Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

5/7/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Jesus still comes to dwell in all men and women who say Yes to Him

Mary's response to the invitation of the God who respects human freedom is an invitation to each one of us to explore our own personal histories and to write them anew in Him. We do this by exercising our own freedom. By saying Yes to Jesus. By choosing to live the more excellent way of love. Mary walked this way with extraordinary humility. (1 Cor. 12:31) She shows us the pattern of human love surrendered to Divine Love.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/7/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Mary, Marian, Mother of God, Rosary, May, May crowning, piety, Pope Francis, Confraternity, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In many cultures which have been influenced by the culture of the Catholic Church, the Month of May has become especially associated with honoring Mary, the Mother of the Lord Jesus. As in many aspects of Catholic culture, grace builds upon nature.

May is the beginning of spring which is a sign and symbol of new life, as the barrenness of winter comes to an end and new life begins to break forth. Mary is the Mother of the One through whom our New Life has come. Jesus, her Son, is the first born of the New Creation. (Col. 1:15)

In spite of the Rain, thousands of Pilgrims gathered. Pope Francis celebrated Mass outside in St Peters Square. At the end of Mass he led the faithful in reciting the Regina Caeli, an ancient popular Marian prayer in the Catholic Church. Practices of popular piety have flourished during the month of May which express special affection and honor toward Mary. 

Included in the crowd were leaders from lay confraternities around the world. Confraternity is a word used to describe some of the multiple lay groups in the Catholic Church which the Holy Spirit is raising up or renewing for this new missionary age. They often have a special devotional life and live missionary vocations in the midst of the real world.

Pope Francis made these comments about Mary as pilgrim and model for all Christians: "In this moment of profound communion in Christ, we feel the spiritual presence of the Virgin Mary alive in our midst - a maternal presence, a familiar presence, especially for you are taking  part in the Confraternities. The love for the Madonna is one of the characteristics of popular piety, which needs to be strengthened and well oriented."

"For this reason, I invite you to meditate on the last chapter of the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which speaks precisely of Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church. There it is said that Mary "advanced in her pilgrimage of faith" (n. 58). Dear friends, in the Year of Faith I leave you this icon of Mary the pilgrim, who follows Jesus the Son, and goes before all of us in the journey of faith."

"Today the Eastern Churches that follow the Julian Calendar celebrate the feast of Easter. I wish to send to these brothers and sisters a special greeting, uniting myself to them with all my heart in proclaiming the joyful news: Christ is risen!"

"Gathered in prayer around Mary, we ask God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete - that He might counsel and comfort all Christians, especially those who celebrate Easter amongst trials and sufferings, and might guide them in the ways of reconciliation and peace."

Special love and devotion toward Mary is woven into Catholic piety and culture. It is also a vital part of Orthodox Christianity. Because it is so naturally supernatural to many of us, we can sometimes forget that some other Christians, particularly members of groups which descend from the Protestant Reformation in Europe, do not understand our practices.

It is important to remember that these practices not only speak of Mary but, most importantly, they are profoundly Christological. Thay are also ancient in their theological roots.

Some of the leaders of the movement called the protestant reformation had a deep devotion to and love for Mary. For example, Martin Luther wrote the following words in his commentary on the "Magnificat". "Men have crowded all her glory into a single phrase: The Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees."

From the earliest centuries of Christianity Mary was called in Greek the Theotokos. The word means Mother of God or God-Bearer. The term was woven into the liturgical worship and popular piety of the undivided Church of the first millennium. This title was a response to the early threats to 'orthodoxy' by groups denying either the divinity or humanity of Jesus Christ. It was to protect the deposit of faith, to preserve authentic Christian doctrine. 

From antiquity, Mary's special place in the plan of salvation was acknowledged by all Christians. In fact, the early Christians painted her image in the catacombs during their moments of fear, persecution and doubt. They found great inspiration from this little woman of great faith. In her yes to God's call, spoken through the Angel, they came to understand that ordinary people can change human history.

They were inspired to then add their own yes to hers. Justin Martyr and many other early Christian apologists found in her fiat, her obedient yes to the angel, the undoing of the "no-I will not serve" given by the first woman Eve. They called Mary The Second Eve, the mother of a new creation.

