This is the second day of Christmas, which is not too late to reflect once again on the Reason for the season.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, the Americas and the New World.
The Immaculate Conception is the door opening on our salvation.
It is God the Father, preparing the way for the birth of God the Son by first preparing a holy mother for Him.
The idea that God chose to enter the world as a helpless baby, born to a young girl and her carpenter husband in a backwater province of a conquered nation goes against everything we know and believe about what makes a person important.
We live in a world where might makes right and the biggest and meanest get to make all the rules. This disregard for the little people of the world was even more pronounced in that long-ago day when Our Lady was conceived. This tiny spark of humanity, who was destined to become the bearer of the hope of all humankind, was, if possible, even less important to the worldly world than her baby son would be at His beginning.
She was, after all, a girl in a world that to this day regards little girls as less than worthless. She was that half of humanity which was often exposed at birth and left to rot. Even today in large swaths of what we call civilization, baby girls are aborted because they are girls, and if they are born, killed shortly afterwards. Girls in these cultures often get less food, little education and almost no support in their development as people. They are subjected to brutalities ranging from female genital mutilation, to child marriages, rape and battering.
And yet, God chose, with every possibility possible at His disposal, to come into our world through the motherhood of a young woman. God entrusted Himself to a mother from His conception to His eventual death on the cross. It was a woman who gave Him life and who nurtured, shaped and reared Him into young manhood. This does not take anything away from Joseph’s contribution. Fathers are just as important as mothers. But today we are considering the one person who was with Jesus from conception to grave, and who then was there at Pentecost when the Church was born.
Mary is the mother of us all, the essential human contribution to the undoing of the curse of the Fall. She was prophesied at the Fall and she will be there at the real end when Jesus comes again.
And it began with her conception, when God re-created the lost innocence of Eden in a new Eve who would give birth to the salvific Child to undo our transgressions. This great re-wind started then, in her Immaculate Conception. It was the long-awaited door opening. This feast day is our chance to go back and re-learn what has been given to us by a young girl who, conceived without sin as the original Eve had been, did not falter in her mission as that earlier Eve did, but remained sinless until her own death.
God gave us Mary, and Mary, through her obedience and faith, gave us His son.
She is not, as some traditions try to treat her, a mindless incubator we bring out for Christmas pageants and then forget the rest of the year. Our Lady is woven into the story of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Everything that is wholly human about Our Lord comes from and through her. She gave us her Son, first at His birth and then later at Calvary; and He in turn, gave us His mother.
The Immaculate Conception is a door opening on the end of hopelessness and death. It is a cell-sized point of light shining in the darkness of our own devices. Mary, Our Mother, began the way we all did, as a single cell made in the image and likeness of God.
Christ’s humanity is her humanity. Her dignity is our dignity. She is our mother for the ages.
According to Mr Limbaugh, the Holy Father’s recent document, Evangelii Gaudium, is “pure Marxism.”
I’m going to write about Evanelii Gaudium in detail next week when we aren’t digesting turkey, spending time with our families and watching football. In the meantime, I want to toss this little bit of bile from Mr Limbaugh out there for your consideration.
I think it juxtaposes nicely with President Obama’s action of folding America’s Embassy to the Holy See into our Embassy with Italy. Mr Limbaugh’s comment and President Obama’s action form bookends of a sort. They illustrate both the right and the left wing angst that they cannot control the Pope.
Both the right and left wings of current political debate are Godless philosophies that try, each in their own way, to bend the Gospels into a perverted version of themselves that gives moral gravitas to the respective evils of their two socio-fiscal-political viewpoints. The left wing has confined itself to association with churches that bend the Gospels to suit Democratic Party Moral teachings, while the right wing has associated itself with those churches that edit the Gospels to suit Republican Party Moral Teachings.
Lately, the left wing has abandoned the churches altogether and headed out onto the ice of militant secularism. Even while their toady churches continue their slavish apologetics for what has increasingly become an amoral political viewpoint, they find themselves shunted aside as no longer necessary.
The right wing is a bit behind the curve on this, but not much. They are trying to ignore their religious supporters while still hanging on to their votes. It remains to be seen how successful they will be.
Mr Limbaugh, with his deft ability to say vulgar and hate-filled things, has pointed the way.
If the Pope, or any other Christian leader is going to preach a Gospel that includes moral imperatives relating to economics and concern for the poor, then that religious leader is no longer either useful or welcome at the right-wing party.
I’m not writing this to enrage my Limbaugh-following readers — although I imagine that will happen. I am writing it to point out to those who are willing to see it that a true follower of Jesus Christ is without a political country in today’s American landscape.
