Mary, my Mother: Mother of the Church

The Mother of God of Tenderness

How strange to think that man who is far estranged from our creator is instructed by our Lord to address the Creator God as Father or Abba (affectionate name like daddy). It is a revelation that was only hinted at in the Old Testament:

Do you thus repay the Lord,
    O foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your
father, who created you,
    who made you and established you? __ Deuteronomy 32:6

But our Lord, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Son of God has bid us pray, Our Father Who art in Heaven . . .

Until that time we were as orphans in the spiritual realm. Just one thing among all the things that were created by His mighty hand. That he had a special plan and special love for man we knew and yet knew not why: for he had promised a savior and had given us His Law through Moses to make us aware of what the nature of sin was and how easily we fall prey to its lure when we use nothing but our free will and our rational minds. Guilty of sin we awaited this Messiah to rescue us from the sin we were accused of by the Law of Moses.

By God’s Grace we were sent a Savior Who bore to us the message that we were meant to be other sons of God by adoption and that He was all too ready to suffer and die an ignominious death to atone for our every sin. That we could die to our sins and be raised up to life with Him and be with our Lord and Savior, likened as brothers and sisters in the spiritual world was the promise of the Grace contained in His new invitation to be Baptized into this Heavenly family. By what good and meritorious work did we deserve such attention and such a loving invitation?

For God loved us without reservation and had made us in His image and likeness and by this love and care has given us the gift of Human Dignity that no man and no society can ever strip from us. That our own Lord would become incarnate of a created woman and take to Himself the fullness of our human nature together with His Divine Nature is both an honor and a frightening condemnation of how sinfully we have besmirched and sullied our nature: especially after receiving this verification of the dignity and magnitude of what our humanity was meant to be and to what end God has made us. He made us for Himself, just as sure as our natural parents had made us for themselves. And His unconditional Love is superior to the best father and mother that we might encounter in the natural world. A burden of love has been thrust on our shoulders and the depth of the Commandment in the Old Law to love, honor and obey our fathers and mothers is but a shadow of what is commanded of us in relation to the True Father and Mother. To love them as did Christ, our Eldest Brother in everything but sin, is our challenge and our duty as sons and daughters of God.

So when Christ, from the agony of the Cross, gives His mother Mary to John, who was the only Apostle present to represent the Church, and likewise announces that John, and thereby the Church, is now a son of Mary, our orphaned souls have been adopted in entirety. We have a heavenly family and are no longer simply members of a human family on earth. We have the spirit of adoption into the Supernatural world and Divine Family that endures forever: God our Father, Mary our Mother, Christ our Brother and Savior and their abiding Love of the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. Where Satan is present as our accuser, the Holy Spirit is there to oppose Him and Christ is there to intercede on our behalf. And our Mother has a superabundance of a natural mother’s love. She is an advocate for us that begs with Christ to intercede on our behalf and to plead Her Son’s Sacrifice to the Father.

Once we were natural beings with natural parents and brothers and sisters. Now our souls, that were abandoned as orphans, are beckoned to a Holy Family that wishes to adopt our souls into communion with the Communion of Saints and with the Triune God. Together with them we reach the potential that God had intended and we consummate the love that God had for us from all time.

The Voice of Peter

Most Rev. Fulton Sheen

This article was specially written by Most Rev. Fulton Sheen, Bishop of Rochester for the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

Christ and Peter

Psychology reveals that the human body, when it reaches a certain growth, begins to be conscious of itself. A moment comes when the child no longer says: “Baby wants”… but “I want”.

The Church as the Body of Christ revealed its heavenly consciousness when Christ complained to Paul who persecuted the Church: “Why do you persecute Me”. The earthly consciousness of that same Mystical Body was reached in Peter, the only person in all Scripture with whom God so associated Himself as to say “we”. The occasion was the paying of the tax. The Lord, as if he were putting His arm around Peter, said “In order that WE may not scandalize”. What a unity of the headship of heaven and earth! What a conscious unity of the Body of Christ, Christ and Peter.

