The Blessed Virgin Mary

It is a perpetual wonder to me that this day manages to pass by unnoticed year after year – suffering pretty much the same fate as the instruction to bow during the Creed when we come to the Good News that Jesus was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man (I can’t bow! – what if somebody saw me and thought I was Catholic?? I’ll pretend I just didn’t see the red writing). Today is the day on which Christians are called to contemplate two HUGE items of news: the Blessed Virgin’s fiat, and the subsequent Incarnation of the Son of God. Kind of BIG, no matter how you look at it. Mary said “Yes,” and God sent His only begotten Son.


I think it must be because this day falls smack-dab in the middle of Lent. I don’t know about you, but my mind at this time of year runs far more easily along the lines of “Jesus meets His mother on the way to Calvary” than “the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” It’s as if we’re attempting to commemorate two very different events in the life of Christ, and our minds just can’t reconcile them, so we let the one slide. After all, Christmas is over….


The celebration of Christmas is indeed over. The celebration of the Incarnation, however, is perpetual, because the theology of the Incarnation is the underpinning of Christianity. No matter what event in the life of Christ Christians happen to be celebrating at the moment, they are celebrating the fact that God became man (wonder of wonders!) so that man could become a part of the body of the second Person of the Trinity (again, wonder of wonders!).


First, to the proposal: the Angelus helps us to digest Mary’s fiat point by point:


The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.


Read those words to yourself, slowly. Reflect on each passage – this is important! Catholics dwell on this miracle of the Incarnation all year round; we announce it to the world every Sunday when we profess that “for us men and for our salvation He came down from Heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became Man.” The Incarnation is literally the fount of our salvation, for had God not sent His only Son in the flesh, that Son could not have died to redeem us. Mary’s “yes” was the word that made possible the deepest desire of God’s heart. Her humility and her willingness to embrace God’s desire rather than her own brought Jesus to the world. The rest is His-story.


And that matters tremendously for a second reason, not just at Christmas, not just at Easter, not just on the day that we celebrate the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but every second of every single day of our short lives, for each second brings with it a new annunciation: the annunciation of God’s holy will to us. And each time we give our “yes” to God’s will, we bring the Lord into the world. Although your be-it-done-unto-me’s may not make history as Mary’s did, they will all have eternal repercussions.


Say yes.


Don’t neglect to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation today. Don’t neglect to celebrate it tomorrow, either. Celebrate every day the wonder of all wonders, that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and that He continues to dwell among us as His Body continues to say “yes” to God.


Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.



On the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord


Deo omnis gloria!

From time to time I try to write about the truths of the Faith shared by Catholics and Protestants, the many doctrines on which we find ourselves in glorious agreement.

This is not one of those times. But, dang it, it should be!

The subject of controversy in this case is the Catholic appellation for Mary: “the Mother of God.” We Catholics are so keen on this title that we have actually dedicated the first day of every calendar year to Mary under this name, not surprising, since Catholic theology teaches that all of Mary’s prerogatives stem from this divine maternity of hers. According to the Catholic Church:

Called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus’, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as ‘the mother of my Lord ‘. [Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.] In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos).” [cf Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.] CCC 495

Compare and contrast that explanation of Mary as “God-bearer” (Theotokos) with two pretty standard-issue criticisms made by anti-Catholics:

Criticism #1: Catholics worship Mary, claiming that she has “divine maternity” (“Dogmatic Constitution…,” 1964, 8.3).

Criticism #2: There is not a single verse in the Bible that describes Mary as the ‘Mother of God.’ In fact, none of the inspired writers of either the Old or New Testament gave even a hint that she should be regarded as such.

Seems like no matter how many times Catholics reiterate that we do NOT worship anybody but God, that old canard keeps refluxing, the “Big Lie” which people will believe when they might be skeptical of smaller ones; repeated frequently enough, it becomes “common knowledge.” This particular quote purports to give proof of this iniquity from a Catholic source, the “Dogmatic Constitution” (they mean the document known as “Lumen Gentium“). I can guarantee you, dear reader, the folks who spew this goo are counting on the fact that the average reader isn’t going to actually read Lumen Gentium, because Lumen Gentium explains the opposite of what they are claiming. So, lest we be counted as average, let’s read a bit of it for ourselves. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) 8:3 informs us:

This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.

For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer. Just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to 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.

The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary.

There’s more, but before we continue please note that in Catholic parlance the word “cult” means “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure,” and not “a suspicious group of weirdos trying to brainwash your children and bilk them out of their money.”

Lumen Gentium 8:4 gives us this to understand:

Placed by the grace of God, as God’s Mother, next to her Son, and exalted above all angels and men, Mary intervened in the mysteries of Christ and is justly honored by a special cult in the Church. Clearly from earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, under whose protection the faithful took refuge in all their dangers and necessities. Hence after the Synod of Ephesus the cult of the people of God toward Mary wonderfully increased in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: “All generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things to me”. This cult, as it always existed, although it is altogether singular, differs essentially
from the cult of adoration which is offered to the Incarnate Word, as well to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and it is most favorable to it.
The various forms of piety toward the Mother of God, which the Church within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine, according to the conditions of time and place, and the nature and ingenuity of the faithful has approved, bring it about that while the Mother is honored, the Son, through whom all things have their being and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, is rightly known, loved and glorified and that all His commands are observed.

