Thursday, May 31, 2012

For the Love of Good Literature

For as long as I can remember, I've always been interested in reading. I read my first book at seven, and I've never looked back. Over the years, my choice in books has diversified, but my love for reading has never waned. I like to read many different kinds of books, but for the purpose of this discussion, if I had to distill it down to three of them, I would say that I appreciate a good classic, an engrossing fantasy and a well-written biography. All three have their own unique strong points, and all three help to make up a diverse and sparkling repertoire of reading material.

A classic work of literature is a category that is somewhat nebulous, and will vary from reader to reader. As a general rule, a classic work of literature is going to be the kind of literature that helps to characterize, or flesh out, an entire decade or time period. It has artistic qualities, is replete with archetypes, and touches on themes such as life, death, love, faith, and hope that touch any human being who reads it, regardless of background or locale. A poignant example of an enduring classic is the iconic Divine Comedy, written by the poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri. One of my favorite classics is, in fact, the Divine Comedy; another is the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I appreciate both of these classics, and classics in general, because of their complexity and the in-depth analysis that they provide when you attempt to absorb them. Classics are also a fantastic way to really get in touch with the soul of humanity, if you will; the universal cogitations, longings, and attitudes common to all ages.

An enthralling fantasy is a work of literature that captivates the imagination and encourages the human heart to think big and, with regard to some pieces of literature within this genre, connects with a layer of our humanity that is most dear to us. A wonderful example of a work of fantasy that encompasses both in rarefied form is J.R.R. Tolkien's famous trilogy, the Lord of the Rings. I appreciate masterful and classical works of fantasy for much the same reasons as I appreciate standard classics: they touch on some very essential human elements and that place in the soul of humanity where beauty, mystery, and meaning reside. It is from this core that grow the fantasy worlds themselves, such as the over-arching and massive cosmos constructed by Tolkien himself for the context of the Lord of the Rings. I would suggest, perhaps, that the actual world that is developed through events and characters within a work of classic fantasy is actually of less consequence than the place of inspiration that they grow from within the author's mind; for it is at this seed of hope and human idealism that a work of fantasy meets reality and the two mingle in the minds of men. As with classics, literature in the genre of fantasy tends to be engrossing and complex, giving a good opportunity for analysis and deep thought.

Finally, biographies also have much to offer. Biographies are windows into the essential being of individuals, and as such, they span decades and centuries and unite persons all over the globe to one another. They are the memoirs of a soul, and as such, they become part of the memoirs of our own souls, as thoughts, meditations, and experiences become communicated intimately and deeply. Biographies inspire us, they empower us, and they motivate us to be more fully human every day. They awaken us to the good within humanity, that perchance we might fight for that good and believe in it. An example of an excellent biography is Jack's Life: The Life's Story of C.S. Lewis by Douglas H. Gresham. A superb autobiography, on the other hand, is the Story of a Soul by Saint Thérèse de Lisieux. Both are excellent windows into the essential being, the attitudes, thoughts, hopes, fears, and aspirations of the people they convey to the readers. Biographies and autobiographies are not so much designed to be analyzed as they are to be consumed; not so much mulled over as to be meditated on and absorbed. The more we learn about the inner minds and the depths of the heart in various human persons, the more human we become. It is an excellent practice to absorb the wisdom of others and add it to your own.

- An Essay on How I View Literature

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Principles of the Holy Liturgy and our Relationship with Christ

Absolutely outstanding catechesis by Fr. Calvin Goodwin, FSSP, and so sorely needed in the Church of our time. Pray for him, pray for the FSSP, pray for the reconciliation of the SSPX, and apply these truths to your lives! You might very much want to consider the Traditional Latin Mass, as well, for all of the enormous benefit of Grace to souls and the adherence to and love of our beloved Sacred Tradition; which, as both the Second Council of Nicea in 787 and the Second Vatican Council in Dei Verbum reminds us, constitute the second half of the Word of God, along with Sacred Scripture. Both require our highest love and devotion together as one single entity and one single revelation of God, as a continuous and unruptured continuity.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Spirit praises the Bride, and she returns all glory; Eternal Union

Come, O Holy Spirit, and let my speech overlap yours. I know you never cease to express your love and praise to your mysteriously intimate one, Mary your Bride; allow me, unworthy vessel, to proclaim the truth regarding her person.

"Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you," says the Lord. The Kingdom of God is within the Blessed Virgin Mary, and may I ever dwell in your Kingdom, my Lady. She is Queen over the Kingdom within her Heart, and all your subjects, O King, fall under the shade of her pleasant shadow and the protection of her cloak. Your Kingdom, O God, within Mary is pleasant; the fertile and fruitful hills thereof echo with waves of overwhelming Grace. When I gaze upon Mary, I see the only Heaven I desire to dwell in. I seek no other paradise and no other City, than that Heavenly one within her Heart, for nowhere else does God dwell than in the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly person of Mary, the eternal dwelling of the saved. For behold, I will show you the Bride of the Triune God, resplendent with glorious light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory into her. The Twelve Stars in her Crown and the Twelve Foundations of her City are the Twelve Tribes and Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, and they are fitted as lively stones into Mary, the Temple of God, she who is the fulness of the mystery; the Church and Israel. There they offer to Christ our God their very being for all eternity and contemplate His Face, in union with the Virgin made Church.

But how, O Virgin of Virgins, shall I contemplate you, the dwelling-place of God? How do you relate to the Spirit and the Son and the Father? You are the mystery of mysteries that I will never unravel. Permit me to contemplate the fire of the Godhead burning through you, a Burning Bush, ever burning but never consumed. For I see the Spirit echo a mighty voice through you, I see all the actions of the Spirit communicated through you as a Sacrament. I am seeing you echo the character of the Spirit, and you are present in all of the Paraclete's works. For behold, before all ages, the Divine and Eternal Immaculate Conception, the Holy Spirit, was the flowing forth of pure Love, conceived from the infinite Love of the Father and the Son. And then you are created, O full of Grace; upon your advent into this world, you are from the moment of your Hallowed Beginning the Immaculate Conception, being perfectly transparent to the Eternal Immaculate Conception. For like the Spirit you overflow with the Love of God mingled with your own, and from the purity of your Love God was born of you. Again, in another place, the Holy Spirit speaks from Eternity, and you echo the refrain: "I am the Mother of Fair Love, all the Grace of the Way and the Truth and the Life is within me;" and again of your Divine Maternity, "Wisdom has prepared a Table." Whatsoever the Spirit says, you say as well. Wheresoever the Spirit goes, there you are present. And whatever the Holy Spirit does, most perfectly expressed in the Divine Maternity, even so are you intimately involved, O Mother of God. For being born of you both, God became man. The fragrance of the Holy Spirit is Marian, and the fragrance of Mary is the Holy Spirit; your characters and roles, Spirit and Bride, are to one impact and one end, that is, the entrance of God the Son into human nature, and in that nature, the whole of the cosmos.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sainted Catholic Mystics, pray for us!

"Man is placed above all creatures, and not beneath them, and he cannot be satisfied
or content except in something greater than himself. Greater than himself there is
nothing but Myself, the Eternal God. Therefore I alone can satisfy him, and, because
he is deprived of this satisfaction by his guilt, he remains in continual torment and
pain. Weeping follows pain, and when he begins to weep, the wind strikes the tree
of self-love, which he has made the principle of all his being."
- God the Father, as communicated to St. Catherine of Sienna in an ecstasy

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary.

O my adorable and loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions. Amen.
- St. Gertrude the Great

For when God gave great knowledge to the human being, the human being elevated himself in his soul and turned away from God. God so regarded the human being that he would perfect all his works in him. But the old deceiver tricked human beings and infected them with the crime of disobedience, by the delight of an unseasonable wind, so that they sought for more than they should have.

Because a woman brought death
a bright Maiden overcame it,
and so the highest blessing
in all of creation
lies in the form of a woman,
since God has become man
in a sweet and blessed Virgin.

May the Holy Spirit enkindle you with the fire of His Love so that you may persevere, unfailingly, in the love of His service. Thus you may merit to become, at last, a living stone in the celestial Jerusalem.