The Pope’s Burden

But this intuitive awareness of headship in Peter and his present successor, Paul VI, makes each Pontiff also the most vulnerable man in all the world. To be vulnerable is to be accessible to every attack, worry and anxiety which happens to the Church in every area of the earth. As Paul VI told me: “I often find, in my letters and reports when I read them at night, a thorn. When I go to bed they have woven themselves together into a crown of thorns”. This unshielded and exposed personality makes the Pontiff like a solitary tree on a mountain top, exposed to all the blasts of the four winds. The father and mother of a family suffer for their children; the priest bears the wounds of his parishioners, but into that chalice held by the Vicar of Christ seeps all the sorrows, such as those caused by disciples: “some walk with Him no more”, or who leave the Eucharistic Banquet and “go out into the night”. It is in these moments the Pastoral heart is most pierced.

“Is it so, O Christ in heaven, that the highest suffer most…. That the mark of rank in nature is capacity for pain, That the anguish of the inner makes the sweetness of the strain?”

The agony in Gethsemane in some way becomes the agony of the Pontificate and to both there is dipped a common cup which the Father gives.

For that reason, it is not just our theology, our tradition and our faith which makes us pledge our loyalty to him; it is also our sympathy, a compassion so great that the world, if it looked closely, might see but one common tear falling down pontifical checks.

Peter’s Voice

It is his Voice to which we listen—for there is something special in it, as there was in the voice of Peter. St. Luke who recounts the scene in the outer court of Annas and Caiphas, as well as the scene of Peter knocking at the door of John Mark, makes Peter twice identifiable by his Voice. In both instances, it was a servant who recognized the Voice and each one refused to be negated in certitude that it was the Voice of Peter, for both “constantly reaffirmed”.

The background of the story is Peter’s miraculous escape from prison when his life was threatened by King Herod. He goes to the house of John Mark where the faithful of the Church are gathered in prayer. Present were John Mark, his mother, Mary; and her brother-in-law, Barnabas, and the servant Rhoda.

Rhoda answered the knocking; she recognized Peter’s voice who called to her, but did not open the door. Rather she ran and told everyone that Peter was at the door. Their response was twofold: either she was “mad” or else it was an apparition. A practical man, probably Barnabas, suggested that they give up liturgy for service and go and see if it was Peter.

Peter’s Voice Today

Does not this scene fit our modern times, when those who should be foremost in recognizing the voice of Peter, like the liturgical center of John Mark, and the disciples like Barnabas, are slow to do so, whereas the simple laity not only recognize it but insist upon its authenticity.

Now, as then, there are those in the house of John Mark who think that the voice is all apparition, that it is something out of the past, unreal and mythical or of another world.

Then there are those who when the simple people insist that it is the Voice of Peter, say that they are “crazy” or “mad”, and need to have their theological heads examined.

These two kinds of incredulity were manifested toward the Divinity of Our Lord. When the disciples were rowing in the darkness of a storm Jesus came walking on the waters, but they thought that He was a “ghost”. At another time because of His zeal, His own relatives thought Him “mad”.

But while the inner circle in the house of John Mark dialogued about the unsecularity of the voice and abused the simple for believing in it, Peter “continued knocking”.

The quality of Peter’s character is persistence. He was a fisherman and he knew patience and hope. But here it happens that he who knocks is the doorkeeper—the one who has the keys and is trying, as it were, TO GET INTO HIS CHURCH AND TO HIS PEOPLE. That knocking is no different from the knock of the Apocalypse where Christ affirms: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”.

The Voice of Christ

That Voice is no different than the Voice of Christ: “He that heareth you, heareth Me”. And if we heed it not, do we not fall back into that anonymous authority of “they”—”They say”, “They no longer believe that”—Who are “They”? In the Holy Father, the Voice is personal and with joy we heed it echoing from Peter the day the Eucharist was announced: “Lord, to whom shall we go. Thou alone hast the Words of Eternal Life”.

Thou art Peter

We reaffirm our allegiance to the Voice of Peter in Paul VI, for we know that we share in Christ’s prayer for His Church only to the extent that we are united with Peter. In order to get the full flavor of the words of Our Lord, we use the second person singular:

“Simon, Simon, Satan demanded to have you (the plural i.e. that is you My disciples, My Church), that he might sift you (again the plural) like wheat. But I have prayed for thee (singular—i.e. for Peter) that thy faith fail not; and when thou have turned back to Me (after My Resurrection) that thou (Peter) shall strengthen thy brethren”.