In her womb Mary carried the One whom Scripture calls the "New Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45). He was born from her as the first born of a new race of men and women who would find a new birth through His life, death and Resurrection. (1 Cor 15.27; 2 Cor 5.17; Col 1.15; ) The Redeemer now resides within, and lives through, all who respond to the invitation of Love like Mary did.

A pronouncement of an early Church Council, The Council of Ephesus, in 431 AD, insisted " If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the holy virgin is the "Theotokos" (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the word of God become flesh by birth) let him be anathema." 

The Greek term Theotokos, God-bearer or Mother of God is still the most popular title given to Our Lady in the Eastern Christian Churches, Catholic and Orthodox. It was affirmed in early Church Councils precisely because it confirmed the Christian claim about who Jesus Christ is - and who each one of us is invited to become as we cooperate with grace and live our lives in the Church which is His Body.

The reason for the insistence on this title was the teaching that Jesus Christ was - and is - both Divine and Human. The doctrine is Christological, meaning that it had to do with Jesus Christ. No one has ever claimed that Mary gave birth to Christ's Divinity, but rather, that His human and divine nature could not - and cannot - be separated.

Not only was this truth under assault then, it is under assault now. This teaching lies at the heart of the Christian claim concerning the implications of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in each of our lives. It must be protected as the unique distinctive and contribution of Christianity.

Continued disagreements concerning this title, the Mother of God, have led to a diminution in the role of Mary in some Christian circles. Subsequent reaction and counter reactions have made it difficult to even discuss Mary in certain circles where Christians gather in common pursuits.

Sadly, this impedes some Christians from grasping the meaning of Mary's response to God's invitation, her role in the plan of salvation, her exemplary humility and her deference to God's Will. It has also clouded an important lesson for all Christians, Mary is the type, the living blueprint, of the Christian vocation for all who seek to follow Jesus Christ. 

From the earliest centuries, there have been reflections on the last gift Jesus gave before the total gift of Himself on Golgotha. The beloved disciple records the moment. "When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, 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 to his own home". (John 19:26, 27)

The writings of the early Christian Church fathers explain that this gift from Jesus to the beloved disciple John is also a gift to the whole Church - and to every member. Jesus gave us His Mother. The meaning and mystery of Mary is a gift to be opened and received, reflected upon, prayed over and lived. 

Mary's response to the invitation of the God who respects human freedom is an invitation to each one of us to explore our own personal histories and to write them anew in Him. We do this by exercising our own freedom. By saying Yes to Jesus. By choosing to live the more excellent way of love. Mary walked this way with extraordinary humility. (1 Cor. 12:31) She shows us the pattern of human love surrendered to Divine Love.

When we live that way, Love Incarnate is revealed through each of us so that He can then be given to others through us. We can become God Bearers. Among the multiple references to Mary, the Mother of God, found in the writings of the early Church Fathers is one of my favorites from the Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nyssa who died in 356 A.D:

"What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."

The early fathers used other descriptive terms, rooted in the sacred scriptures, meant to further help us to unpack this mystery. For example, they called her the Ark of the new Covenant and the tent of meeting. We can become the tent and the ark within which God takes up His residence, comes to dwell, in our own age - which so desperately needs His saving presence.

Jesus still comes to dwell in all men and women who say Yes to Him. "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him." (John 14:23) We are invited to bear Jesus for others and invite them, through the waters of Baptism, into new birth in His Body, the Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way,"What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ." (CCC#487) The Catholic Catechism also reminds us, "Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it."(CCC #964)

It is time to re- examine the deeper implications of the treasure that is found in the life example and message of the little Virgin of Nazareth in this critical hour in human history. Mary, Mother of God is a virtual pilgrimage site inviting pilgrims to reflect on the mysteries of the faith, pray and encounter the most beautiful artwork from our history. It will also become a place where we pray together, and grow together.