See the part about worshipping Mary? Of course not – WE DON’T. Never have. That’s something that those who have a vested interest in scaring you away from Catholicism won’t tell you. She’s not God, she’s not a goddess, she isn’t even a godlet. There’s no “fine line” here – there is a vast chasm between worshipping and adoring the Eternal Creator of all things, and honoring and loving the Blessed Virgin above all other creatures. We venerate Mary, something which is essentially different from worshipping her, because we are well aware that while she is the Mother of God, she is not God. To worship her would be to break the First Commandment. How can the statement “… no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer” ever be reconciled with the assertion that “Catholics worship Mary”?

Yet that’s the entire basis for the fear-mongering that goes on whenever Mary is addressed by this title – the hysterical insistence that if Catholics refer to Mary as the Mother of God, they must be worshipping her! The people who insist this despite all evidence to the contrary feel that they are boldly defending their version of Christianity against Catholic error. A 4th-century Catholic bishop, St. Gregory Nazianzen, claimed however that anyone who denied Mary the title “Mother of God” wasn’t opposing the Catholic Church, but rather “If anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead.”

NOT something you want to be at odds with! But how does denying Mary’s divine maternity put you “at odds with the Godhead”?

I’m so glad you asked, because this is the reason that Protestants and Catholics should all be in agreement on this point.

The Catholic Church has always maintained that while the Scriptures are “God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” they are not necessarily easy to understand. Christians spent the first few centuries arguing over how best to understand who and what Jesus really is. Early on, some folks misunderstood Jesus’ humanity, claiming that He was God, but that He wasn’t really a man – He only appeared to have a body (the heresy of Docetism). Others veered off to the opposite conclusion, claiming that while of course Jesus was a real man with a real body, He wasn’t really God (the heresy of Arianism). Jesus was God’s greatest creation, they said, not a Divine Person, not consubstantial with the Father. Arians took the Bible verses which appear to call into question Jesus’ divinity (like John 17:3, John 20:17, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Philippians 2:5-7, 2 John 1:3 and Revelation 7:10) as their starting point, and then built a theology which forced them to tweak the Scriptural evidence for His divinity (Matthew 9:2, John 1:1, John 20:28, Colossians 2:9, 2 Peter 1:1) to make it mesh with what they thought the Bible was really trying to say about Jesus. After all, Jesus Himself never said, in so many words, that He was God.  Yet despite this, Christians firmly believe that He is God (after all, St. Thomas cried out to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ and Jesus accepted his words without rebuking him). Thus St. Ignatius, a Catholic bishop in 2nd-century Syria, referred to Jesus as “God” over and over again in his writings. When the concept of Jesus’ divinity was challenged in the 4th century, the Church came out with a definitive statement to that effect: “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.” All that fuss really wouldn’t have been necessary if Holy Scripture stated unequivocally that Jesus is God. Anti-Trinitarians see this doctrine of the divinity of Christ as a late invention and claim that it’s a perversion of the obvious meaning of Scripture. The 4th-century Council of Nicaea was forced to issue their statement to protect the deposit of faith written and unwritten. Catholics and Protestants of the 21st century join forces in proclaiming this truth of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Yet Protestants balk when confronted with similar difficulties surrounding the doctrine of Mary’s divine maternity. Never in Scripture is Mary referred to, in so many words, as the “Mother of God” (which is partially attributable to the fact that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus call Himself “God.”) Yet, Mary is the Mother of God precisely because her Son, Jesus, is God. St. Irenaeus, a Catholic bishop in 2nd-century France, referred to Jesus’ conception thus: “… so did the latter [the Virgin Mary], by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should bear God, being obedient to his word.” The doctrine of the Theotokos was solemnly defined in circumstances similar to the solemn definition of the divinity of Jesus. The 5th-century Council of Ephesus felt compelled to issue a definitive statement defending this truth: “If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the Word of God become flesh by birth), let him be anathema.” Many Protestants decry this doctrine as a late invention and a perversion of the obvious meaning of Scripture. On the contrary – it is a defense of the hypostatic union of Jesus’ two natures, under attack by 5th-century heretics called Nestorians who claimed that the human person and the Divine Person of Christ are separate, and insisting that Mary be referred to as the Mother of Christ, as she was the mother of His human nature only. The Church, however, teaches that Jesus possesses two natures united in one Person, meaning that Mary must properly be referred to as the Mother of God, as summarized in the Creed of Ephesus:

Before the worlds begotten of the Father according to the Godhead, but in the last days and for our salvation of the Virgin Mary according to the Manhood; consubstantial with the Father in the Godhead, consubstantial with us in the Manhood; for a union of two natures took place, wherefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to the understanding of this unconfused union, we confess the Blessed Virgin to be Theotokos, because the Word of God was incarnate and made man, and through her conception united to Himself the temple He received from her. And we are aware that the words of the Gospels, and of the Apostles, concerning the Lord are, by theologians, looked upon some as applying in common [to the two natures] as belonging to the one Person; others as attributed to one of the two natures; and that they tell us by tradition that some are of divine import, to suit the Divinity of Christ, others of humble nature belonging to His humanity.