In these days when Satan has been given a long rope, we want above all things to share in the PRAYER OF CHRIST for the preservation of faith. But we know that we can do this only through our union with Peter. To Peter, and now to Paul VI, we look for the never failing faith, for the assurance that neither the pillars of the Church, nor its inferior parts will ever be severed from the Church’s structure. With Ambrose we repeat: “Where Peter is, there is the Church”. God grant that we will not keep him “knocking”.

 

Taken from:
L’Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
11 April 1968, page 7

THE REMNANT NEWSPAPER: Prophetic Words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Many a modern preacher is far less concerned with preaching Christ and Him crucified than he is with his popularity with his congregation.  A want of intellectual backbone makes him straddle the ox of truth and the ass of nonsense…Fulton J. Sheen

America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance.  It is not.  It is suffering from tolerance:  tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos.  Our country is not nearly so much overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broad-minded.  The man who can make up his mind in an orderly way, as a man might make up his bed, is called a bigot; but a man who cannot make up his mind, any more than he can make up for lost time, is called tolerant and broad-minded.

A bigoted man is one who refuses to accept a reason for anything; a broad-minded man is one who will accept anything for a reason—providing it is not a good reason.  It is true that there is a demand for precision, exactness, and definiteness, but it is only for precision in scientific measurement, not in logic. The breakdown that has produced this natural broad-mindedness is mental, not moral.  The evidence for this statement is threefold: the tendency to settle issues not by arguments but by words, the unqualified willingness to accept the authority of anyone on the subject of religion, and lastly the love of novelty.

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RORATE CÆLI: This is the sign of the Church always, the Sign of Blood

This is the sign of the Church always, the Sign of Blood

Seven years were my people without my presence;

Seven years of misery and pain.

Seven years a mendicant on foreign charity I lingered abroad:

Seven years is no brevity.

I shall not get those seven years back again.

Never again, you must make no doubt,

Shall the sea run between the shepherd and his fold.

It is not I who insult the King,

And there is higher than I or the King.

It is not I, Becket from Cheapside,

It is not against me, Becket, that you strive.

It is not Becket who pronounces doom,

But the Law of Christ‘s Church, the judgement of Rome.

I am here.

No traitor to the King.

I am a priest,

A Christian, saved by the blood of Christ,

Ready to suffer with my blood.

This is the sign of the Church always,

The sign of blood.

Blood for blood.

His blood given to buy my life,

My blood given to pay for His death.

My death for His death.

For my Lord I am now ready to die,

That His Church may have peace and liberty.

 

T. S. Eliot

Murder in the Cathedral

___________________

Our yearly post in honor of Saint Thomas Becket.

Christmastide recess

Posted by New Catholic at 12/29/2012 02:00:00 AM

via RORATE CÆLI: This is the sign of the Church always, the Sign of Blood.

Far As the Curse is Found | First Things

“No more let sins and sorrows grow, / Nor thorns infest the ground; / He comes to make His blessings flow / Far as the curse is found, / Far as the curse is found.”Like many other carols, this rarely sung verse of “Joy to the World” leads us into the profound mystery of the Christmas feast. In the little child whose birth we celebrate, we gaze on the face of our champion in a struggle that could not be won without him. Listen to St. Leo the Great:

For unless [Christ] the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful humanity, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father’s substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan. (Epistle 31, 3; LH vol.1, 321)

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Today is Born a Savior. And here are some of His saving Gifts | Archdiocese of Washington

There is a Scripture reading proclaimed at the Christmas Liturgy that usually gets overlooked. And yet it should elicit considerable reflection since it is proclaimed at the Christmas Midnight Mass, one of the Church’s most prominent Liturgies. It is from the Letter to Titus in the Second Chapter. I would like to reproduce it in full and then give some commentary following.