O Eternal God, now may it please you
to burn in love
so that we become the limbs
fashioned in the love you felt
when you begot your Son
at the first dawn
before all creation.
And consider this need which falls upon us,
take it from us for the sake of your Son,
and lead us to the joy of your salvation.
- St. Hildegard von Bingen

My daughter, I want to teach you about spiritual warfare. Never trust in yourself, but abandon yourself totally to My will. In desolation, darkness and various doubts, have recourse to Me and to your spiritual director. He will always answer you in My name. Do not bargain with any temptation; lock yourself immediately in My Heart and, at the first opportunity, reveal the temptation to the confessor. Put your self-love in the last place, so that it does not taint your deeds. Bear with yourself with great patience. Do not neglect interior mortifications. Always justify to yourself the opinions of your superiors and of your confessor.

Shun murmurers like a plague. Let all act as they like; you are to act as I want you to....If someone causes you trouble, think what good you can do for the person who caused you to suffer. Do not pour out your feelings. Be silent when you are rebuked. Do not ask everyone's opinion, but only the opinion of your confessor; be as frank and simple as a child with him. Do not become discouraged by ingratitude. Do not examine with curiosity the roads down which I lead you. When boredom and discouragement beat against your heart, run away from yourself and hide in My heart.

Do not fear struggle; courage itself often intimidates temptations, and they dare not attack us. Always fight with the deep conviction that I am with you. Do not be guided by feeling, because it is not always under your control; but all merit lies in the will. Always depend upon your superiors, even in the smallest things. I will not delude you with prospects of peace and consolations; on the contrary prepare for great battles. Know that you are now on a great stage where all heaven and earth are watching you. Fight like a knight, so that I can reward you. Do not be unduly fearful, because you are not alone.
- Jesus Christ, to St. Faustina Kowalska on Spiritual Warfare

Nothing is anything more to me; everything is nothing to me, but Jesus: neither things nor persons, neither ideas nor emotions, neither honor nor sufferings. Jesus is for me honor, delight, heart and soul.
- St. Bernadette Soubirous

Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.

Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.

Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
- St. Teresa of Avila

God communicates the mystery of the Trinity to this sinner in such a way that if His Majesty did not strengthen my weakness by a special help, it would be impossible for me to live.
- St. John of the Cross

Friday, May 25, 2012

Holy Theotokos, More Spacious Than The Heavens

The chant, in English:

"It is truly right to bless thee, O Theotokos,
ever blessed, and most Pure, and the Mother of our God.
More honorable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim.
Without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word.
True Theotokos, we magnify thee."
- From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

Hail Mary, true Church, true Bride of the Holy Trinity, true Body of Christ! Hail, City of God, Throne of the King, Temple of the Spirit; Queen of Apostles and Queen of Israel, Hail! Our destination, and our joy, may we find Christ our God in you at our end.

The meaning of the Byzantine Catholic phrase "More Spacious Than The Heavens" lies in the fact that Mary All-Holy is a world, nay, a cosmos to herself, THE cosmos, the decisive New Creation that her Son shares in, in His human nature. Under various types, the Scriptures reveal her as the New Jerusalem, the Church Herself, wherein God dwells and makes Himself present. In her womb is the Paradise, the Garden, where she, the Last Eve, and the Last Adam communed for nine months in union unspeakable, wherein by Grace there was no hint of the serpent nor stain of sin. She is the one who we will dwell in forever, as we contemplate the Face of Christ our God. She is the one who even now can be found in the heart of all Catholics, for we are members of her, sharing her relationship with the Triune God, spiritually, and physically by being the Body of Christ in her.

Did God ever say to one of the angels, You are my Son, I have begotten you this day? And again, He shall find in me a Father, and I in him a Son? Why, when the time comes for bringing his first-born into the world anew, then, he says, Let all the angels of God worship before him.
- Hebrews 1:5-6

And the Temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in his temple the Ark of his testament... And there appeared a great wonder in Heaven; a Woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars...
- Revelation 11:19; 12:1

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Your Love, Lord Jesus, Is Unfathomable...

"I would create the whole universe again, just to hear you say that you love Me."
-Jesus in a vision to St. Teresa of Avila

What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God...
- St. Faustina Kowalska

I desire that you know more profoundly the love that burns in My Heart for souls, and you will understand this when you meditate upon My Passion. Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation. When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion. This is the prayer: "O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You."

Oh, how painful it is to Me that souls so seldom unite themselves to Me in Holy Communion. I wait for souls, and they are indifferent toward Me. I love them tenderly and sincerely, and they distrust Me. I want to lavish My graces on them, and they do not want to accept them. They treat Me as a dead object, whereas My Heart is full of love and mercy. In order that you may know at least some of My pain, imagine the most tender of mothers who has great love for her children, while those children spurn her love. Consider her pain. No one is in a position to console her. This is but a feeble image and likeness of My love.

Consider, My daughter, Who it is to whom your heart is so closely united by the vows. Before I made the world, I loved you with the love your heart is experiencing today and, throughout the centuries, My love will never change...

Tell souls not to place within their own hearts obstacles to My mercy, which so greatly wants to act within them. My mercy works in all those hearts which open their doors to it. Both the sinner and the righteous person have need of My mercy. Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of My mercy.

Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.
- Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska

Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings, that my entire being may henceforth only be employed in loving, honoring and glorifying Thee. This is my irrevocable will, to belong entirely to Thee, and to do all for Thy love, renouncing with my whole heart all that can displease Thee.

I take Thee, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my frailty and inconstancy, the reparation for all the defects of my life, and my secure refuge at the hour of my death. Be Thou, O Most Merciful Heart, my justification before God Thy Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited. I fear all from my own weakness and malice, but placing my entire confidence in Thee, O Heart of Love, I hope all from Thine infinite Goodness. Annihilate in me all that can displease or resist Thee. Imprint Thy pure love so deeply in my heart that I may never forget Thee or be separated from Thee.
I beseech Thee, through Thine infinite Goodness, grant that my name be engraved upon Thy Heart, for in this I place all my happiness and all my glory, to live and to die as one of Thy devoted servants.

-St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Names of Jesus Christ, the Lover and Husband of His People