When the Scriptures do not speak absolutely plainly concerning the divinity of Christ, the Church insists that He is consubstantial with the Father, and when the Scriptures do not speak absolutely plainly concerning the two natures of Christ united in one Person, the Church insists that there is “one Christ, one Son, one Lord” and insists that therefore the Blessed Virgin bore God. The doctrine of Mary as the Mother of God does not glorify Mary – it glorifies Jesus and defends the doctrines of His humanity, His divinity and the hypostatic union of those two natures, something every Christian in Heaven and on earth should be eager to defend. Attacking the divine maternity is aiding and abetting the enemies of the Faith, putting one “at odds with the Godhead” as Gregory Nazianzen warned. Asserting Mary’s divine maternity is not the same as asserting that she is God – it’s asserting that HE is God, and she’s His mother. That’s something that Catholics and Protestants can surely agree upon.

Because the second ‘criticism’ proves to be as bogus as the first: “There is not a single verse in the Bible that describes Mary as the ‘Mother of God.’ In fact, none of the inspired writers of either the Old or New Testament gave even a hint that she should be regarded as such.”

Aww, come on! Not even a hint?

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” Mt 1:23

The Virgin shall bear God.


On the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Deo omnis gloria!

Back in my Baptist days I attended the church which was home to the lyricist of the popular modern-day Christmas song, “Mary, Did You Know?” The words to the song were penned in 1984; it wasn’t until 12 years later that music was added to create the song that we know today. “Mary, Did You Know?” is now as much a staple of the Advent season as “Deck the Halls” and “What Child is This,” although a tad more controversial, at least in Catholic circles. You see, many Catholics have an objection to the words of this Evangelical carol, pointing out that the Evangelical Protestant concept of Mary and the Catholic understanding of the Blessed Virgin are two very, very different things.

The song poses a series of questions concerning Mary’s “fiat” – her “yes” or “amen” to the message of the angel. Some of the questions are quite innocuous: Mary, did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man? Not really controversy-provoking ponderings – unless you believe that the Almighty rendered Mary psychic, no, she didn’t know. Other questions, however, rub Catholic theology the wrong way: Mary, did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you!

Let’s parse that. Catholics and Protestants alike agree that Mary was saved by Jesus. After all, she declares plainly in her Magnificat that her spirit rejoices in God, her Savior. But while Evangelicals believe that Mary was simply a random woman (a “dirty, rotten sinner” as one rather rabid Protestant website puts it) chosen by God to bring His Son into the world, Catholic theology teaches that Mary was preserved from sin in anticipation of her Son’s redemptive work.

Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life. CCC 411

The lyrics to “Mary, Did You Know?” claim that Her Son Whom she delivered would one day deliver her – Catholics would certainly not dispute the fact that Mary was “delivered” by her Son, but we would have to argue with the timeline!

Another Catholic quibble with the song is that because Mary, at the moment of her Immaculate Conception, was endowed with the same gifts that Adam and Eve possessed before the Fall, she would have had “infused knowledge,” meaning that she would indeed have understood the ramifications of the Incarnation. If this is correct, then the answer to many of the questions posed by “Mary, Did You Know?” would be an unqualified “Yes!” She did indeed know that her Baby Boy was the Lord of all creation, that the Child Whom she was agreeing to bear would one day suffer and die for the sins of the world, whereas the Protestant answer to those questions posed in the song would be “Of course she didn’t know! The angel told her that she was bringing the ‘son of the Most High’ into the world, but like every other Jew of that day, Mary thought the Messiah would be an earthly ruler who would set up the continuation of King David’s rule.” The Protestant take on Mary’s fiat is that God roped some woman (a godly woman, most likely, but nobody special) in off the street who then cluelessly agreed to bear God Incarnate, with no concept of the world of suffering she was getting herself into. She certainly didn’t “know,” Protestants will tell you, but as a sinner she often stubbornly said “NO!” to God – just (fortunately) not at the pivotal moment of the Annunciation.

Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Mary in her fiat said yes to everything – to the Incarnation, to the Virgin Birth, to the flight into Egypt, to the loss and finding of Jesus in the Temple, to the betrayal in the Garden, to the scourging, to the Crucifixion. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Mary knew all the details beforehand – while she may have possessed infused knowledge, she wasn’t clairvoyant. She wouldn’t have known when she gave her fiat, for example, which specific miracles her Son would perform. Yet Mary said yes to everything, we Catholics believe, because Mary always said yes to everything God proposed. His Will was her will. The Blessed Virgin, preserved from all stain of sin, lived in perfect conformity to the will of God. All the promises of God are “Yes!” in Jesus Christ, and so through Him, her Deliverer, the “be it done unto me according to thy word” was spoken by His Blessed Mother at every moment of her life, as well as at this incredible juncture in history in particular.

And this isn’t just arcane theological knowledge to be filed away in anticipation of your upcoming appearance on the American Bible Challenge. The import of St. Paul’s “amen” passage in 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 should make it clear to you that at each and every moment of your life the “annunciation” is taking place all over again. At every moment God is announcing His Holy Will to you – nothing so grand as the angelic messenger and the fulfillment of prophecy, yet an annunciation all the same. In your life, the messengers generally look more like a pink slip, a child vomiting in the night, an acceptance into grad school, a neighbor who’s learned that she is developing dementia, an opportunity to move overseas, a friend asking if you’ve ever considered religious life. Your annunciation may come through answered prayer, or even more often through unanswered prayer. When we experience these annunciations of God’s will, what we “know” isn’t the question; the important thing is that we do not “NO!” We are not clairvoyant; we have no way of knowing which of our fiats may be the one which changes the world. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, because each and every time a follower of God Incarnate participates in His “Yes,” the world is changed….

