Thursday, January 01, 2009

It's arrived! 2009's here. "What's the plan, Stan?..."

Taken from today at, A Moment with Mary

Who really was Saint John, the beloved disciple, who Mary received from Jesus as her son, when they stood together by the Cross? Tradition presents him like the quite atypical Apostle who was at the same time the youngest of the Twelve, one of the major Three, with Peter and James, his own brother, whom Jesus took with him to witness singular events (the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the Agony of Gethsemane, and the resurrection of the daughter of the synagogue's leader). John was Jesus' "beloved" or "favorite," the only one who rested his head on Jesus' chest at the Last Supper, the only one of the Twelve who was present at Calvary right by the Cross, and the first one who "saw and believed" when he discovered the Shroud in the empty tomb.
Besides all this, he was, for many long years, the last living Apostle, after the martyrdom of Phillip in Pontus (A.D. 81) until the reign of Trajan, according to both Saint Irenaeus and Saint Jerome. He is also the only one who didn't suffer martyrdom, and of whom Jesus spoke in a mysterious manner: "If I want him to remain until I return, what is it to you?" He is the one who received the marvelous vision of the Revelation and the only one to reveal in his Epistles that "God is love." He is the one who composed a Prologue and a Gospel from a unique and elevated point of view.
How can we explain this extraordinary destiny? The secret of Saint John is likely to be found in the fact that he was the only one who was entrusted as a son to the Virgin Mary and who took her "home" for a long period of time.

I can't help but think about how important it was for Jesus to give his Mother to John, his beloved friend and companion. Jesus's last concern and desire while hanging on the cross was to place Mary in the care of John. Also, to give John to Mary. I see it all with such a different lens as a Catholic, and have fully come to understand the absolute beauty of this final act of Jesus. He "honored Mary" as his mother to the very end, and surely does so now that they're united in Heaven. John is also the "Church" if you will. While I never quite grasped the prominence of Mary in the faith of Catholics, it's clear as crystal to me now.

I used to think that Catholics worshiped Mary, and gave her far more attention than was due. It seemed that doing so "took away" from Jesus and worshiping Him...alone. Let me just say how mistaken I was. Surely there are some who might go "overboard" with their veneration of her, but really, how does one love their own mother, "too much?" I miss my mother so very much,and should have honored her far more while she was here on the earth. How much more should the Mother of Jesus, who IS GOD, (therefore making Mary the Mother of God is not so far-fetched) the Mother who gave Jesus his flesh, nursed God at her breast, giving milk to our Bread of Heaven, how much more should she be honored than even my own dear mother? Much more, in my opinion for without her "fiat" her "yes" to the Angel of the Lord, Gabriel, where exactly would we be? This is the "Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God" today, New Year's Day, in the Catholic Church. Mary has truly become increasingly real to me, and I do address her many times throughout my day, in conversation (prayer.) Yes, Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, that's a given, but as we ask our friends to pray for us, how much more is it efficacious to ask the very Mother of Jesus for her prayers and intercession? She's always directed people to her Son, and she always will. She's a tender and loving Mother to the 'whole of Christendom' Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, and of the whole world's people, whether [they] we believe so or not.

When I didn't believe it to be so, it didn''t change the Truth that it was one whit. Now that I do believe it, and my eyes were opened to see clearly her value and worthiness of veneration (not worship) it's only expanded my love and devotion and adoration for Jesus as my Lord, Savior, and Brother. IF indeed Mary had had other children, then Jesus would have given her to the "next oldest" as was customary and the "right thing to do" for any good Jewish son, which Jesus certainly was! He did what was the right thing to do for His Mother from the cross, since she had no other offspring, He provided for his Mom a place to go and for someone to care for her. There were no other "blood brothers" there, so he gave her to John. He's given her to us, His body, and for me, she's the greatest of gifts and treasures. It's amazing for me to ponder, to call on the same Woman who nursed our Lord when He was a baby, who tended to His scraped knees, and other "boo boos," who kissed His head at night, who taught Him his prayers, who fed Him, who watched Him grow into manhood, and who was with Him at every major event of His life, and followed him all the way to the cross, standing at His feet until His death for the sins of the whole world. No other person on the face of the earth bore as much sorrow as did she, and no one else on earth could have carried the Word of God in her womb, had she not been created sinless. Yes, Mary did declare Jesus her Lord and Savior, and so He was (is), but He saved her in such a way as to "prevent" the stain of sin. Thus He saved her before she was born.

Some people are "saved" from falling into a mud-hole, other's are saved after they've fallen into a hole or quicksand. Mary was saved from ever falling into the "mud-hole of sin." She did need a Savior, and she was as saved by her Lord, being a creature, created by God. The way I've been taught the last few years is the comparison of Mary to the Ark of the Covenant in the OT. Now we all know the Ark was not just a "common old cardboard box" that carried the Law of God, but it was made of purest gold, holy, decorated, adorned, radiant, a most resplendent "box" and/or 'tabernacle' that carried God's Law. Thus is Mary. She whom carried God in her womb for nine months would have to be even more pure. She's therefore declared FULL OF GRACE in the NT by the Angel of the Lord. No sin even remotely taints a soul FULL of GRACE, or it would not be "Full of grace." That is why the one guy who touched the Ark, while just trying to protect it, fell instantly DEAD, because he was NOT full of grace. That's the same for Mary. She is the "Ark of the New Covenant" and was never stained by sin.

