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.

RORATE CÆLI

How can we not think, in this context, of the task of a Bishop in our own time? The humility of faith, of sharing the faith of the Church of every age, will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom of those who cling to what seems certain. Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day. Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous. And this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking. The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves. “Those who fear the Lord will not be timid”, says the Book of Sirach (34:16). The fear of God frees us from the fear of men.  It liberates.

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The Catholic Carnival of Christmas | Daily News | NCRegister.com

Wikicommons

Ban reindeer, if you like. Abolish Santa Claus and Christmas trees. Keep your family wrapped in the starkest of Advent penances. Eradicate eggnog and candy, tinsel and presents, snowflakes and stockings. Exterminate the festival of it all, the nonsense of the season, if you must.

Lord knows, you have cause. Christmas has become, in the United States, the holiday — which is to say, the holy day — that dare not speak its name. We still have all the extraneous stuff that grew up around Christmas: the gift-giving and those awful Hallmark cards and the mistletoe and the holly. The Muzaked carols, for that matter. But the words of those carols seem to have become a problem for American culture, since — Joy to the world, the Lord is come! — they all too often contain information about the actual reason for the holiday. What is it, in these late modern times, that makes us see the glitter of the season while blinding ourselves to the gold that lies at its heart?

via The Catholic Carnival of Christmas | Daily News | NCRegister.com.

Barnhardt’s Lessons in Manliness

Posted by Ann Barnhardt – December 20, AD 2012 9:25 PM MST

I have been on pilgrimage to Rome since last Monday, but am back now, and mightily jetlagged. Obviously I kept it quiet because it isn’t wise to advertise that one’s home will be empty for ten days, even with the security system set on a hair trigger. Also, I was totally prepared to never make it out of Denver in the first place. I figured I had 50-50 odds of being on a no-fly list. But, no worries there. I have never been so happy upon being handed a boarding pass in my life.

As things are drawing toward some sort of conclusion, I decided that I had better get after whatever “bucket list” I could assemble. I realized that my bucket list had exactly one entry and that was to see Rome and the Vatican. So, I cashed in six years worth of business credit card points, booked the flights I wanted, got into exactly the hotel I wanted and conscripted the best docent in Rome, who also just happens to be a brilliant theologian, one of the best liturgists in the world, and desperately funny and charming, and luxuriated in the whole Roman vita bella for eight days whilst consulting with St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Simon, St. Jude, St. Matthias, St. Phillip, St. James, St. Jerome, St. Agnes and thousands more. If you’re going to bayonet charge Caesar, attach yourself to and implore the assistance of the victorious. Learn from the best.

I visited the church of Domine Quo Vadis – the very spot on the Appian Way where St. Peter met Our Lord and turned around and walked back into the city to be crucified by Nero. I prayed before St. Peter’s chains. I prayed at the tomb of St. Peter. And, yes, I experienced a wee bit of a miracle. I got to spend twenty minutes alone in the Sistine Chapel. I stood in front of the altar, looked up at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and prayed the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar:

Introibo ad altare Dei. Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
I will go in to the altar of God. To God, Who giveth joy to my youth.Judica me Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy; deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.

Quia tu es Deus fortitudo mea: quare me repulisti, et quare tristis incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
For Thou art, God, my strength; why hast Thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me?

Emitte lucem tuam, et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt, et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.
Send forth Thy light and Thy truth: they have conducted me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles.

Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
And I will go in to the altar of God: to God Who giveth joy to my youth.

Confitebor tibi in cithara Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es anima mea, et quare conturbas me?
To Thee, O God, my God, I will give praise upon the harp: why art thou sad, O my soul, and why dost thou disquiet me?

Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.
Hope in God, for I will still give praise to Him, the salvation of my countenance and my God.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritu Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

Sicut erat in principio et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Introibo ad altare Dei.
I will go in to the altar of God.

Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth.

Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Qui fecit coelum et terram.
Who made heaven and earth.

Wow. It’s almost as if the Tridentine Mass fosters and encourages … what’s the word … how would one describe it … ACTIVE PARTICIPATION. There isn’t much louder in this world than the whispers of God to man in a “dead” language.

I would invite the Internal Revenue Service to try and take those twenty minutes away from me. They can take your stuff, but they can never take memories or experiences. Remember that.

Anyway, to the point. I didn’t want to come back. I really, really, really didn’t want to come back. I could have stayed. I had a boatload of cash on me, and I suppose that I could have somehow disappeared into the city, gotten a menial job and been as happy as a clam. There is no future in any conventionally positive sense for me here in the Soon-to-be-Balkanized States of Neo-Stalinist Kardashianistan.

And yet, I sucked it up and got on the westbound plane, which was the second-hardest and most awful thing I have ever done. I cried and cried. It was that bad.

Why?

Because a man has to display POTENCY. It is one of the hallmarks of masculine strength and virtue.

But I’m not a man.

Well, no kidding. But I still have to act like one and set a good example, because if I don’t do it, no one else will.

Let’s talk about potency as a Christian virtue. The Latin root is potentia, meaning “power”. In contemporary terms, let’s define potency as “finishing what you start” or as “doing what you say you’re going to do”. The opposite of potency is impotency. And yes, because I’m all about clarity and making absolutely certain that as many people as possible understand me, I’m totally going there.

Impotency in this culture refers to the condition of a man who either cannot complete a sex act, or who cannot even begin the sex act. Erectile dysfunction. Pfizer and other drug companies make untold billions upon billions of dollars per year selling drugs that are supposed to cure or alleviate male physical impotency, and allow men to see their erections to completion, thus restoring potency in the physical, sexual sense.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the living, breathing definition of irony.

This culture is, without any doubt or question, the most impotent in all of human history. By orders of magnitude. While billions of dollars are being spent, and men pat themselves on the back for their ability to ejaculate, the sick, sad truth under the veneer, propped up by drugs and porn, is that men have no power and have long since surrendered their sovereignty. Men are incapable of finishing what they start, and their words have no meaning. It’s all talk and no consummation.

Yes, I’m talking to you.

Oh, so you paste a platitude about never surrendering to tyranny on the bottom of your emails, but have absolutely zero intention of following through on that? Welcome to impotency, Tiger. The fact that you could sexually service any animal, vegetable, mineral or sock of your choosing on ten seconds notice doesn’t make you a man. It makes you a beast with nominal plumbing. The coyotes that yip in the bluffs can screw. So can the mice and the snakes and the deer and the ravens. That doesn’t make them potent, nor does it have anything to do with potency. Only a man can have character. Only a man can apprehend principles and truth, and take his stand upon them. Only a man can issue forth his word, and see to it that his word returns to him consummated. A real man does what he says he is going to do. Our Lord, the Perfect Man, describes Himself in prophecy in the book of Isaiah:

And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall My Word be, which shall go forth from My mouth: it shall not return to Me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10-11

I came back to the black hole of nothingness, the futureless void, and certain ruin and likely incarceration, simply because I said that I would. I WILL finish what I have started. I saw a glimpse of a city and culture that I could have been happy in, and flew away at 0.85 Mach back into this Godforsaken mess because when you say you’re going to do something, you have to do it. That is potency. This is the standard of manliness set for us by Our Lord.

To spew platitudes SWEARING to fight to the death, and then to run and hide at exactly the moment that the enemy forces crest the hill and come into sight is the epitome of impotency. I have heard these empty platitudes and the endless phallus-waving rhetoric nonstop for my entire life, only now to be fully and finally revealed as the limp, flaccid, effete theatrics that they ever were, and I’ll be damned if I’m going down that pathetic road myself.

I’ll end with a quote sent to be by a new friend from Rome. This is from Louis Cardinal Pie and his Christmas homily of 1871. Cardinal Pie was a favorite of St. Pius X, and I’m sure you’ll see why here. Read this, in all of its eloquence, until you understand:

“Is not ours an age of mis-lived lives, of un-manned men?Why?

Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity wilts, the men wilt. Look closely, they are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus what do you hear on all sides today? The world is dwindling away, for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men. I do believe: there are no men where there is no character; there is no character where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands taken, no doctrines, no principles, where there is no religious faith and consequently no religion of society.

Do what you will: only from God you will get men.”

via Barnhardt.biz – Commodity Brokerage.

A Strange Thing Jesus Said to a Paralyzed Man – Another Insight from Pope Benedict’s New Book | Archdiocese of Washington

The Gospel from Monday the second week of Advent is the gospel of the paralyzed man who is lowered through the roof. It is presented to us in Advent because, among the many prophecies about the Messiah, would be that the lame would walk. But the Gospel also helps us to focus on Jesus’ central mission for us, and it is very provocatively expressed in this Gospel.

The Gospel passage contains a rather peculiar and somewhat awkward moment. Jesus looks at a paralyzed man and says to him, As for you, your sins are forgiven (Lk 5:20). What a strange thing to say to a paralyzed man.

The Pharisees and scribes of course are all worked up for other reasons, but their reason is not ours, we know that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins. Let us stay focused on the strange thing to say to a paralyzed man, your sins are forgiven you.

One of us modern folk might be tempted to tap Jesus on the shoulder and say, “Ah excuse me, Lord, this man is paralyzed, his problem is paralysis, that’s what he needs healing for.”

Of course Jesus is not blind or unintelligent, knows this. But looking at a paralyzed man he does not see the paralysis as his most serious problem. The man has a far more serious problem, his sin.

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Principles for Preparation – A Reflection on the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent | Archdiocese of Washington

But who may abide the day of his coming and who shall stand when he appeareth? And this is the cry that goes up from the final pages of the Old Testament (Mal 3:2). And the Lord himself gives the answer:

See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; lest I come and strike the land with doom! (Mal 4:5-6)

And thus with these words the Old Testament ends.

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Beyond Creation | Archdiocese of Washington

No sooner had God led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt and slavery, did they forsake Him and pursue idols. Moses told the people to prepare themselves to worship the Lord, and he himself went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, the people pestered Aaron the high priest and had him melt down their gold and form it into a golden calf.

Aaron proclaimed to the people, “Tomorrow is a feast of the Lord!” (Ex 32:5). And they proclaimed, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (Ex 32:4).

The God who created them and liberated them was hardly enough for them. They also wanted a God they could control. They rejected Him, and refashioned Him in their own image and likeness.

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What is the Solution to our Stressful and Anxious Lives? Go to the Center. | Archdiocese of Washington

In yesterday’s Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent, the Lord described a kind of self-destructive cycle that assails us and then proposed a solution. In this post there is an attempt to focus in a bit more on the solution proposed by the Lord.

But to review the problem, the self destructive cycle recall this text from yesterday’s Gospel:

Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. (Luke 21:34-35)

To describe the cycle of the problem in more modern terms:

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Is He your King? Really? A Meditation on the Gospel of Christ the King

what-is-truth

On the feast of Christ the King, we are called to acknowledge that Jesus is, in fact our King. It is one thing to say that he is our King because the song in Church we sang said that, or the preacher said that, or the Bible says that. Yes, faith does come by hearing. But there also comes a moment when WE must say that Jesus is our King. When we must personally affirm what the Church has always announced: “Jesus is Lord, and he is King, he is my king. He has authority in my life.”And this must become more than lip service. It must become a daily, increasing reality in our life.

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How to Give Adequate Thanks to God. A Meditation on Thanksgiving Day | Archdiocese of Washington

On this feast of Thanksgiving (here in America) we do well to ponder how we ought to give thanks to God. Indeed, how can one adequately thank God who is the giver of every good and perfect gift? Is it really enough to simply kneel and say a prayer of thanks? Perhaps we should run to Church and light a candle, or visit some distant shrine? Perhaps even doing the “Snoopy dance” as we say over and over, Thank you thank you thank you” ?!

But none of these acts of thanksgiving would prove adequate. God has been too good, has done too much, and is, after all, God.

Indeed, a great question went up in the Old Testament regarding this very problem of adequately thanking God. It occurs in Psalm 116 wherein the psalmist plaintively asks

“What return can I ever make to the Lord for all the good he is done for me?” (Psalm 116:12)

To that point the Jewish people had been accustomed to killing thousands of animals every day and burning them up in the Temple in order to give thanks, and to atone for sin. But the blood of animals cannot atone for sin and neither can slaying even many thousands of them really give adequate thanks to God.

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