Jesus Gives Us His Mother: Part I


When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.   John 19: 26-27

It is said that we as Christians have become the family of God (Eph. 3:15). We’ve been adopted as sons (Gal.4: 5). Now I am aware that we live in the days of dysfunction, but I can confidently declare:

GOD IS NOT DYSFUNCTIONAL!!!

What kind of family would God be adopting us into, if He brought us into one that had no mother? Do we render Jesus’ promise null and void,  “I will not leave you as orphans;”  (John 14:8, from the Greek word, orphanos – without parents-plural)? We also know that God is not a God of disorder (I Cor. 14:33) and that He created the family (Gen. 1:27-28, 2:24).

So, what is not to understand? God is our Father. Jesus, His Son, is our brother. The Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother, is our mother.

This doesn’t make her divine. This doesn’t make her the fourth member of the Trinity. It simply means she is our Mother, The Mother of all the faithful.

Before we can continue with this train of thought, we must clarify some early Christian teaching brought to us through Judaism.

                  

               The Communion of the Saints 

 

In the Apostles Creed, there is a line that states; “[I believe in] the communion of Saints.” This phrase refers to the bond of unity among all those, living and dead, who are or who have been committed followers of Christ. This should lead us to understand the Ephesians 3:14-15 passage a little better, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,” along with others of Paul’s writings of being one Body (Rom. 12:5, I Cor. 12:26).

 

Then may come the argument of, “Well, Paul is talking about (and writing to) those who are living, not dead.” To which I would respond, “He was speaking of both.”  For two major reasons:

 

First, as a Pharisee, and a devout Jew, Paul (and even the other apostles) was more than aware of the Jewish practice of praying for the dead and even for the intercession of the saints in heaven (2 Maccabees 12: 39-46, 15: 11-16, normally I wouldn’t make reference to a deuterocanonical book but, since I’m speaking of earlier Jewish religious practices I will. The Maccabean revolt and their defense of the Temple, is where the celebration of the Feast of Lights, Hanukkah, originated).

 

Secondly, since God “is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:32) and to be “absent from the body and to be present to the Lord” (2 Cor.5:8 ) those who have died in Christ are truly in His presence. Who better to pray on our behalf (intercede for us) than those in the presence of the Lord Himself!?

 

So, in understanding the Communion of the Saints, we can better grasp the concept of “praying to the Saints.” As a Catholic, I ask Saints to pray for my family and I. I do not pray to them as an end, for they are not God, but as a means to an end. Much like I would ask a faithful friend to pray for my family or I.

 

“The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” (James 5:16) and again, who better to intercede for us than those present with our Lord already.

 

This should help clarify this aspect of the role of Mary (and the Saints) in the lives of Catholic Christians, though it does go a little deeper with our Mother. And we will look at her role specifically in our next post.

 

Amen.

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Easter Sunday


But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. I Corinthians 15:20

What a day! Resurrection Day!

May our love for the Triune God, be resurrected in our hearts this day.

May all glory, honor and praise be His.

Amen.

Vatican declares Knights of Columbus founder “venerable”


New Haven, CT – March 16, 2008   Pope Benedict XVI Saturday approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. The pope’s declaration significantly advances the priest’s process toward sainthood and gives the parish priest the distinction of “Venerable Servant of God.” If canonized, Fr. McGivney would be the first American born priest to be so honored.

“All of us who are members of the Knights of Columbus are profoundly grateful for this recognition of the holiness of our founder,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The strength of the Knights of Columbus today is a testament to his timeless vision, his holiness and his ideals.”

Worried about the religious faith and financial stability of immigrant families, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with the help of several men of St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven in 1882 to help strengthen the faith of the men of his parish and to provide financial assistance in the event of their death to the widows and orphans they left behind. He was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners.

Born in Waterbury, Conn., Aug. 12, 1852, Michael Joseph McGivney, was the first of Patrick and Mary (Lynch) McGivney’s 13 children, six of whom died in infancy or early childhood. His parents, natives of Ireland, had immigrated to the United States during the 19th century. Patrick was a molder in a Waterbury brass mill, where Michael himself worked for a brief time as a child to help support his family.

