Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Queen of Heaven

One of the greatest, last, barriers for those converting to Catholicism is often Catholic devotion to Mary. For many of those coming from the Protestant faith an authentic understanding of Mary and her place in salvation history is a difficulty. One that is often hard for Catholics to help them overcome, because they themselves do not have a sufficient knowledge of Scripture to explain this devotion in a biblical framework.
A statement one often hears from those raised in the Protestant traditions is that honoring Mary is not biblical. This is an understanding that is not based on biblical fact. A prime understanding of the new covenant, the new kingdom is that during biblical times the Davidic kingdom is a model for the eternal kingdom. That is, God uses Israel and its Davidic dynasty to model what the proper relationship is between a king and his people and our Heavenly King and his people. So just as David was a shepherd and a king, so too is David's decedent, Our Lord, Jesus Christ both a Shepherd and a King. As David was a father to his people, so too is our God a Father to his people.
Now in the Davidic kingdom from the time of Solomon until the very end of the kingdom the Queen Mother was a position of unique power and authority. The cultural reasons for this extend beyond Israel to all of the nations of that part of the world...Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia. It is easy to see why. Polygamy was a common practice and the king might have many wives, but he would only have one mother.
In 2nd Kings it says:
Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king's mother, who sat at his right.
This was not a one-time act. The positioning of the Queen Mother at the King's right hand was an indication of her relationship to the king. It was a position of power, down to almost the present day, when the prestige position is at a leaders right hand, so the phase "right hand man." Further, throughout the rest of the books of Kings whenever it lists the name of the king in the genealogy of the Davidic Line it also lists the name of his mother.
So this is model of our proper relationship to Mary and her Son. The Queen Mother holds no power or authority through her own person, but only through her son. So too does Mary hold no power or authority on her own, but only though her Son. Still in the ancient kingdom the Queen Mother was often brought petitions so that she would intercede with the king on behalf of others.
An authentic relationship with Mary includes the understanding that Mary always directs the penitent to her Son. In the Magnificat Mary says:

Magnificat anima mea Dominum,

My souls does magnify the Lord,
In every word spoken by Mary in Scripture it is evident that she points to her son. Nowhere is this more evident than in her final words in Scripture, in John 2:5

Do what ever He tells you.
The mark of an authentic Marian Apparition is always "how does it point to Chris?" for Mary never points to herself.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

St. Gianna Molla

I was reading Fr. Z's incomparable blog where he was covering the Wisconsin shrine installation of a St. Gianna Molla relic. He linked to an earlier blog post from 2008 in which he describes St. Gianna's second miracle, the one which resulted in her canonization. I found it so inspiring that I just had to link to it.
Especially important is the bullet list at the end of the piece.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Don't be bitter.

Catholic Exchange has an articel that gives a bit of perspective to the Church's latest problems.

Better than Bitter

I have to say it is very easy to get disheartened at all of the slop that is being shoveled on the Church and our great German Shepherd. Sometimes those of us who work in lay ministries in the Church face challenges from our families, friends and neighbors for our continued faithfulness to the Church.

I would say the historical perspective mention in the article is very important. I love my country. I hope for it a long history, but I know intellectually that it is unlikely in the best of circumstances to last for hundreds and hundreds of years into the future, let alone thousands. I also know that, barring the second coming, in that time that the Church of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, will still be, in that future. I suspect when English is a language barely recognizable, that Latin will still be chanted, perhaps mixed with a dialect of some modern language I would not dare to name, at a Mass which will still reach its high point when the words are uttered: Hoc est enim Corpus meum, For this is my body.
So don't let the troubles of the day distract your soul from the message of eternity. This too will pass.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why all priest are not called to celibacy

It is not a surprise to most members of the Catholic Church to hear that in the western world the majority of the faithful live in a Roman Catholic bubble. That is, they are most knowledgeable about and when dealing with Catholics from outside their own parish have almost exclusive contact with other members of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. In this rite most priests are under a vow of celibacy. Many do not know that there are some 22 other rites , many of which allow married men to be ordained to the priesthood.
In the universal sense it is not necessary for a man to be celibate to be ordained a priest. It is, however, a discipline of the Roman Rite for a priest to be celibate.
Ordinarily, married men are not permitted to take orders under the Roman Rite if they are married. In no rite is a priest allowed to marry once they have been ordained. Just as for a married deacon, if a priest's wife dies he is not permitted to remarry.
Even in the Roman Rite there are exceptions to this otherwise mandatory discipline. these exceptions are primarily the result of a pastoral provision authorized by the Venerable John Paul II to allow men who had been Anglican(Episcopal) priests before converting to Roman Catholicism to be ordained. This was done for many reasons, one of which was, as might be expected from the title of the provision was pastoral. In some cases these men did not enter the Church alone, but brought along their congregations. JPII allowed these individuals to continued to minister to these flocks, after a suitable period of training and guidance. In fact he created a whole new version of the Roman Rite for them known as the Anglican Use.
Since that time other Anglicans have been accepted into the Church, and because of their experience have been allowed to serve as priest even though previously married., even serving in ordinary parishes, though seldom or never as pastors.
It is likely that we will see a small influx of such men in the near future. Benedict XVI has authorized the creation of a brand new structural entity, the Ordinate, under which parishes, and even diocese, of Anglicans may (re-)join the Catholic Church. Like military diocese these Ordinate will span diocese, their parishes under the pastoral control of their Ordinary, rather than the local bishop. The Ordinary many be a bishop, or he may be priest, abet one who will have some of the prerogatives of a bishop. Initially many of the priest of these parishes, and even the Ordinaries will be drawn from those who have up until now been married Anglican priests.
Such men will have to be in valid marriages, that is they can not be divorced, unless their previous marriage has been validly annulled. They will also have to be ordained, since their Anglican orders are not valid. But they will be priests of the Roman Rite, though they might celebrate according to the Anglican Use, or not. Such details are still being worked out.
They will undergo discernment, so the validity of their call to the priesthood will be determined as carefully as any other candidate. They will be part of a very small group, priests of the Roman Rite not called to the discipline of celibacy. They do not represent a change of heart on the Church's part. Merely a pastoral approach to true Christian unity, so that we may all be one..