Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Most Holy Theotokos
An Introduction to the Mother of God
By Matthew James Bellisario 2008
Originally posted on Catholicchampion.com
Spanning back to the authors of the early Church we can find a special veneration and love for the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary. More than just a mother, she was to be the vessel, or the Ark (Chrysippus (399-479) said, "The truly royal Ark, the most precious Ark, was the ever-Virgin Theotokos......" In S. Mariam Deip in PO 19,338) which would house Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Her place in salvation history is secure with her being chosen by God, to bring Him into this world bearing a human nature. Thus she would properly be designated the Mother of God by the Church at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431. The Council would declare the following,
"We confess, then, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his Godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the Virgin according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in Godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her" (Formula of Union) Ephesus 431
The implications of her bearing this title also brings forth other theological characteristics of her in relation to Christ as well. For instance, she would not simply be a conduit for Jesus to pass through, without the actual characteristics of a real human mother. In other words she was not used just for this purpose, and then abandoned by Jesus as if she were a tool that He needed to fulfill a prophesy, and no more. As Sergius Bulgakov (1988) wisely states, “That Holy humanity was attained in the person of the Virgin. Hence Mary is not merely the instrument, but the direct positive condition of the incarnation, its human aspect.” The importance of the two natures of Christ put Mary in the heart of theological debates of the first centuries of the Church. To dismiss her as non-essential to the Christian faith has never been acceptable. In fact many of the Church's early Saints took extreme offense to this mentality. For instance Saint Gregory has a strong statement for this way of thinking. He wrote, “If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is severed from the Godhead. If anyone should assert that He passed through the Virgin as through a channel, and was not at once divinely and humanly formed in her (divinely, because without the intervention of a man; humanly, because in accordance with the laws of gestation), he is in like manner godless." Gregory of Nazianzen, To Cledonius, Epistle 101 (A.D. 382)
The role of Mary as the Mother of God is fairly clear to the early Church. What other implications or theological roles does this make her a part of? We can conclude a few logical points here just from what we have seen so far. One is that God chose her to function in His plan of salvation. Any reasonable person would not argue the fact that her role as the God bearer makes her a part of God's plan of salvation, for without that piece of the plan He would not have taken on a human nature, and not have fulfilled His mission as the Savior of mankind. So if she participated in God's plan of salvation, she can properly be called a Co-Redeemer or Co-Mediator. The prefix Co means with, not equal to, so there is nothing to get worked up over here if we understand the terminology correctly. She is with Jesus in His plan of redemption and with Jesus as the Mediator. So far there is nothing here that we can't infer from her basic role as the Mother of God. She willingly participates in Jesus' plan of salvation in her fiat. She responds to the angel, "Let it be done according to thy word."
I think more needs to be said of the person of Jesus, to completely understand our Lady’s participation in His plan of salvation. Our Lord Jesus is one Divine person with two natures. He has a human nature, which he received from the Virgin Mary, and He has a divine nature, which the Holy Spirit conferred into our Ladies womb. However we must realize these two natures are not separate insofar as they make up one person, Jesus, who is God, a divine person. There is a great mystery here of course. But the Church has said that if Mary gave birth to the person Jesus, and she was His mother, then she is rightfully called the Mother of God. This does not mean that she was the creator of Jesus, nor a fourth person of the one God as many Protestant hecklers falsely claim that Catholics teach. Mary is indeed the Mother of God. We must realize that her participation is an invitation to participate from our Lord, when the angel Gabriel came to her. It is not self-imposed by Our Lady; she is a willing participant in accepting our Lord’s invitation. Everything that she does is done in complete humility to her Son’s will, and it is done by the virtue of her only Son, Jesus. We must understand that Jesus alone has merited the redemption of mankind through His suffering, death and resurrection. We as Catholic Christians have always believed this, despite what others outside the true church claim. The terms of Co-Mediator or Co-Redemptor do not imply any of this as many have claimed. Furthermore, I think it is important to quote at full length the Catechism of the Catholic Church number 970 which states, "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men ...... flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it."513 "No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source." Jesus made salvation possible by His sacrifice and His alone.
What exactly does this mean for the average Catholic in the pews on Sunday? It drives home the fact that Jesus has a full human nature, and a full divine nature, and that He is the Divine Savior incarnate. It also drives home the fact that the original sin that was caused by Eve's disobedience was in effect nullified by Mary's fiat in accepting the divine will of God instead of going against it. This gives the average lay person a pure example of a human being (Mary) following the will of God wholeheartedly without reservation. This thus gives Catholics a role-model of sorts to follow. This is very elementary so far, and as we progress we will see that it doesn't complicate. Her obedient example is illustrated by Saint Ireneaus in the second century,
“Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying, "Behold, 0 Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word." Eve . . . who was then still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband — for in paradise they were both naked but were not ashamed; for, having been created only a short time, they had no understanding of the procreation of children . . . having become disobedient [sin], was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient [no sin], was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. . . . Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith” (Against Heresies 3:22:24 [A.D. 189]).
So how do we get from the role of her example, to an active intercessor of all Catholics? Can we find any support for any early Christian writers praying to her, or writing hymns of praise venerating her in her role as Mother of God and an intercessor? It can be argued that her fiat itself was an intercession for mankind of sorts, but that would not equate to the active petitioning of her after her earthly departure. We can see during her life she did act in an intercessory role at the wedding at Cana in the Sacred New Testament Scriptures. We also see that Jesus refers to her as one of those who hear the Word of God and obey. (Luke 11:27-28) Can we make the connection to her as being an intercessor from heaven? In Sacred Scripture we do not find any evidence for it, however if you are not Catholic, you should know that the Church has never held a Scripture Alone mentality. We believe that the Gospel is the Word of God in which some of it is written down in Scripture form as the New Testament. Sacred Scripture has never been looked at as a systematic theological reference book. So the Catholic Church is not too concerned with a lack of Biblical evidence as such, but only that it remains part of the Gospel that Christ gave us through His apostles as passed down and was protected by the Holy Spirit. I will not spend much time on this subject of Scripture in Tradition. So what other evidence do we have besides the living witness of the Catholic Church to the heavenly intercession of Mary the Mother of God? It seems that the living Church that has existed since Christ Himself would be enough evidence, but for the sake of the sceptic, what other evidence can we put forth?