From an early age, however, he realized a calling to the Catholic priesthood. After studying in several seminaries, he was ordained in that Baltimore’s historic Cathedral by Cardinal James Gibbons Dec. 22, 1877. He took up his first assignment, as curate at St. Mary’s Church, New Haven, Conn., Jan. 2, 1878. Father McGivney was named pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Conn. in 1884. He became seriously ill with pneumonia in January 1890, and died Aug. 14, 1890 at age 38.

The cause, or process, for Father McGivney’s sainthood, was opened by Hartford Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, in December 1997. The cause was presented to the Vatican in 2000, where it has been under review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. With the pope’s recent decree, and the authentication of a miracle at Father McGivney’s intercession, the priest could be beatified. A second miracle would be required for canonization.

Still maintaining its headquarters in New Haven, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic Fraternal Organization with more than 1.7 million members in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Philippines, Guam and, most recently, Poland.

A New Forum


Check out an exciting new forum here.

Thanks Amber!

The Christian Mind-set:I Peter 4:1-11


Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (for whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin), so as not to spend what remains of one’s life in the flesh on human desires, but on the will of God. For the time that has passed is sufficient for doing what the Gentiles like to do: living in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and wanton idolatry. They are surprised that you do not plunge into the same swamp of profligacy, and they vilify you; but they will give an account to Him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead that, though condemned in the flesh in human estimation, they might live in the spirit in the estimation of God.  The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

As Peter continues his apostolic teaching through sacred scripture, he exhorts us to arm [y]ourselves also with the same attitude of Christ. What was Christ’s attitude? He willinglysuffered. What may seem a forfeiture of our “rights” we, as citizens of the Kingdom of God, are called to do this; For the time that has passed is sufficient for doing what the Gentiles like to do. As we can see by the following list of sins [living in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and wanton idolatry] these are contrary to the fruits of the Holy Spirit that we are called to live by [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control]. Those who engage in a lifestyle such as the Gentiles will render to Christ an account for He stands ready to judge the living and the dead.

The preaching of the gospel demands a response! It requires a decision! Will we give up our “fleshly” desires, in order to live the spiritual life? Or will we reject the spiritual and cling to the flesh? Peter tells us that this is why the gospel was preached, that even though the flesh may die the spirit shall live in the estimation of God.

The end of all things is at hand. This  is a recurring theme in the New Testament. The Apostles themselves were expecting Jesus to come back before they died. Ever since Jesus ascended into heaven it’s been “the last days.” Yet, his message for us is the same as it was for the first century church; be serious and sober for prayers. These aren’t “gimmie” prayers, these prayers are intended to be the support of your love for one another which is to be intense. Intense? Our love for one another is supposed to be intense? I’ve heard of church business meetings being described as intense (not in a loving way I assure you) but never Christian love. This should be a real concern for the church today, for if our love is not intense for one another, how will love cover a multitude of sins? Jesus’ intense love for us, shown on the cross, is the love we should have [and show] for others.

Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Yes, this is possible and it is not optional!

We must also use our gifts to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. In doing so, we are serving God. All ministry, all vocations should be directed toward others that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

And lastly, when we preach let it be with the words of God.These words of God come to us through two distinct ways. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraphs 81 and 82:

Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.””And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound, and spread it abroad by their preaching.”
 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”

Also, whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies. Since it is the Spirit that gives life, we should realize that it is the Spirit that gives us the strength to love as God loves-which is “to  serve and not be served” (Matt. 20:28).

So this week, let us give up our pursuit of the things of the flesh and pursue the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Let us also intensely love one another; in our prayers and our ministries and in our teaching and our service, so that “all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Amen.

The Conduct Of Our Lives:I Peter 3:1-7


Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior. Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God once used to adorn themselves and were subordinate to their husbands; thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him “lord.” You are her children when you do what is good and fear no intimidation. Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

The “likewise” that  Saint Peter uses here, reflects back on his command to slaves in the previous chapter.

In our study of the Domestic Church in August of 2006, we examined carefully the roles of both wives and husbands in Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Saint Peter says the same thing here, but gives different emphasis as to it’s result.  

Wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct. This word “conduct” is anastrophe in Greek and is also translated as behavior and conversation. Using the “conduct” or “behavior” definition, better explains this sense being won over without a word.Some people have given a proper title to this action, lifestyle evangelism, and rightly so. Our lifestyles should lead our (unbelieving) spouses (and others) to faith in Christ, if indeed we find ourselves in this situation. But what about those spouses who already believe? After all, Saint Peter was addressing wives who had converted to Christianity (most likely) after their marriages, for Saint Paul teaches us in II Corinthians 6:14, not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” So what about those who already believe? If the “behavior” of the believer can lead an unbeliever to faith in our Lord, how much more will our “behavior” lead our believing spouses into a deeper faith in our Lord? If we are willing to do this, will not our marriages be strengthened and our families be more solidified? Of course they would!

I will not get into the historical details of women’s dress and pagan worship in the first century, because what Saint Peter is really addressing is the hidden character of the heart. A gentle and calm disposition, is precious in the sight of God, like Sarah had with Abraham. Saint Peter says, you are her[Sarah’s] children when you do what is good. This is not a foreign concept for us Catholics- as Sarah can be called a “mother of obedient wives”- so Mary can be called all believers [or the Church’s] spiritual Mother. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in paragraph 969 and 970:

“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”

“Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.” “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”

 

 Alright guys, it’s our turn!

We must show honor to our wives. That means showing them special esteem or respect and reverence. If we do this we are told that our prayers may not be hindered. This should inform us as to the importance of the Sacrament of Matrimony to our Father. If we do not respect our spouse, a visible sign of the unity of the Trinity, God will not hear our prayer. Is this not like Saint Paul’s description of prayer without love, “a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal” (I Cor. 13:1)? Is your prayer life ineffective? Examine your relationship with your spouse. Are you showing her honor and respect? Are you treating her as a joint heir? It would do us all well, to take Saint Peters words to heart here.

So this week, let us (wives) be subordinate to our husbands, and men (husbands) let us honor and respect our wives. Let us test the truth of God’s word, that our conduct will lead others to (or deeper in) a faith walk with Jesus Christ. And that our conduct toward our spouses, will not only enhance our relationships with each other, but will find favor in God’s eye’s and He will receive our prayers.

Amen.

 

A Legacy of Faith:The Last Thoughts From My Grandmother


This is a letter written by My Grandmother, Ollie Mae Wilbanks, shortly before her death on August 2, 2007. I love you and I miss you Mam-maw.

“My first thoughts are how I wish I had something to leave each of you to make your life as rich as mine has been for me. This is it.

I do leave, or have tried to leave a pattern of faith in my Lord Jesus Christ for each of you to follow. Only make it stronger and each of you do a lot more for our Lord than I have. I just hope and pray that each one will receive a crown and many stars to meet Jesus with when you go home. I probably won’t even have a crown. I feel I do so little for Him. But you have so much more time to do things for Him. I was 32 years old  before I became acquainted with my Lord and Savior. I feel I wasted many years by not going to hear His word. He did so much for me when I did get to know Him and He still does. I couldn’t live without Him. In fact, I didn’t know what it meant to live before I met and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. His love for me was worth it all. I had so many disappointments, but He lived in my heart and made all of them disappear. And the dearest thing in my life was when I could go to Him in prayer, and my prayers would be answered. I had the peace that passeth all understanding. I even loved your children, your grandchildren and  great-grandchildren and even your great-great-grandchildren with the love of my Jesus. I have even learned to love unlovely people by letting Jesus love them through me. For He is wonderful to me. He counsels me at times, He is the Mighty God of my life. He is my everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace for me. Without Him I couldn’t live. That is what I want to leave each of you. Just reach out in faith and He will be all these great things for each one who will only turn to Him and ask. He gives peace when there is turmoil. He gives a song in your heart when you are heartbroken and restores you. He is there for you when you are lonely and keeps you from being lonely. He is just the most precious One you can count on anytime. More than that, He loves you more than I can or can possibly tell you. This One, is the One I want you each to love and treasure in your hearts and teach the little ones to love Him. You can count on Jesus so much more than any human being. When we trust humans we are a great risk. When we trust Jesus it means peace that passeth all understanding without a risk. This is my prayer for everyone I leave.

Love always, Mother.

Dear Father God, place a hedge around each one I leave here so evil can’t get to them, so each one can work and get close to him and tell others who don’t know Jesus to love Him. This is the main thing He leaves us here to do. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”