Which is why, going back to that song, we need to modify those lyrics slightly – the question asked of us is “Sherry, did you no?” “Gary, did you no?” “Larry, did you no?” “Carrie, did you no?” because each moment of our lives is our own personal annunciation. Did we know? Heck, no – but by the grace of God may our response to Him always be “Yes!”

“Renée, did you know?” No, of course I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for when I said “Yes” to Him. It was a blind trust, yet not a foolish one. It was in imitation of my Blessed Mother; it was a participation in the life of Him Who is the Great Amen to the design of God the Father. It cost me, which made it all the more precious. And because I said “Yes,” I have in my own obscure life done what my Blessed Mother did illuminated by the floodlights of history – I have brought Jesus into the world.

And you have, too. And on that note, a joyous Christmas to all you who have joined the Blessed Virgin in her fiat, her “Yes” to God.


On the memorial of St. Peter Canisius

Deo omnis gloria!

For the past 20-some years now, I have been a citizen of “Y’all” land, a world in which my habitual expression of the second person plural, “you guys,” sticks out like a sore Northern accent. “Hey” is the standard greeting here; I usually say “hi.” I once had an entire misadventure with a frustrated gentleman who asked me to get him a “pin” – he finally got what he wanted from a native Virginian who knew that the man was actually requesting what I tend to think of as a “pen.” The preposition “on” is, in this part of the world, a two-syllable endeavor (sounds like “owen”), and the hospitable folks of central Virginia will ask if you wouldn’t like to come over to “err house” rather than “our house.” Neither my children (my son was born here) nor I have succumbed to the charms of the local dialect, although my daughter had a close call in her childhood. I said something to her one day about Moses and his arch-nemesis, Pharaoh. She seemed not to know what I was talking about, and yet I knew that she had recently had a lesson at her Baptist Sunday School on this subject. I asked again, and the light dawned. “Oh!” she responded to her know-nothing parent: “You mean FAY-row!”

Central Virginia is about an hour and a half from the North Carolina border, where the southern accent thickens and congeals. One of my workmates hails from Johnston County, and she was telling us the story of her family, a rather sad tale of a bipolar, alcoholic father and a mother who fought determinedly to keep the family from going under. As my friend’s North Carolina drawl assured us, “Mama wattn’t skeered a’nuthin.”

I remember Karol Wojtyla, Blessed John Paul II, being described in similar terms: he was fearless. He insisted that we take to heart the words “Be not afraid!” – and proceeded to live by those words himself. He took on the Communist regime in his homeland – and it was the communists who backed down. He survived several assassination attempts, and kept coming back for more. He did not shy away from proclaiming to the world the truth of the nuptial meaning of the body, though the world rejected this teaching, or worse, ignored it. He faced his Parkinson’s disease with characteristic resolve, and taught all of us, his spiritual children, how to die with faith, hope and love ablaze in our hearts. What do you suppose the secret to the Pope’s fearlessness could have been?

I think he took after his Mother.

Remember, John Paul II was the “totus tuus” pope – “all yours,” the “yours” meaning Mary’s. Being “full of grace,” there is no room for fear in her heart, as many depictions of her attempt to convey. Some speculate that the first New World Marian apparition was actually called “Our Lady of Coatlaxopeuh” (pronounced something like “Guadalupe”), pointing out that this means in the Aztec language “She who crushes the head of the serpent.” Wow. We have copperheads in central Virginia, and I’m here to tell you, there’s no way I’m attempting to tangle with them. I’m afraid of them.

She’s not.

And she tells us, as she told poor, frightened Juan Diego, not to be afraid, either:

Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more?

Listen at her! as they say around here. Could any words bring more comfort in times of stress? Jesus gave this woman to us as our Mother, the woman who took to heart the angel’s command, “Fear not!” As children of the Father, we are under her shadow and protection. We can rely on our Mother to beat the tar out of whatever’s trying to harm us.

Great day in the morning!

Thus trusting children of Mary, like her son Blessed John Paul II, can live lives remarkable not just for their goodness, but for their heroic virtue. The Virgin trusted God her Savior, and that trust begat courage. Our Mother passes that inheritance of fearlessness down to us.

Mama wattn’t skeered a’nuthin.

Neither should her children be.


On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Deo omnis gloria!

A huge misconception exists concerning how the Holy Catholic Church comes up with its dogma. This is not surprising – the world has its own way of deciding “dogma,” and the world assumes that it uses the only method known to man. The world’s dogmas are decided by popular opinion – witness the 21st-century popular dogma which mandates that a person should be allowed to “marry” whomever he or she feels attracted to, with the expectation that “good-hearted” people will not put roadblocks on the path to said “marriage.” As more and more people have come to embrace this belief, it has been accepted as “dogma,” and no one is allowed to contradict it. The media have taken up the cause, and now routinely paint anyone who refuses to accept the new definition of marriage as a scum-sucking heretic. The world’s dogmas, of course, blow in the wind – 100 years ago this startling proposal that we 21st-century denizens are now required to believe on pain of ostracism would have run afoul of the sodomy laws. But, things change. Who knows what we will be required to believe tomorrow?