Titles of Jesus Christ in Scripture:
Advocate – 1 John 2:1
Alpha and Omega – Revelation 1:8; 22:13
The Almighty – Revelation 1:8
Amen – Revelation 3:14
Apostle and High Priest of our Confession – Hebrews 3:1
Author and Finisher of our Faith – Hebrews 12:2
Beloved – Matthew 12:18
Beloved Son – Colossians 1:13
Bread of God – John 6:33; 50
Bread of life – John 6:35
Living Bread – John 6:51
Bridegroom – John 3:29
Brother – Matthew 12:50
Captain of our Salvation – Hebrews 2:10
Carpenter – Mark 6:3
Carpenter’s Son – Matthew 13:55
Chief Shepherd – 1 Peter 5:4
Chosen One – Luke 23:35
Christ – Matthew 16:20
Christ Jesus – 1 Timothy 1:15; Colossians 1:1
Christ of God – Luke 9:20
Christ the Lord – Luke 2:11
Christ who is above all – Romans 9:5
Consolation of Israel – Luke 2:25
Chief Cornerstone – Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6
Dayspring – Luke 1:78
Deliverer – Romans 11:26
Deliverer from the wrath to come – 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Eldest of many brothers – Romans 8:29
Emmanuel – Matthew 1:23
Faithful and True Witness – Revelation 1:5; 3:14
Father Forever – Isaiah 9:6
First and Last – Revelation 1:17; 2:8
Firstborn among many brothers – Romans 8:29
First born from the dead – Revelation 1:5
Firstborn of all creation – Colossians 1:15
First Fruits – 1 Corinthians 15:20
Friend of tax collectors and sinners – Matthew 11:19
Gate of the sheepfold – John 10:7
Glory – Luke 2:32
Good Shepherd – John 10:11; 14
Grain of Wheat – John 12:24
Great Shepherd of the sheep – Hebrews 13:20
Head – Ephesians 4:15
Head of the Church – Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22
Hidden Manna – Revelation 2:17
High Priest – Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 7:26
He Who Holds of the Keys of David – Revelation 3:7
He who is coming amid the clouds – Revelation 1:7
Holy One – Acts 2:27
Holy One of God – Mark 1:24
Holy Servant  – Acts 4:27
Hope – 1 Timothy 1:1
Horn of Salvation – Luke 1:69
I Am – John 8:58
Image of God – 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15
Indescribable Gift – 2 Corinthians 9:15
Intercessor – Hebrews 7:25
Jesus – Matthew 1:21
Jesus the Nazarene – John 18:5
Judge of the World – 2 Timothy 4:1Acts 10:42
Just One – Acts 7:52
Just Judge – 2 Timothy 4:1
King – Matthew 21:5
King of Israel – John 1:49
King of Kings – Revelation 17:1419:161 Timothy 6:15
King of Nations – Revelation 15:3
King of the Jews – Matthew 2:2
Lamb of God – John 1:29
Last Adam – 1 Corinthians 15:45
Leader – Matthew 2:6Hebrews 2:10
Leader and Perfecter of Faith – Hebrews 12:2
Leader and Savior – Acts 5:31
Life – John 14:6Colossians 3:4
Light – John 1:9John 12:35
Light of all – Luke 2:32John 1:4
Light of the world – John 8:12
Lion of the tribe of Judah – Revelation 5:5
Lord – Luke 1:25
One Lord – Ephesians 4:5
My Lord my God – John 20:28
Lord both of the dead and the living – Romans 14:9
Lord God Almighty – Revelation 15:3
Lord Jesus – Acts 7:59
Jesus is Lord – 1 Corinthians 12:3
Lord Jesus Christ – Acts 15:11
Lord of all – Acts 10:36
Lord of Glory – 1 Corinthians 2:8
Lord of Lords – 1 Timothy 6:15
Lord of Peace – 2 Thessalonians 3:16
The Man – John 19:5
Master – Luke 5:5
The One Mediator of the New Covenant – 1 Timothy 2:5
Messiah – John 1:41; 4:25
Mighty God – Isaiah 9:6
Morning Star – 2 Peter 1:19Revelation 2:28Revelation 22:16
Nazarene - Matthew 2:23
Christ our Passover – 1 Corinthians 5:7
Power and wisdom of God – 1 Corinthians 1:24
Power for salvation – Luke 1:69
Priest forever – Hebrews 5:6
Prince of Life – Acts 3:15
Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6
Rabboni – John 20:16
Ransom – 1 Timothy 2:6
Redeemer – Isaiah 59:20
Rescuer from this Present Evil Age – Galatians 1:4
Radiance of God’s Glory – Hebrews 1:4
Resurrection and Life – John 11:25
Rising Sun – Luke 1:78
Root of David – Revelation 5:5
Root of David’s line – Revelation 22:16
Root of Jesse – Isaiah 11:10
Ruler – Matthew 2:6
Ruler of the kings of the earth – Revelation 1:5
Ruler and Savior – Acts 5:31
Savior – 2 Peter 2:203:18
Savior of the world – 1 John 4:14John 4:42
Second Adam – Romans 5:14
Servant of the Jews – Romans 15:8
Shepherd and Guardian of our souls – 1 Peter 2:25
Slave – Philippians 2:7
Son – Galatians 4:4
Beloved Son – Colossians 1:13
Firstborn Son – Luke 2:7
Son of Abraham – Matthew 1:1
Son of David – Matthew 1:1
Son of God – Luke 1:35
Son of Joseph – John 1:45
Son of Man – John 5:27
Son of Mary – Mark 6:3
Son of the Blessed One – Mark 14:61
Son of the Father – 2 John 1:3
Son of the Living God – Matthew 16:16
Son of the Most High – Luke 1:32
Son of the Most High God – Mark 5:7
Only Son of the Father – John 1:14
Source of God’s creation – Revelation 3:14
Spiritual Rock – 1 Corinthians 10:4
Living Stone – 1 Peter 2:4
Stone rejected by the builders – Matthew 21:421 Peter 2:8
Stumbling Stone – 1 Peter 2:8
Teacher – Matthew 8:19Matthew 23:10
Testator of the New Covenant – Hebrews 9:16
True God – 1 John 5:20
True Vine – John 15:1
The Way the Truth and the Life – John 14:6
The One who is, is was, and who is to come – Revelation 3:7
Wisdom of God – 1 Corinthians 1:24
Wonderful Counselor – Isaiah 9:6
Word – John 1:1; 14
Word of God – Revelation 19:13
Word of Life – 1 John 1:1
The Glory of the Lord (Isaiah 40:5)
The Lord of Hosts (Psalm 24:7-10)
Offspring of the Woman (Genesis 3:15)
Kinsman Redeemer (Ruth chapters 1-4)
Messenger of the Covenant (Malachi 3:1)
Refiner’s Fire and Launderer’s Soap (Malachi 3:2-3)
Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2)
The Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys (Song of Songs 2:1)
My Beloved (Song of Songs 2:8)
Him Whom My Soul Loves (Song of Songs 3:1)
The Desire of All Nations (Haggai 2:7)
The Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 52:13)
The Arm of the Lord (Isaiah 53:1)
The Branch from David (Zecharish 3:8)
The Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
One from the Days of Eternity (Micah 5:2)
Lamb that was Slain (Revelation 5:12)
Husband of the Church (Ephesians 5:32)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Tell me... is this not beautiful? Lord, have mercy. I love beautiful Byzantine Icons.

Anathemas concerning holy images

  1. If anyone does not confess that Christ our God can be represented in his humanity, let him be anathema.
  2. If anyone does not accept representation in art of evangelical scenes, let him be anathema.
  3. If anyone does not salute such representations as standing for the Lord and his saints, let him be anathema.
  4. If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema.
- from the Second Council of Nicea, A.D. 787

Selfishness and a Hollow Lifestyle

Notice how at the end of both commercials, their names are repeated.. It's like their whole universes are themselves. Sad thing is neither of these commercials are far off from the hollow and self-centered lifestyles of most college-to-early-career youth in the West.

In a man collapsed in on himself, there is no room for anything transcendent, any true meaning or purpose; in other words, there is no room for God. That is why such a life lived solely for itself is so hollow and empty.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Eastern Orthodoxy

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in Heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]). … On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair [Cathedra], and he established by his own Authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that Unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., Apostles], but a Primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one Chair. So too, all [the Apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be One, fed by all the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this Unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the Faith? If he [should] desert the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 245]). - Saint Cyprian, Martyr, Bishop of Carthage in Africa

“I follow no Leader but Christ and join in Communion with none but your Blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the Chair of Peter. I know that this is the Rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this House is profane. Anyone who is not in the Ark of Noah (i.e., the Barque of Peter) will perish when the flood prevails” (Letters 15:1 [A.D. 395]). - Saint Jerome, ordained Priest in Antioch, Syria; dwelt in Constantinople for a time; dear friend of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Nazianzus

“Philip the Presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed Pope Celestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place, and us he sent to supply his place in this holy Synod’” (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 431]). - From the Sacred and Ecumenical Council of Ephesus

"In the first year (A.D. 715) of his (Pope St. Gregory II) Pontificate, he received a letter from John, Patriarch of Constantinople. Addressed "To the Sacred Head of the Church", it was really an apology for his having shown himself subservient to Philippieus Bardanes in the matter of Monothelism." - Catholic Encyclopedia of 1918, Article on Pope Saint Gregory II

Doesn't that kind of sum it up?

I mean really, we've got developed and orthodox Papal theology, so explicit as to talk about the Chair of Peter as being the intrinsic reason for the Unity of the Catholic Church, in the third century by a venerable African Father and Martyr. Down the line of history in the fourth, fifth, and eighth century, same exact teaching, simply more developed in orthodox understanding. This is no mere Primacy of Honor, this is a Primacy of Judgment, necessary Communion, and Sacred Headship as Christ's Vicar. This is a Primacy necessary to the very constitution of the Church. And that is why I'm Catholic.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory to Him forever!

So echoing Saint Jerome, I say, I follow no leader but Christ the King, and I join in Communion with none but your Blessedness, Pope Benedict XVI, that is, with the Chair of Peter.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Let us Analyze the West...

This poster shows us the line in the sand. Mark this carefully: ordinary, good people have an inherent idea of value and morality based on a notion of God in their sense of reality. There are some people in this world, a growing number of people in our age, who would look at this poster and see weakness. They would have as their 'reality' a sense of 'morality' that is constituted of utilitarianism, bereft of any reference to the Transcendent or Absolute, characterized only by how strong, capable, developed, evolved, or powerful an individual is; in other words, the ones who can declare and show their worth through word, action, and ability have a right to that worth. Anyone else has to be given that worth by those with superior power and development than those weak. Gone is the understanding that all men are equal in dignity and worth by virtue of an intrinsic, spiritual and physical value, as is natural considering you can only justify this by a profound Faith in God as the Transcendence interacting with the human person. As the West lost Faith through cynicism, skepticism, and rationalism, so went our own humanity, until we have rotted to this point. 

This is new philosophy, the aforementioned and previously described, is the philosophy that is widely accepted in the medical community, as well as that philosophy which has invaded law, societal norms, cultural conscience, and the great thinkers and politicians in the West. It fuels abortion, euthanasia, post-birth abortion, a lack of a sense of purpose, and the general sense of meaninglessness that pervades the modern view of man. Until we as the sane ones understand what we are up against, until we understand that the inmates of the asylum are out and making our laws, and moving and shaking Western Civilization, we will never have a chance at stopping this disintegration of our conscience and worldview; this collective suicide of our humanity. If you feel even the slightest bit of your conscience troubled by this poster, understand the philosophy behind it, and fight it in our world.

We can no longer simply be dumbly moving along, content in our own sanity and our own sense of God and of value. We must be strong, men, with the support of strong women. We must not bury our heads in the sand, and ignore the hierarchy of power in Western society, culture, and law that has lost its humanity while losing its God. Be a crusader for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, who is aware of the enemies working against the Three Transcendents, decency and morality.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Four Signal Graces

I just wanted to share with everyone four very special signal graces that Our Lord granted me through the hands of Our Lady, since my journey began to enter the Catholic Church. These have given me innumerable graces and strengthened me in times of doubt, discouragement, and despair. They have been guiding lights, directing my path to my Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist.

The first signal grace occurred when I received my first Holy Rosary in the mail from a charity. I doubt I would have been able to obtain one any other way, and I received it along with a Catechism and a Bible. This Rosary was beautiful, all black beads, with steel interlocking chains and a steel corpus, and a miraculous medal as the Salve Regina place. When I held it in my hands for the first time, I placed my fingers on the miraculous medal piece to hold it, and it felt like fire in my hands. I took my hands away, thinking that I was dreaming, and put them on again, and yet again, the medal felt warm, like it had been in a fire. It was so warm it almost hurt to hold it, but I didn't want to let it go. This continued on for some time, and I thanked Our Lady for giving me reassurance of the holiness of the Rosary and of coming to Our Lord through the Rosary. I've loved the Rosary ever since.

The second signal grace I have already mentioned on this blog before, so I will pass over it quickly. I approached my local Roman Catholic Church, to enter it for the first time. It was late that day, and the front doors had been locked, due to the lateness of the hour. I pulled on it, but to no avail. When I look back on the event, I bet there would have been a way to signal inside for someone to come unlock the door, since they had perpetual adoration, but I was flustered at the time and didn't notice that. I remember leaving my hand on the door and feeling crestfallen, praying to Our Lord, truly present in the Tabernacle and Chapel. I walked away, and went to have a bite to eat for a late dinner at a local fast food restaurant. Upon sitting down, Father Tony walks in and sits down nearby to eat, completely randomly! He stayed there about as long as I was there, just reading the paper and eating. What are the chances that we ate at the same McDonalds, of which there are more than one in town, at the same time, on the same day, directly after I had touched the Church and wanted to go in? It was as if the Lord had heard my prayer, and had responded to my pursuit of Him by pursuing me.

The third signal grace occurred when I had a particularly awful day on my journey. It was a Sunday, and I had attempted to go to Mass that morning, and gotten into familial strife with both of my parents, especially my dad, about my conversion the the Catholic Faith. I was reading a newsletter from a Catholic Church (not my own, but a different one somewhere near me) that evening, feeling dejected, and upon opening it my eyes fell to a portion that talked of a particular Catholic Saint, a sainted woman somewhere in the annals of Church history, who had to leave her father's household at the age of eighteen to live in a convent. Eighteen. I'm eighteen. This was entirely random, I didn't even have to read the whole article, I don't even frequent this Church's website, and yet here this is a message of encouragement for me and to keep striving forward. The message I heard from the Father was to keep striving forward, spiritually leaving your household, physically leaving for Mass, and to continue to be a charitable witness to the Truth in all things, that by any means I might convert some (my parents).

The fourth signal grace occurred last night. I had prayed the Rosary before retiring to bed, and I had invoked Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, and Our Lord of the Divine Mercy. I prayed for some time afterward on my own and freely, in the Holy Spirit, and fell asleep that way. I dreamed heavily all night, and most of it I do not remember clearly, but I remember with perfect clarity waking up, facing my right toward a photo of Jesus of the Divine Mercy that I have sitting on my right endtable by my bed, and for a moment the dream and reality seemed to overlap. I recall before opening my eyes but as I was waking up, seeing Jesus Christ, surrounded by a bank of clouds, in Heavenly glory, with His arms outstretched in welcome and love. Whether it was His second coming, or my death, I could not tell (and really, both have a similar character as far as the individual soul is concerned, the appearance of Christ and of judgment). As I opened my eyes, they were already looking, without my having to move them, at the picture of Jesus of the Divine Mercy, and the two images overlapped for a moment, blurring and blending in beauty. Finally, the image faded away, and I saw Jesus of the Divine Mercy standing there, just loving me as a Divine Spouse. It was a tremendously mystical experience, one that I'm thankful for.

I am thankful for all of the times the Lord Jesus Christ comes to me and speaks to my soul, encouraging my journey onward, until at long last I may finally partake of His Presence in the most literal, spiritual, mystical, and incredible sense possible: In His coming in the Most Holy Eucharist.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Lyceum

Michael Voris pretty much explains the school better than I ever could - what's particularly funny is that the Shumays are practically the heart of the school ;)

What a wonderful, Catholic place. Truly a blessed experience for all who have the opportunity to be involved!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Blaspheming the Name

For the Name of God through you is blasphemed among the Gentiles, as it is written.- Romans 2:24

I believe that something Roman Catholics ought to keep in mind is that because of the preeminent and awesome Grace that they receive by being united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a partaker of her Divine Spouse the Holy Spirit, a sharer in her relationship with Jesus Christ, and a participator in her life in the Triune God, in other words, as the Israel of God and the Church of Christ, they have an enormous responsibility to conduct their lives in a manner worthy of this unimaginable Grace. The Catholic Church makes lofty and transcendent claims and can, to a large extent, back up those claims from Sacred Scripture, history, Tradition, and Reason. This places the Cross in Catholics lives of remembering that they are the holy, particular, and special priestly people of God, and are thus accountable before the judgment seat of Christ our God to live holy and blameless lives, in which fault cannot be found, as representatives of God the Father and of Christ, and as those embodying the Blessed Mother's purity. This is, to be sure, a lofty goal and one that will require frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance, but it is nevertheless one that we cannot shirk to live however we please. This shirking of the responsibility to lead holy, immaculate, honorable, and worthy lives is exactly what is too common among Catholics, who all to often clothe themselves with filth and thus give rise to the excuse and the indignation of Protestants who say, "How could the Catholic Church be the Church of God and the Body of Christ, necessary for salvation? The only Catholics I have ever met in my life have been irreligious, drunken, cursing, immoral, impious, dispassionate, apathetic party animals who don't really give a fig about Christ or His Church apart from the cultural heritage and the familial structure it provides." Woe to those Catholics through whom the Name of God, and of His All-Pure Bride the Church is blasphemed. Woe to them. It will be terrible on the day of judgment for them, as they examine their lives and realize how many Protestants' souls they could have saved simply by preaching the Gospel by their actions, as St. Francis of Assisi said, and then following through by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Faith. We do not get a pass for living holy lives that cannot be justly calumniated by Protestants, nor do we have any excuse for not having a zealous, ardent, fiery love for Jesus Christ, Our Eucharistic Lord and Divine Spouse. We ought to be better at "having a personal relationship with Jesus" than the Protestant is! We ought to see Him, meet Him, love Him, and serve Him passionately in the Eucharist, in our soul, through His Spirit in all our actions, and through our works of charity, the corporeal and spiritual acts of mercy, in all who need His Divine Love flowing through us to them. "Whatsoever you do, do all as unto the Lord, knowing that from Him you receive your reward," says St. Paul. Do you really believe that Jesus Christ becomes one Body and one Spirit with you, and thus with all of your actions and words? Do you really believe, REALLY, that He is present in all of your actions and that in all of them you represent Him? Do you REALLY BELIEVE that what you say ought to be always and at all times sanctified, in grace, and seasoned with the salt of holiness, as St. Paul says in Colossians 4:6? Do you believe that drunkards shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, and that drunkenness (excessive drinking beyond moderation - a word regarding this - for the sake of your family, your children, your heritage, and your honor, why not rather err on the side of more moderate drinking then use the excuse of its legitimacy as license to draw near the fire of over-indulgence? As St. Paul says in 1st Corinthians 6:7-8, "Why not rather be wronged," than offend your brother, who God desires to accept salvation in the Catholic Church, apart from which there is no salvation?) is a vile sin, as St. Paul clearly says in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, and that in Confession you are restored to your Baptismal Grace of being Washed, Sanctified, and Justified, as St. paul says in verse 11 of the same chapter? Do you truly believe that "if any man speaks, let it be as the words of God" Himself, as St. Peter says in 1st Peter 4:11? In short, are you living the gospel ideal of morally representing God, as the people of God, as specifically and in no uncertain terms laid down by the Apostles in the Sacred Scriptures? Are you causing those outside of the Church to revile the Pure Bride of Christ, and blaspheme the Holy Name of God?

Something to think about. My own dear mother has met so many Catholics, including her very brother, brother's wife, and her entire family, as well as coworkers, who simply do not give a fig for any of this, nor for the Scriptural injunctions to live decently, soberly, and holily, nor for the fact that they represent God. This is a fearsome thing, friends, readers, and fellow Roman Catholics. Is your life worthy of God? Are you on your way to becoming a Saint? Or do you just not care, being swept along in family traditions, and doing what is easy, what is normal to you, and living carnally and filthily? Any Saint would say the same thing, any Saint would challenge all in the Church, even Priests, every clergyman, (a notable Saint even admonished the Pope) to live lives worthy of their calling and such that even the godless, even the Protestant, are awestruck by your evident holiness, and ashamed of their evil speech (1st Peter 3:16). It is with great sadness and with a heavy heart that I say that much of the criticism often levied against the moral sense of laity within the Catholic Church has truth to it. Let's wake up and realize this, and once more surrender ourselves, body and soul, to God as Living Sacrifice, as the Priestly people of God, and strive to honorably and duly represent Jesus Christ, our Sovereign King, our only Judge, and our True and Divine Lover and Spouse. This is the preeminent call of the Second Vatican Council: That the laity are responsible to live holy and laudable lives, and that they, too, are responsible for the furthering of the mission entrusted to the Church, in St. Peter, by Jesus Christ: to go into all the world, teaching all that He has taught us, and in doing so, preaching the Gospel to all men and Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Essay on the Women's Liberation Movement

"My opinion is that the changes that resulted from the women's movement had both positive aspects and negative aspects. It is very difficult to say whether these changes were mostly for the good or for the bad, given that they are essentially changes to the functioning of our society as a whole, which gives the movement enormous depth and breadth, and also because the women's movement is relatively recent to us today. It is challenging to have good hindsight only a few decades after something occurs; future generations will have a far greater ability to really grapple with the aftershocks. Having prefaced with that, this much can be said with certainty: It was the least effective at getting positive results of all of the many rights movements that American society went through over the course of the twentieth century; in my opinion, it was also the one most plagued with destructive effects and irrational reasoning. I say that because, unlike other movements, such as the civil rights movement, there is an entirely different dynamic at play than something like discrimination on the basis of race. Certainly women were discriminated against in the twentieth century and in many different ages of the world to varying degrees of severity; there still remains, however, a fundamental and important distinction between race and gender that I believe was wrongly obfuscated. Many people within the movement went beyond simply attempting to right very obvious and glaring prejudice; many began to posit that only utter equality between masculine and feminine nature, in the sense of equating all roles in societal, familial, and other environments, constituted true justice. I think that it is fairly manifest that in our psychological perspectives, our human understandings of masculinity and femininity, even right down to biological factors, men and women have different perspectives, strengths and weaknesses, and different offerings to bring to society in different functions, equal in dignity of respect, worth, beauty, and intention of God, but existing in an equity that structures society in such a way as to preserve the essential differences between masculinity and femininity while maintaining equality of dignity and respect. I also believe that it is within the family that these different and equally dignified offerings of masculine and feminine nature complete and complement each other most profoundly, and that children benefit irreplaceably from this union of authentic masculinity and femininity.

Therefore, I am of the opinion that justice demands not complete and utter societal acquiescence to equality of role, perspective, office, strength and weakness. Rather, I posit that justice demands that both women and men be treated with equity and love according to that psychological, historical, and biological basic integrity of being that is woven into the very fabric of gender itself. I do not mean to include in that fabric any sort of irrational prejudice that has been the opinion of some throughout history; such nonsense is not based upon reasonable psychological and biological grounds, but is at heart, fable, and an injustice. Therefore, with that perspective, I see as positive within the women's movement that which, while respecting rational and healthy gender difference within human society, seeks to effect a change toward the prevention of abuse, the freedom of a woman to hold commerce, to seek elected office, to function independently in the world without needing a husband to be recognized as a human person of equal dignity, and other like goals. Changes that still need to take place to establish equality for women would be along the aforementioned lines of respect for intrinsic and healthy difference in societal and familial life and heritage, while working to uproot prejudice not based in Reason or Truth or the essentials of gender, and to increase the special inherent dignity and worth which men recognize in women as unalienable, as well as fostering a living out of these ideals in a tangible manner."

-Adapted and Expanded from a Critical Essay of the Women's Movement, the radical feminism that swept through the West in the 70's, 80, and 90's, written by Jonathan for a high school assignment

The Triune God and Mary: Bride, Body, and Church

This devoutly and unapologetically Marian post is dedicated to Our Lady, whose month we currently are in, and it is for her honor, dignity, and generosity in offering Jesus Christ her Son as the Sacrifice of our Atonement, her generosity in offering her Son to us as our Food, Drink, and Sustenance; our Very Life, and finally, most profoundly, to the honor of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, who when He Himself became the true Tree of Life, united to the Cross physically and spiritually, gave us His mother, the New Eve, as we are her children in Him whose very life is Sacrifice.

A huge number of Protestants, when investigating the teachings of the Catholic Church, find the most troubling teaching that they have to reconcile themselves to is the notion of the high dignity, glory, and honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was in that place at one time, and I had to gradually grow acclimated to the love and devotion that the Catholic Church has for her as Mother and Queen over time, by looking to typology in the Scriptures and understanding her roles as they were clearly displayed in Scripture and Tradition.

Over time, however, something struck me that opened up my own fervent devotion to Blessed Mary. I realized a mystical aspect of her office that is at the core of who she is, something that I've even seen many Catholics disagree over or not fully realize. Over time spent immersing myself in Catholic Teaching, I found a repetitive pattern showing up in the language that is commonly used regarding Holy Mother Church and Holy Mother Mary. Both are described as the mother of the faithful, both are described as nourishing the faithful, and the Church is often personified in a mystical sense without fully explaining or making clear what this personification means. Likewise, I often heard it described that the Blessed Virgin represents the Church, or that she is the perfect model of the Church, or some other hedging analysis about something that seems so very clear to me. Here is what I came to realize: the Virgin Mary is literally the fulness of the Church of God. Not figuratively, not partially, not a representative of, not a model of, but literally the Virgin made Church as St. Francis of Assisi proclaimed. She is the Bride of the Triune God, and in the most beautifully literal sense, the very Body of Christ. She is God's cosmos full and entire, the entire creation finds its voice and being in her Heart. She is the Old Creation renewed and the beginning of the New Creation in Christ. She is literally Israel and the Church, the twelve Apostles and Tribes are the glorious stars in her Crown and the glorious foundations in her being as a City; they are her Glory and Beauty. Just as St. Thomas Aquinas said that the Soul of the Church is the Holy Spirit, so it was also said by St. Louis de Montfort that Mary's spirit and the Holy Spirit are so intimately joined that they have become one. This is entirely Scriptural, and it shows forth the intimacy that the Church has with the Holy Spirit, Mary being the Church, she has the most intimate relationship with the Spirit possible, so intimate in fact that the only closer joining of humanity to God is in the infinite joining of human nature to the Divine Person of her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. She is not simply a role model, she is joined intimately to all of us who are united to our Divine Spouse, Jesus Christ, and we see Him through Mary's Heart. Inasmuch as her children in the Church Militant here on Earth are the Church of God, Body of Christ, and Bride of the Holy Trinity, they are so not on their own right, but precisely because they graciously share in her relationship with the Triune God, and most specifically with Jesus Christ. Anyone united to Jesus Christ in salvation is looking out of her eyes and dwelling in her heart, and she in ours. It is precisely in sharing in this bond between Jesus and Mary that the Church finds it's being; we subsist in the Immaculate Heart and her unspeakable union with the Divine Heart of our God, Jesus Christ. This is the key to understanding the great honor she holds, and also key to understanding all of the popular devotions to Mary, and it is also key to understanding the concept of Mary as the channel of all God's grace.

Take, for instance, the Holy Rosary. The Rosary is simply and solely joining yourself to the life of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes and felt through the Heart of His Mother. The enormous grace in praying the Rosary has at its core the fact that you are joining yourself to Mary and seeing through her Heart, and sharing her relationship with Jesus Christ. Mary is not so much, in my devotion, some distant and separate figure that you are petitioning outside of yourself, that is not the core of what Marian devotion or going to Jesus through Mary is. She is not separate from you, she is in your heart and you are in hers. Mary is the Church, so by praying the Rosary, you are joining yourself utterly to her in her entirety and making your plea to God with her, once voice and one Heart, acknowledging that she is the Church. This is where the great grace is, and this is where salvation is. All men and women who make it to blessed and eternal communion with Jesus Christ in Heaven are, whether they know it or not, members of Mary and participants in her communion with God; those who acknowledge that she is the Church and cling to her and unite themselves to her Heart willingly and consciously, on the other hand, are most blessed and holy and sanctified because they willingly run to their Mother like small and beloved children, something that those who are not conscious of this do not know, and so timidly walk along toward Jesus through Mary.

Let's extend this to the Holy Sacraments. The Sacraments are the very Life of the Church, and they represent the fullest outpouring of the Grace of God onto us here in the Church Militant. No one here on Earth receives any Grace whatsoever that has not involved Mary in any way, and in this way she is the Mediatrix of all Graces that we here on Earth receive. I am not saying nor do I advocate that she is the Mediatrix of all Grace, period, because that has some issues when you get into the Hypostatic Union of the Divine and human natures of Christ, among other theological problems. But nevertheless, all Graces that we receive, come through her on their way to us. There are three reasons for this: 1) Mary gave birth to the One who is Grace Himself, and inasmuch as all good things that come to us as the Church come to us by way of being participants in the Body of Jesus Christ, so to Mary gave birth to those Graces in the Person of her Son. 2) Mary is intimately and almost unfathomably united to the Holy Spirit, being His perfect vehicle and perfect human expression to the world. It is for this reason that she is called the Seat of Wisdom, or the Seat of the Holy Spirit. In contrast, Jesus Christ is literally and absolutely God - not the seat of God or the bearer of God, but God really, to quote the Council of Ephesus. Mary, however, does bear God's presence into the world, and it is through her and with her that we meet the Holy Spirit, who associates Himself absolutely with her person. When the Holy Spirit brings the presence of Grace into our life, it is never separate from Mary, but always with her. It was said by St. Louis de Montfort that when the Holy Spirit sees Mary in the heart of a Christian, He comes down fully onto that person, as at Pentecost. Yet again, this is because Mary Is The Church, and so Participating In Her Life Is To Be Dwelling In The Grace And Presence Of The Holy Spirit. Finally, 3) Jesus clearly said that His Church was the Light of the World, a Beacon of Hope and Grace in darkness, and that from His Church would flow the River of the Holy Spirit to the World, mirroring how it flows from Jesus Christ to the world. Mary, as the fulness of the Church, fulfills this role absolutely.

Extending this to the Sacraments, the main and absolute source of Grace, we can see a pattern emerging. Six of the Seven Sacraments connect remarkably to Mary, and the Seventh does in a special way as well, though differently from the other Six.

1) In Baptism, we are born of the waters of the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the children of God and Mary, joined to Christ, incorporated into His Body mystically in the Incarnation in Mary's Womb, and renewed and created anew by the Holy Spirit through water. All of this happens really and truly, spiritually and physically, in union with Mary; and it also happens to be joined not only to the Incarnation in Mary's Womb, but also to her own Immaculate Conception in St. Anne's Womb, the New Creation of which was accomplished by the Holy Spirit in both cases. The two are unfathomably and beautifully joined, and both are present in Grace and Truth in Baptism.

2) Having been physically and spiritually joined to Mary, and through Mary, to Jesus in Baptism, now the Holy Spirit finds Mary in your heart and comes down fully as in a new Pentecost in Confirmation. Mary, the Church, dwells in your Heart, and from the point of Confirmation, you participate fully in the Life and Union that Mary has with the Holy Spirit.

3) In Penance, the Holy Spirit stands ready to repair your association with Immaculate Mary, and cleanse your soul by the Word of Christ, so that you may once again be joined to Jesus through Mary. Again, the Holy Spirit never operates separate from Mary, so in this cleansing and renewal by the Spirit, Mary is once again made fully present in your heart.

4) In Matrimony, the Holy Spirit makes present the union of Mary to the Triune God as His Bride and as the Body of Christ in the couple to be joined, and the Graces of that union, that spiritual Marriage of God to Mary, are poured out on your joined and shared life. There is hymn in the Byzantine Tradition that calls on the Theotokos to "Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded." She is Bride, even prior to her chaste and spiritual union with St. Joseph, because she is the Bride of the Holy Trinity.

5) In Holy Orders, Mary, the Mother of the Clergy, acts as the Mediatrix through whose hands the special grace of the Priesthood is given, flowing from the Divinity and humanity of the Person of her Son, Jesus Christ. By the eternal imprint of the Priesthood on the soul of a man, that man comes to have a unique and special place in Mary, who is the Body of Christ. In sharing in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, the eternal Priesthood after the order of Melchisidech, the man is clothed with the special presence of Mary, and is united to her Heart in her relationship with her Son. The Priest embodies the being of both Jesus Christ preeminently, and Mary His Mother, by along with Mary offering Jesus Christ to the eternal Father as the Sacrifice of our Reconciliation. When you see the Priest elevate the Host and the Chalice during the consecration and during the Agnus Dei, picture with religious piety the Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross, clinging to the Feet of Jesus Christ, and holding them, uniting with His Passion, and offering her Son and in Him herself to the eternal Father for the salvation of all mankind, and for all the cosmos. So is the Priest offering the same Sacrifice, in the dignity and honor of Mary, for the same purpose, and in that Sacrifice offering Himself as well.

6) In Extreme Unction, Mary, tender and caring mother of the Catholic, tends his wounds and binds up his soul, and it is through her presence in the soul of the Catholic that the Holy Spirit comes down and imparts Jesus Christ's healing and restorative Love to the soul, and it is through Mary that the man is conformed and joined to her, to die a member of her perfectly, and dwelling in her Immaculate Heart, so united to Jesus.

7) Finally, in the Holy Eucharist, Mary, in the person of the Priest, and the Holy Spirit, call with one voice the Divine Lover, Jesus Christ our God, into the womb of the Church, and into the world. The Spirit and the Bride do indeed say, "Come!" at every Mass. For the Priest speaks the prayer of the Church, the prayer of Mary, invoking the Holy Spirit to come down upon the gifts of bread and wine, and calling in the consecration Christ to come down into the womb of the Church and through the Church to the world, as quickly and simply and beautifully and assuredly as He was called to be conceived in the womb of Mary when at her Fiat she and the Holy Ghost spoke with one voice and one heart. Even so is the Mass the making-present of the Incarnate life of Jesus Christ, and in doing so, most especially, it makes present Mary and Jesus in the Incarnation.

In all of the Sacraments, Mary is present in our hearts, and it is because He sees the Immaculate Conception present in us that the Uncreated Immaculate Conception (St. Maximilian Kolbe), the Holy Spirit, works through the physical signs of all of the Sacraments (all types of the physical sign of Mary Most-Holy), comes to strengthen us and make Christ present in us, most preeminently and magnificently in the Holy Eucharist.

Mary is the Church, the Church is in Mary, and all is in Christ Jesus, true God and true man. We are all members of Him, of His Body, and Mary is His Body; we are also therefore members of her, and members of every other child of hers, members of every other member of the Body of Christ. Christ is the Head, Mary is the Neck, and we are members of both, all things being ordered to His Unique, utter, infinite, and eternal Majesty, Jesus Christ our God.

Glory to Jesus in Mary. Glory to Mary in Jesus. Adoration to the Triune God alone.


A Word about the Creation of Man

I've been thinking a lot lately about the position that the Catholic Church takes on the manner of God's creation of the cosmos in general, and specifically, about the creation of man. The Church does not definitively teach, or require the faithful to believe, any particular theory or concept about the creation of man or the creation of the world. As such, the faithful are free to believe any theory or concept that they believe in or reason to, provided that a charitable disposition is maintained toward those who do not believe likewise.

I myself, being devoted to the traditionally Roman Catholic adage of Faith and Reason, believe that the position that most embodies Reason, insofar as it is in step with the evidence we currently have, hold to an evolutionary perspective on creation. I believe that it is entirely possible that the Triune God did create all things and maintain them over time, ensuring in His Will that the process of evolution would proceed as He intended it to, being the causal basis for the constant change and movement that would have occurred given the evolutionary theory is accurate, as Thomistic philosophy would understand it. I am by no means adamant about this; the very nature of science is to change and expand in new directions as new evidence is found, and I am not attached to this theory as if it were guaranteed to be true, like so many secular or atheistic evolutionists. I also distinguish very carefully between Darwinistic Naturalism, the philosophy so often paired with the scientific theory of evolution, and the actual theory itself. One is a dismal philosophical view on the world that, causally and metaphysically speaking, defeats itself by reducing man down to an animal, and reducing the causality of all organic life down to inorganic life, which essentially renders life itself "all sound and fury, full of noise but signifying nothing," a tornado of matter that disorganizes as quickly as it organizes, temporally spinning up before being choked off by death, the only omnipotent value in this system. G.K. Chesterton spoke extensively on this exact philosophy in his book Orthodoxy, and he, too, carefully distinguishes between the scientific theory of a positive thing, such as a small rodent, turning into a positive thing, such as an ape, over time, with the philosophical worldview that so often is wedded to it, and he argues quite powerfully against the philosophy while insisting that the scientific theory as-such shouldn't trouble the most orthodox. The philosophy defeats science itself when carried to its logical end, since science is only as valuable as man himself, and since science also relies on fundamental axioms which Naturalist Materialist philosophy renders on dubious footing, when taken to its logical end. On the other hand, the scientific theory has a fair bit of evidence behind it, though it is extraordinarily controversial. It is worth noting as well that, as far as scientific theories go, it is dubitable that one can successfully apply the scientific method to it in order to gather incontrovertible, empirical evidence regarding it and exactly how it works. As such, it is vapid, nebulous, and vague to pinpoint exactly how it works, its origin, its forms, its limitations, and other essential scientific inquiries, such weaknesses being often covered up by rabid promotion of it in the arena of secular society, and the zealous and ardent marriage of the theory to the specific and narrow philosophy of Naturalistic Materialism. Even given all that, I cautiously accept it (as opposed to zealously promoting or promulgating it), for the time being, given that it is nearly universally held in some form for the physical development of organic life within the scientific arena. I am therefore a cautious theistic evolutionist, subscribing to Thomistic notions of causality regarding the origin, end, and being of all species of animals that have ever been, developed, and that exist today, being open to any and all evidence to the contrary. My mother believes in strict seven-day creationism, which gives me practice in being of the utmost charity and respect toward those fellow Christians with whom I do not fully agree; it also makes me grateful that the Roman Catholic Church does not mandate any one belief or teach any one specific concept regarding the creation of the cosmos by God, seeing as she is cautiously seeking to possibly come into the Catholic Church.

Having said all of that, I want to touch on one of the only specific and binding beliefs that Roman Catholics are bound to believe as necessary to the Catholic Faith, and I want to talk about why, according to Faith and Reason, it is necessary to hold this position as a Catholic. One of the only teachings that the Church binds on all Catholics regarding creation is that, essentially, there is a clear delineation between man and animal by reason of man's spiritual nature, His soul; that this spiritual nature did not evolve, but was specifically, willfully, metaphysically created and infused in man directly in his first origin; and finally, that there were two original parents of the human race, one male and one female, that represent the exact origin of humanity, and that Judeo-Christian Tradition and Catholic Sacred Tradition call Adam and Eve. Catholics are not free to believe that Adam and Eve are purely allegorical, and do not represent a historical fact, but rather just humanity in general, but they are free to believe that any amount of time has passed since the creation of these first two parents: 6,000 years, 60,000 years, 600,000 years, or 6,000,000 years. The time of their creation does not matter in the least, only the fact that they originally existed, their souls were created directly and immediately by God, they were given the choice to freely return the love to God which God, in His very nature, has extended to them and enlightened them by, and that they refused and thus cursed their posterity to live in a human dimension devoid of sanctifying grace and the direct, immediate presence of the Holy Spirit. Catholics are also free to interpret the first few chapters of Genesis allegorically, liturgically, spiritually, symbolically, as St. Augustine famously did in his writings, and are, on the other hand, free to interpret it absolutely literally as well. Let all men follow their consciences, their reasoning, and most importantly, their God in this matter.

Now that I've discussed the basic facts of the matter, let's look at precisely why the Roman Catholic Church takes this position on the creation of the soul of mankind immediately and directly by God. The reason is that there are profound implications to both human nature and the human person depending on his origin. The Church does not teach this immediate creation as a matter of necessity regarding the very physical existence of man; indeed, it is possible that the human body did evolve from the animal kingdom, in which case sin would partially be falling back into a baseness that we were never intended for. Rather, the Church teaches this formula for the creation of man for four main reasons that I can identify:

1) Because we, as the Roman Catholic Church, do not believe in a Deistic God. We do not believe in an Absentee Landlord who wound up the cosmos as a clock, set it to go, was its causality, and then left it alone and slumbered. We believe in a Divine Lover, a God whose very nature is Love, and whose very nature of Love by its very essence is diffusive in that it seeks to spill out of itself in an exitus, a going-forth of God's Love actively flowing to His creation, His creatios. We believe that this Love is so profoundly active, so real, that at a certain moment in time, which we identify absolutely with the creation of the first authentically human creatures; that it is so incredibly active in its pursuit of creation, that it directly involved itself in an utterly unique way in the creation of creatures with the Reason to know God and the Love to encounter Him, namely, human beings. We likewise believe that it is only ultimate Love that can satisfy the restless wanderings of the human soul, and that can give meaning and victory and hope to all human relationships of love which stand sentenced to death and destruction unless supported causally and spiritually by a Love that transcends death. It is essential that Roman Catholics believe this and live this worldview, because God is the Divine Spouse of His Creation (perfectly and wholly contained in its fulness in the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Spouse of the Triune God and the Body of Christ), and that He marries Himself to His creation, most absolutely in the Incarnation of God becoming physically and spiritually one with the Blessed Virgin Mary in the most profound way possible for Him to do so. This Divine Spouse of all the cosmos, and she who is greater and more expansive than the very cosmos, the Blessed Virgin Mary, desires to unite all to Himself in this Holy Marriage, and actively pursues us by His Grace to do so, desiring to incorporate us into the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that we may share in her unimaginable union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, true God and true man.

2) Because we, as the Roman Catholic Church, believe that the human person is sacred insofar as he possesses an immaterial soul that is the Image of God. This human soul sanctifies and hallows the human body by being joined to it in a union of which a closer cannot be imagined, and makes the whole man, body and soul, the Image of God, in a dignity that is only barely fathomable in the heavenly and unimaginable glorification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Indeed, she, the preeminent human Image of her Son, is so far glorified in her position as the preeminent human being, and so far exalted above all creation, that her glory can only be understand in reference to God Himself, as she is infinitely less glorious than His eternal and infinite being. This is the destiny and intended place of mankind in the plan of God, and we therefore believe that the human person, body and soul, is sacred and that God has through him (most perfectly through the Blessed Virgin Mary) hallowed all of creation, the animals, the plants, and all nonliving matter, merely by the dignity of being of the same material, organic substance as man, and by the honor that man came materially from creation and that man's soul was joined to that material organic creation.

3) Because we, as the Roman Catholic Church, believe in the incarnation of God becoming man, and we believe that the creation of Adam and Eve directly and literally foreshadows and precedes the glorification and assumption of humanity, and in him all of creation, into the Divine Life of God through the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Incarnation of God, Jesus Christ. In the same way, we believe that human suffering is explicable and causally linked, in a reasonable manner, to the fact that man was never intended to participate in suffering and evil, but was intended to transcend it and with him bring all creation into the realm of Divine Grace, Order, and Life. This resonates with our deepest soul because we know we were created for another world besides the one that we see around us. As C.S. Lewis so brilliantly points out, "If I find within myself a desire (an innate, human desire common to all human beings) that corresponds to no earthly thing, the most reasonable conclusion that I can come to is that I was made for another World."

4) Finally, because we, as the Roman Catholic Church, believe in the ordering of all existence metaphysically from the top down, actively from God down to man and through man to all creation. We do not subscribe to the philosophical notion that everything that man is can trace its causal relationship to reality only metaphysically down to lesser complexity, lesser greatness, and lesser being. We regard such a worldview as base, irrational, and ignominiously offensive to the axiomatic and inherent dignity of the human person. We believe that man is only at all explicable, and that includes all of his products including the sciences, reason, mathematics, the arts, the notion of independent and transcendent truth, morality, goodness, beauty, and perfection, if all of these things are properly metaphysical and spiritual and find their being in man's spiritual nature, His soul. Again, this spiritual, soulful reality of man is only explicable if that very soul finds its causality and being given to it from the metaphysically transcendent, since if it merely evolved from the metaphysically lower, and had no reference point in the Divine, it would not truly exist, but be an illusion. Furthermore, we as the Roman Catholic Church, both explicitly and implicitly, believe in a principle that the greater is the hallowed and sacred center of the less hallowed and sacred. This idea finds expression and echoes in the erecting of temples by the people of Israel, where there is an outer court, an inner court, a holy place, and a Most Holy Place, within the material walls of which the Presence of God dwells. The concept finds its greatest expression in the Incarnation of God Himself into the pure and immaculately holy human nature of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Incarnate God within her represent the preeminent fulfillment of all temples, and of this concept that the deeper you go within the cosmos, the more specific you narrow your focus, even down to the single human being of Jesus Christ, the closer you come to God until in this glorious fulfillment, God Himself comes down to meet you at the very singular and center of all the cosmos, Jesus Christ. This very Carmelite approach to all reality and all spirituality, that God and the holy dwell within the human person most profoundly and in the most hallowed manner in the cosmos, applies to all creation as well. Look around at the universe. What do we see when we peer into the farthest reaches of space and the very beginning of the universe, but bleak, nonliving, nonorganic, meaningless collisions of matter? It shows the glory of God and the immensity of God's nature, but it is given meaning by the fact that within it dwells the beautiful jewel of the Earth, existing in a perfection of location and being that is utterly uncanny, brilliant, and intelligent. Still, the earth is simply matter like all else, though beautiful and perfectly positioned. The Earth is given transcending meaning by the fact that within its confines is housed the more hallowed center of organic life, something utterly unique that has never been proven to exist anywhere else but on earth, something beautiful, something sacred. Still further we go, and still further life develops within the earth. Then, God creates something entirely new, something even more specific, a universe to itself and an entire world unto itself: the human person. You see this progression of the more hallowed and the more sacred further and deeper inward, until we get to the Image of God, the Imago Dei. The Image of God corresponds to the holy place in the temple of the Israelites, and is exceptionally holy. Through him all of creation is hallowed and given meaning, since he is the only creation literally capable of Reasoning about the cosmos, and elevating the cosmos to the Divine dignity and level of being a thought. All of this is wonderful, but there is one more layer to go, because none of this is causally supported unless at the center, the very core of humanity, God can be found. This is the Incarnation, the Holiest Place in the temple of all creation, absurdly beautiful concept that God is found more profoundly in the temple of His Human Nature that He Assumed to Himself, than in the farthest reaches of space and existence. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the purified and restored Imago Dei, the hallowed and sacred temple of God Himself, directly, physically, and spiritually. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is Deus, God Himself, existing at the very heart of humanity; the core of all existence, the fountain of being, the Truth Himself. God is not to be found by searching the Heavens, He dwells within humanity, so profoundly that He assumed human nature to become man, and Man He remains for all eternity. This principle speaks volumes about human nature, for it speaks of man as being utterly unique and vastly more hallowed than any other aspect of creation. Through man, God hallowed all of the cosmos, and through the happy fault of Adam, used man and even man's free rebellion from the source of man's dignity and causality in God, to make human nature the instrument whereby the most profound glorification possible could take place: the physical and spiritual union of God with human nature, and through human nature, with the entire cosmos, in the one Person of Jesus Christ, the center of all existence.

Another beautiful conception of this Incarnational principle of hallowed and sacred lying at the center of the less hallowed and less sacred could be applies to the Church and the Sacred Scriptures. The Church is not as great as Sacred Scripture, but it was by the Church that the Sacred Scripture came into being by the overarching presence of the Holy Spirit, and it is the Church that is the caretaker, interpreter, and protecter of Sacred Scripture, and the two then are so intimately joined together that they represent the two natures of the Word of God: Sacred Tradition, and Sacred Scripture. In this way, the relationship of the Church to the Word of God in Scripture is a reflection of, and is roughly analogous to, the relationship of Mary to Jesus in the Incarnation, brought about by the overarching, hovering presence of the Holy Spirit. This makes perfect sense since the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Virgin made Church, the who is the fulness of the Church, and in whom we find our being and identity as the Church of God. If you search further and dig deeper, you will find this pattern at the heart of almost all Roman Catholic religion and spirituality, particularly profoundly in the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the lives of those here in the Church Militant here on Earth, and the fact that she is the Mediatrix of All Graces that we receive, and the God used her, as the Purified and Immaculate Imago Dei, to glorify all creation. Thus it is through her we go to Jesus Christ, since it is impossible to avoid such a journey: she is the very human nature Jesus Christ, and so if you believe in and seek to be joined to Jesus Christ, God and man, you will go through her regardless of whether you acknowledge her or ignore her like a cad and a louse. However, we as Roman Catholics show her veneration and respect her dignity profoundly, as is fitting and honorable and virtuous and pious, and we laud and hail her honor as the Mother of our God, and in doing so show honor to her Son, Jesus, Whose mother she she is; we also show that we recognize God assumed her, and her nature, into Himself and thus came to us no other way as our Divine Spouse. She is therefore, in the words of the Saints, the gate of Heaven and surest, safest path to Jesus Christ.

This is the Roman Catholic teaching, this is our belief, and this is our Faith. This is how we view the human person, and this is why we believe in the literalness of our first parents, Adam and Eve. It is not a blind faith, it is not a medieval holdover, it is not superstition, it is a rich tapestry that informs our understanding of the very nature of all reality, and the essence of the Observer and Thinker of all reality, the human person.