Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Jesus taught Mary when he was "lost", and then found

Tradition holds that Blessed Mary alone remained steadfast in faith, even in the midst of her grief, on the Saturday of our Savior’s rest in the tomb. She knew, by her perfect faith, that Jesus would indeed rise from the dead on the third day – perhaps this is why she did not go with the other women to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning, she knew that she must not seek the living among the dead.

How is it that Mary knew that Jesus would rise from the dead? What event, if any, can be singled out as the moment when she first began to understand that her beloved Son would die and rise again?

Many years earlier, when Jesus was only twelve, he began to instruct his Mother in the paschal mystery.

[In this busy time of year, this is a re-presentation of an earlier article from 7 April 2012 ... however, it fits quite well with the Sunday Gospel]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What we know of Jesus' life from St. John alone, and what we would not know if we only had the Fourth Gospel

December 27th, Feast of St. John the Evangelist
The Gospel of St. John, which many of the great Catholic Scholars hold to be the last book of the Bible to be written, is unique among the books of Scripture as being that which is most enlightened and enlightening to all men.
There are many details and events from our Savior’s life which we know only from St. John. And, yet we may be surprised to notice one very significant point concerning which he have no word at all from the Beloved.
Hear the words of Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide (the greatest Catholic Biblical Scholar):
“John has a style peculiar to himself, entirely different from that of the other Evangelists and sacred writers. For, as an eagle, at one time he raises himself above all, at another time he stoops down to the earth, as it were for his pray, that with the rusticity of his style he may capture the simple. At one time he is as wise as the cherubim, at another time he burns as do the seraphim.
“The reason is because John was most like Christ, and most dear to him; and he in turn loved Christ supremely. Therefore at his Last Supper he reclined upon his breast. From this source, therefore, he sucked in, as it were, the mind, the wisdom, and the burning love of Christ. Wherefore, when thou readest and hearest John, think that thou readest and hearest Christ. For Christ hath transfused his own spirit and his own love into St. John.” (Preface to the Commentary on St. John’s Gospel)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem?

December 25th, The Solemnity of the Nativity of our Savior
And thou Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. (Micah 5:1)
Men are not able to chose the time and place of their birth, just as no man may choose his mother or father. However, the case of the Christ Child is diverse – for he did indeed choose his holy Mother, having consecrated her from the first moment of her conception; and he chose St. Joseph as his guardian.
In his divinity, through his all-encompassing providence, Jesus willed not only to be born of Mary and to be under the protection of Joseph, but he further willed to be born in the city of David called Bethlehem.
Our Savior was born in Bethlehem because St. Joseph had taken his wife the Blessed Mary to the city of David to be enrolled for the census. However, this was no mere coincidence or accident, rather the Son of God had willed and provided for this circumstance to accompany his holy birth.
The Lord could have chosen any city: Nazareth, Jerusalem, Rome, or any other. But, passing by all these, he willed to come forth from the virginal and fruitful womb of Mary into the world in the city of Bethlehem. What merited the choice of this small town over any of the great cities?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The first novena was nine months long

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David […] To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son. (Luke 2:4-6)
Most Catholics are well aware of the traditional practice of novena prayers – nine days of prayer offered either to God or to a particular saint in petition for some special grace. The most popular novena is surely that to the Holy Spirit which is accomplished from the Ascension to Pentecost.
However, many may be surprised to realize that the first novena was not nine days, but nine months long! Indeed, this novena was accomplished by Christ himself in the womb of Mary his Mother.
Historically, it is in veneration of the pregnancy of the Mother of God that the novena practice developed in the devotional life of the Church.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gaudete: Joy as a fruit of the Holy Spirit

Gaudete Sunday, Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always!
Midway through the penitential season of Advent, the Church bids us to set aside for a moment our austerities and rejoice in Christ’s coming which is soon to be accomplished. This Sunday is marked with a spirit of joy, and we are even commanded to be joyful as we hear the entrance antiphon: Gaudete in Domino semper!Rejoice in the Lord always!
We may wonder, however, in what this command to rejoice consists. Must even those who are sad and sorrowing rejoice? What of those who mourn the death of a loved one? What of those suffering from clinical depression? Must all these rejoice and be joyful?
What is the “joy” which the Church demands? From where is this joy derived? What do we mean when we state that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Do Catholics make Mary Immaculate to be equal to Jesus?

December 8th, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Today the Church celebrates the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which she was preserved from every stain of original sin. Not the moment after, but in the very moment itself of her animation (the moment when her soul was created), Mary was safeguarded and kept free from original sin.
We may well state that the moment of her creation was likewise the moment of her redemption. Perhaps we may go so far as to state that, in our Lady, creation and redemption are one single act.
However, many Protestants will claim that Catholics make Mary equal to Jesus by claiming that she was without sin. What must a Catholic respond to this absurd accusation?