Catholic Online offers "Mary, the Mother of God", a virtual pilgrimage site and repository of reflection, devotion, prayer and beauty dedicated to honoring the Mother of God. It is a place for all those who want to be drawn more deeply into a saving and transformational relationship with Her Son and Savior Jesus Christ. May it be a blessing to you durung the month of May, the month of Mary.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Europe

Pope hailed as 'pontiff of the poor' by noted Greek atheist and leftist leader Watch

Image of Alexis Tsipras, Greece's opposition leader and a renowned atheist and leftist, met with Pope Francis as part of starting a dialogue between the Church and leftists in Europe.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Alexis Tsipras, a radical leftists and self-described atheist-as well as Greece's opposition leader-has hailed Pope Francis as the "pontiff of the poor" after a meeting at the Vatican. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Tsipras, one of the loudest critics of ... continue reading


New apostolic constitution to overhaul Vatican drawn up by Council of Cardinals Watch

Image of The nine cardinals will help advise the Pope on the reform of the Vatican's organization and church governance. Discussions are reportedly now more

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis' international Council of Cardinals have begun a first draft of a new apostolic constitution intended to reform Vatican bureaucracy. Appointed by Pope Francis, the so-called "C-9" of nine cardinal members held its sixth meeting this week. LOS ... continue reading


Until death 'til they part - and then some! Skeletons hold hands for centuries Watch

Image of The skeletons were placed together in this position, as there was enough room in the grave to have them buried apart, according to Vicki Score, ULAS project manager.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was a remarkable find - and a reminder on how love can last past the grave. Two skeletons, holding hands centuries after their passing, were discovered in an old, British churchyard. Fingers still entwined, the couple was found in a site that overlooks the ... continue reading


Who was the mysterious third tribe that formed gene pool with primitive Europeans? Watch

Image of Hunter-gatherers arrived in Europe thousands of years before the advent of agriculture. These hunters took shelter in the south during the Ice Age and then expanded during a period called the Mesolithic, after the ice sheets had retreated from central and northern Europe.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Researchers at Harvard medical School have definitely linked at least three tribes that combined to create Europeans of 7,000 years ago. Scientists say that blue-eyed hunters with olive skin mingled with brown-eyed, fair-completed farmers as these tillers swept ... continue reading


Pope Francis and St Augustine Speak to Bishops

Image of Francis encouraged these men, called to be shepherds of the flock of Christ, to be men of courage. He charged them to overcome the initial fears which can accompany the daunting task entrusted to them by the Lord and His Church.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This week, Pope Francis met with all of the Bishops who received their appointments in the past year. They are all participating in a training session which is held at the Vatican every year. Francis, the Bishop of Rome, told his brothers they were  - the ... continue reading


Shakespearean villain Richard III died from battle wounds Watch

Image of King Richard III suffered a total of 11 wounds around the time of his death. According to analysis, Richard suffered nine wounds to his skull and two to the rest of his body.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Classical Shakespearean villain and colorful historical figure King Richard III died from a particularly brutal blow to the skull he suffered in battle. A forensic analysis of his skeleton gave scientists' clues to his final moments. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Millions displaced from homes due to natural disasters Watch

Image of Last year, seasonal floods caused significant displacements in sub-Saharan Africa, notably in Niger, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan, countries also affected by conflict and drought.

By Laura Onita, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Almost 22 million people were forced to flee their homes due to natural disasters last year and the numbers uprooted could increase as urban populations grow, a refugee agency said on Wednesday. (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The majority were in Asia, where 19 million ... continue reading


Pope Francis invites Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet with him Watch

Image of It's not yet known how Chinese President Xi Jinping will respond to Pope Francis' request for a special meeting.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has reportedly invited the President of China, Xi Jinping to meet with him, either in the Vatican or Beijing. The pontiff wants to speak to the president in order to build a lasting global peace, which the Pope says is engaged in a "piecemeal" ... continue reading


Marriage and Holiness: Pope Marries Twenty Couples on the Exaltation of the Cross Watch

Image of One of the twenty couples who exchanged their vows in the presence of Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Much of the Press, including circles of the Catholic Press, focused on the unique path which some of the couples followed to the Sacrament of Marriage; even though they had all arrived at the Altar, offering their love to the Source of all true Love, for ... continue reading


Pope Francis Gives Impassioned Plea for an End to War: What Does it Matter to Me? Watch

Image of Pope Francis walks inside the Austro-Hungarian cemetery at Fogliano in Redipuglia September 13, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

By Catholic Online

With this - What does it matter to me?-  in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money, but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry.  That - What does it matter to me?- prevents the tears.  Cain did not ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:12-20
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 17:1, 6-7, 8, 15
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen, Yahweh, to an upright ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:1-3
1 Now it happened that after this he made his way ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 19th, 2014 Image

St. Januarius
September 19: St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter