– On The Immaculate Conception & Science

Posted by Ann Barnhardt – December 8, AD 2012 6:28 PM MST

This piece was very popular last year, and since there are a lot more eyes here than a year ago, it is worth a repost today, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Here’s your Christian catechesis for the weekend. First, who exactly is the Immaculate Conception? Most Catholics today are so incredibly ignorant and poorly catechized in their faith that a sickening number would say that Jesus is who the term Immaculate Conception is referring to. That would be wrong. Mary is the Immaculate Conception.

And here is where all of the non-Catholics begin to feel a distinct tightening in the solar plexus, a rush of blood to the face, a clenching of the jaw and a grinding of the teeth. Why? Because any mention of Mary other than as a human brood mare, and only around Christmastime – engenders RAGE amongst the Protesters. Why? Because, apparently, Mary draws people’s attention away from Jesus instead of pointing people TOWARD Him. Because, apparently, Jesus takes absolutely no delight in any of us, most especially His own mother, is insanely jealous of His own creation and thus hates His own mother, and demands that nobody EVER so much as LOOK at her, much less LOVE her, because Jesus is extremely insecure and just can’t handle people observing, loving and appreciating beauty in HIS OWN CREATION, even though everything in the universe was made by Him and through Him.

So every time a parent looks at their child in love, Jesus gets all mad. And every time a man looks at his wife in love, Jesus gets all mad. And every time a son looks at his mother in love, Jesus gets all mad. And every time a man looks at the mountains, or a sunset, or up at the stars in loving wonder and appreciation, Jesus gets all mad. And every time a person looks in loving appreciation at a beautiful painting, or building, or reads a beautiful bit of prose or poetry, or gazes upon a particularly elegant bit of mathematics or even computer programming code . . . JESUS GETS ALL MAD.

Do I have that about right, y’all? Snorf.

Anywho, back to the Immaculate Conception. This doctrine and non-negotiable tenet of Christianity teaches that Mary was, by the grace of God, prevented from carrying the stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception. Mary was saved from sin by her Son, like all of the other faithful, it is just that the timing of her salvation was different from everyone else. This is why Mary calls God “my Savior” in her Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55. Instead of letting Mary fall in the mud puddle of sin like the rest of us, God stuck out His Arm back through time from the Cross and kept her from falling in the mud puddle – but if it wasn’t for God’s positive action of reaching out across time from the Cross and holding her from falling, she would have fallen. This is called “grace”, and is what the Angel Gabriel was referring to when he greeted Mary at the Annunciation with the words, “Hail! Full of grace! The LORD is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” Luke 1:28

Full of grace means FULL. OF. GRACE.

How full is full? Full is totally full. To the brim. Full does not mean half-full or mostly-full. Full means full. Mary was FULL OF GRACE. And because Mary was FULL of grace, there was absolutely no room for sin. Mary didn’t sin because God her Savior had filled her with grace and therefore she just COULDN’T sin. Most of us reading this have a tiny taste of what this is like. For example, I^m guessing that everyone reading this, if handed a baby would be incapable of killing that baby. We just COULDN’T do it. No matter what threat was made against us, no matter what the adverse consequences to our own lives might be, we would take any adverse consequence before killing that baby. We are simply incapable of performing that act. Why? What is that internal force of energy that prevents us from committing acts of evil even when under intense duress and threat? It is grace. Pure and simple.

2012 editorial update: Apparently this example is somewhat iffy today, as almost every one of you would happily kill a baby with your tax dollars, as long as your tax dollars pay someone else to actually do the limb-ripping and decapitation of said baby behind closed doors. But I digress.

Sadly, most of us have a little grace, but are not in any way FULL of grace. I am personally much closer to being full of crap than of grace (which many of you have already pointed out to me, thank you very much), hence the daily, persistent, repeated sinning on my part. And I suspect it is a similar situation with you, dear reader, with the grace-to-crap ratio being much higher for you than for me. I really am quite full of crap.

With Mary there was no crap because God her Savior had FILLED her with grace, and thus there was no room for crap, and thus there was no sin. It’s really just 2nd grade math if you think about it. But WHY? Why was it essential for Mary to be sinless and sinless from the moment of her conception?

That’s where the science comes in.

There are two phases to Mary’s existence. The first phase was from the moment of her conception until the Annunciation, which is when Jesus was conceived in her womb. The second phase was from that moment of conception forward for all eternity. Each phase has its own physiological delight attached to it which required Mary to be a sinless vessel for Our Lord.

First, the pre-Annunciation period. As it turns out, all baby girls have all of the eggs that are ever going to be in their ovaries fully formed not just at birth, but fairly early in their fetal development phase. Unlike men who are continuously producing new sperm, a woman’s eggs aren’t created and formed with each menstrual cycle. All that is happening during a cycle is that an egg, which has been fully formed in a woman’s body since she was a pre-born fetus, is released into the reproductive tract. What this means theologically is that the egg containing the 23 chromosomes that God would miraculously fertilize with 23 chromosomes that He miraculously supplied (including a Y chromosome) to become the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ, was physically present inside Mary’s body from the time that Mary was inside of her mother’s womb.

That egg, and those chromosomes, that physical constituent of Our Blessed Lord was present inside of Mary’s body, waiting to be . . . if I may use the word . . . consecrated. The word consecrate, when broken into its Latin components means:

Con: With

Secr: Holy

Ate: Territory of a Ruler

And so, Mary was, from the time she was inside St. Ann’s womb, already carrying a portion of Our Lord’s physicality, namely 23 of His chromosomes. And thus Mary was, from her very beginning, already a tabernacle, already the Ark of the New Covenant, carrying within her what would be consecrated into The Law Incarnate, The High Priest, and The Bread of Life, directly analogous to the Old Ark, except perfected and fully fulfilled as God Incarnate. And as we know from the book of Exodus, the Old Ark had to be “pure within and without” (Exodus 25:11). And thus, the Ark of the New Covenant was truly pure within and without, except this purity was a purity that only God Himself could accomplish: the purity of Mary, full of grace and thus saved from all sin.

The second phase is actually broken into two sub-phases. The first sub-phase is when Mary was pregnant with Jesus and His entire body was inside of hers. The second phase is that phase from the time of Jesus’ birth forward into all eternity.

Jesus is STILL physically inside of Mary in a unique way. It was discovered just a few short years ago that immune cells pass from a pre-born child to the mother across the placenta. Not only do these immune cells, which are the child’s and thus carry the exclusive DNA of the child, pass across the placenta, but they persist in the mother’s body for the rest of her life. A woman who has carried a son has immune cells with Y-chromosomes in her bloodstream that can now be filtered out of her blood and observed. Female children also pass cells to their mothers. Thus, a woman truly does carry her children around inside of her, with their DNA coursing through her heart, for the rest of her life. That isn’t just a sentiment, it is a physiological fact.

Thus, Mary continued and continues to this day to be a perpetual, living tabernacle of her Son, as she carries cells with His DNA in her bloodstream. And so now we see why Mary had to be filled with grace and thus saved from the stain of sin from the moment of her conception eternally forward, because she was and is a perpetual Ark of the New Covenant.

This also explains why Mary’s body was assumed into heaven, body and soul, immediately at the end of her earthly life, because her body literally contained living cells of Our Lord and thus her body could not remain on earth in physical death to decay in any way. She simply was afforded the same physical resurrection that all of the faithful will receive, albeit instantaneously for her, given her very special state, both spiritually and physically. This is what is doctrinally referred to as “The Assumption”. The Feast of the Assumption is August 15th.

Finally, if you are reading this and it has made you the least bit angry, you need to sit down and ask yourself one excruciatingly simple question: WHY?

(This is in German – beautiful.)

via – Commodity Brokerage.

Responding to a Profound Mystery

English: Icon of Jesus ChristThere are mysteries and there are miracles that mark one’s journey throughout our faith history; all of which are extraordinary but some might only be classified as profound.

For instance: God creating man in His own image and likeness is an extraordinary thing but God becoming man is so extraordinarily profound that we must respond to this statement in some heightened way. By elevating this mystery the Church hopes that all Christians might meditate upon the significance of this inconceivable event and gain some small insight into the very nature of God. That, of course, was why the Church mandated that at the very mention of the incarnation of Christ, in the Nicene Creed, the faithful should immediately drop to their knees to both accent and contemplate the enormity of the event; an event that brought us salvation and the hope of eternal life. Without this event, heaven is impossible and our human fate hopeless.

Since the advent of the Novus Ordo, our genuflections were turned into a bow of the head reserving a genuflection for Christmas and the Annunciation. Now, almost 50 years hence, even the bows have all but disappeared. At Christmas and the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord nothing changes: our response is like any other day which is to say that we do nothing at all. I think it is a point well taken, that how we pray is how we believe (lex orandi, lex credendi). And our relaxed attitude might be telling us that today we do precious little of either.

A lukewarm response begets a lukewarm faith and we all remember the warning of the Spirit to the Angel of the Church in Laodicea(Rev, 3:13-22): “thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” It seems that the riches and plenty of those living in Laodicea had rendered the faithful unthankful and incapable of seeing their own wretchedness and nothingness in relation to God. The answer to their blindness and to the restoration of their former zeal was revealed to be the twofold path of penance and prayer. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.” _ Rev. 3:22

Living in a land of plenty coupled with our heritage of self-reliance may also have hindered many of us who were called to a Christian life. We seem incapable of developing fully the most basic trait necessary to accomplish this spiritual journey: namely, humility. For it is through humility that we are driven to our knees in penance and in prayer.

Genuflection is an exterior sign of our interior humility and should call to mind our true state in relation to the Creator of the Universe. What further can be said that might reveal the astounding truth regarding the love of God for man? That God would deign to live a life in human vesture is so unimaginable that it should evoke unmitigated awe and love in return for a gift that is beyond conception. “For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” __ Php, 2:5-8

If Christ, the Son of God, the Lord of lords could humble himself for our redemption, can we not humble ourselves before Him in a recollected moment of awe and love for this Gift of gifts? Since God gave Himself for love of man it seems that our only possible response would be to give ourselves in entirety to God for love of Him.

Living The Mysteries of the Rosary

Applying the Rosary As a Model for Perfecting the Soul

Preface:  What follows is strictly a personal reflection on the Mysteries of the Rosary that has, over time, grown into this form – though abbreviated for publication. For quite some time I have been convinced that the original 3 sets of Mysteries contained in the Rosary correspond in some way to the classical 3 ages of the interior life – though the possible correlations, considerations and insights that the Rosary offers are practically limitless. These Mysteries of Our Lady and of Our Lord seem to give insight into how we might live in accord with our ‘image and likeness’ of God; both Jesus and Mary being the Perfect Models for this Spiritual Journey.   “For thou lightest my lamp O Lord: O my God enlighten my darkness.” __ Ps. 17:29

Choosing Sides – Preparing for War

Joyful Mysteries

  1. The Annunciation:  Every Christian life begins with a ‘yes’ to the basic propositions of Christianity. This ‘fiat’ of ours plants the Seed of Faith deep in our hearts and awaits its growth.
  2. The Visitation:  We seek the water that will give life to this Seed of Faith and find this nourishment in the Womb of the Church (a distant cousin that we will soon adopt as our mother); for She contains the Waters of Baptism – the Water of Life. Just as John the Baptist leapt in the womb of Elizabeth so too the members of the Church will continually rejoice at the Baptism of each new soul.
  3. The Birth of Jesus:  Now having been nourished by the Waters of Baptism and reborn into the Family of God (the Church) we begin to put flesh on our Faith and begin to take our first steps in this New Life of the Spirit. We are a New Creation, reborn of water and the Spirit.
  4. The Presentation:  The Church strengthens us in Confirmation – our chance to present our New Life, Reborn in the Spirit, to the Church while we offer ourselves to God through Her. We beg for God’s help and for the help of Mother Church in this bold undertaking. As Mary caught a glimpse of the suffering of Her Son and of her participation in the suffering, we too, start to enkindle some inkling of the participation to which we are called and the pains of renouncing the wisdom of the world.
  5. The Finding in the Temple:  Having found Christ our Savior in the Tabernacle of the Church, the Church in turn helps us to find Christ in the Tabernacle of our hearts – in the very center of our soul – never to be lost again. We wish to emulate our Lord and His Holy Mother and have prayed for all of the Christian Virtues. Though we have grown in virtue they have not as yet been tested and purified by the fires of trial. However, the necessary preparations for a successful Spiritual Journey have been made; a step that will lead us into battle with the world the flesh and the devil and hopefully win countless victories for the Glory of Christ’s Holy Name. We too should now be ‘about our Father’s business.’

The Battle is Entered – We are Not Alone

Sorrowful Mysteries

  1. The Agony:  Thus prepared for battle, the Newly Formed Christian is faced with apprehension at the onslaught of his first trial. “Do I enjoin the Spiritual Battle or remain a safe distance away?” “Am I strong enough? Am I fully prepared? What if I fail? Can I endure the suffering and hardships of the upcoming battle?” But Mother Church has taught us to emulate our Savior King and though we wish to be spared from the fight we are all invited to repeat with Him: “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Keep in mind that this election to enter the spiritual fight is rare; requiring Supernatural Aid to allow us to proceed past this point. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
  2. The Scourging:  Thus the Christian who seeks to be Perfect in this life has uttered a new Fiat. He has accepted the Will of God for his life though he may suffer many blows for His Lord. His scourging may come from any direction and source as he is tied helplessly to the Pillar of Truth; that for which he is willing to give all.
  3. The Crown of Thorns:  Indignity, loss of stature, money, friends, health, or family may turn this Warrior for Christ into another ‘Man of Sorrows” – a castaway who is derided and avoided by all. But his transformation into this Man of Sorrows has begun to give him a shadowy likeness to Christ Our King. Should he endure these trials, the battle-scarred Christian will surely need new and greater strengths to enable a successful journey home.
  4. The Carrying of the Cross:  The Faithful Servant is forced to carry his cross much as Christ did on His way to Calvary. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”__ Matt. 16:24. Likewise, even as Christ found help with His Cross in the person of Simon of Cyrene, Jesus helps us carry ours (or are we helping Christ with His?). At times this aid arrives through the visible help of family, Church, or friends.
  5. The Crucifixion:  The final battle is upon the Pilgrim of the Spiritual Journey. This is the final test and most crucial. Where before he found aid and comfort in little things and readily found God dwelling in the Tabernacle of his heart, all known comforts seem now to fail him. He no longer is sure of his journey, his faith, his hope or his love. His hard-won virtues seem nowhere to be found. Self-Doubt is oppressive. In this abandonment and darkness the world seems to be the only one who cries out to him: “come down from the Cross.” The world offers her comfort and beckons the warrior to retreat to a comfortable and safe distance from the battle – offering a sponge soaked with her pain-killing diversions. A retreat is offered whereby the Spiritual Journeyer can leave the battle and no longer hear the cries of Christ, no longer see the Blood of our Tortured Lord, and no longer feel the Agony and Suffering that is His. The successful Pilgrim, however, responds by an act of sheer will and refuses these temptations of the world. Dimly he beholds the Church and Her Posterity at the foot of the Cross, and for their sake and their King’s he repeats with our Lord: “Into Your hands, I commend my Spirit.” These valiant soldiers abandon themselves to the Will of their God, and likewise offer themselves up as Sin (offenses that essentially beat against Love) just as their Lord did before them. They unite their trials with His and share in His death but also in His Glory.

The Spoils of War – a Hero’s Welcome

Glorious Mysteries

  1. The Resurrection:  For those who have cooperated with Christ in the conquering of Sin a resurrection of faith is imminent. The return of faith for these Heroes of Christianity is purer and more steadfast than what they previously perceived as having lost. Their virtues have been purified in the fires of love; they have become Living Saints – the most exceptional of human beings.
  2. The Ascension:  Transformed by the Journey of Faith, the Pilgrim Saint can now repeat with St. Paul: “And I live, now not I: but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). This death of self and transformation in Christ has left our Saint living physically on earth but spiritually and mentally in heaven – his eternal home. He has in a real sense, ascended to His God and His King though he walks among us.
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles:  As the Holy Spirit once gave birth to the Church through the Apostles on Pentecost, so too does the Holy Spirit give new birth to the Spiritual Pilgrim who conquered all in the name of Christ – who now possesses the virtues in a perfected state. As with Mary, his Spiritual Mother and Model, God now fills His Saint with Grace. This indwelling Spirit of Love unites the Saint with Christ, His Mother and with all the members of the Church in a way that before was purely intellectual but is now as substantial as the ground upon which he walks.
  4. The Assumption:  The Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Model of the Church, is now perceived in a very real way as God’s revelation to our Saint that salvation is indeed assured for those who steadfastly cling to their faith. Faith, Hope and Love have now been perfected to such a degree that the Saint is almost without need of the first two; for he sees, though as through a veil, what lies behind death’s dark door.
  5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:  We see the Coronation of our Virgin Mother as also being the Coronation of the Church Triumphant – somehow, all of us participating in the Glories of the Kingdom and co-operating in Mary’s Singular Boast. For the Saints have emulated both Christ their Savior and Mary their Mother in this struggle to enter Heaven. A hero’s welcome awaits these brave men and women, as they will surely hear their Savior say to them: “Well done, good and faithful servant . . .  Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” __ Mt. 25:21

Comment:  Few attempt the Journey to Perfection in this lifetime and those who have tried usually flee somewhere during the Sorrowful Mysteries of this Living Rosary. Although fraught with great trials and sorrows, the Sorrowful Mysteries must be said (that is lived). We can either recite them in this life with great merit or wait to chant them in Purgatory.  But make no mistake, all who enter into the joy of the Lord will be cleansed of all their sins; for this putting to death of sin is an essential and necessary precondition that allows us entry to the eternal joys of the Glorious Mysteries which await us.