The grace of God has appeared, saving all

and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires

and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,

as we await the blessed hope,

the appearance of the glory of our great God

and savior Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness

and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14

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How Rediscovering the “Plot” of Sacred Scripture is Essential to Evangelization | Archdiocese of Washington

One of the most significant losses in the modern era has been the loss of the Biblical narrative in the hearts and minds of most people. Scripture is the story of the human family, told by God himself. In story form He tells us how we were made and why, what happened why that things are the way they are today. Why do we have infinite longing in a finite world? Why do we struggle with sin so much? How can we be rescued from sin and death and find our hearts true satisfaction? The Biblical narrative answers these sorts of questions and more.

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Solzhenitsyn: The Courage to be a Christian – Truth and Charity Forum

In these dark days in which the power of secular fundamentalism appears to be on the rise and in which religious freedom seems to be imperiled, it is easy for Christians to become despondent. The clouds of radical relativism seem to obscure the light of objective truth and it can be difficult to discern any silver lining to help us illumine the future with hope.

In such gloomy times the example of the martyrs can be encouraging. Those who laid down their lives for Christ and His Church in worse times than ours are beacons of light, dispelling the darkness with their baptism of blood. “Upon such sacrifices,” King Lear tells his soon to be martyred daughter Cordelia, “The gods themselves throw incense.”

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Trading a Bowl of Pottage for Your Soul

In today’s world a bowl of pottage might be more likened to an Obama-phone, Obama-care, free contraceptives and welfare checks. However, one’s soul is ethereal and you cannot hold it in your hand or deposit it in the bank. So it seems a profitable trade for our 21st century neighbors as Esau’s dreadful decision did to him. I guess it’s the old bird in the hand vs. the two in the bush syndrome.

However, the world is a Godless place and I suppose to some extent it always was and always will be. The Church has had its ups and downs as well, being filled with zealous believers in one age and being bereft of any semblance of a vital and life-giving faith in another. Somehow, a remnant is always left to revitalize the faith in a future age and the Barque of Peter lumbers on, laden with the heavy burdens and baggage of many who have walked Her corridors; leaving their baggage of unrepentant sins and lost lives within Her holds – lives lived in complete disobedience of the faith but confident that they would be saved by their claim of having been physically onboard.

It doesn’t take much intellect to reason out the type of age we live in at present. The world is always in shambles but the Church too has had far better days and it will again in the future. It is the ancient cycle of sin, sorrow, despair, renewed faith, God’s Mercy, and redemption. Of course, followed by another fall and once more the cycle begins again. It has been going on for countless ages and the Old Testament is full of this ever repeating history of mankind.

I totally agree with Cardinal Ratzinger’s response which he made before becoming Pope. When asked about the health of the Church, he responded that it was just fine but that the number of people in the Church is much smaller than people think. It seems that we always have a “remnant” Church but in some times we have a larger remnant than in others. So in times like these we find far more individuals who would trade their souls for a bowl of pottage than at other more happy times.

What are some of the signs (in no particular order) that we might see in a Church that is more in tune to the world than to Her supernatural end?

This past Sunday I was treated to a honky-tonk piano medley as I approached the altar to receive the Bread of Life: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. If you can imagine the scene in an old western with a gent, usually sporting a pork pie hat and a pair of dealer sleeve bands, seen playing dance hall music, you have come very close to envisioning what we had to endure at Mass. It was like sashaying up to the bar in an old time saloon to get a shot of rye and a pickled pig’s foot. There was nothing spiritual about the experience but it doesn’t seem to bother those in attendance at all. That might be a sign.

Before the final blessing we were also treated by a bevy of parishioners who wanted to tell everyone present about their birthdays, their anniversaries and achievements to a resounding applause from all who were present. I thought we were at a political rally, giving thanks and tribute to our best contributors. Perhaps that was another sign.

