Two years ago in July after over 50 years I left St. Anthony Di Padua Parish in Fitchburg Massachusetts for a different parish.  This was not lightly done, my parents were married there, I and all my brothers and sisters were baptized there, we all went to the parish school, we all received our first communion there, I was married there, my sons went to the school and I am a charter member of the Knights of Columbus council there and I retain that membership along with membership of the Madonna Della Cava society at that parish.

Last night I attended a meeting of the Madonna Della Cava society to plan this years festival and at the meeting found out that hot on the heels of the news that our Parish School was dropping grades 4-8 and replacing them with preschool, St. Anthony’s was about to get their 4th pastor since 2014.  In short, the turmoil that caused me to leave the parish continues unabated.

I wrote about the causes of these nonsensical self inflicted wounds in June of 2015 but rather than rehash the past it it time to answer the only question on the floor that matters:  What can be done to end it?

I have heard various secular suggestions about fundraising and attempt to attract people and while I have no objection to these plans nor would I discourage any of them I think we are forgetting that the root of of why people join a church.

It’s not secular, there are plenty of secular clubs with active social calendars and many private schools with excellent programs to educate the young.

No the solution is spiritual, it’s a matter of faith, people join a parish to deepen their faith and grow close to Christ and send their kids to a Catholic school to increase their faith and provide a moral center.  St. Anthony’s wants to attract faithful Catholics back to the parish they need a solution based on faith because the battle that is being lost in the parish is a spiritual one and unless that spiritual enemy is checked they are lost.  What’s needed is a spiritual plan of action!

Fortunately Jesus provides one in scripture:

When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him, and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water.  I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.”  Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured.

Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”

He said to them, Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.  But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” (Emphasis Mine)

Matthew 17:14-21

So prayer and fasting is the answer, but what prayer and what fasting?

Lucky for us Catholics there is an obvious choice for a prayer to counter the works of the Devil, the Rosary.  Furthermore there is an obvious decade to offer provided to us by St. John Paul II the 3rd Luminous mystery The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven.  For what is the function of a Catholic Church or a Catholic School but to proclaim the Kingdom to those who attend?

As for fasting there is another obvious choice provided via one of the parish patriots the Madonna Della Cava.  There is a traditional devotion usually done at age 13 where one make a vow to abstain from meat on Wednesday’s for life in honor of the Madonna Della Cava.  It’s been practiced in my family dating back to at least the 19th century.  My mother took the vow at age 13 (1937) and kept it through her life, Both of my sons took the vow at 13 and while I was decades late to join I am in my 13th year of this weekly fast from meat in honor of La Madonna Della Cava.

So for those looking to do something about the state of affairs at St. Anthony’s Parish I humbly offer the following suggestions in the form of a Vow to Our Lady.

  1.  A perpetual vow to pray the 3rd Luminous mystery daily (this would be in addition to any such prayers already made).
  2.  A perpetual vow to abstain from meat on Wednesdays in honor of La Madonna Della Cava.

Both of these vows should be made for the intention of St. Anthony’s Parish that God may bless it and preserve it.

These would be individual vows for parishioners to make, they could be declared publicly or made privately as for a public collective effort I would suggest that at the end of every mass celebrated at the Parish the following prayer be offered:

Oh God of mercy, as we reach out to those seeking you, send your Holy Spirit on this parish to renew us in faith.  Help us to spread the good news of the Gospel by loving words and caring deeds so that those who have drifted away may be drawn to your church and follow the way of your son Jesus, who is the Way the Truth and the Light.  We make our prayer through Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

A Catholic Church and a Catholic School should be all about the power of faith in God and the necessity of prayer to him.   I submit and suggest this is an excellent opportunity to actively follow the path Christ himself as suggested and have faith in that path.

We just have to have the will to do so.

There are many things that we can do in response to the Press/Democrat/Liberal Jihad on the Trump administration.

We can treat Democrats in the same way they do Trump and hold them to the same legal standards (special prosecutors at the drop of a hat , massive protests whenever they try to speak,  lawsuits whenever possible ) in the hopes that being on the receiving end of Democrat treatment might cause them to temper their behavior in the same way that directly confronting Antifa in Berkeley suddenly caused the university and the city to decide enforcing the law was a good idea.