The world views Catholic dogma in the same light, assuming that the Church makes up Christianity as it goes along, assuming that dogma is somehow rooted in popular opinion (which is why so many look to Pope Francis to change the teaching of the Church, seeing as how so many Catholics nowadays find Church teaching on the male-only priesthood, contraception and abortion outmoded.) When the Church proudly points to the “consensus of the Fathers” on issues such as the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, the world hears “passed into law by majority vote.” In other words, the world assumes that the Church proclaims the Real Presence of Christ as dogma BECAUSE the overwhelming majority of the Church Fathers supported that doctrine. It then follows that if a majority of Catholics lobby for same-sex marriage, the Vatican will cave. The Church’s actual position, of course, is that the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist is TRUE; the fact that we have mountains of evidence from the first centuries of the Christian era that the doctrine was held by everyone everywhere does not make it any truer than it already is. That so many Fathers bear witness to the truth of the dogma is simply icing on the cake, providing a convenient argument in favor of the belief, but in no way affecting the truth one way or the other.

This is an important point to bear in mind when discussing dogma. There are people who actually believe that the issue of the divinity of Christ was decided by a show of hands. Had the vote at the Council of Nicaea gone the other way, they will tell you, Christians would be fervent Arians, espousing the belief that the Father is God, and Jesus is His son – but not divine. It was just sort of the luck of the draw, a toss of the dice that led Christianity to embrace Trinitarianism. The vote could just as easily have gone the other way….

Protestants will disagree with this assessment (good for them!), but for the wrong reasons (sigh). The Protestant response to this line of thinking seeks to point the skeptic back to the only authority Protestants recognize on this earth, Holy Scripture, insisting that the bishops at Nicaea were simply declaring the plain message of the Bible when they affirmed the divinity of Christ. The Bible, they will tell you, states unequivocally that Jesus is God. Just read through the Bible, they will tell you, and you will find verses such as:

Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. Jn 17:3

I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Jn 20:17

But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. 1 Cor 8:6

Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. 2 Jn 1:3

Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.   Rev 7:10

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Phil 2:5-7

Wait!! Protestants will tell you – not THOSE verses. THOSE verses make it sound as if Jesus ISN’T God!!

Exactly. The Arians weren’t total idiots, and they didn’t invent their heresy out of thin air. There are many verses in the Scriptures which might lead someone to conclude that Jesus isn’t God. There are also many verses that appear to make the case that He is God. Protestants, clinging to their “sola Scriptura” error, are pretty much bound to believe that the bishops simply affirmed the clear teaching of Scripture. The problem is, the teaching of Scripture wasn’t clearthat’s how the Arian heresy got started! And since the teaching of Scripture wasn’t clear, the authoritative Church declared infallibly that the teaching of Arius deviated from the deposit of truth.

That’s something that Protestants won’t hear of, yet we see the same thing happening at the Council of Jerusalem nearly 300 years earlier. The “Judaizers” were insisting that Gentile converts must be circumcised. The controversy was decided by the apostles in council. Good luck coming up with the Bible verses that those apostles supposedly used in deciding the question: the clear teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures (the only Scriptures available at that point in time) was that Gentile converts must be circumcised. The Council, however, announced simply that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” to proclaim that circumcision was no longer necessary. A sola Scriptura-based decision? Exactly the opposite! Were the apostles right in their decision? Absolutely! How do we know this?

The Church is indefectible.

Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” By this we understand that God will not allow the Church to formally teach error. Were the Church to dogmatize falsehood, the Father of Lies would have prevailed – it’s as simple as that. Jesus promised that this would never happen. Jesus will never leave His Church (Mt 28:20), and His Church will never leave Him by formally teaching error. He Who is faithful has promised this.

The Church Fathers never proposed that anyone take an opinion poll, formal or informal, on the doctrine of the deity of Christ or on any other issue. Rather, they suggested:

Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the churches? St. Irenaeus of Lyons, c. 180 A.D.

According to Irenaeus, the bishops (AKA “those to whom [the apostles] did commit the churches”) can instruct us in following “the course of the tradition which [the apostles] handed down.” Tradition? Remember the advice St. Paul gave to the Thessalonians:

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. 2 Thess 2:15

St. Paul did not leave instructions behind only in written form, and neither did the other apostles. Many of the apostles penned no Scripture, and yet spent years verbally instructing those they chose to lead the churches they established. The churches were to follow not only the written commands of the apostles, but their verbal instruction, known as the ‘good deposit,’ as well. We see this reflected in the advice St. Paul gives to St. Timothy, the bishop of Ephesus:

By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Tim 1:14

Clinging to the ‘good deposit’ means, among other things, being instructed in how to understand the written word of God. When “there should arise a dispute relative to some important question” as St. Irenaeus put it, the bishops meet in council just as the apostles met in the Council of Jerusalem. Their decisions are guided by Holy Tradition and “by the Holy Spirit” – the same Spirit Who guided the decision of the apostles at the Council of Jerusalem when they proclaimed not “The Bible says!” but rather “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” This is not to suggest that the apostles at the Council of Jerusalem or the bishops at the Council of Nicaea were adding new “truths” to the faith revealed to them by Jesus Christ, not at all – they were condemning opinions that strayed from that truth, namely, the heretical notion that baptism does not save us (contrary to 1 Pet 3:21) and the idea that Jesus was a creature (ignoring Jn 20:28). Dogmatic definitions, such as the one pronounced at the Council of Jerusalem, in no wise add to the deposit of faith; they merely affirm the deposit that was originally given to the Church to believe. Therefore, Catholics believe that Gentile converts do not need to be circumcised, and that Jesus is God and is truly physically present in the Holy Eucharist because we believe that the bishops, in union with the bishop of Rome, have been granted the grace of being able to declare doctrinal truth infallibly so that they may proclaim this truth to the world in the name of Jesus Christ upon Whose promises all of this rests.

