Our Lady’s First Apparition

Strange, how the seeds of doubt are sown. I read a blog post by someone who touts himself as a traditional Catholic. The author made an observation. Earlier in Church art, images of Our Lady always include Our Lord. Think of the icons of the East, where Our Lady typically holds the Christ Child. Think of Romanesque and Gothic statues of Our Lady seated, with the Christ Child on her lap. The author contrasted this artistic tradition with Neo-Gothic statues of the modern era, which often show Our Lady standing alone, her arms outstretched. This pose is often associated with Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima.

The author was implying that this artistic convention is un-traditional and divorces Our Lady from Our Lord. It makes her an independent force or mediator, separate from Our Lord, making the Protestant allegation of Mariolatry seem true. This thought now occurs to me when I see statues of Our Lady absent a representation of the Christ Child. It occurs to me when I venerate Our Lady at the Lady Altar in a local church, where the statue shows Our Lady in the pose described above. It’s a wicked thought, but it takes some insight to redress. For me, the insight was slow in coming. It came one day when praying the Rosary, specifically the mystery of the Visitation. Continue reading

The Traditional 15 Mysteries of the Rosary Summarized in the Apostles’ Creed

It occurred to me the other day that the Apostles’ Creed is a synopsis — a summary — of the fifteen traditional mysteries of the Rosary. Meditating on that fact helps you integrate the Creed into the Rosary. It doesn’t seem like an arbitrary starting point for the prayers and mysteries that follow. Here’s how my thought came about:

The traditional Rosary consists of five Joyful Mysteries, five Sorrowful Mysteries, and five Glorious Mysteries. These mysteries focus on Our Lord’s Incarnation, Birth, Infancy and early life, Passion, Death, Resurrection, and events after the Resurrection. The Luminous Mysteries, which commemorate events in Our Lord’s Public Ministry, are not present.

You can very easily divide the articles of the Apostles’ Creed into three sections corresponding to the three sets of mysteries:
Continue reading

Twilight of the Idols, Part II: A Conversation at the Pearly Gates

St. Peter: Next up.

C.S. Lewis: Hmm . . . hello. Are you . . . St. Peter?

St. Peter: Yes, don’t the keys and the papal tiara indicate that?

Lewis: Erm, yes. <Starts to turn pale.>

St. Peter: Well, time for the standard questions. First question: At the moment of your death, did you believe with divine faith in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary?

Lewis: Pardon? Continue reading

Twilight of the Idols, Part I: A Riddle

“For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.” Mat. 24:24

The purpose of this piece is to expose the prejudice that some Catholics exhibit when considering the life and the work of a specific Protestant author. Here, the prejudice is in the Protestant author’s favor. I intend to point out why this prejudice is incorrect. Let’s start:

Catholic missionaries evangelized the region around Nagasaki, Japan, in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Then the Japanese government turned against the Catholics, martyred the priests, and forced the Church underground. After Japan began to open up to the Western world in the 1800s, a Catholic priest arrived. A group of wary local women approached him and asked three questions (I paraphrase):

1.) Do you venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary?
2.) Do you obey the Pope of Rome?
3.) Do you have a wife?

The priest answered Yes to first two questions and No to the last one. The women then went away. Sometime later, the men of their village returned to the priest, revealing that they were “Kakure Kirishitan,” the secret Christians of Japan.* Continue reading

Putting the “Hyper-” Back in “Hyperdulia”

I recently wrote several posts about Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. I think by any objective standard, I am a “high Mariologist.” I affirm all of the defined dogmas relating to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I affirm that the miraculous, virginal, painless birth of Our Lord is a defined dogma. I affirm that Our Lady is Universal Mediatrix of Grace, Co-Redemptrix, and Advocate. In a very real sense, she is the primary beneficiary of the redemption wrought by Our Lord.

Still, it’s possible to go too far, affirming propositions about the Blessed Virgin that exceed the dignity God bestowed upon her. I personally think St. Maximilian Kolbe went too far in some of his writings, and that these excesses skew the Mariology of some of his followers. I give one example here. Continue reading

The Immaculate Conception and the Cleansing of the Temple

I propose that there is a mystical connection between Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and Christ’s cleansing of the Temple as told in the Gospel of St. John. Unlike in the Synoptic Gospels, in St. John’s Gospel the cleansing of the Temple occurs at the beginning of Our Lord’s public ministry, not long after the Wedding at Cana.* Here’s the aftermath of Our Lord knocking over the tables (2:18-22; emphasis added):

“18 The Jews, therefore, answered, and said to Him: What sign dost thou shew unto us, seeing thou dost these things? 19 Jesus answered, and said to them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 The Jews then said: Six and forty years was this temple in building; and wilt thou raise it up in three days? 21 But He spoke of the temple of His body. 22 When therefore He was risen again from the dead, His disciples remembered, that He had said this, and they believed the scripture, and the word that Jesus had said.”

I propose that there’s a hidden meaning to the number 46 years that explains its presence in the text. Like the Temple of Herod, Our Lord’s Body was, at this point, 46 years in the making. For that was the number of years from the Immaculate Conception to the beginning of Our Lord’s public ministry. Continue reading

Pére Marquette and the River of the Immaculate Conception

Our Lady is patroness of the United States under her title “conceived without sin.” Did you know that the greatest river in the United States, the Mississippi River, is also named the River of the Immaculate Conception? That’s the name that Jesuit missionary and explorer Pére Jacques Marquette, S.J., gave the river when he discovered it. Pére Marquette (1637-1675) addressed the following beautiful prayer to Our Lady, conceived without sin:

“Hail daughter of God the Father, hail Mother of God the Son, hail spouse of God the Holy Ghost, hail temple of all the Persons of the Trinity, by your holy virginity and your Immaculate Conception, make clean my heart and my song.” (http://catholicism.org/pere-marquettes-prayer-to-the-immaculate-conception.html) Continue reading

“All who are truly Christ’s believe . . . the Conception of the Mother of God without stain of original sin”

Regardless of the date that appears above, it’s still December 8 here in the Driftless. Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the United States of America. In honor of our nation’s patronal feast day, I cite His Holiness Pope Pius XI’s encyclical letter Mortalium Animos (1928), emphasis added:

“Besides this, in connection with things which must be believed, it is nowise licit to use that distinction which some have seen fit to introduce between those articles of faith which are fundamental and those which are not fundamental, as they say, as if the former are to be accepted by all, while the latter may be left to the free assent of the faithful: for the supernatural virtue of faith has a formal cause, namely the authority of God revealing, and this is patient of no such distinction. For this reason it is that all who are truly Christ’s believe, for example, the Conception of the Mother of God without stain of original sin with the same faith as they believe the mystery of the August Trinity, and the Incarnation of our Lord just as they do the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, according to the sense in which it was defined by the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican. Are these truths not equally certain, or not equally to be believed, because the Church has solemnly sanctioned and defined them, some in one age and some in another, even in those times immediately before our own? Has not God revealed them all?” (http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19280106_mortalium-animos.html)

Drafts from the Driftless

Well, from the *edge* of the Driftless, to be precise. I’ve been wiped out by work this last week, which is great, because I love having a job. On the downside, I’ve had less time to coruscate with refulgent wisdom on these here pages. I have a longer post in the works, but in the meantime I’ll jot down some drafts for future reference. The author of the Siris blog does much the same, and he’s my inspiration. Here goes:

–The indissolubility of sacramental matrimony as a sign of the indissolubility and final perfection of the New Covenant. Divorce allowed under the Old Testament because of the provisional nature of the Mosaic Law.

–If the ordained priest acts in persona Christi, the non-ordained Christian acts in persona Mariae

–St. Joseph as the type of the clergy, providing the canonical structure within which the Holy Ghost overshadows and fecundates the Blessed Virgin/the Church

–God the Son as Eternal Christ (“Anointed”): The Holy Ghost as the seal of the bond between the Father and the Son. Oil as a seal preserving the integrity of skin and hair against soiling and disintegration/rupture.

–Noah and his Ark, outside of which there was no salvation, as a type of St. Peter and his Barque, the Church, outside of which there is no salvation Continue reading