But if you claim Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular there is one avenue that we need to be active on in terms of defending this administration.

Prayer.

We need to be praying for this president and his administration on a daily basis, asking God to protect and inspire it toward his will, because as St. Paul noted we are fighting against more than earthly powers and if we are to prevail we need to make this fight on all fronts.

For myself as part of my daily 2 hour prayer routine I offer the 3rd Sorrowful mystery the Crowning with Thorns for President Trump and this administration.  It is an appropriate choice not only because of the treatment of said administration by the press which takes joy in their attempts to inflict pain and humiliation on it but because “contempt of the world” that is, contempt for what the desires and pressures of the world when serving God is the traditional intention in St. Louis De Montfort famous volume on praying the Rosary.

There are some who might discount such an action as many people think of their Christian faith as a social club that meets on Sundays.

But if you actually believe in the truth of Christianity and in what Christ actually said this is not only logical and rational but necessary if we want things to improve.

So if you are a Catholic (or even if you are not) I invite you to join me in this daily devotion for the sake of this administration and by extension for our common country.

May God bless our efforts

Love is never monotonous in the uniformity of its expression. The mind is infinitely variable in its language, but the heart is not. The heart of a man, in the face of the woman he loves, is too poor to translate the infinity of his affection into a different word. So the heart takes one expression, “I love you,” and in saying it over and over again, it never repeats. It is the only real news in the universe. That is what we do when we say the Rosary, we are saying to God, the Trinity, to the Incarnate Saviour, to the Blessed Mother: “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Venerable Fulton Sheen

 

The third in my series explaining why the Hail Mary is a prayer for all Christians not just Catholics.

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners.
Now, and at the hour of our death, Amen.

In part 1 the Angelic Salutation, we talked about how the opening words of the Hail Mary, taken directly from the greeting of the Angel Gabriel, signifies not only the importance of Mary as the very first Christian but her position relative to the heavenly host.

In Part 2 the Human confirmation, we noted how the words of the Angel to Mary taken directly Elizabeth’s greeting from scripture signifies the confirmation of the angel’s message and that in addition to the angels it is for man both born and unborn to honor Mary in every generation.

So let’s begin part 3: The Holy Name:

It might seem odd to give a full post to a single word in a prayer but it is the single most important word out there.

Jesus

There are three important things to consider concerning  use of “Jesus” in the Hail Mary prayer.

A:  How the holy name “Jesus” affects the Hail Mary’s structure.

There are several functions that the name of Jesus give to the structure of the Hail Mary.

The use of Jesus here delineates and unites the two parts of the prayer, the scriptural sections which establish the place of Mary which we’ve already discussed and the intercessory sections which are to come where we make the primary requests in this prayer.

The use of Jesus here completes the previous phrase reminding us of Mary’s status and the primary reason of Mary favor that she was by the grace of God worthy to bear the Messiah.

It emphasises the humanity of Christ as not simply the fruit of the spirit but the fruit of a human womb, the son of a mother which will be exploring in our next two sections further.

It is the syllable emphasized within the prayer, the key moment.  Any person who has watched someone praying the Hail Mary sees that when the person says:”Jesus” is the moment emphasized.

It establishes Jesus as the object and target of worship within the prayer.  the emphasis is on Jesus which makes this prayer explicitly Christian.

And that leads of course to the second thing to consider

B:  The Power of  holy name of Jesus in the Hail Mary

One can not overemphasize the power and importance of the name Jesus

Remember it was by the name of Jesus that Peter healed the cripple at the gate

It was by the name of Jesus that the building shook & the holy spirit came upon them again

It was by the proclamation of Jesus that the Ethiopian was converted

It was in the name of Jesus Christ that the first gentiles were baptised

The Name of Jesus is the profession that Paul speaks of to the romans

It is the location of Truth as he tells the Ephesians

It is the name of Jesus that John says we should believe in. and warns us not to deny and is the test of spirits   John warns us not to deny

It is Jesus who Paul tell Timothy will judge the living & dead

It is by the name of Jesus that Paul tells the Corinthians they are justified and later tells them

no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the holy Spirit

1 cor 12:3b

And that he tells the Philippians

at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

And those are just the biblical references we could turn to the saints and the fathers of the church and Bishops and Popes for centuries preaching the power of and in the name of Jesus but if I tried to search for them all I would die of old age before I even began.  So I will settle for this from St. John Vianney the patron of parish priests:

With the Name of Jesus we shall overthrow the demons; we shall put them to flight. With this Name, if they sometimes dare to attack us, our battles will be victories, and our victories will be crowns for Heaven, all brilliant with precious stones.

There is nothing more powerful than the name of Jesus and that leads to the thing that most people forget concerning the Hail Mary

C:  The Hail Mary as direct worship of Christ through his holy name.

The Lord’s prayer, given to us by Christ is of course the most excellent of prayers.  The prayer taught to us by Christ.  It is the primary prayer spoken by Christians from the very start, prayed at every single mass and said at the start of every single decade of the Rosary.

But if you look at the Our Father there is one thing you might notice…

The name of Jesus is not mentioned in it.

This is not a surprise, Jesus gave the disciples this prayer during his ministry at a time when the Disciples still did not understand his nature completely.  While eventually they perceived that Jesus was the son of God it’s unclear that they understood at that time Jesus taught them that prayer that Jesus was God himself.  It is no coincidence that it isn’t until after Christ’s resurrection that we hear these words from one of the disciples:

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

John 20:26-29

Now consider the Hail Mary, every single time you pray the Hail Mary you are saying and praying the holy name of Jesus.

That’s a powerful thing, but it gets better.

The Hail Mary is the primary prayer of the Holy Rosary so for every decade of the Rosary you say,  you are praying the holy name of Jesus 10 times (11 if you pray the Fatima prayer at the end of the decade which goes:  Oh my Jesus forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead us all into heaven especially those in most need of thy mercy.)

It also means every full set of Mysteries with the into & the Hail Holy Queen at the end you are saying and praying the Holy name of Jesus 55 times (60 with the Fatima prayer)

And of course it means if you pray the full 20 decades of the Rosary with the intro and the Fatima prayer you invoked and pray the holy name of Jesus 228 times.

There are those who critique repetitive prayer but no matter what brand of Christianity you  proclaim we can all agree that you go wrong repeating the Holy Name of Jesus.

And if you are praying the Hail Mary that most Catholic of prayers, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

 

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Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil, as sorcerers do who practice black magic and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as the Devil, sooner or later you will be converted and save your soul if –and mark well what I say–if you say the Rosary every day for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining pardon and contrition for your sins.

St Louis De Montfort  The Secret of the Rosary

 

The second in a series explaining why the Hail Mary is a Prayer for all Christians not just Catholics.

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners.
Now, and at the hour of our death, Amen.

In part 1 the Angelic Salutation, we talked about how the opening words of the Hail Mary, taken directly from the greeting of the Angel Gabriel, signifies not only the importance of Mary as the very first Christian but her position relative to the heavenly host.

Lets begin Part 2:  The Human Confirmation

The next words of the Hail Mary are:

 Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb,

Like the initial line this comes directly from scripture let’s go back to Luke chapter 1 and take this passage in context:

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:39-45

As we did before let’s include the King James version

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;  And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.  And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:  And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

As with the angelic greeting not only the words that are part of the Hail Mary but the entire passage is important to understand it.  Let’s consider it point by point:

A:  It’s Mary’s presence that prompts the initial reaction

Let’s begin not with the first reaction of Elizabeth to Mary’s greeting, let’s begin with the first person who reacts period, the unborn St. John the Baptist in verse 41a:

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb

Mary is heard and John reacts.  This child, who will have the spirit and power of Elijah, reacts to the sound of the Mother of the Christ.

Now one might first say, big deal babies jump in the womb all the time  but let’s remind everybody what Gabriel said about John in verse 15:

 He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,

and it’s important enough to be included in inspired scripture.  This means it’s VERY significant.  That leads to our 2nd point:

B:  The Holy Spirit reacts to the presence of Mary

The Unborn St. John already filled with the Spirit of Elijah has acted and the next action comes, not from Elizabeth but directly from God in verse 41b

“Elisabeth filled with the Holy Spirit…”

At the presence of Mary The Holy Spirit fills Elisabeth.  This is quite interesting in that while John apparently already has the spirit of Elijah in him the Holy Spirit does not enter Elisabeth until this point.

So right away we see Mary’s greeting causes one already inspired by God to act,  and further causes the spirit of God itself to act.  God acting due to the words of Mary.  We’ll talk about that in a future post

But even beyond those two things is what happens next our 3rd point:

C:  Elizabeth praises Mary and directly honors her presence.

John and the Holy Spirit have both acted.   Elizabeth  speaks the words that will appear in the Hail Mary:

 Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

Now in one sense this simply reiterates what the Angel Gabriel has already but consider how radical it is for her, the elder married relative speaking this to a younger unmarried (and pregnant) relative.  By saying these words inspired by the Holy Spirit she is giving confirmation to those words.  Then consider what, under that inspiration of the spirit, comes next.

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

She declares herself honored by the visit of the MOTHER of her Lord

For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

She notes that it was MARY’S voice, that prompted the reaction of her unborn child St. John

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And finishes off praising MARY for her belief.

What does all of this mean?  Just this.

We have already established in part one that the Angels consider Mary their superior, now here woman (as in mankind) to give giving her praise as well, both a generation born and those not yet born.  

Now none of this, of course decreases for one second the Child Jesus but the example here is profound under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit man, both born and unborn explicitly praises Mary, and does so as the Mother of God.    

And how does Mary react to all of this?  With a spectacular prayer does two critical things

D:  Mary confirms her status before man for all time while giving Glory to God

Mary’s answers these greetings with her song the prayer we call the Magnificat 

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.  For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.  The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.  He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.  He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.  The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.  He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:46b-55

Look at what Mary does she “proclaims the greatness of the Lord” proclaims “God her savior”, notes the holiness of his name, his mercy and talks of his great deeds and promises, but in the middle of all of this praise she also confirms that

from now on will all ages call me blessed

Which coincidentally is exactly what this line of the Hail Mary does.

Oh and one more thing about Mary’s speech, note that while it is explicitly stated that Elizabeth is inspired by the Holy Spirit to react it doesn’t say anything about the Holy Spirit inspiring Mary prayer or speech in any way.  At this point Mary is already so advanced in grace and so blessed that she knows God without further inspiration.

So lets’ review:

Mary’s words cause a reaction by the great St. John (A)

Mary’s words cause the holy spirit to enter Elizabeth (B)

Elizabeth praises Mary under the inspiration of God (C)

Mary confirms this praise is proper while at the same time praising God as well. (D)

This says that Mary is not only to be praised by man, both those born and those yet to come, but it is to happen for ALL generations.

One final thought, remember, all of this comes from inspired scripture that is not in dispute between Protestants and Catholics.

Next time: Part 3 The Holy Name

 

Mrs Cooper:   [Walking into a Catholic chapel] Oh, this one’s sweet. You know, for your rosary rattlers.

The Big Bang Theory The Rhinitis Revelation 2011

If there is one thing that tends to unite many Protestants it’s their dislike of the Catholic faith.  One may go from being a Lutheran, to a Methodist to a Baptist to a Congregationalist and it will produce nary a reaction from any other protestant.  But if a Protestant goes from any of these denominations to the Catholic Faith the shock and horror this produces never ceases to amaze.

And of the various Catholic Devotions none seem to promote more of a visceral reaction that the Holy Rosary and the primary prayer of it the Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee

Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb,  Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners.

Now, and at the hour of our death, Amen.

Nothing seems to set Protestants into a fit like this prayer.   As St. Louis De Montfort described it in his classic book The Secret of the Rosary:

They still say the Our Father but never the Hail Mary; they would rather wear a poisonous snake around their necks than wear a scapular or carry a rosary.

