I tried to resist sharing — I really, truly did. They do call it a "vanity" plate, but I hope this is a pious vanity. Forgive me.
Hail Mary, full of grace!
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I tried to resist sharing — I really, truly did. They do call it a "vanity" plate, but I hope this is a pious vanity. Forgive me.
Hail Mary, full of grace!
This, by Peregrinus, from his excellent blog Peregrinations:
May – The Month of Mary
To honour Blessed Mary, the mother of Our Lord, the month of May is traditionally acknowledged as the month of Mary in the Church's calendar. She is also honoured especially on Saturdays throughout the year and on her several solemnities and feast days e.g. Immaculate Conception, Assumption, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Victory, etc.
No other saint is accorded such devotion. It is the source of great spiritual strength for the majority of Christians who understand and accept that an appropriate, biblical and thoroughgoing Mariology is the most important support for understanding the role of Christ (Christology) upon which the entire Christian enterprise rests.
"You are either Marian or you are Arian." This is a blunt but not inaccurate way of stating the case. What does it mean?
To be Marian is to believe that the mother of Jesus is truly the Theotokos (as defined by the Council of Ephesus, AD 431) or mother of God in that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine and so his mother is the God-bearer or the mother who brought the incarnate God into this world. Nothing less really does justice to who Jesus is as the second person of God the Holy Trinity.
The Arian heresy (which had and has many variations including semi-Arianism, etc.) is stuck to one degree or another on the idea that the humanity of Jesus cannot co-exist with the divine nature in the single person of Jesus. The doctrine that Christ has two natures was and continues to be a problem for many who want, to some degree, to claim Jesus and a limited 'Christianity' without what they consider the troublesome baggage of dogma.
In other words, Arians and many modern so-called 'liberal Christians' want a good Jesus, a human Jesus, a blessed Jesus, a spirit-led Jesus, a prophetic Jesus, a holy Jesus, even a sinless Jesus but not a divine Jesus.
Catholic Christianity teaches that it is really Mary that they should be looking for in this regard: a good woman, a blessed woman, a holy woman, a sinless woman. Yes, the doctrine of Immaculate Conception (often confused with the Virgin Birth of Jesus) applies to Mary and means that though she had an earthly mother and father she is immaculate i.e. preserved from the taint of sin so that she was prepared to be the mother of the divine Jesus Christ. Nothing less than a sinless immaculate vessel would do for the unique entry of God into our humanity.
If Mary does not occupy this position as the Blessed Virgin Mary, immaculate, the first Christian of the human family (i.e. Catholic Mariology) then Jesus will logically and likely be forced into this category in the minds of many well-meaning but doctrinally misled people.
Blessed Mary is not divine; she is sinless. She is not worshipped she is the object of our love and devotion. She is honoured in order to direct all worship, praise and adoration to her divine Son.
We do not pray to her as a god; rather the Catholic Church teaches that in a real sense she is our mother as well — the Mother of Christians and Queen of Heaven — and just as we ask our own earthly mothers to pray for us so we ask Mary's prayers. As the universal invocation goes: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee . . . pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."
Has devotion to Mary been exaggerated and has she sometimes been seen as a substitute for prayer to God in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, just as with any good thing or any good idea, devotion to Mary has been and can be abused. However, the abuses associated with the lack of a proper understanding of Mary's role in the history of salvation are arguably far more dangerous because they undermine a proper understanding of the divine nature of Jesus and his saving action and mission as the incarnate God.
Mary is in the divine presence having been received body and soul into heaven and so intercedes unceasingly as our Blessed Mother. Why would we expect anything less. She is alive to God but united to us through her divine Son whose body we are part of by virtue of our Baptism.
As someone said to me: If you meet a person, liked them, respected them and honoured them, you would naturally want to know their mother and speak with her as well. If we know Christ, why would we not want to know and speak with his mother?
Yes, there are all sorts of historical hang-ups people have over devotion to saints as we have mentioned on this blog. These and the problems with devotion to the Blessed Virgin are largely misunderstandings of the Church's actual teachings or conclusions drawn from abuses which often have not been at issue for generations or centuries in most places. In short, misunderstanding the Church's teaching with regard to Mary and the saints is often simply a matter of prejudice not based upon fact or real practice but upon impression, rumour and ignorance.