This is an important point to make to your Protestant friends who find the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception “unbiblical” and who just can’t wait to point out to you that there were certain Church Fathers who believed that Mary had sinned. Not that those Protestants give a flying Fig Newton what the Church Fathers believe – they just think that Catholics determine their theology by tallying up the Fathers, and they’re sure they’ve got you on this one!

Of course there is biblical evidence of Mary’s sinlessness, most especially the theme of Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant so beloved among the Church Fathers:

The ark is verily the holy Virgin, gilded within and without, who received the treasure of universal sanctification. Arise, O Lord, from the Father’s bosom, to raise up again the ruined race of our first parent. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus

As Christ our priest was not chosen by hand of man, so neither was His tabernacle framed by men, but was established by the Holy Ghost; and by the power of God is that tabernacle protected, to be had in everlasting remembrance, Mary, God’s Virgin Mother. St. Dionysus of Alexandria

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 (Ark of the) 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. St. Athanasius of Alexandria

The prophet David danced before the Ark. Now what else should we say the Ark was but holy Mary? The Ark bore within it the tables of the Testament, but Mary bore the Heir of the same Testament itself. The former contained in it the Law, the latter the Gospel. The one had the voice of God, the other His Word. The Ark, indeed, was radiant within and without with the glitter of gold, but holy Mary shone within and without with the splendor of virginity. The one was adorned with earthly gold, the other with heavenly. St. Ambrose of Milan

Many Fathers wrote specifically concerning the sinlessness of Mary:

Mary was a worthy dwelling for Christ, not because of the qualities of her body, but because of her original grace. St. Maximus of Turin

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. St. Ambrose of Milan

Having excepted the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, on account of the honor of the Lord, I wish to have absolutely no question when treating of sins—for how do we know what abundance of grace for the total overcoming of sin was conferred upon her, who merited to conceive and bear him in whom there was no sin? St. Augustine of Hippo

O admirable womb of Anne, in which developed and formed little by little an infant all-holy! St. John Damascene

My Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all-inviolate . . . spotless robe of Him who clothes himself with light as with a garment . . . flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate! St. Ephraem the Syrian

Yet some Fathers, notably Sts. Basil and Chrysostom, were of the opinion that Mary sinned (not as many Fathers as online sources would like you to believe – some Fathers disputed the possibility of her immaculate conception, yet believed that she was sanctified after conception while still in the womb, and led a sinless life). Still, we can state that “The Catholic Church, directed by the Holy Spirit of God, is the pillar and base of truth and has ever held as divinely revealed and as contained in the deposit of heavenly revelation this doctrine concerning the original innocence of the august Virgin — a doctrine which is so perfectly in harmony with her wonderful sanctity and preeminent dignity as Mother of God — and thus has never ceased to explain, to teach and to foster this doctrine age after age in many ways and by solemn acts,” (Ineffabilis Deus) in exactly the same manner that the faithful bishops at the Council of Nicaea insisted that the divinity of Christ was believed from the beginning – despite the fact that the bishops deceived by Arius claimed otherwise! The scriptural references to the sinlessness of Mary can be overlooked or discounted – just as the Arians overlooked and discounted the biblical evidence for Christ’s divinity. Other Bible verses can be misunderstood and misused to make the claim that Mary did in fact sin – just as the Arians misunderstood and misused verses to make the claim that there is no such thing as the Holy Trinity. Discount the one dogma, and you must explain why you do not discount the other. Accept the one, and you have only subjective grounds for refusing to accept the other. The Holy Catholic Church infallibly proclaims both dogmas with the help of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ Who is with her always.

And so, we Catholics confess that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” This is “a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful,” just as is the dogma of the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. A dogma, of course, is either true or false. It is not true simply because I believe it. It is not false because I cannot muster up the faith to believe it. The Church, the very pillar and foundation of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15), proclaims these Truths to the world. Believe them, or don’t.

The Truth remains.


On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Deo omnis gloria!

When I was a Protestant looking into Catholicism, Carl J. Sommer’s enthralling history of early Christianity, We Look for a Kingdom, really made an impression on me. Sommer discusses many distinctives of the early Christian community such as evangelism (so different from the way my Evangelical church portrayed evangelism in the early church), baptism, prayer, Holy Communion, the hierarchy, synods and ecumenical councils, and the practice of charity which so confounded the pagan society of that era. One passage which really stuck with me came in the final chapter, where Sommer discussed the importance of “witness” in the preaching of the Gospel.

Imagine what must have happened the first time a Christian missionary moved into a pagan community that had not heard of Christ before. The missionary would have explained that Jesus lived in Galilee, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and … rose again from the dead.” His pagan audience would not have been surprised by the story in general, but the specifics would have intrigued them. These events occurred in recent history – when Augustus was emperor and Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea. Who could say when Isis died and came back to life, or when Mithras slayed the bull? But the Christians claimed there were eyewitnesses who saw Jesus dead, then saw him alive again, eating fish just like anyone else.

…The chain of witnesses began with those who had personally seen the risen Christ. We see the beginning of this passing on of the tradition in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. In this passage, Paul was careful to indicate the names of as many eyewitnesses as possible.

The one thing paganism could not claim was eyewitnesses. No one could name anyone who was present when Athena was born. In this sense, there was a certain amount of willful playacting involved in pagan religiosity. But Christianity always had its feet firmly planted on the ground. The claims of the eyewitnesses insured that the Christians mingled this worldly reality with their theological speculations.

…The ancient world was full of mythmakers, half-poet and half-philosopher, who could make up charming, moving stories that would become the foundation of new religions. The apostles and their successors were not of that ilk. They refused to make up new stories about Christ. When the Gnostics, the Valentinians, and others tried to do so, it was the apostolic authority of the bishops that prevented Christianity from degenerating into another Greco-Roman cult.

St. Paul’s insistence on the existence of numerous witnesses to the Resurrection bears repeating:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

St. Paul’s point? Literally hundreds of people saw the risen Christ at different times and in different places. If you were inclined to doubt the Resurrection, Paul could give you the names and addresses of many of them. Christian evangelists weren’t asking people to put their faith in a carefully crafted philosophy or embrace yet another life-affirming myth. They were sending inquirers to Broad Street in Bethany to visit folks like Amaziah, son of Remaliah, the skinny, balding potter with five children and as many missing teeth. He would tell you that one morning 20-some years ago when he went for his usual early morning constitutional up the Mount of Olives, he happened to look up and saw a man rising up into the sky. Incredulous, he began running up the path, only to meet Jesus’ apostles, some of whom he knew, coming down the path. Had he started his hike 5 minutes earlier, they told him, he would have heard the proclamation of the angel: “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Amaziah and hundreds of others like him never tired of giving their testimony. After all, they had seen the risen Christ with their own eyes!

Dates, names, places – formidable tools in the arsenal of the 1st-century evangelist. The power of witness is very hard to dismiss….

Fast-forward some 1,900 years and 2,500 miles to a rain-soaked field that the locals call Cova da Iria. Something happened there on October 13, 1917. A Portuguese newspaper described it in these words:

From the road, where the vehicles were parked and where hundreds of people who had not dared to brave the mud were congregated, one could see the immense multitude turn toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver, and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up, and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!

Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws—the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.

The crowd had gathered in the field outside the town of Fatima because three children, who claimed to have had visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, had said that there would be a miracle accompanying the final appearance of the Virgin on October 13. Not only were pious Catholics in attendance; skeptics and unbelievers came. Reporters were there, photographers were there, almost as if it were the original media event. And as predicted, there was a miracle, now known as the Miracle of the Sun. It was seen not only by the crowds outside of Fatima; people 25 miles away reported seeing it. Skeptics have tried to find ways to explain the miracle as some naturally occurring phenomenon – all the while ignoring the obviously inexplicable fact that this phenomenon was predicted in advancehence the crowd at Cova da Iria. There’s simply no getting around it – some 70,000 people witnessed the miracle which had been prophesied.

As a Protestant, I was vaguely aware of Fatima. I’d never bothered to look into it – Catholic superstition, I assured myself. If you worship Mary and believe that the pope is sinless, you’ll fall for anything. The fact that this putative miracle had occurred within living memory, a mere 41 years before my birth (my maternal grandparents would have been 22 at the time, my paternal grandparents in their 30s) failed to impress me; I knew little about it, except that it was clearly bogus. Yet at the same time, I was 100% opposed to liberal apologies for the “putative miracles” of the Bible. The idea that the feeding of the 5,000 was a “miracle of sharing” offended me. Are you saying that Jesus, the Son of God, couldn’t perform miracles? The views of those who dismissed the Biblical plagues or the parting of the Red Sea, proposing various “natural phenomena” to explain “what actually occurred” were met with nothing but disdain from me. Look, if God can’t perform miracles, He ain’t much of a God. I could certainly understand that atheists had a vested interest in proving that miracles were merely naturally occurring phenomena which mankind has yet to explain scientifically. But when Christians tried to explain away the miracles performed by Jesus, what could that be except a lack of faith? Unlike some Christians, I as an Evangelical believed that God could and did perform miracles in this modern day and age – though if you had asked me to point you towards one, I could only have passed on to you rumors of a friend of a friend of a friend who picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be an angel (because he mysteriously disappeared), or served up the weak tea of tales such as “…and then the traffic light, against all odds, turned GREEN and I made it to work on time! I tell you, it was a MIRACLE!!” Despite my conviction that miracles could and did occur, I stood with the atheists on Fatima – scientifically explicable, naturally occurring phenomenon plus dumb peasants equals superstition on steroids. Atheist dismissals of the miracle at Fatima explain that the crowds saw what they came to see, an utterly predictable form of mass hysteria. As an Evangelical, I was solidly in the atheist camp on this as a Catholic-miracle-doubting modern skeptic.

Read the newspaper accounts. Peasants were certainly present at Fatima, alongside journalists, M.D.s and Ph.D.s. The crowd did not consist of believers only; unbelievers had come to scoff (which many of them did when the Lady failed to appear at noon, Portuguese time, waiting until the sun was overhead). The Miracle of the Sun was seen by many present, reportedly not by all, but this “saw it/didn’t see it” did not run along the preexisting believer/nonbeliever divisions. And there were those miles away who were clearly not able to be influenced by the crowd, who were not looking for a miracle that day, yet witnessed it. The truth is self-evident.

Tens of thousands of people saw the Miracle of the Sun, a miracle which had been announced in advance by the Woman who appeared to the shepherd children, a Woman who urged the world in the strongest terms to pray and make sacrifices that sinners might turn to Jesus Christ.