It's really such a complete and total JOY beyond joys to discover all that is discoverable in the deposit of Faith that Jesus gave us, and as I delve deeper into the FULLNESS of Truth and the writings of the Early Church Fathers, I could almost burst with JOY! There was a period of some 1500 years from the early Church to the Reformation. I used to know nothing about those years. And what I did know was not the 'full truth.' No Church that Jesus made, built, established could ever "go off the rails" and run amok. Only if the Holy Spirit were to not guide Her, would that ever happen, and why would that be the case, if Jesus promised that His Church would never fail, that the 'gates of hell' would not prevail against Her? I've only begun to scratch the surface, with so much to read and find out about, but delve I will, and dig I will, and seek I will, and ask I will, and find I will,as the Lord said, "Seek and you will find. Ask and it will be given you. Knock and the door will be opened to you." Jesus said to Peter and the gang "Go out to the deep, and you'll haul in more fish than you can count" That's what it's been like the last 4 years. Reading or learning about the early Church Fathers and discovering the writings and prayers and lives of the Saints, like Justin Martyr, an apostle of the Apostle John, and St. Jerome, and St. Ignatius of Antioch, and other Saints who died horribly bloody, brutal deaths, not for some fable, or a symbol, but Jesus Himself, His flesh and blood, soul and divinity, i.e. the Eucharist. I suggest Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Aquilina (I went to Rome with him in '07.) Long before there was a New Testament, the only "bible" the disciples had consisted of the OT. That's what the Apostle's quoted and taught from, and the "tradition" handed down to them, that they inturn handed down to the early church(es) in Corinth, Ephesus, etc. I'd never really given it much thought to be honest. It never occurred to me that the NT hadn't yet been written. When I would quote the NT, it never 'clicked' in my brain that the early Church was being told by "word of mouth" as in Sacred Tradtion. The canon of scripture had not yet been coalated and proclaimed by the Church.

I'm only blabbing about all of this incase anyone might ever wonderwhy we [Rich and I] actually returned to the Catholic Church. Well, this is why: Because it's True! And I've always loved and sought the Truth. I just thought for so long a time that it could never be "BACK" in the old, antiquated, stodgy, traditional, ritualistic Catholic Church. But where else would the Fullness be but there? All the rest of the 'churches' and denominations never came along until 1500 years or so later! That's a lot of history to just ignore or to think it just "doesn't matter" today. The Catholic Church makes that claim, it's not me or my opinion. Either it's true or it's the eptiome of a diabolical institution. The journey we took to get where we are was good, for we received many parts of the truth in various fellowships and learned many important things, and made many good friends...but COMMUION, COMMUNITY and the unity I craved could neve be found wandering from place to place. We are all on a journey. Some will end up where we have, others won't. It's not that we all "have to be Catholic" to be saved and the CC has never taught that, for it's only GOD who in the end knows who's saved. But, He did build a Church on Peter, and He did give Peter the keys, as Prime Minister, (Pope) (Papa) and thus to his successors. That's the hierarchy and the way Jesus founded His Church. That's how He set it up. He's the King of kings and that requires a "hierarchy" as any Kingdom is. It also requires a Queen, as does any Kingdom. The Queen isn't the wife, but the Mother of the King. It all starts coming together when one is receptive and can "see" with the eyes of faith. I'm only grateful to see it now. More grateful than I've ever been. It's the JOY of the Lord completed, yet continual. I'm more evangelical than ever, my Protestant understanding of Truth was turned on it's head, but not "tossed" but has found it's completion, it's fullness in the Church Jesus founded. Not putting ANYONE down, but where else would that be than IN the Church that claims such? Only One Church does. Not only is His Church mystical, and spiritual, but it's also physical, it can be "seen" and "touched" if you will. It [the Church Jesus founded] is not Eagle's Nest, Emmauel Lutheran, Glad Tidings, Faith United Methodist, Harvest, First Baptist, or on and on and on. To parahphrase Susan DiMucci (wife of Dion) Where will any of them be in 2000+ years? They all teach and believe different things, even about the "basics." That leaves most that are seeking to question Christianity. It did so for me, and I was a born-again Christian since the age of 19.

I always hungered for Truth, and MORE of the Truth. I went as far as I could go and there was only ONE other place to turn....they say you "can't go back Home." Balony. You can. It's there, after 2009 years, and the "light's still on" for any pilgrim, any prodigal, any lost "sheep," any tepid soul to return to, and find open arms of Grace, Fullness of Truth, Motherly love, not just 5 or 2, but 7 Sacraments, a Magisterium and the Authority to teach the Fullness of the Truth that can't be found anywhere else.

For this New Year...I'm going to go out to the deep again, sit in the silence of the "holy hush," and as the waves lap against my boat, I'm going to gaze at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, and go to the adoration chapel (open 24/7) more often, and draw ever closer to His Mother, Mary. I want to grow in the virtue of humility (a tough one, since it requires humiliation) and faith, hope and love. I want to know better my spiritual Mother. And fall in love with Jesus even more, because I long to know more about his "Mom" and his friends, the Saints, all cheering us on to the final goal, the goal of Heaven our Home, where we will behold with them the Wonder and Beauty and Glory of God, Jesus our Lord and Savior, shining forever more brilliant than a thousand suns! That's why I'm a Catholic. Because it's TRUE! John 8:32 is my favorite verse in the New Testament. Even Sheila Walsh wrote it down on a book for me in 1997, "You shall KNOW THE TRUTH and the TRUTH shall set you FREE!" And that's why I'm a Catholic. Because it's TRUE!

1 comment:

paula said...

Wow! what great insight and motivation to know and learn and love more. I as well am drawn to a deeper relationship with My Mother Mary. In the stillness of her life, there is such beauty. Jesus, he was her life, breathe, love. How could he ever say no to his mother. Thanks, for your conversion, openness and humble acceptance of the truth.

To God be the Glory.