What do we need to do? Ask Mary's prayers for her misguided children and for the rest of humanity which is fallen and needs her Son. Many approach her Son, Jesus, supported by the maternal love which she offers. Blessed Mary's acceptance and compassion is unlimited because she is sinless and "full of grace". She dearly wants to love us in the service of her Son's mission, the salvation of humanity.
So "the merry, merry month of May" is much merrier in the truest sense of the word for those who devote themselves to the Blessed Mother and join her in giving all worship and praise in the power of the Holy Spirit through her Son to the God the Father.
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour."
Although many readers of this blog have already kept Mothering Sunday, I hope you'll bear with the Americans who celebrate Mother's Day this Sunday, which is why I've posted this. As we honour all mothers living and departed, and pray for them, remember especially the Mother of God, who is also the Mother of us all.
Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection,
implored Thy help or sought Thine intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
I fly unto Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother;
to Thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in Thy mercy, hear and answer me.
Please pray for me as I will later today consecrate myself totally to the Blessed Virgin Mary according the the method of devotion of St. Louis de Montfort.
Just in case none of our contributors post something new for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought some links to past posts might be useful…
The full version of The Pondering Heart is now available for viewing and downloading on Scribd.com. The URL is as follows:
I hope you will have a look and that you may find it helpful for your prayers.
Fr. Sam Edwards, one of our future (God willing!) Ordinariate priests, has an apostolate called The Pondering Heart. I think it’s been mentioned before on this blog, but I want to call it to your attention again. It’s reflective of our Anglican patrimony, and helps chart a journey into the prayers of the rosary. Although some of what is included provides opportunities for ecumenical use, there is a single destination – namely, a drawing closer to God by deepening our love for His Blessed Mother.
By all means, go to the website of The Pondering Heart. Read through the excellent material assembled by Fr. Edwards. Include as much as you can in your personal and corporate devotions. And consider sending in some support for the apostolate. After all, the laborer is worthy of his hire…
Bishop Moyer of the TAC recommended the article below, an attempt to explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM to Evangelical Christians. David Mills is a very dear and close friend of Bishop David and Rita Moyer. He served at one time with Mrs. Moyer when they were members of the legislative council of Forward in Faith/North America. Wednesday is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
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Delivered From All Stain
Dec 6, 2010
“Yeah, right” is the way the more irenic of my Evangelical friends react to the Immaculate Conception, the feast day of which (a holy day of obligation) we celebrate on Wednesday. A few will go so far as to say something like “Whatever floats your boat,” while others react with something like horror or disgust. Very few, in my experience, has a very good idea of the dogma to which they're reacting.
“It says that Mary doesn't need to be saved,” Evangelical friends with doctorates in theology from elite universities have told me, which is, you know, and I do hate to say this, kind of dumb. I can easily understand their believing the dogma made up out of thin air, but even then they should realize that what is made up is a statement about the way Jesus saved his own mother.
"The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy."
– St. John Damascene
The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been celebrated as a universal liturgical feast at least from the sixth century. Its origin can be traced to the occasion of the consecration of a church in Jerusalem just inside St. Stephen’s Gate, near the Pool of Bethesda — a church built on the traditional site of the house of Ss. Joachim and Anne. There they lived as husband and wife. Their love for God and for each other brought them the precious gift of their daughter, Mary. From the earliest years, the Church venerated the place where Mary was born, and the liturgical remembrance began to spread beyond Jerusalem. Within a few years it was celebrated in Rome, having been introduced by monks from the East, and the celebration included a procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
Although the actual date of Mary’s birth isn’t known, the Church settled on September 8th, and the celebration Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception was fixed on December 8th, as the date corresponding to nine months before the celebration of her Nativity.
The two feasts commemorating Mary's conception and her birth can be seen as forming a kind of bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. With the conception and birth of the Blessed Virgin, God completed the new Ark – the living Temple – in which He would dwell. Because of that there is no more need for the old Temple, and through Mary, Jesus the Incarnate God has come to us to incorporate us into the New Israel.
We beseech thee, O Lord, pour into our hearts the abundance of thy heavenly grace; that, like as the child bearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary was unto us thy servants the beginning of salvation, so the devout observance of her Nativity may avail for the increase of our peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Caelibatus — the Latin word meaning "unmarried". A "caelebs" was a man who was not married. In ancient Roman society it did not refer specifically to a person's sexual activity. For example, the following sentence would have made perfect sense in the ancient Roman Empire: "Although he was celibate, he continued to engage in sexual activity." To our ears it sounds like: "Although he was not sexually active, he was sexually active." Gobbledygook.
The modern world's attempt to separate marital relations from marriage is an obvious disaster. Yet even Christians do not always see just how much damage has been done to their way of thinking, and when they cooperate with the world's immorality by the words they use, then someone has to stand up and point it out. The word "celibate" does not mean "one who is not sexually active," it means "one is not married." Yes, unmarried people are not supposed to be sexually active, but that is not the point. The point is that we are often applying the wrong aspect of the situation to the word, and thereby coloring our understanding of what God has called people to. The difference may seem minor, but it is not. The errant definition of "celibate" means that a man who is married but impotent is, therefore, "celibate". This is wrong. Celibacy has to do, firstly, with marriage not sexual activity. Yes, it is true that marriage assumes the act of conjugal love, but the two are not equal because there is much more to marriage than the marriage bed.
Those who object to the Catholic practice of celibacy (in spite of the clear biblical evidence to the contrary (Matt 19:12, 1 Cor 7:7 & 7:32-33, Rev 14:4) need to realize that they are objecting to virginity also. Our Lady was not celibate (unmarried) but she did remain a virgin; which is another sign of her purity. The general assumption of Holy Scripture is that everyone is supposed to be a virgin until they are married, and they are then supposed to remain married to that same person until death separates them. Thus, celibacy is assumed by the very nature of the fact that no one is born married. We all start life as celibates. Those who commit the heinous sin of fornication (sexual activity before marriage) are still celibate, and that is why is it sinful. This is so because celibacy (being unmarried) is supposed to be without sexual activity of any kind. If celibacy is wrong, then being unmarried is wrong. If celibacy is wrong, then being a virgin is wrong. No one in the Catholic Church is forced to be celibate; really! This is so because no one in the Catholic Church is forced to take holy orders; it is completely a voluntary calling. I pray that Pope Benedict's offer to married Anglican priests to become full Catholic priests will not be seen by anyone as, "finally, they are getting rid of clerical celibacy," and I pray that no one will choose the Ordinariates for the wrong reasons.
I remember hearing a man once comment about a Catholic priest who had committed adultery, "well there goes his vow of celibacy." Yet, this is wrong. For the priest was still celibate (unmarried) even though he committed adultery with another man's wife. In another instance, a family I know had visited another family's home once and they were being told about the host's church. The host said, "we have a couples group for you and your wife, and your daughter can attend the singles group." The visiting husband said, "my daughter isn't a 'single' she's a virgin." The very word "virgin" shocked the host. It was as though you can say "sex" out loud, but the word "virgin" has to be whispered. Our society assumes that everyone has the right to engage in as much sexual activity as he or she desires, so anyone who does not do so is somehow dysfunctional. Imagine St. Augustine visiting one of our churches today and asking to give a message to the "virgins." How many churches would have to say "we don't have that group any more"?
This societal obsession with sex has so twisted the values of the average American, that we cannot think of those who are celibate as sacrificing anything other than sex. We ignore the fact that celibate people also sacrifice the joys of simple (non-sexual) companionship that come with married life (among a number of other joys). So when someone says "celibate" today, people do not think "unmarried," they think "un-sexed." When my friend said his daughter was a virgin, his host was shocked because "polite people don't talk about such things." This is wrong. Celibacy is a gift, given by God to those who "are able to receive it." I am not one of those gifted in this way, instead I have been given the gift of a wonderfully blessed marriage and I thank God for it. I also thank God for those who are called to minister as celibates. Celibacy is not a dirty word. Neither is celibacy that "old" rule where the Catholic Church won't let people "have sex." It is a practice whereby men and women are called to serve in the same way that Jesus did: as a celibate.
Let us change our usage of the word right now. It is not a matter of sexuality alone, but an issue of marriage. It is an issue of purity. It is an issue that extends beyond the celibate clergy, and goes deeper; even to our understanding of the purity of our children (as well as our own hearts). If we fail to change how we think, then future generations will hold just as poor a view of sexual purity as does our modern society. The custom (not dogma) of celibacy may someday be changed (though I doubt it will, and hope it won't). It should not be changed, however, because we think that people have some imaginary "right" to sexual activity, but rather because we discover that the Bible and Sacred Tradition do not support it (which will be quite impossible).