Names: Joao da Cunha Vasconcelos, Maria de Capelinha, Dr. Almeida Garrett, Dr. Domingos Coelho, Alfredo da Silva Santos, Joao Vassalo, Alfonso Lopes Vieira, Fr. Ignacio Lorenco, Fr. Manuel Pereira da Silva, and thousands of others. Go to Fatima and ask around!

Date: October 13, 1917, 96 years ago today

Place: Cova da Iria, outside the town of Fatima, Portugal

The early Christians would have believed.


On the memorial of Bl. Alexandrina Maria da Costa

Deo omnis gloria!

Many wannabe Catholics find one little-known nugget of Catholic teaching shocking but very comforting – shocking because they never would have guessed that it was so, and comforting because they think it will help them avoid the thing they fear most. This amazing Catholic fact is that the same Catholic Church that asks catechumens and candidates to declare that they “believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God” does not require anyone to have a devotion to Mary.

Say that again?

Catholics are not required to have a devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

But… I thought Catholics were all about Mary….

Catholics are all about Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father. It is because we are all about our Lord Jesus that we take an interest in Mary. And she would be the first to tell you that.

I think the reason Mary sticks out like a sore thumb to Protestants is because, with one annual exception, she is so completely absent from their Christian experience. So are all the other saints except Paul, who because he wrote the portions of the New Testament that Protestants base most of their doctrine on, gets more than his fair share of airtime on Sunday mornings. Yet we Catholics have it on good authority that Mary’s soul “magnifies the Lord.” Who wouldn’t want to get closer to someone with a soul like that?

One thing potential converts fret over is a Catholic practice which they believe runs contrary to the clear message of Scripture. Catholics ask Mary to pray for them. We ask all the saints, as well as the angels, to pray for us, but most Protestants worry about Mary because they worry about the Rosary: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” and that sort of thing. How can Catholics ask Mary to pray for them when the Bible clearly tells us:

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Based on this verse, Protestants claim that it is simply wrong to try to go through a “saint” to get to God, and so the Rosary is patently unbiblical. There is only one way to get to God, and that is through His Son, Jesus. The Bible says so.

The Bible actually says:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

So, as St. Paul clearly states in his letter to St. Timothy, there are two types of mediators between God and men. Only Jesus could give Himself as a ransom for all; in that capacity He is the unique Mediator – blessed be His Holy Name! Catholics have absolutely no problem grasping that concept. But Protestants have a problem grasping the second, very biblical concept of saints (that is, holy men and women) mediating on our behalf through their prayers. Asking other people to pray for us is exactly what we’ve been commanded to do. Protestants do it all the time; they have prayer meetings and prayer chains for the express purpose of getting others to bring their requests before the Throne. The Catholic position on this is simply: why not go straight to the top of the prayer chain? As St. James assured us, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” As the ultimate righteous person (Hail, Mary, FULL of grace!), Mary’s prayers are the most effective, and she loves us like the mother she is to us (Jn 19:27). Of course, there is the Protestant quibble concerning rote prayers, again answered by the Bible itself. Look up Psalm 136 – what you’re looking at is a litany, right smack-dab in the middle of the Bible, repetition and all! Matthew 6:7 is not condemning repetition in prayer; it is condemning VAIN repetition – mindlessly babbling prayers because you think there is something magical about just saying the words. There is simply nothing wrong with praying the Rosary – Catholics are asking a Christian in Heaven to pray for them (1 Tim 2:1) using a set pattern of prayer consisting of Bible verses (Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42), with a request that Mary, Mother of Jesus Who is God, pray for sinners (that would be us) now and when we are about to die. Amen.

That said, the Catholic Church doesn’t require anyone to pray the Rosary, or to have any kind of a devotion to Mary. It’s optional, so if you’re considering the claims of the Catholic Church, and our Mariology makes you nervous, don’t sweat it. Converts will be asked to assent to the Marian doctrines (that Mary was immaculately conceived, that she is a perpetual Virgin, that she is the Mother of God, that she was assumed body and soul into Heaven) just as you will be asked to assent to everything else the Church teaches, but you can live and die a Catholic in good standing and never own a set of rosary beads.

Don’t say I didn’t remind you, though, that you are shunning a practice about which it has been said:

The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description. (Venerable Fulton Sheen)

The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary. (St. Francis de Sales)

If you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along her Son’s path. (St. Josemaria Escriva)

Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today.. (St. Pio of Pietrelcina)

When we pray the Rosary, we take a walk through the events of our Savior’s life with His Mother as our guide. Meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary, we allow Mary to tutor us in faith, hope and love. The effects can be profound. When I first got up the courage to pray the Rosary, it was a Friday, so I began with the Sorrowful Mysteries. When I got to the final Mystery, Jesus’ crucifixion, I was suddenly overwhelmed with horror, because I am a mother, and I have a son. I realized that I sent Jesus to the Cross, my indifference tormented Him, my perverse love for my sins cost Him His very life, and I was kneeling there asking His Mother to pray for ME, the woman who crucified her Son.

At that moment I learned more about forgiveness than I had in the preceding 48 years of my life, as Jesus’ Mother forgave me from the depths of her heart, and took me as her own child.

No, the Catholic Church won’t require you to pursue a relationship with Mary – don’t worry about that. But her soul really does magnify the Lord. If you have any interest in getting a closer look at God, you’re going to want to begin looking at Him through Mary.


On the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

Deo omnis gloria!