You can follow Jesus and His Vicar, or you can make up excuses for President Obama and Mr Limbaugh.
However, you cannot do both.
Either Jesus Christ meant what He said in those Gospels Pope Francis is trying to teach us, or He didn’t. Either Christ the Lord is your Lord in every aspect of your life, including your politics, or He is not your Lord at all.
Choose this day whom you will serve: The Rs. The Ds. Or Jesus Christ.
I am writing this in a hurry because I need to get ready to go to mass. This evening I will begin my own personal journey through one of the Church’s two great penitential seasons. Mass tonight marks the start of Advent, when we look at ourselves through a Gospel prism and confess both to ourselves and to our God the many ways in which we fall short of that Gospel ideal.
As such, it is an obvious time to consider where our loyalties in this world actually lie.
Do you love me more than these? Jesus asked Peter.
The question applies to you and me as we begin this Advent season. Who is your God? Does he stand behind a podium with an American flag as a backdrop? Does he wear headphones and spit out diatribes on the radio?
Or, perhaps, are we awaiting your God in this season of Advent, looking forward to the day when He will be born among us in a stable to a young carpenter and his innocent bride?
Do you love me more than these?
In this post-Christian America where Presidents can lie and everyone knows they are lying and no one cares, where commenters can rail against the Pope and still keep their cult-like followings, that question is not only salient, but urgent.
What is your answer?
On his Wednesday radio show, Rush Limbaugh admitted being “befuddled” by the harsh words about “unfettered capitalism” released this week by Pope Francis.
… He also said that up to now he had admired the new pope, if he also thought that Pope Francis was putting on the “common man touch” a bit too thick. “I thought there might have been a little bit of PR involved there,” he said.
But … the pope’s latest Evangelii Gadium, or Joy of the Gospel
… didn’t sit well with Limbaugh. “Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him,” Rush said. “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.”
I don’t much about Medjugorje.
I’m not even really sure how to pronounce it.
For those who are even more uninformed that me, Medjugorje is the site of what has been regarded by a lot of people as authentic visits by Our Lady.
I know people who’ve gone to Medjugorje and experienced profound spiritual awakening as a result of the trip. Was that because of the Marian apparitions, or the work of the Holy Spirit, Who is always there when two or three are gathered together in Jesus’ name?
I don’t know.
It appears that the Vatican doesn’t know, either.
In a move that evidently surprised those who are promoting the validity of the Medjugorje apparitions, the head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a letter concerning Medjugorje to the USCCB for distribution to all American bishops. The letter instructs that “clerics and the faithful” may not “participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations in which the credibility” of the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje “are taken for granted.”
After a bit of consideration, this instruction makes sense.
The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is investigating these apparitions to determine whether or not they are valid. They are simply asking the bishops — along with the rest of us — not to indirectly put the Church’s imprimatur on the apparitions before they have made a decision about them.
It seems that this letter was prompted by a planned tour of the United States by Medjugorje visionary Ivan Dragicevic.
I think what the Vatican has done with this letter is a reasonable action. I know that Medjugorje inspires deep emotions. If the Church decides that these visions are valid, I will accept that and not worry about it. I will do the same if the Church decides that they are not valid.
At the same time, I believe the things my friends who’ve been there have told me about their personal spiritual awakenings. Since I believe that God works with all of us, all the time, I don’t see the two things as contradictory.
I think it’s good for us not to get ahead of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and promote the Marian Apparitions at Medjugorje as valid before they have made a decision about it.
I trust the Church in these matters.
From Medjugorje Today:
We’ve already talked about Fatima in a previous post.
This is more information about Akita and what happened at Kibeho, Rwanda, before the genocide. Our Lady prophesied the Rwandan genocide and warned against it a decade before it happened.
Kibeho with Immaculee
Kibeho prophecy Immaculee
Our Lady specifically asked at Fatima that we insert this prayer into each decade when we pray the Rosary.
These are the other prayers we were taught at Fatima:
My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love you. I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love you.
When we offer something to God
Oh my Jesus, it is for love of you, in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the conversion of poor sinners.
When we pray before the Blessed Sacrament
Most Holy Trinity, I adore you! My God, my God, I adore you in the most blessed Sacrament.
The Angel’s Prayer
With the Blessed Sacrament suspended in mid-air, the Angel of Fatima prostrated himself and prayed,
Most Holy Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — I adore you profoundly. I offer you the most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ — present in all the tabernacles of the world — in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.
Pope Francis consecrated the world to the care of our Lord’s mother today.
I remember that Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia to Our Lady, and the impossible happened. Russia quit the Communist fight without firing a shot.
No one in the secular world has ever acknowledged the miraculous nature of what happened. Instead, they try to explain it in terms of economics and such. In truth, it was unprecedented, and economics do not explain it. Nothing, except the miraculous intervention of Our Lady could have ended the Cold War so suddenly and peacefully.
So, my reaction to Pope Francis’ action today is that I hope Our Lady leads this world out of its self-made hells in the same way. This world needs a miracle.
You can read the Holy Father’s homily here.
This is the full text of Pope Francis’ prayer by which he consecrated the world to Our Lady today. I pray my personal prayer of consecration to Our Lady almost every morning. If you have made a similar consecration, today would be a good day to renew it.
Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima,
with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence
we join our voice to that of all the generations
who call you blessed.
We celebrate in you the works of God,
who never tires of looking down with mercy
upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin,
to heal it and save it.
Accept with the benevolence of a Mother
the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence,
before this image of you that is so dear to us.
We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes
and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you.
We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard
and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.
Hold our life in your arms:
bless and strengthen every desire for good;
revive and nourish faith;
sustain and enlighten hope;
awaken and animate charity;
guide all of us along the path of holiness.
Teach us your own preferential love
for the little and the poor,
for the excluded and the suffering,
for sinners and the downhearted:
bring everyone under your protection
and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]
The Washington Post published an opinion piece by Reza Aslan, the Muslim writer-about-Jesus.
I’m not going to go into the this-guy-is-not-a-Christian-he’s-a-Muslim stuff because I don’t think it really matters. You can find the same garbage he writes in this opinion piece on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and other places all over television every Christmas/Easter.
These are the same lies that are trotted out by Christian bashers all over the internet. You can find them repetitively blah-blahed any day of the week at certain portals right here on Patheos. There are also the hyper modernist Christians, such as the Jesus Seminar, who put this stuff out there, feeding the attacks against Our Lord from within.
Mr Aslan lines up the same old bogus arguments in a list of five, labeling them the “Five Myths about Jesus.” These “myths” are, for those who don’t want to click on the thing: Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Jesus was an only child (Mary is ever virgin), Jesus had 12 disciples, Jesus had a trial before Pontius Pilate, Jesus was buried in a tomb. Each of these is a myth, according to Mr Aslan.
His reasons for these opinions of his are as flabby and obvious as his motive: He’s not a Christian and he wants to tear down Christianity.
The really great thing in all this is that it points out quite eloquently the fact that Christianity is different by far from other religions, specifically Mr Aslan’s faith. Can you imagine if Mr Aslan had written a similar opinion piece about Islam? What if he had decided to debunk the Prophet Muhammad?
The question here wouldn’t be whether or not those “intolerant” Muslims decided to criticize Mr Aslan’s objectivity or say that he was wrong in his assertions. Rather, the question would be where Mr Aslan would hide to keep from being killed.
Christians have been roundly criticized for criticizing this Christ basher. They have been called bigots for pointing out that, as a Muslim, Mr Aslan just might have an agenda in his “scholarship.” They have, as usual, been labeled bigots and intolerant extremists for standing up for their faith.
On the question of the inevitable calls for death and beheading of anyone who dares to say even one criticism of the Prophet Muhammad, there is a “tolerant,” oozy silence.
But the facts are the facts. Christianity is radically different from any other faith on this planet. There is no other empty tomb. Every good thing we believe today about the value of the individual human being and the individual human life has its foundation in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
The fact that the Church is under such attack in the Western world today is a direct consequence of this one thing: Christianity teaches that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and that there are certain moral requirements and consequences attendant to that fact.
We may not kill with impunity. This teaching raises the ire of those who wish to kill through eugenics, euthanasia, abortion, embryonic stem cell research.
We may not degrade other human beings. This teaching raises the ire of those who wish to degrade through pornography, prostitution, egg harvesting, surrogate pregnancy.
We must use our sexuality as a mutual, life-giving gift between a man and a woman united in the sacramental covenant of Holy Matrimony. This teaching raises the ire of everyone who wants to live outside this boundary.
These things, and not the veracity of the Gospels, are the source of the popularity of the attacks on Jesus.
Mr Aslan is just riding the wave of anger against anyone who tells our nihilistic, narcissistic culture that there are moral limits on what they may do. They are using him with their phonied up “tolerance” to attack what ails them, which is anyone who says their sins are sin. He is using them to attack a faith other than his own in the name of a phonied up scholarship.
This is standard stuff for us Christians. We have to put up with being attacked, defamed and now, blatantly discriminated against as part of our faith.
But we know something that these people refuse to believe: Jesus Christ is the Lord of Life, and those who persist in following Him to the end will live forever.
For a different take on this same article, check out Joanne McPortland.