Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Mary, the Holy Mother of God

    The mother of the messiah has been called many things in the last 2000 years – the Virgin Mary, Our Lady, the Blessed Mother.   But call her “the Mother of God,” and you’ll see some Christians squirm.   This is nothing new. One day in the early fifth century, a priest preached a stirring sermon in the presence of the patriarch of Constantinople. His subject was the holy mother of Jesus. The preacher continually referred to Mary as the “Theotokos” meaning “God-bearer” or mother of God. This was no innovation–Christians had invoked Mary under this title for at least two hundred years. Nevertheless, at the close of the sermon, the patriarch ascended the steps of the pulpit to correct the preacher. We should call Mary the Mother of Christ,...

‘Be a Virtuous People..’

‘Be a Virtuous People..’

    The Holy Family with Elizabeth  Peter Paul Rubens   ‘Be a virtuous people..’   That was Father’s exhortation to us this morning. To imitate the Holy Family, he said, requires us to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient with one another. It’s not impossible, because … we are a redeemed people who have been given the strength to become what we need to be—no matter what kind of family you came from.   What is impossible with men is possible with God. –Luke 18:27 It would be hard to find two people who brought more baggage to a marriage than my husband and I. But in that desperate weakness and need, I leaned on Jesus and His promises for all my strength and learned that He can and does...

He Comes to Conquer the Devil

He Comes to Conquer the Devil

    The Slaughter of the Children of Bethlehem by Gustave Doré     Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children. —Quodvultdeus: Sermon  LOH     Herod couldn’t fight the battle of fear within himself, so he found the easiest target– to slay from without what he could not conquer within. Here in the midst of this season of joy we’re reminded of the injustice being done to the unborn today. Abortion, the slaughter of innocents…the rage and cruelty being fought from...

A Bible for Christmas

A Bible for Christmas

  Remember this question? I’m not sure why my husband did this to himself..Look what he got me for Christmas. Surely he has sealed his fate. I’ll start tonight with the Lentil Soup With Rosemary… and then they’ll be no stopping me.   +PAX    

Door of Humility….

Door of Humility….

      The Door of Humility leads into the Church of the Nativity (Basilica of the Nativitiy)     From Pope Benedict XVI’s  Midnight Mass Homily     Today, anyone wishing to enter the Church of Jesus’ Nativity in Bethlehem will find that the doorway five and a half metres high, through which emperors and caliphs used to enter the building, is now largely walled up. Only a low opening of one and a half metres has remained.     The intention was probably to provide the church with better protection from attack, but above all to prevent people from entering God’s house on horseback.     Anyone wishing to enter the place of Jesus’ birth has to bend down. It seems to me that a deeper truth is revealed here,...

He Was Born…..

He Was Born…..

To Die     I could study this icon all day…There is so much here. It is appropriately titled,   Icon of the Nativity   In the very center is the magnificent Star of Bethlehem which led the wise men to Jesus..to a manger whose backdrop is a dark cave.   Mary, Theotokos, God Bearer, the largest figure in the painting, reclines separate from her Son..Bottom left you may notice Joseph, to whom Mary’s gaze is set..He is her betrothed, the righteous man who protected Mary and Jesus.   The old man speaking to him represents the devil, come to taunt him with new doubts as he wrestles with this “terrible” truth.   There are angels looking down upon the scene and ministering as messengers of God–   If...

The Logic of the Gospel

The Logic of the Gospel

  Makes no sense to the world.     My soul magnifies the Lord And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; Because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid; For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; Because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name; And his mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of his mercy Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.  ...

The Prison That Affects All of Us

The Prison That Affects All of Us

        On Sunday the pope went to Rebbibia prison in the north of Rome. In addition to speaking on the difference between divine and human justice, Pope Benedict XVI also spoke to them about  the prison that affects all of us;   “The Child of Bethlehem will be happy when all men return to God with a renewed heart. Let us ask him in silence and in prayer for us all to be released from the prison of sin, from haughtiness and pride,” he said. “Everyone in fact needs to leave this interior prison to be truly free from evil, from anxiety and from death. Only that Child who was laid in a manger is able to bestow upon all this complete liberation!”     Isn’t this after all…the real meaning of...

Battle for the Mind and Heart

Battle for the Mind and Heart

    Is it possible for the mind to ever be free from the useless thoughts that slide in subtly and without our seeing them –so that it is no small thing to drive them away? ( Germanus )     As the desert fathers teach us, the battle for the mind and heart is an old one. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t fight it. I have to catch my thoughts in between prayer times because if I’m not careful what I meditate on, by the time I do get to prayer I’m weighed down by cares of the world or lies the enemy is trying to sell me.     Cassian says, the nature of the soul is like a feather which if it is,     not damaged or spoilt by moisture falling on it is borne aloft naturally to the heights of heaven....

Time for Partridge and Sugar Plums

Time for Partridge and Sugar Plums

    A friend was once surprised to find St. Teresa gorging herself on a partridge, “What would people think?” she asked. “Let them think whatever they want,” said Teresa.  “There’s a time for penance, and there’s a time for partridge.”  —Voice of the Saints St Benedict calls it balance, I call it ‘down time’. My partridge isn’t necessarily food…. The week before Christmas for two hours, I put on my sweats, make some hot green tea and steal a cookie from the gifts people have brought us. Then I sit down on the couch…all by myself– with pillows stuffed in every corner…and I watch The Bolshoi Ballet perform The Nutcracker. Sometimes my husband comes home in the...

The Shadow and the O’s

The Shadow and the O’s

    Pope Warns Shadow Has Fallen Over Our Time The pope has an urgent warning as much of the world prepares to mark the New Year 2012. In a message released for the Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace on January 1, Pope Benedict warns, “It seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time.” And he cites a “rising sense of frustration,” especially among young people, as economic problems and unemployment continue to plague parts of the world.   When I first came home to the church one of the priests who mentored me told me–always stay very close to the Holy Father; read what he writes, learn what he teaches, pray for him. I’ve tried to be faithful to that instruction and in doing so have developed a great love for our dear Pope...