The earliest evidence we have of Mary's intercession is a point of controversy. It comes from Saint Irenaeus' use of the word Advocata referring to Mary in his Adversus Haereses and in Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. The controversy is over whether or not he was referring to her as the intercessor of Eve or just as her counterpart. (O'Carroll 1983) Moving on to more clear references to her we have Saint Gregory Nazianzen (329-389) who describes a scene of a virgin of his era Justina whose virginity is threatened by a suitor. (O'Carroll 1983) Saint Gregory recalls, "Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground." Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 24:11(A.D. 379),in MCF,167
Saint Gregory of Nyssa (335-394) also describes an apparition of Our lady to his namesake, Gregory the Wonderworker. "For it is said that he[Gregory the Wonderworker] heard the one who had appeared in womanly form exhorting John the Evangelist to explain to the young man the mystery of the true faith. John, in his turn, declared that he was completely willing to please the Mother of the Lord even in this matter and this was the one thing closest to his heart. And so the discussion coming to a close, and after they had made it quite clear and precise for him, the two disappeared from his sight." Gregory of Nyssa, On Gregory the WonderWorker(AD 380),PG 46:912,in MCF,94
We also see in the Divine Liturgy a growing awareness of Mary's intercession in the Communicantes of the Divine Liturgy. The most impressive piece of evidence we have is a prayer at the end of a homily given at a Divine Liturgy by Basil of Seleucia in the 4th century, it reads as follows, "O Virgin all holy, he who has said of you all that is honorable and glorious has not sinned against the truth, but remains unequal to your merit. Look down upon us from above and be propitious to us. Lead us in peace and having brought us without shame to the throne of judgment, grant us a place at the right hand of your Son, that we may borne off to heaven and sing with angels to the uncreated, consubstantial Trinity" Basil of Seleucia, PG 85:452(ante AD 459),in THEO,187 We also have another witness to the Catholic view of her intercession from heaven by Theotknos of Livias who in the 6th century wrote, "Raised to heaven, she remains for the human race an unconquerable rampart, interceding for us before her Son and God." Theoteknos of Livias, Assumption 291(ante AD 560),in THEO,187
We can see that the idea of Mary's intercessory role is not a modern invention, by any stretch of the imagination. We can also see that none of these writers hold her up to be the 4th person of the Holy Trinity as many people falsely accuse the Catholic Church of doing. In short, we see the Theotokos (The God Bearer, or Mother of God) as a pure example of how we as Christians should ascend to Her son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We also can see that we how view her also has implications on how we view Jesus Himself. Secondly we observe her as a powerful intercessor who always points to Jesus, and always operates within His will. Her intercession is not much different than our intercession for each other here on earth. We pray for each other and petition God for others salvation all of the time, or at least we should be. She is no different, aside from the fact the she now resides in heaven and not on earth. She is still part of the Body of Christ as we are. When we begin to understand Mary's role in God's family, then we begin to understand our own roles in His family as well.
I want to leave you with two beautiful quotes from the ancient Church regarding Mary. There is alot of theology packed into these two small quotes. I will carry them over to the next essays.
"The Virgin's festival (parthenike panegyris) incites our tongue today to herald her praise ... handmaid and Mother, Virgin and heaven, the only bridge of God to men, the awful loom of the Incarnation, in which by some unspeakable way the garment of that union was woven, whereof the weaver is the Holy Ghost; and the spinner the overshadowing from on high; the wool the ancient fleece of Adam; the woof the undefiled flesh from the virgin, the weaver's shuttle the immense grace of Him who brought it about; the artificer the Word gliding through the hearing" Proclus of Constantinople, Homily 1(ante AD 446),in CE
"O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides." Athanasius, Homily of the Papyrus of Turin,71:216(ante AD 373),in MCF,106
O'Carroll, Michael. Theotokos. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 1982. 186-188.
Bulgakov, Sergius. The Orthodox Chruch. Crestwood,NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary, 1988
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I was listening to the radio today driving back from the Divine Liturgy and I heard a program that was talking about the Scripture passage of John 3:5, where Jesus talks to Nicodemus of being born again. The radio host went on to tell everyone that this passage is telling us that being born of the water refers to when we were born from our mother's womb, and that being born again was just a profession of faith, and that is how you became a Christian. Nothing of baptism was even mentioned. This however is not the correct interpretation of this passage. In fact once again all of the ancient churches attest to this.
I ran across an article on baptism on a nice Coptic website which has a nice online library. One of the articles was on baptism. We can see that the water in John 3:5 is to be properly understood as baptism, not being born from our mother's womb. When we are baptized we are are born again. This is also confirmed by Saints such as Saint John Chrysostom. His commentary on John 3:5 is all about baptism. Don't be deceived by people trying to tell you that this passage is not referring to baptism. Once again we see the dangers of Sola Scriptura. When someone has the arrogance to take the Sacred Scriptures as if they were their own property and then go on to interpret them as they see fit, they get it all wrong. This particular individual will now have to answer to God for the thousands of listeners he deceived today.
Excerpt from the Coptic article on baptism by By His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy
# 4 The Sacrament of Baptism
Effects of baptism are: salvation, regeneration from the water and the Spirit, washing away sins, remission of sins, death and resurrection with Christ, and renewal. In baptism we put on Christ, thus joining the membership of the Church as circumcision joined the people of Israel. Saint Paul linked baptism to circumcision in his Epistle to the Colossians saying, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col 2:11–12).
The Lord Jesus Christ placed baptism as a condition of entry into the kingdom of heaven and said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3: 3,5). Also, Saint Paul said in his epistle to Bishop Titus, “…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). Hence salvation is accomplished in the regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit happens in baptism.
Here is nice document by the Malankara church on Baptism. Once again it is consistent.
Here is an excerpt from Saint Chrysostom's homily on John 3:5.
"Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God"
That the need of water is absolute and indispensable, you may learn in this way. On one occasion, when the Spirit had flown down before the water was applied, the Apostle did not stay at this point, but, as though the water were necessary and not superfluous, observe what he says; Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? Acts 10:47
What then is the use of the water? This too I will tell you hereafter, when I reveal to you the hidden mystery. There are also other points of mystical teaching connected with the matter, but for the present I will mention to you one out of many. What is this one? In Baptism are fulfilled the pledges of our covenant with God; burial and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once. For when we immerse our heads in the water, the old man is buried as in a tomb below, and wholly sunk forever; then as we raise them again, the new man rises in its stead. As it is easy for us to dip and to lift our heads again, so it is easy for God to bury the old man, and to show forth the new. And this is done thrice, that you may learn that the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fulfills all this. To show that what we say is no conjecture, hear Paul saying, We are buried with Him by Baptism into death: and again, Our old man is crucified with Him: and again, We have been planted together in the likeness of His death. Romans 6:4-6 And not only is Baptism called a cross, but the cross is called Baptism. With the Baptism, says Christ, that I am baptized withal shall you be baptized Mark 10:39: and, I have a Baptism to be baptized with Luke 12:50 (which you know not); for as we easily dip and lift our heads again, so He also easily died and rose again when He willed or rather much more easily, though He tarried the three days for the dispensation of a certain mystery.
Friday, November 21, 2008
- Main Entry:
- circa 1535
Here is a clear example of what happens when you depart from Sacred Tradition. You go from Sacred to....well, there really is no name for this. Ridiculous maybe?
How did we go from this..
Gregorian Chant , Et Lux in Tenebris... - The funniest home videos are here
To this? Another magnificent triumph of Protestantism.
I had to laugh when I read this post by Turretin Fan. No need for a lengthy response since the blindness is obviously on his side not mine. He tries to give a class on Sacred Music which he obviously knows nothing about. He then mocks the Latin Mass and so forth. Then he shows his ignorance by saying "the two musical styles are about equally unsuitable for congregational singing." I guess he has never been to a Tridentine Mass. It is also quite apparent that he knows little of Sacred Liturgy as well since Sacred Music is not about the congregation, it's about God, which he also knows nothing about. It is quite amusing how this guy will try any means necessary to defend his Protestant heritage, which is ultimately his tradition. It is quite amusing to watch him scurry around to put together a futile defense of such degrading Protestant music. This is just par for the course from this guy. If you want a good chuckle check it out. More nonsense from the White camp.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I have been reading Ad nauseum some of the"Reformed" apologetics blogs who accuse the Catholic Church of teaching that all religions are salvific. Is this what the Catholic Church teaches? Or could it be that once again we have a group of people who can't stand the Catholic Church and who will concoct any false argument to attack and demean it? The Church teaches very simply that there is no salvation outside the Church. In other words there will be no person on the face of the earth who will see heaven who is not saved through the Church. All Truth (the saving gospel) comes through Holy Mother Church. Any truth that resides, or is contained in another "church" or "religion" comes ultimately from the Catholic Church. So if a Protestant goes to heaven, it is because of the truth that they have received from the Catholic Church, in spite of the heretical sect that they are in. This is made possible only because of God's grace and the individuals willing co-operation with the grace and knowledge that they have. It is also possible because they may have access to some of the truths of the Church that can open a pathway of grace such as the Sacred Scriptures, or their mere openess to God's grace and love by co-operating with God's grace to the best of their ability. They are not saved by works as many falsely suggest. It is still by the grace of God. We read here in Lumen Gentium this salvation possibility being addressed.
"In addition, out of the elementsThe Church teaches that this is all possible, but not guaranteed. So this is no excuse to leave people formally and visibly separated from the Church. This may be equated to someone trying to drive a car blindfolded and hogtied versus a person who is free to steer and drive unobstructed. This false notion that Vatican II changed this teaching is erroneous. Read Pope Pius IX for proof of this teaching prior to VCII below. Pope Pius IX well before VCII wrote the following in an address to an audience on December 9th, 1854 :
or goods by which, taken together, the Church herself is built up and made
alive, certain things, or rather many and excellent things can exist
outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church: The written Word of God,
the life of grace, faith, hope and love, and other interior gifts of the
Holy Spirit and visible elements: all these things, which come from Christ
and lead to Him, belong to the one-only Church of Christ. Even not a few
sacred actions of the Christian religion are carried out among the brothers
separated from us. . . which beyond doubt can really generate the life of
grace, and are to be said to be apt to open the entry into the community of
We must hold as of the faith, that out of the Apostolic Roman Church there is no salvation; that she is the only ark of safety, and whosoever is not in her perishes in the deluge; we must also, on the other hand, recognize with certainty that those who are invincible in ignorance of the true religion are not guilty for this in the eyes of the Lord. And who would presume to mark out the limits of this ignorance according to the character and diversity of peoples, countries, minds and the rest?
Again, in his encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore of 10 August, 1863 he said: It is known to us and to you that those who are in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, but who observe carefully the natural law, and the precepts graven by God upon the hearts of all men, and who being disposed to obey God lead an honest and upright life, may, aided by the light of divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who sees clearly, searches and knows the heart, the disposition, the thoughts and intentions of each, in His supreme mercy and goodness by no means permits that anyone suffer eternal punishment, who has not of his own free will fallen into sin.
We must also concede that anyone who has been presented with the truth of the one and only Catholic Church and willingly rejects it for their own man-made religion, which would include everything outside of the Catholic Church (with the exception of Judaism, which is no longer salvific sine the coming of Christ), is going to be damned, plain and simple. This is the teaching of Lumen Gentium from VCII as well. "They cannot be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or remain in it (cf. LG 14)." Sounds to me like the Church still teaches that the Church is necessary doesn't it?
In my opinion, (I may be wrong, I cannot read the hearts of men, only God can do that) most people fall into this category. They willingly reject Christ any His Church, and therefore they will reap the consequences of damnation. I do believe that in today's world there is probably more ignorance than in the past when people willingly parted from the Church, for there was only one Church. I still however believe this includes an overwhelming majority today. It also stands to reason that the Church dealt with these people much more sternly for those whom they knew to be culpable in leaving the Church, or those who created schism and heretical sects. This was more pronounced in the early Church. Hence we read the writings of the Church Fathers who strictly condemned these people, and those today in the same situation are to be treated the same.
Ignatius of Antioch wrote...
Saint Irenaeus wrote..
"In the Church God has placed apostles, prophets, teachers, and every other working of the Spirit, of whom none of those are sharers who do not conform to the Church, but who defraud themselves of life by an evil mind and even worse way of acting. Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace" (Against Heresies 3:24:1 [A.D. 189]).
"[The spiritual man] shall also judge those who give rise to schisms, who are destitute of the love of God, and who look to their own special advantage rather than to the unity of the Church; and who for trifling reasons, or any kind of reason which occurs to them, cut in pieces and divide the great and glorious body of Christ, and so far as in them lies, destroy it—men who prate of peace while they give rise to war, and do in truth strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel. For they can bring about no ‘reformation’ of enough importance to compensate for the evil arising from their schism. . . . True knowledge is that which consists in the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place [i.e., the Catholic Church]" (ibid., 4:33:7–8).
It is with reckless abandon that this possibility of salvation for these people has been taken far out of context. This teaching is obviously an exception to the rule. Anyone inside or outside the Church who believes that the Catholic Church teaches that all other religions are salvific are either ignorant or deceptive. It seems these days the word "bretheren" is emphasized far more than the word "separated" is, regarding the term "separated bretheren" when referring to the Protestants. As far as the Protestants go, they are not to be considered to be a part of the Church, as far as their "denominations" go. In other words, there is no such thing as the "Reformed" or "Lutheran" church. Only the Orthodox churches can be rightly called so. This is proven by a letter written by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and approved by Pope Benedict XVI himself. Below is the paragraph addressing this.
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH 2007
Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
RESPONSE According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.
The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication. Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. William Cardinal Levada Prefect Angelo Amato, S.D.B. Titular Archbishop of Sila Secretary
I would like to close with this profession from the Council of Trent which ultimately sums up the Church's ordinary teaching well.
From the Creed of the Council of Trent (1564):
I unhesitatingly accept and profess all the doctrines (especially those concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching authority) handed down, defined, and explained by the sacred canons and ecumenical councils and especially those of this most holy Council of Trent. And at the same time I condemn, reject, and anathematize everything that is contrary to those propositions, and all heresies without exception that have been condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the Church. I, N., promise, vow, and swear that, with God's help, I shall most constantly hold and profess this true Catholic faith, outside which no one can be saved and which I now freely profess and truly hold. With the help of God, I shall profess it whole and unblemished to my dying breath; and, to the best of my ability, I shall see to it that my subjects or those entrusted to me by virtue of my office hold it, teach it, and preach it. So help me God and his holy Gospel.
It seems that Corey Tucholski has surfaced once again attacking my post here. He writes the following from his blog.
"It’s a mixed bag of teachings, and I don’t think that Mr. Bellisario got it right. He explicitly contradicts Catholic teaching when he states that no one can be saved in Islam or Protestantism. The Church actually teaches the opposite; that one can, in fact, have salvation in a Protestant church as I have demonstrated above."Where did I say this in my post. This is the kind of person who just cannot stand to be wrong. It is obvious that I pointed out that these people can be saved. But they are not saved by their religions. If a Muslim goes to heaven it isn't because of the Muslim religion. The same goes for a Protestant. Corey has no reading comprehension otherwise he wouldn't have made this comment. He misinterprets me just as he has done with the Church documents. Please, all I ask is that one read what I post. That means read it all before you respond. I posted the same quotes in my post that Corey seems to think he is pulling out to counter my own argument. Read here and you can be the judge. Its not worth my time to continue to refute this nonsense.
PS... A side-note to those who willingly reject the Church. You know who you are! I hope you like my picture! I wonder if it depicts dulia, hyper-dulia or latria?
Saint Thomas Aquinas the great Angelic Doctor writes...
"Reverence is due to God on account of His excellence, which is communicated to certain creatures not in equal measure, but according to a measure of proportion; and so the reverence which we pay to God, and which belongs to latria, differs from the reverence which we pay to certain excellent creatures; this belongs to dulia....
"Wherefore dulia, which pays due service to a human lord, is a distinct virtue from latria, which pays due service to the lordship of God. It is, moreover, a species of observance, because by observance we honor all those who excel in dignity, while dulia properly speaking is the reverence of servants for their master, dulia being the Greek for servitude."
St. Thomas shows that a clear distinction exists among latria and forms of dulia within Catholic theology, despite the blind rhetoric of the Church's opponents.Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Ioánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres, oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The early 11th century Boyana Church, in the Bulgarian capital Sofia has been renovated and has reopened displaying its wonderful frescoes. These are an amazing testament to eastern iconography from the 13th century. The oldest part of the church, is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and was built at the foot of Vitosha mountain in the early 11th century. This dates back to the foundation of the Hungarian state and church.
From the article...."Candles and humidity had badly damaged the frescoes and the church was closed to the public in 1954, to be only partially re-opened in 2006. With restoration complete, the Boyana church has now been equipped with an air-conditioning system to keep the temperature at 17-18 degrees Celsius (62-64 Fahrenheit). The special lighting system emits no heat, which could damage the frescoes, and groups of visitors are only let in for fifteen minutes at a time."
Read the entire article here.
A Response to Corey Tucholski on the Theotokos #3
Back in September I had a brief exchange with Corey Tucholski on the Virgin Mary. I have finally had some time to retort to his blog post. We exchanged a few blog entries on the title co-redemptrix, co-mediatrix. Corey tried to convince us that the Catholic Church used the term co- as meaning “equal to” opposed to its more common usage, meaning “with.” I proved to him the Church was not using the prefix co- in conjunction with equal to, but in the meaning concerning “with”. We can see that Corey hangs on to his own anti-Catholic prejudice when he responded later with this.
“Bellisario will undoubtedly counter with the broken-record approach here, and simply quote all of the above paragraphs and add, “See? It’s all about Cory and what he thinks. Never-mind the actual definition or what the Church teaches, it’s all about Cory.” But this isn’t true. I think that I’ve built a good case for “co-” implying that the person with that title shares the responsibility with the titular leader. It may not always be the case, as I’ve conceded above, but I think that it usually is.”
What case has he built? He has not built it from anything the Church teaches. So just because Corey thinks the term is usually used in this context of “equal to” that means the Church when using titles as co-mediatrix must be using it in this context? This is his “good case?” This is absolute nonsense, and that can be proven from the Church's own documents. What case has Corey built, as he says? He has given no evidence that the Catholic teaching means equal to. In fact the Church explicitly teaches the opposite, but Corey, as most Protestants, have an ego the size of Texas. Most recently John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Mater in 1987 proves that the Church views her mediation in the context that I have used it in and not Corey's. There are more documents to present, but why bother when you have someone who cannot let go of their prejudices?
From Encyclical Redemptoris Mater
“The teaching of the Second Vatican Council presents the truth of Mary's mediation as "a sharing in the one unique source that is the mediation of Christ himself." Thus we read: "The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary.” (Paragraph 38) In reference to the Theotokos and her unique mediation we read in the same Encyclical, “It is important to note how the Council illustrates Mary's maternal role as it relates to the mediation of Christ. Thus we read: "Mary's maternal function towards mankind in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its efficacy," because "there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5). This maternal role of Mary flows, according to God's good pleasure, "from the superabundance of the merits of Christ; it is founded on his mediation, absolutely depends on it, and draws all its efficacy from it."
This puts to rest the argument of the term co- with any of the titles of co-redemtrix or co-mediatrix. It is not putting the Theotokos on par with Christ, say what you will. The Catholic faith does not, nor has ever used those prefixes in a way that puts the Theotokos on an equal footing with God. This puts Corey's “good case” to rest.
Next Corey attempted to prove that the Catholic perspective on Mary denigrates the incarnation of Jesus. He then shifted the focus onto the Catholic teaching of the Immaculate Conception.
I will argue that it is the Catholic view of the Immaculate Conception of Mary that dishonors our Lord. The Protestant view of things is the correct, biblical view of the matter.
What made Jesus unique is the fact that, though tempted, he never sinned (Heb 4:15). Nowhere in the Bible does it proclaim that anyone except Jesus was sinless. Some uninspired documents make this claim, but Scripture is clear: the only one without the stain of sin on his soul is Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that “. . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23, emphasis added). This is both in actual sin and in the taint of original sin that is in our souls.
First of all that is not all that makes Jesus unique. We can see how warped Protestant theology really is here. There are numerous things that makes Jesus unique. First and foremost he is God incarnate. Secondly that he is the high-priest who has offered himself as the perfect sacrifice, unblemished. We see that Corey never even mentions this fact. He also appeals to Scripture alone while he later unwittingly steps outside of that delusional position by coming up with theological premises that do not reside within the Sacred Scriptures. Who says that Sacred Scripture must state everything in reference to Divine Revelation in the first place? Certainly not Scripture. In fact Sacred Scripture is silent on many things, and Corey here is trying to force me into his fence of a heresy known as Scripture Alone, which I will not concede to.
We do however know that Mary was Immaculate and free from sin, and was referred to as stainless in the ancient Church, and we know that this doctrine developed over time. Although the exact time of her sinlessness was debated, she has always been honored as being the obedient one, and the one who followed her son perfectly. Saint Ambrose wrote in the 4th century telling us, "Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin" (Commentary on Psalm 118:22–30 [A.D. 387]). The Immaculate Conception doctrine did not come into a full understanding until the 15th century, although there are historical records proving that feasts of the Immaculate Conception were being celebrated possibly as early as the year 800. (Haffner 2004) Most theologians would debate the teaching, not if she became sinless, or lived a sinless life by the grace of Jesus Christ, but only the question of when she became sinless. Was she conceived without original sin, or was she born with original sin and then cleansed by the Holy Spirit after she was conceived? These are some of the questions that were debated. Although a few early writers of the church such as Origin questioned her sinlessness, the majority of the Church Fathers never questioned this, and most professed it is some manner. I recommend reading Paul Haffner's research on the subject. The Mystery of Mary (2004)
The Theotokos is referred to as being, “full of grace” in the Holy Gospel of Saint Luke 1:28. This statement has far reaching implications as all of the Biblical passages that refer to her (Lk 1:48, 1:43, 1:35, Gen 3:15 for example,) which will not be grasped by mere superficial reading. St Gregory of Nyssa a doctor of the Church and biblical scholar writes in the 4th century, “Mary was always a virgin, undefiled, pious and dutiful, the honor of our nature, the gate of our life, the one who won salvation for us.” (O'Carroll 1983) Basil of Seleucia in the 4th century also wrote, "O Virgin all holy, he who has said of you all that is honorable and glorious has not sinned against the truth, but remains unequal to your merit. Look down upon us from above and be propitious to us. Lead us in peace and having brought us without shame to the throne of judgment, grant us a place at the right hand of your Son, that we may borne off to heaven and sing with angels to the uncreated, consubstantial Trinity" Basil of Seleucia, PG 85:452(ante AD 459),in THEO,18 These are just a few examples of references that clearly separate the Theotokos from the rest mankind insofar as she is sinless, unique and clearly the Mother of God; yet we also know that this was not by her own doing, but by the grace of God. We will get to that later. Although these passages of Scripture and these Church Fathers do not explicitly prove the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, they provide a solid foundation for it, and ultimately are the seeds that give rise not only to a fuller understanding of her role but sheds light on the Incarnation of Jesus. We can also deduce that the early Church viewed her in a far different light than Corey does.
The fact that Christ was born of a virgin is telling, for Romans 5 seems to declare that it is by man that the stain of original sin enters the world (vv 12, 15, 19). Therefore, a child born of a woman who had never been touched by a man would be sinless. It is therefore unnecessary to add the unbiblical tradition of Mary’s Immaculate Conception into the mix because it is already established that being born of a virgin would make a person sinless.
Christ is God and therefore it goes without saying that He is sinless. It is fitting that Christ not be born from a sinless womb. Just because Mary had no relations with Saint Joseph, that would not nullify her own sinlessness, which would ultimately have Jesus being born from a womb tainted by original sin. Roman's says by man original sin entered the world, not explicitly by the sexual act. It is true that some Church Fathers however believed this. Secondly, her virginity testified to the fact the Christ was not a mere man, but a divine person who was made incarnate from the Holy Spirit. Her being a virgin would not have cleansed her from sin, and she would not have been a pure temple for the Holy Spirit. That is why the Theotokos was immaculately conceived; to bear the Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ from an untarnished womb, which is fitting to the King of Kings. Without being immaculately conceived she still would have had a solidarity with Adam, and therefore would have been tainted by original sin. She would not have been in a position that Eve was originally in and be able to untie the knot of sin so to speak to give an ascent to God coming in the flesh to ultimately destroy sin. The virginal conception illustrated foremost, as testified by the Church Fathers, to the deity of Christ as well as proving that God the Father was indeed the Father of the Son, which solidified his incarnation by the Holy Spirit. This is highly Trinitarian in nature, and that was the focus of the Virginal Conception. It did not mention this as being the means by which Jesus avoided the effects of original sin concerning His humanity. In fact the Bible for example tells us that Jesus did not inherit original sin (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 3:5), it however does not tell us how he avoided this inheritance. The Bible also does not tell us exactly how original sin is communicated to each individual. Yet someone like Corey who holds to a Scripture Alone position is clearly operating outside the bounds of his own belief system by coming up with these assumptions which cannot be proven from Sacred Scripture.
Now I should add a caveat here. Author Haley DiMarco coined the phrase “technical virgin” to describe a girl who has done some things, but not quite gone all the way to sexual intercourse. There is a chance for a technical virgin to become pregnant through very intense foreplay. I am aware of this fact, and I don’t believe that such a child would be born sinless because he would still be conceived by a man, and thus inherit the stain of original sin. Only a child conceived directly by God’s power through a virgin could be preserved free of original sin. This means that Mary would still be born with the taint of original sin since she was conceived by conventional means.
It is the Protestant view that brings glory to God because we recognize that only Jesus was born sinless and remained sinless throughout his life. This was a single act of obedience that brought righteousness to the people in God’s eyes (Rom 5:19). The feat was never duplicated by Mary or by anyone else. In fact, it can’t be duplicated by anyone else for no one is born without the stain of original sin, so no one can live a life of pure obedience since they are already born with disobedience in their flesh.
Corey also seems to forget that Adam and Eve came into the world free from sin and that man was not sinful from the beginning. God can preserve a person from the taint of original sin if he so desires. Second, no Catholic ever said that Mary duplicated the act of obedience that Christ had. This is an argument that has never been forged by the Catholic Church, and has been invented here by Corey to give him something to attack, yes a straw man indeed. If we read Catholic theology we plainly see that it is by the grace of Christ that the Theotokos was able to be obedient, and untie the knot of sin so to speak in reference to mankind, and not in divine matters. She also was immaculately conceived due to the coming of Christ and the incarnation, not by her own doing as Corey here is suggesting that the Church is teaching. Corey ignores the fact the we are dealing with God here and His incarnation, and his plan of salvation. He implies that God is not sovereign by the fact that he thinks that God is bound by the nature of human sin. Just because Mary was conceived by conventional means does not guarantee that she was tainted with original sin, for God can do as he chooses. Now back to her obedience in God's plan.
Her obedient example is illustrated by Saint Ireneaus in the second century, “Consequently, then, Mary the Ever Virgin is found to be obedient, saying, "Behold, 0 Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word." Eve . . . who was then still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband — for in paradise they were both naked but were not ashamed; for, having been created only a short time, they had no understanding of the procreation of children . . . having become disobedient [sin], was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient [no sin], was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. . . . Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith” (Against Heresies 3:22:24 [A.D. 189]). We can see here that Corey is clearly starting to lose ground in his argument. The Theotokos here is directly compared to the Eve. She is the one who untied the knot of disobedience. This is a clear praise to the glory of Christ since he was the one whose grace allowed this to happen. Once again, the Catholic position glorifies God's work in man, where the Protestant view denigrates it, and in most cases denies it. This is classic Lutheranism which looks upon man a pile of dung covered by the blood of Christ, completely overlooking the transformation of those who are endowed with God's grace. Even though we are sinners, Jesus Christ gives us the power to not sin by his grace. Read Rom. 6:1-2, 6:12-13, Heb. 10:14,1 Pet 1:14-16, Col 1:21-23 which focus on sanctification and justification. St. Augustine says, “God works in man many good things to which man does not contribute; but man does not work any good things apart from God since it is from God man receives the power to do the good things he does.” (Contra. Duas Ep. Pel. II 9:21) (8)
The Catholic view actually denigrates the Incarnation by making Jesus’ life of pure obedience to God a feat that one other, Mary, has duplicated. This means it is possible to get to heaven by pure obedience to the law, something which the apostle Paul strongly condemns in all of his letters (especially Galatians). It is simply not possible for a human to completely obey the law. Mary was a human; surely Mr. Bellisario wouldn’t argue otherwise. Therefore, it is not possible for her to get to heaven by pure obedience. She requires a Savior the same as the rest of us, and that means that she has sin in her flesh same as everyone else on this planet except for Jesus. To argue otherwise partially eclipses the act of obedience that made the many righteous..
Corey here has placed an army of straw men before us to knock down as an attempt to show us an impressive volley of assaults on the Catholic Church. Ultimately it is really just an illusion of forceful argumentation against an enemy created in the imagination of my opponent. The Church did not say that Mary is saved by her own works, nor is this ever implied. She was preserved from original sin in a similar manner that Adam and Eve were, yet it is obvious that she also needed a savior because she was preserved in Christ and because of the coming of Christ, where Adam and Eve were not. She still had to live by the grace of God, and live in the faith that her Son Jesus ultimately brought through His Incarnation. This in no way implies salvation by works alone, which has also never been a teaching of the Church. It is by grace and her ultimate co-operation with it that she did not sin, not by mere preservation of not being tainted with original sin.
Corey here also falls prey to typical shallow Protestant, crippled theology in misunderstanding Saint Paul. Saint Paul here was not referring to all works, but works of the law. This implies that no one can be saved by works alone, but this does not imply that by the grace of Jesus Christ that works are not part of our salvific relationship with Christ. In fact the Epistle of Saint James clears that subject up for us in a bold fashion. Corey here tries to separate the grace that God gives to mankind through His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ, from the works that he does in us, which is also united by faith in Him. Corey here is implying that the Theotokos had no faith and that she is ultimately getting to heaven by works alone. This is a fallacious argument based on sheer presumption, and is unsubstantiated rhetoric. The Theotokos still had to live by faith in her son, although she was immaculately conceived. This did not exonerate her from having to live by the grace of God, which did not exist in salvific fashion before the coming of Christ. She could have been immaculately conceived, and still have sinned later just as Adam and Eve did. Thus by living in Christ she was ultimately saved, for if she had sinned and not repented and lived in Christ, she too could have been lost.
John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical Redemptoris Mater “14. Mary's faith can also be compared to that of Abraham, whom St. Paul calls "our father in faith" (cf. Rom. 4:12). In the salvific economy of God's revelation, Abraham's faith constitutes the beginning of the Old Covenant; Mary's faith at the Annunciation inaugurates the New Covenant.” We must also understand that although Mary was “full of grace” it was still in a limited sense. She could still grow in her faith and in her holiness. Where as Jesus obviously could not, because He is perfect. Mary's Immaculate conception does not make her perfect in the sense that Jesus Christ is, for she was still a human being. None of this has implications that brings the Theotokos up to the status of a deity, say what you will.
The Immaculate Conception is ultimately about Jesus Christ, and an isolated view of Mary apart from Him is not possible. She was a temple for Jesus, the Arc of the New Covenant with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. She is intimately intertwined with Christ and His plan of salvation. She participated in many ways to God's designed plan of salvation, yet she willfully did so by co-operating with His grace and the gift that was given to her. She is the perfect example of obedience by a human being. We see the grace of God working in her, and in recognizing that we give glory to God by honoring her.
We can sum up this subject by applying Scripture in Tradition as taught by the Church to give us a deep understanding of the Incarnation of Christ. Without Divine Revelation what you end up with is a very crippled and incomplete understanding of Christ and who he is as a Divine Person. Without the Theotokos we cannot understand the two natures of Christ, the two wills of Christ and his solidarity in being one Divine person with these attributes. The Catholic understanding is the complete understanding where as we can see, Corey's is much to be desired.
I will close by quoting at length the closing portion of Pope Pius XII's Encyclical proclaiming the Queenship Of Mary, 11 October 1954 Ad caeli Reginam
“From these considerations, the proof develops on these lines: if Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God's design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of "recapitulation," in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ "in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race"; and if, in truth, "it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall," then it may be legitimately concluded that as Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with the new Adam.
Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity. For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer's Kingdom; from her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father.
Hence it cannot be doubted that Mary most Holy is far above all other creatures in dignity, and after her Son possesses primacy over all. "You have surpassed every creature," sings St. Sophronius. "What can be more sublime than your joy, O Virgin Mother? What more noble than this grace, which you alone have received from God"? To this St. Germanus adds: "Your honor and dignity surpass the whole of creation; your greatness places you above the angels." And St. John Damascene goes so far as to say: "Limitless is the difference between God's servants and His Mother."”
Notes and References:
The Mystery of Mary, Hillenbrand Books, 2004 Haffner
The two natures of Christ confirmed in 451, the Council of Chalcedon which defined, against the Monophysites, that “We confess that the one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation.”
The Mother of God. On June 22, 431, the Council of Ephesus declared, "If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God and therefore that the holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos) (since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh), anathema sit."
The term "Ever-Virgin" was formally endorsed by the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553). "If anyone will not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, that which is before all ages from the Father, outside time and without a body, and secondly that nativity of these latter days when the Word of God came down from the heavens and was made flesh of holy and glorious Mary, mother of God and ever-virgin, and was born from her: let him be anathema."
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Over the last couple of weeks or so James White and Turretin Fan have been stirring up more hate and discontent over at White's Aomin.org. The topic is now Marian idolatry, and they have accused the Pope of this. Once again they went to a news clip and cut and pasted a tiny portion of the Holy Father's parting address and tried to build a case that the Pope does not turn to Jesus, but only to Mary. They quoted this news post from Zenit.
( http://www.zenit.org/article-23987?l=english )
They never went and pulled his complete speech that day in which he explained the rosary, and Mary's intimate relationship with Christ, as well as the Biblical context of his parting farewell. You see the news clip only posted what he said as he was leaving, and never posted his speech which he gave before it. I will post it here directly from the Vatican so all can see once again what kind of "scholars" we are dealing with here. It took me a whole 5 minutes to find it on the Vatican website. They took a news clip and turned it into a diatribe against the Holy Father and against the Catholic Church, without ever looking at the context of his statement. One again we see the modern scholasticism of cut and paste apologetics.
Remember just as a few months ago when White latched on to news clip and came out with his Martin Luther farce video, and told us all that Rome was no longer the same since they were going to exonerate Martin Luther? Now once again he has shown us his true colors by allowing Turretin fan to post such a poor article. James White did not post this particular article on his blog, it was his new protege Turretin Fan, who has once again proved why he is also a perfect fit to the White blog staff. Read the full papal address below for yourselves, then read the newsletter, then read the post on Aomin
( http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2922 ). This is truly an amazing act of slander against the Holy Father and the Catholic Church!
The full speech from Pompei by the Holy Father, with my bold typed emphasis for those who think he put Mary above God. Enjoy.
RECITATION OF THE HOLY ROSARY
MEDITATION OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Pontifical Shrine of Pompeii
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear men and women religious,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Before entering the Shrine to recite the Holy Rosary with you, I paused briefly before the tomb of Bl. Bartolo Longo and, praying, I asked myself: "Where did this great apostle of Mary find the energy and perseverance he needed to bring such an impressive work, now known across the world, to completion? Was it not in the Rosary, which he accepted as a true gift from Our Lady's Heart?" Yes, that truly was how it happened! The experience of the Saints bears witness to it: this popular Marian prayer is a precious spiritual means to grow in intimacy with Jesus, and to learn at the school of the Blessed Virgin always to fulfil the divine will. It is contemplation of the mysteries of Christ in spiritual union with Mary as the Servant of God Paul VI stressed in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus (n. 46) and as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II abundantly illustrated in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae that today I once again present in spirit to the Community of Pompeii and to each one of you. You who live and work here in Pompeii, especially you, dear priests, men and women religious and lay people involved in this unique portion of the Church, are all called to make Bl. Bartolo Longo's charism your own and to become, to the extent and in the way that God grants to each one, authentic apostles of the Rosary.
To be apostles of the Rosary, however, it is necessary to experience personally the beauty and depth of this prayer which is simple and accessible to everyone. It is first of all necessary to let the Blessed Virgin take one by the hand to contemplate the Face of Christ: a joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious Face. Those who, like Mary and with her, cherish and ponder the mysteries of Jesus assiduously, increasingly assimilate his sentiments and are conformed to him. In this regard, I would like to quote a beautiful thought of Bl. Bartolo Longo: "Just as two friends, frequently in each other's company, tend to develop similar habits", he wrote, "so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection" (I Quindici Sabati del Santissimo Rosario, 27th edition, Pompeii, 1916, p. 27: cited in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 15).
