the grasp of a child (Mt 18:1-6; 19:13-15 Mk 10:13-16;
"He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to
them. And His mother kept all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:51).
The Son of God teaches humility by His example in obedience to His
parents! The evangelist relates nothing of our Savior from the ages of 12
till 30, except that He was subject to St. Joseph and the blessed Virgin. He
shows by this, that nothing is so appropriate for Christians, as ready
obedience to the directions of their superiors. In fact, obedience is more
important than sacrifice (I Sm 15:22; Ps 40:7; Ec 4:17). Children of all ages
are taught what subjection and obedience is required from them toward
We Share Mary's Reflections
Mary surely thought quite often about these events in Her Son's life,
puzzled about how they all fit together. Possibly, she and Joseph searched
the Torah for the prophecies about the Messiah. It is ob- vious at this point
that they still didn't fully understand their meaning for the Son of God.
Time and again, the angel's and Elizabeth's words must have rung in
Mary's ears: "Hail, Full of Grace . . . you have found favor with the Lord .
. . you will . . . bear a Son . . . called the Son of the Most High." "Most
blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb . . .
how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to
me?" As we say the Rosary, the words of the angel and Elizabeth are as
background music. We ask, as Mary undoubtedly did, for a deeper
understanding of the mysteries in her Son's life.
"Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man" (Lk
While we would very much like to know more about Jesus' early life, it
is significant that we are given little information about the childhood of
other Biblical characters aside from Moses and Samuel.
Prayer from the Feast of the Holy Family
Father, help us to live as the Holy Family, united in respect and love.
Bring us to they joy and peace of Your eternal home. Grant this through
Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.
You know I will do it, too! I'm getting them together. The Incarnation is next only to the Passion in importance to my heart.
Ave Maris Stella
Hail, Star of the sea! Blessed Mother of God, yet ever a virgin! O
happy gate of heaven!
Thou that didst receive the Ave from Gabriel's lips, confirm us in
peace, and so let Eva be changed into an Ave of blessing for us.
Loose the sinner's chains, bring light to the blind, drive from us
our evils, and ask all good things for us.
Show thyself a mother, and offer our prayers to him, who would be
born of thee, when born for us.
O incomparable Virgin, and meekest Or the meek, obtain us the
forgiveness of our sins, and make us meek and chaste.
Obtain us purity of life, and a safe pilgrimage; that we may be
united with thee in the blissful vision of Jesus.
Praise be to God the Father and to the Lord Jesus, and to the Holy
Ghost: to the Three one self-same praise.
V. Hail Mary, full of grace, alleluia.
R. The Lord is with thee, alleluia.
Ave, maris stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper virgo,
Felix coeli porta.
Sumens illud Ave Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Evae nomen.
Solve vinyl reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.
Monstra te esse matrem, Sumat per te preces,
Qui pro nobis natus,
Tulit esse tuus.
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos
Mites fac et castos.
Vitam praesta puram,
Iter pare tutum;
Ut videntes Jesum, Semper collaetemur.
Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus, Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus. Amen.
V. Ave Maria, gratia plena, alleluia.
R. Dominus tecum, alleluia.
FRANCISCAN CROWN ROSARY
This is a seven decade rosary in honor of the seven joys of Mary.
Say 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and 1 Glory Be on each decade.
1.The first Joy in the Crown of Mary, is the joy of our Lady at
the Annunciation: "behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done
to me according to your word." Luke 1:
R: May I become your humble servant, Lord.
2.The second Joy in the Crown of Mary, is the joy of our Lady at
the Visitation: Rising up, Mary went into the hillcountry and
saluted her cousin Elizabeth. Luke 1:
R:Grant us true love of neighbor, Lord.
3.The third Joy in the Crown of Mary, is the joy of our Lady at
the Birth of Jesus and the Adoration of the Magi: She brought
fourth her first born son ...and layed him in a manger.
R:Give us true poverty of spirit, Lord.
4.The Fourth Joy in the Crown of Mary, is the joy of our Lady at
the Presentation and Purification: They carried him to
Jerusalem to present him to the Lord ...as it written in the
Law of the Lord. Luke 1:
R:Help me obey all just laws.
5.The Fifth Joy in the Crown of Mary, is the joy of our Lady at
the Finding of Jesus in the Temple: Not finding him, they
returned to Jerusalem seeking him.
R:May I never lose you through serious sin, Lord.
6.The Sixth Joy in the Crown of Mary, is the joy of our Lady at
the Ressurection of Jesus: "The Lord is not here...He is
R:May we share your glory, Lord.