How about the myriad of priests who make it sound like it is easy to get to heaven: we just need to be good to one another and keep doing what we are doing and all will be fine. It’s a very positive message and very uplifting to the crowds. However, that just doesn’t square with the teachings of the Church or the Bible. So where is the teachings and condemnation of sin that was a staple of Church teaching some 60 years ago? When was the last time they confronted people with the hard sins to speak of: contraception, homosexuality, masturbation, abortion and the like? Has a pastor ever condemned governments that enslave people through socialism, Marxism or communism and given the teachings of our Popes that refuted them? Silence from the pulpit, our diocesan bishops and the USCCB are almost deafening. As humorous as are the old ads in Oxford Review that spoke of Father Flapdoodle and his silly antics, we see these priests all over the place and they are, in my opinion, a sign of the times.

When was the last time the priest spoke to the congregation concerning our belief in transubstantiation? It is unfortunate that since the Second Vatican Council, which never mentions the word in any of the documents, only makes reference to Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in terms of the Real Presence. Now that doesn’t sound that bad does it? Unfortunately, in our ecumenical talks with other faiths we see that others, who do not believe in transubstantiation, also speak of belief in the Real Presence as well. Is this a point of agreement? Those who believe in trans-finalization, consubstantiation, trans-signification and the nebulous, “we think God is somehow present with us when we receive communion” also call it the Real Presence: but is it the same Real Presence we speak of? Are we clear when speaking to these people or are we only trying to make things look as if we have agreement when what we truly have is a disagreement on a defined doctrine of the faith? This might qualify as a sign as well.

How about the following:

  • Abortion
  • Contraception
  • Homosexual Marriage
  • Pre-marital Sex
  • Extra-marital Sex
  • Divorce
  • Euthanasia
  • Homosexual Adoptions

These are just a few of the ‘accepted norms’ or issues that will soon be accepted by a plurality of society. I think these are definitely a sign that society has already gone over the moral bankruptcy cliff.

There is not, I think much difference, to moral and fiscal bankruptcy: they each have very similar traits.

In fiscal bankruptcy, through greed and excesses in spending, we find ourselves in bankruptcy court and forced to abide by their advice and amend our spending habits. Often we must make an effort to repay our debts. So there is a way forward.

Now see how similar that is to our own moral bankruptcy. You first have to recognize that you are morally bankrupt though this is hard for anyone to believe of themselves. Their sins blind their eyes to right and wrong. Once recognized, we have ‘bankruptcy court’ called the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we can express our sorrow, receive forgiveness and seek a way to repay those whom we have wronged. We also have a way forward – thanks to God and the Sacraments of His Church.

Though we may be smug at the moment with our versions of Esau’s pottage, one may awake as did Esau to see that our entire inheritance has been squandered and that there is nothing left for us or our heritage. We have fiddled away while Rome was burning and are left bereft of our worldly goods. Sadly for those whose eyes were fixated upon the goods of this world, they stand a good chance, living in the midst of moral bankruptcy, of losing their eternal inheritance and birthright as well; the only gift that does not corrode over time. In my opinion, not such a good trade afterall.

Happy Holidays? Yeah, Right!

Editor’s Note: Each year around Christmastime we post a slightly updated version of the following personal Christmas reflection which offers an alternate custom to the celebration of the great Feast. I wrote it some years ago, and every year since I receive email from new visitors to this site gently chastising The Remnant for not posting it earlier in Advent so as to allow time for families to adopt as their own some of the customs herein suggested.

Over the years many Catholic families have adopted the old Christ Child tradition, believing it to be a beautiful means of restoring the true meaning of Christmas while strengthening Catholic identity in children. And it can be gradually implemented, of course.

Santa Claus (St. Nicholas), for example, can still be invited to visit the Catholic home on Christmas morning but in a dramatically reduced capacity, perhaps leaving a few stocking stuffers above the mantle and moving on.

As it was in Catholic homes throughout Christendom, Christmas must become all about the Christ Child once again. And a truly merry Christmas remains forever predicated on careful observance of Advent. No Christmas trees, no lights, no good things to eat until December 25, when the time of waiting comes to an end and all of Christendom rejoices at an event so magnificent even a two-year-old gets it. Christ is to be born—and the world, the flesh and the Devil will never change that reality, no matter how hard they try.

Happy Holidays? Yeah, right! It’s time to take Christmas back, and here’s one suggestion for how to do it, based on traditions as old as Christendom itself. MJM

Read this at Reclaiming Christ at Christmas