The Rosary is a school of contemplation and silence. At first glance, it could seem a prayer that accumulates words, therefore difficult to reconcile with the silence that is rightly recommended for meditation and contemplation. In fact, this cadent repetition of the Hail Mary does not disturb inner silence but indeed both demands and nourishes it. Similarly to what happens for the Psalms when one prays the Liturgy of the Hours, the silence surfaces through the words and sentences, not as emptiness, but rather as the presence of an ultimate meaning that transcends the words themselves and through them speaks to the heart. Thus, in reciting the Hail Mary, we must be careful that our voices do not "cover" the voice of God who always speaks through the silence like the "still small voice" of a gentle breeze (1 Kgs 19: 12). Then how important it is to foster this silence full of God, both in one's personal recitation and in its recitation with the community! Even when the Rosary is prayed, as today, by great assemblies, and as you do in this Shrine every day, it must be perceived as a contemplative prayer. And this cannot happen without an atmosphere of inner silence.
I would like to add a further reflection concerning the Word of God in the Rosary, particularly appropriate in this period in which the Synod of Bishops is taking place on the theme: "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church". If Christian contemplation cannot leave the Word of God out of consideration, if it is to be a contemplative prayer, the Rosary must always emerge from the silence of the heart as a response to the Word, after the model of Mary's prayer. Seen clearly, the Rosary is completely interwoven with scriptural elements. First of all there is the enunciation of the mystery, preferably made, as it has been today, with words taken from the Bible. The Our Father follows; by giving the prayer a "vertical" orientation, the soul of who recites the rosary is opened to the correct filial attitude in accordance with the Lord's invitation: "When you pray say: Father..." (Lk 11: 2). The first part of the Hail Mary, also taken from the Gospel, lets us listen again each time to the words that God addressed to the Virgin through the Angel and to the words of her cousin Elizabeth's blessing. The second part of the Hail Mary resounds like the answer of children who, in addressing supplications to their Mother, do nothing other than express their own adherence to the saving plan revealed by God. Thus the thought of those who pray remains ever anchored to Scripture and to the mysteries presented in it.
Lastly, remembering that today we are celebrating World Mission Sunday, I wish to recall the apostolic dimension of the Rosary, a dimension that Blessed Bartolo Longo lived intensely, drawing inspiration from it to carry out on this earth so many charitable initiatives and works of human and social promotion. Furthermore, he wanted this Shrine to be open to the whole world as a centre of outreach of the prayer of the Rosary and as a place of intercession for peace among peoples. Dear friends, I would like to reinforce both of these aims: the apostolate of charity and prayer for peace, and I wish to confirm and entrust them once again to your spiritual and pastoral commitment. Following the example and with the support of the venerable Founder, never tire of working with enthusiasm in this part of the Lord's vineyard for which Our Lady has shown a special fondness.
Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come to take my leave of you and of this beautiful Shrine. I thank you for your warm welcome and especially for your prayers. I thank the Archbishop Prelate and Pontifical Delegate, his collaborators and those who worked to prepare my Visit in the best possible way. I must leave you, but my heart remains close to this region and to this community. I entrust you all to the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary and I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to each one.
* * *
Before leaving the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompeii, the Holy Father spoke briefly to the faithful:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The time has come for me to say "good-bye' but as I said, in my heart I shall always remain close to you, close to this most beautiful Shrine, to this people full of faith, enthusiasm and charity. Thank you! Let us stay faithful to Our Lady and thus we shall stay faithful to love and to peace. I bless you all in the name of Almighty God, Father, and Son and Holy Spirit. Good-bye until next time! Thank you!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
This morning at 12am we saw the election of a man who aligns himself against life, and freedom. When watching the mob over in Chicago I could not help to think of the passage in the Holy Gospels where the mob before Pontius Pilate were yelling, "Crucify Him, Let Barrabas go!" And so we as a nation have also cried out in supporting O and rejecting Christ, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!" Of course I am not referring to McCain as being Christ, but his opposition to abortion. Today we have let down the millions of innocent babies who are murdered everyday in this country, over 3000 per day. Now Barack Obama wants to further legislation to mandate that abortions be available without any limitation. He once said, "Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old," he said. "I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." And so like the days of Pilate we as a nation today also say, "Truth, what is truth?"
Yes today we as Americans have made history by electing the first African American President. I have no issues with that, and I do not feel influenced by anyone's race when it comes to voting for a candidate,if he is the best candidate. Unfortunately this day, the historical moment of an African American President is far overshadowed by electing one of the most immoral candidates ever. Has the Roman empire fallen? Can she return to the great nation she once was? Can we overcome the next 4 years in which our liberties will be challenged? How many Supreme court seats will we lose? Will he take away fairness by reinstating the Fairness Act? These are all questions that will be answered over the course of the next two, possibly 4 years. The day America can put hope in an unknown ideological fantasy of change ahead of its unborn, ahead of religious liberty, ahead of freedom, and ahead of morality is the day that I say America has lost its mind. We can indeed be called insane like the rest of the socialist world who has embraced such atrocities as unlimited abortion, euthanasia, socialism, modernism, control of the media, and a complete denial in the existence of God.
We as Christians are also to blame. The numbers show 30 to 55% of Christians casting their votes in favor of O, who I will now refer to as the big zero. (As long as I have the freedom to do so) This includes Catholics as well. God have mercy on us, for we have not lived the life of holiness that God has called us to. Now that this race is over, we must start living the lives that we are called to, and start trying to figure out how we are going to turn things around in the next election. We as faithful Christians know that one thing the big zero cannot take away from us is our faith and our relationship with Almighty God. When it comes down to it, Christ is really our only hope anyways. We have mistakenly put our faith in a false messiah, and for that I am sure we will have to face some heavy consequences indeed. Hang on to your guns and your religion. Even if they take your guns, they cannot take your faith. Indeed many have endured much worse. But this is a startling statement for a country who once embraced morality and freedom ahead of money, and false ideologies. May God have mercy on a nation who has indeed cried out in reference to Christ ultimately, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him! we want the big zero for our messiah" So as the ages go on we learn that there is nothing new under the sun. When a nation embraces immorality as its god, instead of God, this is what happens. Insanity sets in, and we reject the truth and substitute it with a false messiah, a big zero.