I’ve always found this fact to be one of the oddest things about the Protestant version of Christianity as the Hail Mary is built in its entirety of words that most Protestants would consider the building blocks of Christianity itself.

So this being the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Hail Mary being the most common prayer of the rosary (said 10 times in a decade, 53 times if saying one set of mysteries, or 203 times in a full Rosary, 206 using my methods) this is an excellent time to take a close look at the Hail Mary piece by piece and explain why it is a prayer every Christian should use with pleasure.  I will do this in several parts so lets begin with

Part one:  The Angelic Salutation:

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”

If one studies various books on the Hail Mary you will see that it is often referred to as the “Angelic Salutation”.  This make a whole lot of sense because this prayer begins literally with the salutation of an angel.  Now throughout the Bible there are many occasions when angels appear, usually to deliver a message, or a perform a specific task.  Most angels like the one who frees Peter (Acts 12)  are unnamed.  The named angels (Michael, Raphael, Gabriel) are rarely seen and the use of named angel to deliver this message emphasises its significance but ,   just as important as the actual words being said, is what is goes on in this encounter.  Let’s examine it in four parts:

A:  The substance of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary.

As I’ve said the Hail Mary or the Angelic Salutation literally begins with the salutation of Gabriel the Angel:

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Luke 1:26-28

For my protestant friends here is the King James Version

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,  To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Now the simple fact that this opening is directly biblical should, in itself make it acceptable to any Christian of any denomination but the words being said makes the point even better.  For reasons that will shortly become apparent let’s examine these words in a way one might normally not, in reverse order.

Gabriel closes with:  “Blessed are thou among women.”.  This singles Mary out from her entire gender as important, but that in itself isn’t a big deal.  While this puts her above half the earth’s population women were pretty much property at the time so that only suggests she is first among the lowly, but let’s continue to go back.

Gabriel precedes this with “The Lord is with you.”  This echoes the words of the unnamed Angel who greeted Gideon the same way  (Judges 6:12) So it establishes her parity with one of the Judges of Israel.  That’s rather significant,  but even beyond this while Gideon’s angel is unnamed this greeting to Mary is made by a named Angel who stands before God.  Thus Mary is not just equal to the great Judge Gideon, but superior to him.

This is preceded by “favored one”  Now one might think that being visited by an angel alone would make such a statement superfluous after all who is more favored than a person visited by God’s angel?   But the explicit statement of this denotes rank, you are favored, you are special, but consider that this is the only time in the entire bible that this description is given by an angel to any person.  Thus makes Mary Unique not just above a Judge or the Judges of Israel but above everyone.

Finally this entire greeting from Gabriel begins with the formal HAIL, this signifies a person of authority and is usually given by an inferior to a superior.  Gabriel having established Mary above humans, establishes her above himself.

All of this is entirely in keeping with a Royal Style, a person of rank with multiple titles is addressed by their highest first, and then by their lower ranks and honors in decreasing order.

Thus Gabriel in that initial salutation immediately establishes Mary’s rank, above women, above judges, above creatures and above himself.

B:  The submission of the Angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary

While it’s one thing to argue that the greeting of Gabriel suggests his inferiority to Mary, it’s the contrast between his actions in her presence vs his previous  conversation with Zechariah, the husband of her cousin Elizabeth that really puts the exclamation mark on Mary’s rank in the eternal hierarchy.

Consider the scene Luke 15-17:  Zechariah has just been told his prayers have been heard.  His elderly wife will conceive by him and his son will have the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah.  That’ pretty good news for and old priest but an incredible thing to believe so Zechariah quite rationally asks:  How?

Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”  And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel,  who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.  But now you will be speechless and unable to talk  until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”

Luke 1:18-20

Despite being not only a priest (Luke 1:5) and a man:  righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly (Luke 1:6b) when he asks the perfectly rational question:  “How?”  He is punished for the full term of his wife’s pregnancy for daring to question Gabriel words.

That’s a pretty severe punishment.

Contrast this reaction to Zachariah question vs how he replies to the virgin Mary who in verse 34 asks:

 “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”

Does Gabriel ask how dare this mere woman question the angel of God?  Does he note her youth and inexperience and demand she trust?  No.  Not only does Gabriel answer her question directly in verse 35 but he even offers variable tangible proof of his assertions in verses 36,37:

 “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”  And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

So Gabriel who stands before God, who smote a righteous priest for daring to question him, when standing before a person who in the 1st century had no standing or importance whatsoever deigns to submit himself to her, providing explanations when asked.  Just like a subordinate would.

C:  The Submission of Mary to the will of God:

While all of what has come before is of great importance when considering the relationship of Mary with God, the single most significant part comes not from the Gabriel’s greeting to Mary or even his answering of her questions.  It’s what follows that elevates Mary beyond everything else.

Consider Mary’s position.  She has just been told that it is God’s intention for her to conceive his son, but Mary being a product of her time and place knows very well where she stands in the pecking order in Jewish society and what turning up pregnant before her wedding means in 1st century Nazareth

1. As an unmarried woman found to be pregnant before her wedding and not by her betrothed the BEST CASE scenario would be a quiet divorce (Which was Joseph’s original plan see Matt 1:19) having the baby secretly and giving it up, keeping silent because if she repeated this tale she would  be considered a liar, a fool or a blasphemer subject to being stoned to death.  Again, this is her BEST CASE Scenario!

2.  Alternatively she might be divorced and not be able to keep the reason quiet marking her as an unclean woman the object of scorn and ridicule for the rest of her life forcing her to flee elsewhere with the ambition of living as a beggar or a whore.

3.  Of course she could just be publicly denounced as an adulteress and stoned to death according to the law of Moses.

All these are the reality of her times, yet given these very real possibilities what does she say:

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

She in one fell swoop declares her faith in the Lord, her trust that God will deliver her from any of those very likely scenarios before her.

Furthermore her statement makes an affirmative declaration that the child she will bear,  Jesus Christ,  is the son of God and by doing so gives birth to Christianity 9 months before the birth of Christ himself, even before his very conception.  She becomes by these words the very first Christian.

D:  Gabriel’s departure AFTER her consent

The final piece of this incredible puzzle comes in verse 38b and seems almost not worth mentioning:

 Then the angel departed from her.

I can hear the words now.  “Well of course the Angel left her, he’s an angel not a midwife or a lamaze coach.”  But there are three salient points worth noting here.

 1. At the beginning of the sequence in verse 26 Gabriel is referred to by name, but from the moment he proclaims the initial angelic salutation to this final verse, he is no longer named, he simply becomes “The Angel” while Mary is continually named each times she speaks.

2. If God considered Mary simple the object to be used to fulfill scripture Gabriel could have easily left after his explanation in verse 37 or even after his basic announcement after verse 33.  Instead he waits for her answer.  He waits while Mary, a mere creature decides if God design will take place through her or not.  This act makes Mary’s “Yes” not a formality but the necessary final ingredient for God’s plan to take place and his waiting for that “yes” is a formal acknowledgement by the powers of heaven in her unique role in the salvation of all of mankind

 3. Finally he does not leave till dismissed

This gives the final touch to the argument concerning Mary rank vs the Angels

So in summation in four parts we see  we see Mary:

Marked as holy by God (part 1)

Submitted to by the heavenly Angel (part 2 & 4) 

And giving affirmative consent to God submitting herself to his plan of Salvation (part 3)

and all of this starts with the opening phrases of the Angelic Salutation:  “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”

It is the phrase that all Christianity begins with.

 

Next time:  Part 2:   The Human Confirmation

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On Tuesday, the feast of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary WQPH radio held the first of a series of events put on by WQPH over the next several days detailed here at the old Madonna of the Holy Rosary

There was a living rosary, a birthday cake and Ice cream to celebrate our lady’s birth and the exposition of the blessed sacrament.

But I thought one of the best parts of the event was this 15 minute talk by Fr. Joe Dolan the pastor of St Bernards Parish at St. Camillus church about the Rosary and it’s evolution over time.

Give it a watch and learn something about this most Catholic of prayers

If you’re interested in the rest of the events they follow:

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Saturday September 12th:

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary Madonna Holy Rosary Church, Fitchburg

10am – 3pm Day Retreat – Fr Leonard ($25 offering)
10am – 4pm
Festival in Church Hall
Catholic Book Fair
WQPH Radio-a-thon
3 – 3:45pm Confession – Fr Leonard Mary MFVA of EWTN
4sandrpm Holy Mass – Fr Leonard Mary MFVA of EWTN
Sunday September 13th:

Fatima Anniversary

9am HolyMass St Francis of Assisi Church, 441 Fellsway W. Medford

10:30am Breakfast Anthony’s, 105 Canal St, Malden

Susan Campbell Trainor (781) 391-7374 for tickets ($25 per person)

Special Guest: Fr. Leonard Mary MFVA of EWTN

Monday September 14th:

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

St Bernards at St Camillus Church, Fitchburg

Noon Holy Mass with Fr. Leonard Mary MFVA of EWTN

Luncheon to follow in lower church

Roland & Carol Vallee (978)343-4927 for tickets ($22 per person)

Tuesday September 15th:

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows For lost children

St Joseph Church, 114 High St., Medford

6pm Living Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and Divine Mercy Chaplet

Followed by Mass celebrated by Fr. Leonard Mary MFVA of EWTN . Contact Sandi Arjune (781) 333-4800

For more information or to volunteer to help

www.prayersforlife.org

info@wqphradio.org

781-218-2834

Intercessory Prayer

9/8/15 Living Rosary: Joan Conroy (978) 343-9278
9/12/15 Day Retreat: Chris Toloczko (508) 856-9416

 

I have a series of prayers & scripture readings that I do daily that I do daily but I’ve added to that to include four speciality decades of the Rosary that I’m discussing this morning as a suggested daily prayers to start your day because the intentions I’m prayer for can be applied to almost everyone’s situation

The first is something I’ve discussed before.  It’s the 2nd Joyful Mystery of the Rosary (The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth) and it’s offered for those on my Perpetual Twitter Novena.   On twitter you might note that I rarely argue with those who attack the faith.  The point of trying to win an argument was becoming more important than actually spreading the faith.  That’s the sin of pride.

So instead I add those people to a twitter list and as soon as I have conscious thought while still in bead I offer that decade in my head for all those people on that list.  Remember nobody is going to make a better argument for Christ then that person’s Guardian angel & the Holy Spirit, say that decade and Help them along.

My Second Prayer is the First Sorrowful Mystery (the agony in the garden) I offer this for those who do not go to confession.  The one thing that the enemy dreads more than anything other is a soul that reconciles itself to God, that accepts the grace that God offers.  It goes hand in hand with the first set of prayer but more importantly it is a reality needed to remind even devout Christians that we need to be aware of our sins and ask for forgiveness.  (again the Sin of Pride)

The 3rd Prayer is the 2nd sorrowful Mystery (The Scourging at the Pillar) It offered in conjunction with all my suffering of the day and the flesh & blood of Christ shed during his scourging for the person to die that day who is most in danger of hell.

The fact of life is this, we all die, even those who Christ & the apostles raised eventually died again.  God gives us till the moment of death to accept his outstretched hand.  We need to do all we can for those whose time is about to end and if it means some suffering or pain during our day, so be it.

Finally I finish with the 3rd Glorious Mystery (The Coming of the Holy Spirit)  I offer it for friends, my city and I also picked a pair of formerly Catholic Celebrities who I enjoy (for me it’s Tom Baker & Nick Frost) & ask the Holy Spirit to come into their hearts.  There is nothing like celebrity to take someone away from God and the culture of celebrity encourages it.  If you have a favorite actor and or actress consider offering such a prayer to start your day, if they have entertained you, made you laugh or smile, what better way can you repay them than giving them the boost that they need more than anything else.

That might seem like a lot, but praying in one’s head one finishes this sequence in under 10 minutes and that the ten minutes that you would spend in bed waking up anyways.

And if all of this is too much start with the first and see what happens.  I suspect you will find that once you make prayer a habit you’ll find yourself doing more and wanting more.  You’ll become the seed that yields 20 40 or 100 fold.

And that’s the Job description of christianity.