7.The Seventh Joy in the Crown of Mary, is the joy of our Lady
at her Assumption into heaven and her Corronation: a woman
clothed with the Sun...upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
R:Mary, may we share your crown of eternal life.
MARY CO-OPERATES BY PERSONAL OBEDIENCE
Pope John Paul II
The episode of the finding of the young Jesus in the temple sheds light on Mary's growing participation in the life and work of her divine Son
"At the temple in Jerusalem, in this prelude to his saving mission, Jesus associates his Mother with himself, no longer is she merely the One who gave him birth, but the Woman who through her own obedience to the Father's plan, can co-operate in the mystery of Redemption", the Holy Father said at the General Audience of Wednesday, 15 January, as he reflected on the finding of Jesus in the temple. Here is a translation of his catechesis, which was the 42nd in the series on the Blessed Mother and was given in Italian.
1. The Evangelist Luke describes the young Jesus' pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem as the last episode of the infancy narrative, before the start of John the Baptist's preaching. It is an usual occasion which sheds light on the long years of his hidden life in Nazareth.
On this occasion, with his strong personality Jesus reveals that he is aware of his mission, giving to this second ''entry" into his "Father's house" the meaning of his total gift of self to God which had already marked his presentation in the temple.
This passage seems to contrast with Luke's note that Jesus was obedient to Joseph and Mary (cf. 2:51). But, if one looks closely, here he seems to put himself in a conscious and almost deliberate antithesis to his normal state as son, unexpectedly causing a definite separation from Mary and Joseph. As his rule of conduct, Jesus states that he belongs only to the Father and does not mention the ties to his earthly family.
Jesus' behaviour seemed very unusual
2. Through this episode, Jesus prepares his Mother for the mystery of the Redemption. During those three dramatic days when the Son withdraws from them to stay in the temple, Mary and Joseph experience an anticipation of the triduum of his Passion, Death and Resurrection.
Letting his Mother and Joseph depart for Galilee without telling them of his intention to stay behind in Jerusalem, Jesus brings them into the mystery of that suffering which leads to joy, anticipating what he would later accomplish with his disciples through the announcement of his Passover.
According to Luke's account, on the return journey to Nazareth Mary and Joseph, after a day's traveling, are worried and anguished over the fate of the Child Jesus. They look for him in vain among their relatives and acquaintances. Returning to Jerusalem and finding him in the temple, they are astonished to see him "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions" (Lk 2:46). His behaviour seems most unusual. Certainly for his parents, finding him on the third day means discovering another aspect of his person and his mission.
He takes the role of teacher, as he will later do in his public life, speaking words that arouse admiration: "And all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers" (2:47). Revealing a wisdom that amazes his listeners, he begins to practice the art of dialogue that will be a characteristic of his saving mission.
His Mother asked Jesus: "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously" (Lk 2:48). Here we can discern an echo of the "whys" asked by so many mothers about the suffering their children cause them, as well as the questions welling up in the heart of every man and woman in times of trial.
3. Jesus' reply, in the form of a question, is highly significant: "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2:49).
With this response, he discloses the mystery of his person to Mary and Joseph in an unexpected, unforeseen way, inviting them to go beyond appearances and unfolding before them new horizons for his future.
In his reply to his anguished Mother the Son immediately reveals the reason for his behaviour. Mary had said: "Your father", indicating Joseph; Jesus replies: "My Father", meaning the heavenly Father.
Referring to his divine origin, he does not so much want to state that the temple, his Father's house, is the natural "place" for his presence, as that he must be concerned about all that regards his Father and his plan. He means to stress that his Father's will is the only norm requiring his obedience.
This reference to his total dedication to God's plan is highlighted in the Gospel text by the words: "I must be", which will later appear in his prediction of the Passion (cf. Mk 8:31).
His parents then are asked to let him go and carry out his mission wherever the heavenly Father will lead him.
4. The Evangelist comments: "And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them" (Lk 2:50).
Mary and Joseph do not perceive the sense of his answer, nor the way (apparently a rejection) he reacts to their parental concern. With this attitude, Jesus intends to reveal the mysterious aspects of his intimacy with the Father aspects which Mary intuits without knowing how to associate them with the trial she is undergoing.
Mary attains new dimension in work of salvation
Luke's words teach us how Mary lives this truly unusual episode in the depths of her being. She "kept all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:51). The Mother of Jesus associates these events with the mystery of her Son, revealed to her at the Annunciation, and ponders them in the silence of contemplation, offering her co-operation in the spirit of a renewed "fiat".
In this way the first link is forged in a chain of events that will gradually lead Mary beyond the natural role deriving from her motherhood, to put herself at the service of her divine Son's mission.
At the temple in Jerusalem, in this prelude to his saving mission, Jesus associates his Mother with himself; no longer is she merely the One who gave him birth, but the Woman who through her own obedience to the Father's plan, can co-operate in the mystery of Redemption.
Thus keeping in her heart an event so charged with meaning, Mary attains a new dimension of her co-operation in salvation.
To the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, the Holy Father said:
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially the pilgrims from Australia and the United States. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Jesus Christ the Son of God and Saviour of the world.
Weekly Edition in English
22 January 1997
You know, it's a shame when somebody (holy mole) gets zotted so quietly.
ETERNAL SON OF GOD IS ALSO BORN OF MARY
Pope John Paul II
General Audience 31 July 1996
1. In his saving plan, God wanted his only Son to be born of a virgin. This divine decision calls for a profound relationship between Mary's virginity and the Incarnation of the Word. "The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a virgin. These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive mission and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 502).
The virginal conception, by excluding human fatherhood, affirms that Jesus' only father is the heavenly Father and that the Son's being born in time reflects his eternal birth: the Father, who begot the Son in eternity, also begets him in time as a man.
2. The account of the Annunciation emphasizes his state as "Son of God", the result of God's intervention in his conception. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the "Son of God" (Lk 1:35).
Virginal conception is result of Mary's co-operation
He who is born of Mary is already Son of God by virtue of his eternal birth; his virginal birth, brought about by the Most High, shows that he is Son of God even in his humanity.
The revelation of his eternal birth in his virginal birth is also suggested by the passages in the Prologue of John's Gospel which relate the manifestation of the invisible God to the work of the "the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father" (1:18), by his coming in the flesh: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (Lk 1:14).
In recounting the birth of Jesus, Luke and Matthew also speak of the role of the Holy Spirit. The latter is not the father of the Child. Jesus is the Son of the Eternal Father alone (cf. Lk 1:32-35), who through the Spirit is at work in the world and begets the Word in his human nature. Indeed, at the Annunciation the angel calls the Spirit "the power of the Most High" (Lk 1:35), in harmony with the Old Testament, which presents him as the divine energy at work in human life, making it capable of marvellous deeds. Manifesting itself to the supreme degree in the mystery of the Incarnation, this power, which in the Trinitarian life of God is Love, has the task of giving humanity the Incarnate Word.
3. The Holy Spirit, in particular, is the person who communicates divine riches to men and makes them sharers in God's life. He, who in the mystery of the Trinity is the unity of the Father and the Son, unites humanity with God by bringing about the virginal birth of Jesus.
The mystery of the Incarnation also highlights the incomparable greatness of Mary's virginal motherhood: the conception of Jesus is the fruit of her generous co-operation with the action of the Spirit of Love, the source of all fruitfulness.
In the divine plan of salvation, the virginal conception is therefore an announcement of the new creation: by the work of the Holy Spirit, he who will be the new Adam is begotten in Mary. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary's womb because he is the New Adam who inaugurates the new creation" (n. 504).
Believers are given power to become God's children
The role of Mary's virginal motherhood shines forth in the mystery of this new creation. Calling Christ "the firstborn of the Virgin" (Ad Haer., 3, 16, 4), St Irenaeus recalls that after Jesus many others are born of the Virgin, in the sense that they receive the new life of Christ. "Jesus is Mary's only Son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: the Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother's love" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 501).
4. The communication of the new life is the transmission of divine sonship. Here we can recall the perspective opened up by John in the Prologue of his Gospel: he who was begotten by God gives all believers the power to become children of God (cf. Jn 1:12-13). The virginal birth allows the extension of the divine fatherhood: men are made the adoptive children of God in him who is Son of the Virgin and of the Father.
Contemplating the mystery of the virgin birth thus enables us to realize that God chose a Virgin Mother for his Son to offer his fatherly love more generously to humanity.
Weekly Edition in English
7/14 August 1996
Certainly ... and any who give her praise (or, God forbid, actual worship) due only to God are in need of fraternal correction.
I'd suggest taking a closer look at the meditations KaC is posting on the "Mysteries of the Rosary". The Rosary, taken as a whole devotion (as it should be) is thoroughly Christ-centered.